Thursday, March 9, 2017

A Living Prayer

To be seen by God

“Do I believe in God?  Yes!  When I am at work I feel like I am assisted by someone who leads me to do things that are greater than myself, greater than what I have done before.”  Henri Matisse

Close to the end of his artistic career, Matisse embarked on creating “The Chapelle du Rosaire de Vence” (Chapel of the Rosary), a chapel in France.  He considered it the most significant work of his career, and perhaps one could say that something outside himself caused him to create this masterpiece.  As I read his thoughts, I am certain there was something more to why he created art of any kind.

On the outside, his long-standing friendship with Monique Bourgeois, who he met as a young nurse, engaged and motivated him to take on this work.  Their friendship developed over time and lasted for years.  They remained friends as she became a Dominican nun, and his work took on life and breath when he began designing the chapel.  But was it more than this friendship that moved him? 

He wasn’t spiritual in the least, and when challenged by his peers about the project, he said, “Doing this is essentially a work of art.  I don’t know whether or not I am a believer, the essential is to work in a state of mind that is close to prayer.”  He went against the tide to create his masterpiece and he was true to himself in the process.

As an artist, there is something that drives me to create.  Recently, a gentle whisper in my heart made me take pause.  The simple, yet profound, words, “To be seen by God, and not by man.  To love like God, and not like man,” rocked my world.  There is something inside me that wants to be seen, yet not.  It’s a definite tug-of-war, and learning how to lose is actually understanding that you really win.

When I started working with Denise, my art coach, the first question she asked me was, why do I create art?  My answer seemed dramatic, but I spilled it out anyway.  I simply told her that If I did not create, I would feel as though I'd die.  At that moment, the process of discovery and learning began.

The journey took me past fear, which is the most troubling aspect of being an artist.  Once I was able to understand this, creating for myself and more so for something other than myself, for the Glory of God, put me in a different frame of mind.  I may be simplifying it a bit, but I think you get the idea.

My art is simply a form of prayer.  As I wrap my head and heart around this, I move into a different arena.  It is here that I long to be seen by God, and not man.  It is a place of communion, and where an exchange takes place.  It is where I can share my prayer with the world, and the size of the world doesn’t matter.  I pour out what HE pours in, all to be blessing to God, to receive a blessing and to bless others.

So, my question for you is, what is your form of prayer?  What has God placed in you that when you communicate it to the world, it is an offering and a pouring out of a blessing unto HIM, unto your heart and unto others?

The chapel Matisse built, was designed with intricate details that were thought out specifically, so that each person entering it would be deeply affected by the beauty it offered.  His design was personal, powerful, and beautiful.  A display that even today connects people to God.

Our gifts are the same.  They are personal, powerful and beautiful.  During this season of lent, let your gift be poured out as a prayer, for all to see.  But most of all, to be seen by God.

God’s various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various ministries are carried out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people!
1 Corinthians 12:4-11The Message (MSG)




The Chapelle du Rosaire de Vence

Friday, March 3, 2017

Facing the Elements

My husband has a knack for finding used exotic cars.  Head turning cars priced to where the average Joe can afford them.  And he’s done this a few times.  One of those cars was a beautiful Jaguar.  It was luxury beyond what I’ve ever sat in and we enjoyed that car for many years.  He appreciated it because of its fine qualities and features.  Everything about that car was top notch, inside and out.  He knew every aspect of the car and meticulously cared for it, especially its signature British Racing Green paint job.  Over time, the elements started to invade the paint and caused it to breakdown and fail.  It began to fade and discolor in areas and the luster of the paint was completely missing in many spots.  The only thing that would truly help “fix” the erosion was a restoration.  The car really wasn’t worth putting that kind of money into it.  Reluctantly, he sold it. 

We can be affected by so many things in our lives.  We are a one of a kind creation that comes into the world ready to shine.  Along the way, though, the elements take their toll on us.  Words, people, emotions we feel, experiences we encounter.  The list goes on and on.  All these things affect us, affect the brilliance of who we are.   Some of us are resilient and can weather out so much of the things that come against us.  Thankfully, our creator-designer, God knows everything about us.  He knows how to care for us, meticulously.  And instead of giving up on us, He has made a way for us to be restored.  To have a way for our luster to shine again.  That restoration comes through his son, Jesus.  Through Christ we can bring those parts of our lives that have been dulled by what the world throws our way.  Through Christ we can have joy and we can walk with our heads held high.  Through Christ, we can fully know our identity.  It is in this restoration and realization that we can share the hope we have found.  To pour kindness and compassion on others.  Maybe we can have a hand in helping others find their luster by pointing them to the one who created the world.  The one we call Love.


And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him.  2 Corinthians 5:18