In the Midst of the Journey

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God, investigate my life; get all the facts firsthand. 
   I'm an open book to you; 
      even from a distance, you know what I'm thinking. 
   You know when I leave and when I get back; 
      I'm never out of your sight. 
   You know everything I'm going to say 
      before I start the first sentence. 
   I look behind me and you're there, 
      then up ahead and you're there, too— 
      your reassuring presence, coming and going. 
   This is too much, too wonderful— 
      I can't take it all in! 

 Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit? 
      to be out of your sight? 
   If I climb to the sky, you're there! 
      If I go underground, you're there! 
   If I flew on morning's wings 
      to the far western horizon, 
   You'd find me in a minute— 
      you're already there waiting! 
   Then I said to myself, "Oh, he even sees me in the dark! 
      At night I'm immersed in the light!" 
   It's a fact: darkness isn't dark to you; 
      night and day, darkness and light, they're all the same to you. 

  Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; 
      you formed me in my mother's womb. 
   I thank you, High God—you're breathtaking! 
      Body and soul, I am marvelously made! 
      I worship in adoration—what a creation! 
   You know me inside and out, 
      you know every bone in my body; 
   You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, 
      how I was sculpted from nothing into something. 
   Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; 
      all the stages of my life were spread out before you, 
   The days of my life all prepared 
      before I'd even lived one day. 

  Your thoughts—how rare, how beautiful! 
      God, I'll never comprehend them! 
   I couldn't even begin to count them— 
      any more than I could count the sand of the sea. 
   Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with you! 
      And please, God, do away with wickedness for good! 
   And you murderers—out of here!— 
      all the men and women who belittle you, God, 
      infatuated with cheap god-imitations. 
   See how I hate those who hate you, God, 
      see how I loathe all this godless arrogance; 
   I hate it with pure, unadulterated hatred. 
      Your enemies are my enemies! 

  Investigate my life, O God, 
      find out everything about me; 
   Cross-examine and test me, 
      get a clear picture of what I'm about; 
   See for yourself whether I've done anything wrong— 
      then guide me on the road to eternal life.

Psalm 139 (The Message)

As we find ourselves smack dab in the middle of the journey through the season of Lent, I am continuing the spiritual discipline of painting the door with no agenda or plan, surrendered to the prayerful experience and leading of the Holy Spirit.

As I paint, I find myself engaging my whole body.  The door is tall and massive, especially compared to the usual scale on which I paint.  I am only 5'1.5," so I find myself stretching on tip toe to reach the top of the door.  At other times I am standing, still other times crouching, kneeling, or sitting.  The way of the surrendered life is holistic and involves giving of our whole self to God.

The background incorporates a layering of colors.  I start with a vibrant red, perhaps a connection to the Holy Spirit that keeps descending and meeting us where we are, guiding us to where we are going and to whom we are called to become.

Then I find myself gently integrating various other colors, using a dry brush technique, which involves very little paint or water on the brush.  The effect is a wonderful texture.  Likewise, with the tree and its triune base of branches, I find myself almost doodling, scribbling, and allowing the paint brush to flow in random patterns of color across the base.  Then I mop a layer of brown over top.  And then comes the process of while the paint is still wet, using a rag, I gently wipe away the excess revealing the layers below, letting light shine through.

So it is with the spiritual life.  There are many varied layers.  And God who has created us in God's own image, knows us inside and out, all of our various layers, our light and dark.  And in our spiritual lives there is an ongoing practice of wiping away the excess, of clearing away those things that detract from the essential, that take away from our relationship with God, self, others, and creation.  Part of the surrendered life involves knowing what to let go of; it also involves a deep commitment to trust in the one who knows and wants what is best for us.

This overriding theme of surrender is exhibited with each brushstroke prayerfully painted, yielded to the process of being more focused on being connected to God than worrying about the outcome.

This practice is challenging.  At times, I find myself wanting to know where we are going and what will it all look like in the end.  Yet I am committed to allowing the vision of God loving me and wanting what is best for me to be enough, to be sufficient.

The painting of the door is all about drawing closer to Christ, the one who embodies the surrendered life.  The vision is knowing that whatever it ends up looking like is secondary to the spiritual journey I am taking to get there.  I press on, continuing to paint the door, continuing to surrender to the Spirit, praying in a way that is dynamic and engaging, fasting from perceived control of the outcome.

Theshold Crossed

   Walking Onward

            Day by Day

                    Layer Upon Layer


                    Stripping Away

            Moment by Moment

    Pausing to Catch my Breath

 In the Midst of the Journey

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