Tag Archives: relationship with God

Painting Pink Trees

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“Pink Trees, UBC” iPhone Photo DS 2017

Dreams of pink flutterings suffuse my night. Are we sleeping under a pink tree? Is the bed covered in petals?

After writing an early morning blog post a memory surfaced. It is part of my birth story. I was a long awaited child. I was born when the apple trees were in full bloom, my mother would often say. So, here’s the thing: the more often we seek God, the more often we come to know something about ourselves.

So what is all the excitement about this month? Easter, of course – nothing can top that. Jesus’ resurrection is the basis for the Christian faith – our daily life. It is the foundation of our love – that he first loved us. He is our Source, our Sustainer, and our Goal in life.

One of God’s gifts that particularly excites my artist’s heart is the abundance of pink-petaled trees around town. When I first moved to Vancouver from Toronto there were things about this place that overwhelmed me with their beauty: the mountains, the trees, the ocean – and the pink trees (originally gifts from Japan I hear).

When I walk the streets in the sun, my eyes are filled with pinkness. Shear happiness fills my senses. One year and each subsequent year I thought of heaven and the streets of gold written about there. And I thought to myself that this day, on this street, in this rain, with pink petals flowing into the gutters, that God’s gift in the Spring of Vancouver is streets not lined with gold but with pink – a taste of heaven, yes. Again this year, I want to say thank you, your gift is much appreciated. Your love for us knows no bounds, in depth, height or care. Are these our modern day lilies of the field?

I have painted pink trees in VanDusen Gardens and cleaned my brushes on the snow. (Should I admit that?) Years have passed but I can still feel the shivering cold, the sunny warmth, the delight of choosing alternate lime and ochre colours for the trees. I see the blobs of various pinks as they come from my brush and the way snow accepts paint. I see the squareness of my canvases. The bird-filled silence comes back to me. I taste the water, the cheese sandwich, the apple I consume with painted hands. I remember the long contented walk back to my car, seeing the paintings complete in the studio and the joy of their donation. This I realize is God’s gift to me: painting. When I am in the flow, my life becomes a prayer and I feel most myself.

My thoughts are filled this week with the spectacle of there being a pink blanketed picnic in the park and fuchsia lit trees at night. I wish I could go. My schedule is tight. I will make do with viewing photos on the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival website. I will walk my own streets, take iPhone photos, and worship.

 

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Prayer and the Creative Process

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“View from Stephanart Studio” DS

 

The one thing I’ve learned is to always keep moving. Never let it all drop. Always be doing something for your project, even if it’s printing it out and crossing out words and writing in other words, or writing a plan. Stay in motion. Give it something.

Contemporary writer Alex Leslie

An unfinished painting stands facing the wall in the Stephanart Studio. The artist has not painted for months now. Her fear has been that in her angst to continue the work she will ruin it. Her work was interrupted by life and she lost the vision for its completion.

It had stood central on the easel for weeks while the sketchbook drawing was enlarged and redone on the 36” x 24” canvas. The foreground and background were thinly painted in. Three telephone poles had been erected in the image and Easter colours chosen for their completion but never applied. Their starkness in the landscape mirrored the artist’s wilderness experience of late.

Just now, in the middle of the night, after all this time technical ideas came to its creator. Shapes and colours floated through her dream. An inner excitement drew her to record it here. She will go out to the studio, unlock the door, and restore the work’s place on the easel.

The day before, the artist had received a visit from a colleague who had prayed for her to forgive a past hurt and for creative work to continue. An oppression has lifted. Inspiration is this odd, this ad hoc. The work stops, the work starts again – so frustratingly simple, so complex and profound. Who is this great God who calls and equips us to create, to forgive, to live inside the real work of art that is this world? Who is she that her work can be disrupted by her inner life, by her outer life? Why was her call answered so quickly when others are not?

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous [person] availeth much.

Book of James

 

New Year Blooming Amaryllis

 

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“New Year Blooming Amaryllis” 2014, photocollage, DS

This amaryllis is a symbol of all that is good about a fresh year starting.  However, I was having guests and was disappointed the plant did not bloom by Christmas.  Instead it broke forth today.

I was reminded of our own growth in Christ.  As I put the Christmas decorations away this week, Jesus, Emmanuel, is still with us.  He is resurrected.

A woman in one of my workshops before Christmas said with passion that Easter should be celebrated by everyone as more important than that of Christmas. The comment took me by surprise.  I gave her a hurried reply but pondered her words later.  I rushed to give her an answer where there was no need.  Her struggle with theological questions is a sign of her being in an environment conducive to wholeness.  She has made a choice that will give her life.  In her way, she sits at the feet of Jesus.  I had not recognized this before.

Gary Thomas in his book “Sacred Pathways: Discover Your Soul’s Path to God” writes refreshingly about the journey of the soul being the cultivation of our unique relationship with God.  We need to learn how to renew our spirituality when it has grown lukewarm or dormant.

 Rather than another discipline to add to our new year it might be fun to explore the “Nine Sacred Pathways” explained by Thomas: “[God] created you with a certain personality and a certain temperament.”  Just as the biblical Martha and Mary expressed their devotion to Jesus in different ways, we each have unique ways to contribute to the Body of Christ.

The flower bulb looked mundane yet it had its own way and it’s own timing to bloom.  It was not going to look like a gorgeous poinsettia with red leaf-like flowers, or a Christmas cactus decked out in hot pink.  It would be a spectacular salmon pink and white amaryllis showing as a surprise gift on this first day of a new year in our journey with God.

Whether we are extroverts or introverts, orderly or spontaneous, intellectuals or worship best with our 5 senses or imagination, we can find exciting ways to relate to God.  Here are some ideas from Thomas:

–       Pray to God beside a river

–       Worship with the senses: incense, intricate architecture, classical music

–       Study historical writings of Christians in earlier centuries

–       Spend time at a silent retreat center with pastors and artists

–       Work for societal change

–       Love your neighbor in some practical way

–       Show enthusiasm for your journey with God

–       In stillness, listen to God’s voice

–       Engage in theological discussions