Art & Healing: Painting (4/6)
In the summer of 2016, on a whim, I answered an ad in which a young woman working on an art degree offered private art tutoring. A couple of times a month she came over for an afternoon and worked with me on drawing, then painting. Soon I was copying famous paintings, then attempting my own designs. As with drawing, I found the act of painting to be meditative, a way of concentrating the attention that was surprisingly soothing.
One of my favorite subjects to paint is butterflies. This is an extension of my obsession with the actual creatures, for whom I have planted a butterfly garden (a topic I’m sure to return to in a future post). One of the things I love about them is the powerful symbolism in their lifecycle. For me, the cocoon (or more accurately, the chrysalis, but let’s not quibble over details) is symbolic of a state of drawing inward into silence and solitude. It is a spiritual place of hidden stillness, a place of being alone with God, of yielding to what He wants to do with me. No one else sees what happens in this secret place, and what does happen here is slow but profound. Did you know that when a caterpillar enters the chrysalis, it literally melts into a green goo and gradually re-forms into an entirely different creature? What an amazing miracle!
“God calls the caterpillar to the cocoon.”
“God calls the caterpillar to the cocoon.” This thought came to me one day very unexpectedly, as if from outside my own mind, and it brought me up short. Here I am, an ordinary caterpillar, living my ordinary caterpillar life, doing what caterpillars do, which is basically eating leaves all day, until one day, I am interrupted by a strong desire to completely change my life. To stop eating leaves, to crawl off by myself, to attach myself to a stem or fence post, and to enter a strange new stage of hibernation, almost a kind of death. It makes no sense! And yet that is what God calls the caterpillar to do. I wonder if it has any inkling of what is in store? Or does it come as wonderful surprise the day it emerges from the cocoon and finds that it has beautiful new wings?
So I painted the above little painting to commemorate this process. Into the brown cocoon I painted these words from an old worship song we used to sing: “Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me.” It became my prayer of surrender from within the chrysalis.
Here’s another painting I did for my beloved sister-in-law, Kathy Welch, of a beach at sunset. Here in southeast Texas, we love to visit the beach, and I wanted to capture the peace of that moment when, suspended between day and night, the sky blazes with color, reflecting on the water, and all you hear is the rhythmic shush of the waves on the shore and the call of the seagulls.
Painting is another form of creative expression which can be very enjoyable and therapeutic to practice.
P.S.: Several posts ago, in the one about music, I shared the words of a lullaby that God gave me to minister comfort and healing to me years ago. Since then, my sister, Suzanne Jones, has collaborated with me to arrange and record that song, and the result is now posted there. (Thank you, Suzanne! ❤️️) May it minister to those of us who find it difficult to really experience how deeply loved and cherished we are by our heavenly Daddy.
Next post: Birdsong