My husband , Sam, and I celebrated our 25th anniversary year with a three week trip to Europe in May. As we looked for places to visit there, I got a big “dreaming” book of pictures of places around the world. In it were many beautiful possibilities in Europe, but one stood out to me from all the rest, Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia. It described it as 16 lakes with waterfalls cascading from one to the next and boardwalks through the park. I wanted to go and see this park, and paint it. As many of you know I have done a couple of series on water, Living Water and Beauty of the Coast. I love painting water. But with the longing and intrigued sense I was feeling I wondered what else God was going to show me there. I waited in anticipation.
We arrived at the park about 10am, as did a lot of other people and tour groups. It is a huge park – and there were several route options, with boats and buses, and trails/board walks. We chose one and began walking. Already it was beautiful. I did a quick sketch and already saw that it would be challenging with all the people on the path to paint or sketch for any length of time.
The view that we saw as we headed down into the valley was spectacular. The turquoise green of the lakes was stunning and the first waterfalls were varied and amazing. We hiked all the way down to the lakes and the board walks. .....The boardwalk went right over the top of the lakes and waterfalls. My soul was filled with delight as we walked among the waterfalls. They were surrounding us, under us, loud, rushing water and I began to sing quietly (not that anyone could have heard me over the roar of all that rushing water.):
“Living Water fill my Thirsty Soul, Holy Spirit, Come, Bread of life fill my aching need, holy Spirit Come, for I am nothing without your love, bring new life in me, then will me life bring glory unto thee, Holy Spirit come.”
We took the stairs up the cliff on the other side of the ravine, where there was a lookout over the tallest waterfall in the park. The lookout had a stone wall which I perched on to be out of the way while I painted a watercolor sketch of the falls.
Later we took a boat ride across a lake to the next set of trails. After a picnic lunch, we took a bus to the end of the trails so that we could walk back. It was as I walked and sketched along this stretch where the water was everywhere – running through the groves of trees, under the boardwalk, falling beside us that I was overwhelmed with the sense of saturation. And that is what God desires – to saturate me with his Spirit, his presence in my life. Not the trickling I allow him in but a complete washing, filling, spilling over and out of me to those around me. This is what I came all the way to Croatia to hear and understand through the metaphor of Plitvice Lakes. It was what God has been showing me over the years, but now I understand it at a new level.
By this time there were less people in the park and we could sit and contemplate, write and paint without so many people around. We were enjoying it so much that we missed the last boat back and had to walk quickly around a big lake to get back to our car before dark. I haven’t walked that fast for an hour or so in a long time. It is nice to know I can.
It had been a great day.
We spent our last day in Croatia at Krka National Park which is another park of lakes and waterfalls further south in Croatia. It was just as beautiful and it was even more “saturated” with water, re-emphasizing to me my need for the saturation of the Holy Spirit, the Living Water.
One of the things I do when I teach is to demonstrate painting techniques. Sometimes I already have a painting in mind and sketch it out before class, knowing it can work for a demo.
However, most of the time it is a technique or project that I start with the class or a demonstration of a technique for one of my student's projects. Then, I have a partial painting or just some random colors and texture that I can turn into something else.
Over the last couple of years of teaching, I have accumulated more unfinished pieces than I have managed to complete. I just counted 59 I had photgraphed last fall to record the process of painting. Rather daunting. I had no idea there were so many. Not all of them will be completed. For those that will be completed, something about them inspires me to press on with them.
Water flowing, filling, washing, spilling, around, over, under: this is saturation.
I invite you to imagine yourself on a board walk with water flowing under you from a lake spilling over to dozens of waterfalls. On nearby cliffs more water is spilling down, surrounding you with the rushing of water so loud you cannot hear the person next to you.
The Waterfalls of this show are from different parts of the world. The inspiriation came from Plitvice lakes National Park in Croatia.