In Newport, Oregon, there is a set of docks just for the sea lions/seals. There are maybe 50 or more sealions there. I don’t know all the difference between harbor seals and sealions. At Yaquina Head there are harbor seals that looked lighter, grey and smaller than the ones we saw in Newport on the docks. The ones at Yaquina head were also quieter, lazily soaking up the sunshine until their rocks were getting covered with water.
While we were enjoying the antics of the noisy Newport sealions, an umbrella from a nearby restaurant went sailing off on the wind to land in the water 20 feet from the seals. As the sealions saw it flying toward them, they went ballistic, vociferously scrambling to get away from the “flying monstrosity.” Most were in the water trying to peer over the docks at the umbrella – barking as if they were questioning each other: “what is it?” “I don’t know.” “Do you know what it is?” “Is it dangerous?” “Did you see that? It fell from the sky.”
None of the sealions were brave enough to go closer to it. Some ventured back onto the docks, but most stayed in the water on the far side of the dock, barking their displeasure with mysterious flying and now sailing objects. Any time it floated closer the storm of barking and frantic movements escalated.
I don’t know if the sealions resolved their situation. We left before the sealions had acclimated to the new norm.
I am sometimes like that…letting my fears take over and control my actions. I am more afraid of failure than of the unknown, but it is still a fear that influences my actions. I laugh at the seals. I can see it is only an umbrella. My own fears seem large and monumental to me. From a different perspective, are my fears really just an umbrella. How can I see them from God’s perspective, can I let go and trust him.
Isaiah 43:1-3 says…
But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
3 For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I am his. His own. I belong to him. He invites me into his embrace. From the security of his embrace, can I face my fears? Yes, for he is with me, he comforts me and protects me.
(painting: I am loved, acrylic, 20 in x 24 in)
I am Loved ((2009 - Julie Drew)
I am loved
even in my sin...I am loved.
Pour Your Spirit on me
cleanse me, wash me
wash away my sin,
wash me clean,
white as snow,
make me whole,
to serve You,
to serve others.
I cannot contain this love.
Let it flow from me and touch others:
As You have forgiven me
may I forgive others.
Let it flow like a river
this pouring of Your Spirit into my spirit.
Let it flow like a river
giving life where it goes
to keep it for myself
it would stagnate
but to share it gives life.
I am loved.
Last month I wrote from the Oregon Coast. I shared about the funny sea lions and their antics and compared it to myself and my faith journey and I shared the painting of Jesus with his arms stretched wide. If you missed it you can read it here: Sealions Reaction to an Umbrella.
What I didn’t share was my struggles with vision this summer. As a visual artist, sight matters to me. I had three separate cysts on my right eyelid, so I have had to take the time to put warm compresses on my eye to aid the healing/draining of the cysts. Apparently, I am also starting to get a cataract in my right eye. This all causes a blurriness in my vision. I am right eye dominant, so it has also taken time to retrain my eyes to see left eye dominantly. Add to that the numerous trips to get the correct prescription for my glasses. This morning I see more clearly than I have in a while. The last lens for my glasses came in on Wednesday this week. I am thankful.
Not being able to see is discouraging, and disheartening. Not seeing well affects other things too – like balance. I had a biking accident and my left hip has not been the same since then. I have been sitting wrong in my computer chair because I have not been able to see the screen – which affects how my body feels at the end of the day, too. As I was finishing up the painting of Jesus (Painting: I am Loved) one morning, I stood and painted 5 hours straight without taking a break. (I was concentrating too much to notice.) I realized afterwards, as I could hardly walk, that I had hurt my left leg, again. My friend pointed out the irony of working on a painting to portray Jesus’ love for me, and hurting myself in the process. I have about 45 min of exercises to do from physio. This learning to take care of myself is time consuming. Yes, I want to feel better, but it doesn’t feel like I am accomplishing anything. I have had to tell myself that “no one is going to do this for me, I have to do it for myself.” I feel broken, like my body is failing to live up to my expectations and getting in the way of all I want to accomplish.
As all this has been going on this summer, I have been slowly reading through Ezekiel. I usually like the prophets, I can see God’s yearning heart for his people and my heart aches with his. I have not seen that as much in Ezekiel, but I am only up to chapter 14. Ezekiel takes place during the exile – but before the fall of Jerusalem. The judgment is upon them. It has stirred up all kinds of emotions in me. Ezekiel not only speaks prophesies from God, he lives the metaphors and prophesy. For example in chapter 4, Ezekiel lays on his left side for 390 days for the punishment of the house of Israel and then lays down on his right side bound for 40 days to represent the punishment of Judah. He acts out the metaphor of what God will do to the Israelites. I would not like to be Ezekiel. Did he really even have a choice? Can a prophet really not speak what God has given him to speak?
Then I thought of how I started about 6 or so years ago to work on a series: Waiting on the LORD. In the last 6 or so years I have had a number of things happen that have been teaching me what it means to really wait on the LORD. This summer was no exception. God has been using these metaphors in my life to show me about trust, letting go, riding the airwaves with Him, learning to rest in Him, I am valued because he loves me not for what I can accomplish. Do I object to Ezekiel, because I am seeing the parallels in my life? Have I had any choice but to go through this? I suppose the choice I have made is to seek God and what he is teaching me through it, growing my spirit. The alternative would be to shrink my spirit with complaining and poor attitude. Have I been living in metaphors, too? Is that the only way I would be able to understand what it means to really wait on the LORD?
So as I reflect on the summer, on my fears and frustrations with my eyesight and hip, can I learn to love the parts of me that have failed? Like the painting of transformation, I have thought I have to become something fresh and new and leave the failed parts, the garbage, the pain, and the dysfunctional parts of me behind. I have failed in my own eyes, when I cannot do what I think I should be able to, when my body feels like it is falling apart and preventing me from doing things, when I have made mistakes, or made people upset with me. Yet, God loves all of me, redeems my garbage. Can I love myself enough to take care of myself? Can I accept my failings and brokenness? I wanted to see if I could paint Jesus reaching out to embrace me, to love me. Can I truly accept his love and embrace, and love myself as he sees me?
(Painting: Redemption, Acrylic on Canvas Paper, 20in x 16in)