I like reading stories of redemption both real and fiction. I was reading one this morning. And as the lost soul in the story was brought back into the welcoming and loving arms of those who loved her, I was struck again of God’s overwhelming love for me. My heart did a happy dance as I read.
As Easter and as spring approach, I think about redemption, transformation, new life and resurrection. I see it echoing in the stories I read, in the buds swelling on the trees and plants beginning to push their way again to the surface.
I have been closely watching what looks like a dead poinsettia to see if the tiny leaves will indeed spring forth and the plant will come back to life.
A few years ago, I painted this painting of transformation. A pile of garbage with a plant growing out of it. I have found it interesting to hang it at the art walk, because it invites conversation. A lot of people have thought it was about the garbage in the ocean. It has made people feel sad or depressed, irritated or caused them to laugh.
As I painted it, I was thinking about myself and all the things I do not like about myself, the things I would consider my garbage. So, I put on the painting items that should have gone into my art room garbage or recycling bins. I was thinking about redemption and how God redeems these parts of me with his love. This was then represented by the plant growing out of the garbage.
But as I thought about and even shared it at one of my art and faith retreats, I realized I expected to be transformed; that redemption was about change and becoming new. What if redemption is not just the transformation?
No matter what I do I cannot see past the image of garbage. How can garbage look redeemed? But, what if it is a new perspective or looking beyond the surface?
What if I can learn to love those parts of myself that I see as garbage? God loves me, all of me. Can I learn to love all of me too and see myself with his eyes? Like the dead Poinsettia, if i am patient with it - and really look, I can see tiny leaves emerging from the stem. I am thankful that God is patient with me and is helping me see things better in my own self.
This new awareness is slowly bringing redemption to new parts of me. Failure – learning to trust God and others, as well as to accept my own limitations. Feeling lazy or unproductive – learning to rest and take care of myself is important work too.
As I look to all the signs of redemption in the world around me, it reminds me mostly that God is redeeming all of me too. He loves me! And that makes me want to dance and sing.
In what ways do you see God’s redemptive work in your life?
I am so thankful that we were able to have our Art Vocabulary for the Soul Retreat at the end of June. King’s Fold Retreat Centre did a great job in putting in place social distancing, and alternative set ups to make it work. We had a small group of seven. I want to share with you some of the theme and images we made as we worked through the it, listening to what God had for each one of us.
The theme of New Life had been resonating in me since before Covid-19 struck. It was a theme of the dark and death of winter moving into the new life and resurrection of spring.
When we went into self isolation, and everything was battened down and restricted, I kept wondering how it would feel when we started to emerge again. Would it be like the image portrayed in the movies where a big catastrophe happens and when it stops people come out slowly as if waking from a nightmare and start to slowly move and embrace one another and picking up the pieces of their lives.
With the three stages of emergence, our picking up the pieces has been a slow process. We are still in the pandemic. It has not been eradicated, there were new cases in Edmonton again. It is still rampaging around in other parts of the world.
Then, in the last few weeks before our retreat, with the murder of George Floyd, the wave of worldwide protests and the outcry of justice and humane treatment for not only the blacks, but the indigenous and the people of color, we were again in the midst of a movement we didn’t understand and don’t know the end of.
There was a sense of death to the ways we have always done things, and we are trying to figure out how to change, to do things differently. Change can bring fear, but also optimism and a whole host of other feelings.
Our first exercise addressed the emotions we have been experiencing since mid March. We used tempera paints with sponges, fingers, plastic cards, q-tips and toothbrushes. What do you see in the paintings?
The next exercise we read Psalm 107: 1-21 and reflected on the Israelites continual falling away and coming back to God; death and resurrection. As we celebrate resurrection one of the things always included in resurrection, is the death that comes beforehand. So, we had participants reflect on that experience of death and resurrection or seeing good things and even transformation come out of some of the difficult times in life. The following were our painting responses.
Saturday and Sunday, we spent time creating and seeing where the creativity took us. I took a few pictures to give you a taste of the creativity abounding in the weekend. I also introduced some new pouring methods and we had fun experimenting.
Registration is now open for the next Art Vocabulary for the Soul Retreat, October 2-4, 2020 at King's Fold Retreat Centre. It will be a small group of 8. 5 spaces are still available. $375 early bird until Sept 4. $435 after Sept 4. Will you join us?