Sunday, December 23, 2007

Scribbling a Prayer

Sunday I did another picture during a church service. It was our Christmas service, I felt honored to be asked.

I prepared for it, perhaps not completely, but I did have it fairly planned out. The canvas board was on an easel upon the stage, the nativity sketched out in pencil. Pens, markers, even paints with suspension gel, brushes, water and rags were laid out in case I decided to change directions.

I planned on doing it all in pens. I wanted the image to be entirely made up of scripture passages, prayers, and thoughts about the moment when eternity intersected with the mundane. I would use tiny letters with the thin points for darker areas, watercolor pens for variety of shades, thicker regular Sharpies for the heavier portions.

The emphasis in this picture was to be on the animals. The dirt and smell and stink and filth of a stable where the Creator chose to enter the world. The foreground would have a large cow staring straight out, on the other side a camel looking toward it, and the middle ground would have a variety of other animals, donkey, sheep... In the background was the glowing wonder of the infant Messiah.

What I was really looking forward to was the over two hours of solid prayer. I can tune things out fairly well, and so when the service began I found myself looking at the blank canvas and my surroundings dropped away. The iPod plugged into my ear sockets helped.

I prayed steadily. I let my creativity and my sense of color mix with my prayers.

Not much happened.

There were small difficulties to overcome, the watercolor pens didn’t show up like I thought they would, the fine point Sharpies didn’t either. I did the entire image with the fat points of regular tipped Sharpies, a limited color palette.

But that isn’t really why not much happened.

I was grieving.

I prayed and thought about my life. About the mess of things in my home. I thought about the mess of a stable, of shit on the packed dirt and unwashed shepherds crowding around a newborn lying in a feeding trough.

I thought about what a mess the world is in general, and how amazing it is that I know God, that He knows me, and yet I walk through crap.

Perhaps that is why that when the picture was done I slipped quickly away from those in our church, avoided talking to them. I didn’t want their praises or congratulations or questions about how I did it or anecdotes about art they have enjoyed. I wanted to run away. I wanted to toss the picture far away and just let the whole thing go.

A friend of mine wrote me an email that night, after she read the previous post. I hope she doesn’t mind if I quote part of it:

Will, dear friend, you have turned the corner and have become more aware of the past and present and how the two are joined together. That's good.
I hear your cries and I hear you being very hard on yourself since more and more is being revealed to you. I understand all of that and it's tough to face and very painful.

But Will, you must let it go. What I see in you is gloom coupled with an amazing love for Christ. He came to give you light and life, not doom and gloom.

I understand that you need to let it out, but after that you have a decision to make; move on.

I love to see you paint, but the colors reflect much of who you are. I long to see yellow in your art, bright yellow, bright greens, etc. etc. It's there Will, I know it is. Joy is not colored in black and dark blues, but in the Glory of what Christ did for us. He is Risen, Risen indeed, and that brings all the colors in the rainbow forth, like a huge Hallelujah Choir.

Get in touch with it, Will. Rise with Christ and let the colors sparkle and inspire you.

I think it interesting how she says that I am tearing myself apart at the same time that I love my Lord so much. Weird dichotomy. A little like the weird pairing of a perfect eternal God lying in a feeding trough with shit on the floor.

I also like how she pointed out the color choices I unconsciously made. She saw something I didn’t. I do remember that nearly throughout the whole thing I had four shades of brown and a black pens in my hand. I’d like to feel a little more yellow, a little more green in my life.

I went to an Al Anon meeting last night. I suppose it did me some good. It was hard to talk. But I think it was good.


Anonymous said...

Way to go, Will. You're on your way to a brand new discovery and God and I are pushing your behind.

glassgirl said...

Still praying and thinking of you. Your art continues to be an inspiration. I pray more brights can enter in, but emotions have to be a part of creation as well! Thanks for the honesty in your last post.

Amrita said...

The lord is near those with a broken and contrite heart Will.

Judas Hate said...
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