"The man who renounces himself, comes to himself." Emerson
If we choose for ourselves to be open to marvel within the mere day to day drone, then how much more might we be enlightened by the rare blasts of furious light, seldom caught spaces in which we unmistakably stare directly into the face of God? The delicate occasions, the distant whisper, the slow growing and shrinking of light and shadow...these are the moments to prepare our sight for the brief flashes of blazed wonder.
More often than not, these small miracles pass us by without notice, a slight movement in our peripheral that we habitually ignore. As I have begun this experiment of keeping the eyes within open, I am finding the voice and instruction of God everywhere. Each rustle of leaves in my spirit that I choose to recognize are in fact startling clues to look upward. And without fail, with my gaze lifted I will find extraordinary glimpses of the tree of life.
Painting, being my trade does not always exclude me from these mundane daily rhythms. Though in essence it is a creative job, there are still deadlines and to do lists that seem unending. Often times I am obligated to repeat a particular painting method time and again, and the assignments can become as prosaic as any other form of work .
If it were not for the recent opening of the eyes in my chest, the ones that recognize the insides of things, rather than the outer arenas of shape and color, I would have once again passed over this secret. There, right there, in a process I have performed on countless occasions, I caught a brief look, a glimmering speck of God. A piece of His hair perhaps, or a slight movement of His hand.... and I was astonished to realize just how well He breaths through everything.
The process is begun like any other. Thick coats of paint are placed on the chosen surface, creating a completed background. At this juncture, the next natural step would be to continue building color and shape, forming through additional layers of medium a final product. This is where I take a different route. Instead, after the foundation is complete mineral spirits are then poured over the painting in a desired shape and composition. The thinner essentially eats through the pigments, congealing into what looks like mud on the surface. Then I wait, and slowly, with a rag, wipe away the filthy mire to reveal the image waiting beneath.
Oh God! I see! I see you there, rising out of the wet layers, revealing who you are to me, and I want to taste this revelation. I want to hold it in my dirty, paint doused hands. I want to eat this morsel of truth. How often I have smothered your voice by choosing to stack these blankets of self, never stopping to hear your plea to simply remove.
There is so much to squander in my excess. And I do not mean objects and purchases, though they too can become dense coverings, reshaping our identities. What I am speaking of are the intangible additions, the portions of self we create to communicate who we are. How often I camouflage my soul with shrouds I think others might find attractive, or wrap myself in choices that I believe will make me complete. How my words alone are deadly brushes, painting images that cover the God within.
And yet He still sees me as His father sees me. Which is the most romantic of all notions, as it is by the very emptying of His own life that He might behold me as spotless and clean. He drained His body of breath that it may fill up in splendor, the most beautiful painting ever known. The wiping away of His heartbeat was the only saving grace I might have to live. How muddy it appeared to those that were there to witness it. His friends, His own mother watched and wondered, wept as the sky turned into coal and death over took Him. And they waited. They waited, they doubted, and they lay, surrounded by the dark filth of the unknown. But then death was obliterated and He rose to the fullness of every prophecy and was glorified. Yet still I am afraid, still I wrestle against consenting to let His spirit pour over the places inside of me He has asked me to remove.
I have begun to see, and with that I have found that the way I have seen is my very problem. In fear of trusting Him I continuously build layer after layer, thinking I might be finding truth. I take His brush into my own grasp and blindly splatter paint over His plans. "Plans to proper me and not to harm me, plans to give me hope and a future!" (Jeremiah 29:11) Are my own agendas better than this? How could they be? And so, today my hope is this..... that I may find the courage to grab hold of this love, the hem of His garment dangling out before me, and with it wipe clear the glass I have fogged, that I might see the glory that waits beyond.
It is His great affection that woos me to kneel, to offer up the hands I have used to build my own towers. I will lie down with the hope that He might tear them away. And when the dust settles, I know, I trust that I will witness the God soaked beauty of what remains.