Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Art and Soul

It has been a couple of years now since I fell in love with painting. A friend invited me to his art classes in Alness. I had little in the way of expectations of discovering a Picasso or a Turner in me. I just wanted to show support for a friend. I loved it. Those art classes changed the way I saw things. I noticed colour and shades all around me. I bought art stuff – paints, paper, charcoal, brushes – and I played around. I liked what appeared on the paper.

You’d think with lockdown and time on my hands I would slapping on the paint left, right and centre – but it all kind of stopped. I’d seen something last autumn. There had been a heavy frost and the field behind the house was white with it. Beside the path was a tree. It was a tree that leaned a little and with a light breeze, golden leaves were spilling like confetti. Around the base of a tree was a circle of gold, bright yellow against the white frost. The sun was struggling to break through cloud and mist. I wanted to paint the scene and rushed home. I dug out all the stuff and set to work.

I wanted it to come together, to replicate what I had seen on paper, but it wouldn’t work. The sky was too blue, the grass was too green. The tree wouldn’t lean in the right direction and the leaves refused to fall like confetti. It wasn’t happening. I wouldn’t say I made that many attempts, but I got discouraged. I put the paints away. If I couldn’t paint what I had seen, I didn’t want to paint anything that was less. I stopped painting. There would be days when I dug the paints out and had another go at the tree, another day of not succeeding.

A friend of mine invited me to “Art and Soul”. They were artists meeting together to read and meditate on a Bible verse. Thirty minutes was given over to painting something that the Spirit stirred. I set out my stuff on the kitchen table just in case I was stirred, but at the back of my mind I was thinking about writing a poem instead. Poetry is my sweet spot. That afternoon it was my fall-back position, if the art wasn’t happening.

By myself I have sworn,
    my mouth has uttered in all integrity
    a word that will not be revoked:
Before me every knee will bow;
    by me every tongue will swear. (Isaiah 45:23)

God speaks a word that will not be revoked. His word is that every knee will bow and every tongue will swear their allegiance to Him. I thought about those words that God speaks that He will not take back. He speaks a word of deliverance over me. He speaks a word of life, of rescue, of release and reconciliation. He will not take those words back. He has decided He wants me to be a part of His family, not as a second cousin twice removed, or the poor relation that gets a roof over their head and a place at the dinner table but not much more. He wants me as His child to flourish. He wants me to discover who He created me to be and live that life before Him.

I dug out the box of soft pastels and started work. It felt good to be back playing with colours.

There was a “show and tell” bit afterwards, of explaining what you had created and the thinking behind it. The other artists were let loose to comment. It surprised me, and encouraged me, that someone had painted something almost identical, the same idea. Another lady had drawn a scene of people bowing down to a golden sky. Her people looked like musical notes. Deliverance and rescue have been themes for songs throughout history. She didn’t intend them to look like music notes, but that’s what another saw. Another picture seemed to me like a path, bordered by lots of red. It drew the eye. I thought about the Highway of the Lord, His righteous path that leads to His throne. I know myself upon that road. He walks beside me.

And the poem, the fall-back position if the paints weren’t working? Here's a first draft

Your word to me is truth
spoken from lips of integrity,
with never the intention to reclaim them.
They work in me to bend the knee,
and announce my allegiance.
I hold out my hand and
accept the deliverance you gift me.
Strength, Yours, pours in to
overtake my weakness

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