Blessings to you on this day! Today I’m sharing things that are stripped bare and honest. No formal gowns. Nothing fancy. Just authentic sharing from the heart. First, a clip (in the video below) that I’ve shared here before of a regular day at home when my daughter agreed to sing the hymn “In Christ Alone” with me spontaneously, no music, reading the lyrics I pulled up on the screen in case we’d forget the words. I can’t remember why I wanted to film this song for my blog that day, but sometimes it’s nice when all the music is stripped away. There’s no stage, there’s no audience. It’s just the words and human voices. Lyrics at top of the screen so you can sing along.
Next, one of my early paintings. There is no video for this one, and it’s a bit strange, so I have seldom shared it. But, since I’m sharing raw and authentic things, honest things, I’ll share this one today and talk to you about what it means. Here is the version I added text to, to help explain it.
This is how it felt when I was Mom’s caregiver and she asked me to scrub her feet for her. I thought I would talk about this at length but I realize I’d rather not put too many private details about the family on this public space, so I’ll have to try to communicate without the full story. Imagine if pushed to your limits on what you think you can do, feeling humbled to a breaking point, feeling alone in that point of despair. Does anyone see you? Does anyone know what you do for others, when you feel you can’t go on another minute? I felt in that second (washing her feet) that Jesus was there. No, I didn’t see Him, but it was a certain and strong impression, as if I’d see Him if I turned around (and it felt like I was not allowed to do so). I tried to paint what I saw in my mind, what I felt I’d see if I turned around. Sad eyes, full of empathy, and it felt like a message “For the least of these you do for Me”. It wasn’t a voice, it wasn’t an image, but the message and face was kind of like when we see and hear things in a dream as we’re about to wake up- when we know we are dreaming but the dream is finishing as we’re coming into a wakened state, so the conscious/unconscious merge. As if we can see things that are behind us, even though our dream self is not looking behind, we just know what is there. That’s the best way I can think of to explain it. Of course, one could argue that I was so emotionally stressed that I imagined this, or that I induced a dream-like state. That’s certainly one way to look at it. But in my heart, I know what I experienced, and I believe that I was given encouragement that we are never alone, and He sees what we do for others when we feel broken and weary. We matter, and we are loved. Just after I felt that impression, Mom looked at me in a very unusual way, as if she’d just seen Jesus too- but a stern scolding Jesus, not the empathetic one I saw. She immediately said, “You don’t have to do that, Natalie” and she never asked me to scrub her feet again.
Last, I’d like to share one of the first paintings I have video of. It’s called “Dove in a Forest”. The dove is an important symbol of Christianity and Easter, and it brings peace to us in ways that are personal to each of us. I selected this one because I painted it from imagination. I didn’t have a big website presence then, or thousands of social media followers. It was before I was targeted by hate groups, before anyone knew who I was. It was when I simply painted what I felt in my heart to share. Sometimes what we share when we are being most ourselves, alone, and trying to connect our solitary thoughts with the greater family of humans is our best work. Is it my most detailed, experienced and artistically best work? No. But I believe that that’s not what God asks of us.
Redemption isn’t about perfection or pleasing mankind. The beauty of Easter is freedom through mercy and grace. We cannot earn that kind of supernatural love. It is a gift. And that gift brings us peace.
God bless you and your family on this Easter Sunday and always.
Note: I will be starting the next round of projects for the 2023 collection called “Joyful Living”. Some of those will be short and light, others will be detailed and will take longer to complete. I hope you will enjoy this year’s series. Please subscribe if you want to be notified when there’s something new here (if you haven’t already).