The word 'beloved' always brings me great pause. It is one of those words my spirit wrestles with because I don't comprehend my relationship with Christ that way....but I wish I did. This weekend I was fortunate enough to spend it with a great group of ladies at the Koinonia conference in Panama City. To be honest, I wasn't sure I wanted to go....not because I didn't want to connect with these women or express my faith, but because I struggle with the concept of public worship and didn't want to feel awkward in this moment. Rather than give into that fear, I faced it, chose to go, and chose to paint through the service as a way to connect with my faith in a process that I am comfortable with...through my art.
I started with writing my intentions and prayer for the day on my paper and as my spirit led, my brush followed. I wish I could say there was an easy flow to this but like always, I processed my angst through the moments of prayer. It was an interesting few hours as I deliberately chose colors and lines and marks in response to words said or feelings felt. Though a bit odd at first, within the first few minutes of committing to use my gift through the service, I was totally tuned in and that my friends.....was....the miracle.
For the first time I didn't feel like a fish out of water in a church service. I know that sounds odd, especially to many folks who know me and know that I was raised in church my entire life. As much as I love church, love the connection, love the lessons, I just never quite got the worship part of it all until I was allowed to let my paint flow.
Being tuned in was great, but it didn't prevent my head from colliding with my heart and there were moments that gave me great pause. After painting a while, creating many layers, and feeling the angst arise, I stopped, took a deep breathe and two visions came into play. The first one was a person with their hands raised high in great praise for their heavenly father....their beloved . The second was much more profound. I saw the image of Jesus, on the cross, hands raised, and the idea that he is the true beloved hit home with me. I can't imagine how Mary must have felt watching her son crucified....her beloved child. It was a humbling thought at the sacrifice of the life he gave.
Here are some of the images of the process as I began and painted through the service with a quite meditation time afterwards.
Though quite abstract, I love the marks, the energy, the tension in this painting. It connects me with the common thread in that my faith is a lot like this...marked up, full of tension, full of beauty, and so worth fighting for. This painting carries that message forward for me and using my gift to share that message brings me great peace. I may not always understand the purpose of why images appear or don't, but I do trust the message and am grateful for it.
This experience taught me so much. It taught me that being brave is valuable, not only to me, but it helps others become brave themselves. I also learned that there is no cookie cutter version of what worship should look like. For one person hands being raised is great, for another being still in quiet prayer is perfect, and for me, letting my paint flow is the best way I connect with my faith, and that is beyond comforting.
I am grateful to the ladies who hosted this weekend, especially Monica and Flow! Koinonia is a treasure for so many and without the nudges along the way I would have missed out on this BRAVERY!
Embrace Your Place and Go With Grace Friends!