Silhouettes  Of Joy and Peace

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 Silouette of Joy and Peace (Acrylic on Door)

My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth.  I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength— that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all Christians the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God. 

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.

Glory to God in the church!

Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus!

Glory down all the generations!

Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes! 

                     Ephesians 3:14-21 The Message


IMG 0534 - Version 2

 Silouette of Joy and Peace (Acrylic on Door)

This side of the door, has been a labor of love.  (The grass, alone, took a very long time to do.)  I have been working on it, off and on, for months.  It is the process of painting this door, that has helped me along the path of healing and wholeness.  

Over the last few weeks, I have experienced an emotional roller coaster.  And as this roller coaster has hit rock bottom and started to inch its way out of the depths of despair, I came across this text, as one of the alloted lectionary texts for the week.  Through it all, I have been keenly aware of God's love and presence walking with me through the valley.  Well, when I say through it all, I should more accurately say that there have been periodic glipmses of God's love and presence along the way.  As I lay sobbing, wondering if I could even breathe, God's love and presense would be made known to me through a friend's phone call, a text, a sense of peace.  

In the midst of grief, I turned to a worn tool, an old friend.  I picked up my journal, dusted it off, and opened it to a blank page.  I began to process, to pray through stream of thought writing.  Writing without judgement or formulation.  Writing from the heart and mind.  Talking to God as fast as my pen could go over the page.  It felt like an emptying, a libation, an offering.  Through the process, I experienced clarity, peace, and cleansing.  

I am so thankful for God, who meets me where I am, who meets us where we are.  God who walks with us through the storms of life.  God's presence is made known to us in so many ways.  I even encountered God's presence and love through a Bee Gee's song.  This song, How Deep is Your Love, originally came out in September of 1977.  I was still in utero.  My mom was pregnant with me, and I was due in December.  It topped the charts a few days after I was born.  Saturday Night Fever helped boost it there.  These select lines help me to relate to God and Paul's words to the church at Ephesus.

I know your eyes in the morning sun
I feel you touch me in the pouring rain . . .

I believe in you
You know the door to my very soul
You're the light in my deepest darkest hour
You're my saviour when I fall

           Selected lines from the Bee Gee's How Deep Is Your Love

God's presence comes to us through the course of life, in many varied ways.  When the morning sun dances off the water, I encounter the presence of God.  Through dancing in the pouring rain, I experience God's healing love.  This God of love knows me inside out -- the best of me and the worst of me.  God's light shines in my darkness bringing joy and peace, rescuing me from the abyss.

Through music and artistic expression I find healing.  As I continued to paint the door, I could feel weight being lifted off of me.  As I gessoed the bottom (that was rotting out), I started to experience layers of healing transformation.  As I started to methodically paint the edges, the sides of the door, with a shimmering metallic gold, I could feel my ashes being traded for a beautiful garland, my mourning was being anointed and transformed with the oil of gladness.  God continually shows up in my studio.  God's peace guards my heart.

As we walk through life, may we experience the inner strength only God's presence can provide.  May circumstances not dictate our joy or peace.  May we accept where we are emotionally for the moment, and allow God to carry us to a place of joy and peace.  May we keep choosing joy and peace, even if it only feels like shadows in the moment, silhouttes for the time being.  Practicing joy and peace leads to experiencing joy and peace.  Let us fall to our knees, surrendered to the presence of the Holy Spirit, who reveals to us the suffering servant.  We are not alone.  May we experience the depth and breadth of God's amazing and unfathomable love for us.  May God's extravagent love for us permeate the way that we live, and may we share that love and grace with all that we meet.  Give us strengh to walk through the storms, with one another. 

Give us eyes of hope, to know that God is with us, even when God feels distant.  Give us eyes of hope, to know that God knows and wants what is best for us.  May God's Spirit reign in us, and may our lives refelct God's glory.   

In case you have forgotten what the other side of the door looked like:

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