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Sep 16, 2020
"Finding The Light", original oil on canvas
One night after putting my kids to bed, as I tiptoed down the dark hallway to go downstairs, I passed this painting. It stopped me in my tracks as I saw it in a whole new perspective. This painting became a new scene than I had originally painted - the sun transformed into a full moon glowing brighter than I’d ever seen it before. It was an ever so bright light in the darkness.
I have been revisiting this experience so much since it happened, and truly thinking of what this painting, “Finding The Light”, stands for.
For me, the light is the Divine. It is God. Love. Goodness. Humanity. The works and teachings of Jesus. The Christ. It is our highest selves. It is happiness. Joy. Just to name a few. ;)
So, how does one find and know the light?
Although I believe there are different paths that lead to the same light, I believe one answer is to expand one’s own beliefs about themselves. For me, it’s knowing my own good nature and connectedness to the world around me, a sense of meaning in this life, and an understanding of my spiritual being. I believe one way of deepening one’s awareness of this is learning what the Bible is, and from it, gaining an understanding of who we are. I don’t think Jesus was teaching us to have faith in religion, I believe he was teaching us to have faith in ourselves, in loving partnership with others, for a new way of being.
A few years ago I stopped hiding Bible verses in my paintings, a ritual at that time, because it hit me: I DIDN’T UNDERSTAND THE BIBLE! At that time, I hadn’t fully grasped, as I'm slowly learning now, that the four Gospels were written by four different men, each written to a specific audience with different purposes. I honestly had no idea about animal sacrifices as a way of getting on the good side of God, and that the writers were recording this, along with the idea of punishment from God, because that is how they viewed God during that time. (Did you know that Matthew, Jewish himself, was writing to his fellow Jews? And did you know, in the Gospel of Luke, Luke was a Gentile Greek doctor who was writing to his fellow Gentiles? Matthew portrayed Christ as King, while Luke writes about Him as Man. Let’s just say since starting my first ever Bible study, my mind has been blown, in a good way.) Ok, back to a few years ago - I was throwing around Bible verses because I felt a connection to them, however, I certainly couldn’t have told you anything about the context around them. As a new awareness was happening in my life at that time, I also went through a phase of doubt and confusion - as in, is there any meaning at all to this thing called life? I had lost my faith in God, Jesus, meaning, etc. However, something deep in my bones has always held hope higher than anything, and with that, a deep knowing that there was no way for tossing out the connections I felt to Jesus and the wisdom and truth that he taught. Deep down I knew the radical movement and teachings of Jesus were interconnected to everything, and that there was meaning with it all. In my own darkness (doubt), I was finding the light in whole new ways.
Around a year ago I started listening to Rob Bell while painting. Among other authors and awesome people doing awesome work, I became hooked with Rob Bell’s insight and teachings about Jesus and the Bible. In Rob Bell’s words, as he is talking about the Bible from his book “What is The Bible?”, he says,
“Towards the end of the Book of Acts, the Apostle Paul is in Rome. Rome, for a first century Jew, was truly the ends of the earth. He’s rented a house and he’s welcoming all who come to see him, telling them about the kingdom of God. There is an arc, a trajectory, a movement to the book of Acts, that you can only see if you fly at a higher altitude reading the book as a continuous narrative. What you see, is that this Jesus message can’t be contained by any one group or ethnicity or geographical location or religion. This kingdom of God message (that’s what Jesus talked the most about, and that’s what Paul talked the most about), simply cannot be kept in a box of any kind. It moves from Jerusalem to Rome, from the known to the unknown, from the particular to the universal, from the local to the global, from one people group, to all people. It begins with a specific group of people from a specific tribe, but spreads until it’s at the “ends of the earth”. It’s an expanding reality, breaking through whatever walls are put around it – spreading and growing beyond whatever boundaries it’s given. The very nature of God’s redeeming love and the reconciliation of all things, can’t help but make its way to the ends of the earth.”
I have certainly found a new light in understanding the Bible from a new perspective and reading it at a higher altitude. This light is bigger than there are words for. During this divided political season that we are living in, I wish we could be open to learning to listen to opposing viewpoints, with a willingness to open our hearts and minds, and above all, love like Jesus did. With this love, knowing that the Kingdom of God is in our midst, I believe we will not only find the light, but become it.
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