Days before you came, 2010
I live in a city that has not fully developed into a total urban area. There are small clusters of woods speckled throughout. Often times I will be driving home late in the evening and suddenly deer or other creatures dart out from trees and streak across my path, confused to find themselves suddenly on hard asphalt, blinded in my headlights. I am always saddened by their existence, trapped in ever shrinking pockets of safety. These wooded retreats are too small and insufficient for them to thrive. They are imprisoned inside small forest islands, surrounded by an ocean of man and all our deathly creation.
I am nothing but one of these. From the very moment I wrestled my way out of the mother bed I grew in, pushing past the cloth of her own flesh that formed me and my eyes blinked and my skin was touched by air and light, I was a creature destined to live as such. Aren't we all? Is this not the cruelty of sin? As now a mother myself I look at my innocent children and I know without any doubt that they too are just as I am. Since the teeth of our oldest ancestors sunk into the knowledge that the garden too was just a tiny island, we have been trapped within a space too small for the bodies in which we were created.
And yet, as all good stories go, there was hope. A seed was planted in a virgin woman and it grew into a man. Because He was fully man, He too was given to this world in which the frame of our bodies holds the only promise for safety and joy. Yet He overcame the world, the trap, the perimeters of damnation. His life carved out a path to grace, and we have been invited to the feast of His sacrifice, to live somewhere outside the curse. His death gave us a new heart, and it is this new heart that is our promise. When we choose to submit it to God, our soul garden has the ability to stretch endlessly outward. He pulls at the corners and propels the doughy ball of our spirit in His giant god hands. He rolls it out, and it spreads across the broken landscape.
The greatest challenge in this "real estate" war, the constant staking out of the ground that is our inheritance is submitting ourselves back to the creator. To have true relationship with God, I must pursue Him without the hope of receiving a single thing, other than the extending of my own spirit temple. Beyond even this, to be willing to seek Him out knowing the probability that it is in His plan to remove every bit of the strongholds I have created for myself. I have called upon God for many things. I have cried aloud, but if I am honest, each of these prayers have been in hopes to find ways to reach what I have simply created in my own mind. What I see as home. Have I truly been willing to leave these tiny wooded prisons and seek the great and unknown forests, the uncharted God lands that I know nothing of?
The habit of creating my own dwelling is the very way that I allow myself to be robbed from the power of His joy. I can only submit myself again and again, letting God's hand stretch my soul ever outward, so that just as Jesus spoke as He went to His own death I might be able to say..."the ruler of this world cometh, but he has nothing in me" (Jn 14:30) When I become broken to my own will, I am fully accessible to the Lord alone, and finally able to see the eternal spaces in which I might call home.
The painting below was completed a couple of years ago. It was created during a time of great turmoil and sadness in my life. It was entitled, "Together, Alone." I have often wondered, though I wrote the title, why I had chosen it. It came to me as I witnessed these fearful, trapped animals bound across the pavement, searching for a place they were created for, but have never found . I have seen myself in their struggle, and I know that there is a greater place to which we are called. There is a home within, and for me to find it, I may be stripped to nothing, but I am willing that I might be there with Him, never alone.
Together, Alone 2010