New Beginnings

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Growing in Grace & Freedom (Acrylic on Door)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 

(2 Corinthians 5:17 TNIV)

Yesterday, was an amazing day.  I spent majority of the day doing what I love . . . painting,  I finished the first side of the door and will soon be flipping the door over and moving onto the other side.  The whole morning was spent on continuing to paint the door.  It was a powerful experience of prayer, praise, and worship.

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There was something soothing and comforting in creating the layers of colors.  I was mindful of the many layers of our prayer lives and our whole beings.  In each one of us there are layers upon layers.  Only by God are we fully known.  Some of the colors brought to mind seasons of the liturical year.  The colors felt like threads of fabric building upon one another to create a coheive whole.  

I was also mindful of the journey motif that has been so prevalent for me this Lenten season.  The path behind the tree emerged.  Yet, as I look on it now, I realize that the path of the spiritual life is not that smooth or predictable.  It only seems smooth when I am so in tune with the leading of the Holy Spirit, I have no fear.  Yet those moments are hard to hold on to.  Most times, for me, it is more like hiking through the woods with a stick to beat back the underbrush.  The path that God calls me to seems to be one of pioneering new ways to love and serve in the world.  Serving as an artistic missionary in the world involves a lot of trust and making ways where there seem to be no ways.

I am aware, over and over again, of how important it is to be grounded and rooted in abundant and nutrient rich soil.  Our lives with God need to be nourished and intentional.  It is only then that when the storms of life come we will be able (by the grace of God) to continue to stand.  The key is to discover what nourishes us, and then to cultivate habits that help keep us nourished and sustained.  What is essential is to consistently practice spiritual disciplines.  

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The cross has been on my heart and mind since I had a transforming experience at my last Covenant Group Retreat (at the end of February) at Saint Leo's Monastery.  Twice a year, I have the privilege and challenge of meeting with my covenant sisters, 3 other deacons.  We come together for a time of community, accountability, and support.  We help each other to connect, to grow, to find healing, and wholeness, and to take deep hard looks at ourselves.  There is also a lot of laughter and fun.  I am so thankful for these women in my life.  Through their love, care, and nudging, I am able to find solutions from within and find a real sense of joy, peace, and freedom.  This cross is a repeated image used in the sanctuary where we go to worship with the monks, before having meals with the monks.  I even started cross stitching this image, before we left the retreat.  I am drawn to this cross.  I love how it is made up of layers.  It feel like 2 Greek crosses stacked one on top of the other.  I love the balance of the greek cross that in its very image there is balance.  It is surrounded by this cool shape, when broken down feels like a square layered on top of a circle (or a circle layered on top of a square, depending on how you look at it).  The circle seems to echo the unending nature of God.  The way the circle and square meet, it feels as if there is also a triangle motif harkening to my mind the image of the Trinity.  The 4 equal sides of the square give the overall image of the cross balance and structure.  I am reminded of the 4 Gospels that proclaim the good news of Christ.

During this Lenten season, this cross has become a symbol of a journey to peace, hope, joy and freedom.  This cross represents seeking more shalom and balance in my own life.  

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As I finished the painting there was a real sense of peace and accomplishement.  There was also a sense of joy.  And then there was a sense of, "what now"?  Lent is just a little over half way over, and I am already finished.  And then I remembered I have the whole other side of the door.  I was excited.  Even in the midst of the Lenten journey there are new beginnings.  It is not too late to start anew.  It is  not too late to take up our crosses and follow after the one who showed us what it means to embody love.  As you continue this journey through the season of Lent.  Take a moment to evaluate where you are in the journey.  How have you been faithful to your Lenten disciplines?  How have you not?  Are they working?  Do you feel more connected to God? How will you stay the course?  How does the course need tweaking.  What other areas of your life do you need to surrender?

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As I look upon this door, I am excited and daunted.  Again I have the proverbial blank canvas in front of me and it is big and spacious.  Yet, as I surrender to the process, I am excited and challenged as to where the Holy Spirit will lead.  May I continue to be faithful to the process, and not worry about the outcome.  

Let us pray:  Into Your hands we surrender ourselves, trusting in You.  Help us to follow after You and Your ways.  Draw us ever closer to You.  Mold us and shape us, according to Your will and purposes.  We are Yours!  Amen.

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© 2010 Charissa Jaeger-Sanders.  All Rights Reserved.  You are welcome to use the ideas and suggestions found on this website, for no fee, as long as you give credit to Grace Works Studio.  However, if you Find this Website helpful, please consider giving a donation to Grace Works Studio to help continue its ministry.