It was summer of 1996 when I attended FCA camp in Marshall, Indiana. I was a big city Chicago gal making a journey into the sticks to meet other sport minded/God minded kids. We were all kids.
I remember the first night of chapel. This would be the first time I met God. It wasn't at church back home and it wasn't at a youth group meeting. He was there in Indiana, waiting for me. I will never forget the beautiful toned wood on that chapel that we sang in and met Jesus at...I will never forget the paths cut out for us with rock and stone. I will never forget the camp t shirts and the the feeling that was in the air. It was too thick to ignore.
Jesus was waiting for me.
We sang songs and I remember there was an "altar call" for those who wanted to accept Jesus into their hearts and after, we were handed a tiny little red pamphlet with answers to all the questions..."what happens now?" I was 14 years old, I had lots of questions.
I was a kid in years, but in life I was well beyond my years. I had experience so much pain up until this point I felt so happy to just sing songs and be amongst people who just expected me to be 13. But what was typical for me was that I wanted to be alone. I didn't want to be amongst the people, it was too cheerful and too uplifting for a gal like me who had been through so much already...
I remember just wanting to be alone with him. I said the prayer with everyone but I remember feeling like it wasn't right. I just wanted to be alone with him. everyone walked out of chapel to greet free time and I walked that rock path all the way to the water...
I landed upon a dock. It was so quiet I couldn't even hear the air move. He was there. I sat on the dock and bowed my head and folded my hands and did everything they told me to do. Except this time it felt right. I asked Jesus to come into my heart, my life, and take ownership. I asked him to forgive me of my sin and I told him I needed him. I don't remember what else came out of my 13 year old heart but I will never forget what happened next.
I opened my eyes and there I was alone on that dock in the middle of a scarce Midwest farming town, and I looked to the heavens and I saw my first shooting star....
This past weekend was sort of an eye opener for me. As you know, I am so brand new to this art world and I am not sure of where I am going. I have given myself permission to try things and fail. I don't expect things to all fall together at once. But this weekend I painted some art and I felt unusually comforted. I felt at peace.
And it dawned on me why I felt so good about this weekends work.
I painted the feeling of where I first became alive.
Its the tones, the feel of the weathered wood on that dock. Its the peace I felt there, the first time I really felt peace in my life. The stillness of the water. The dark blue tones paired with light blue tones...the rusty reddish brown tones...the feeling of being connected to the nature around me, the nature that was created for me where I met my God.
The most comfort I feel in my art is not painting something that would typically hang in a museum or gallery. I don't use an easel and I have tried. Rather I enjoy being able to pick up the canvas and turn it and walk around with it. I like to move it to the outside and drip running paint and water on it. I like to run my painters knife over it and simulate many years of weather and roughness. I like to visually look at something that is weathered and distressed because I find beauty in it.
Its peaceful to me that something can be so old and broken and yet be so beautiful. It is peaceful to me that I can approach God that way. And it is peaceful that he accepts me that way.
I don't paint the Midwest. I don't paint the city. I don't like to use color that I didn't see in nature that day. It all pretty much came together for me. And now I understand why I love to be outside so much and why the water is my refuge. I understand now why I love being married to my Navy husband who takes us from water front town to waterfront town and why when we end up in San Antonio Texas, I feel like i am missing a piece of my soul.
I am suddenly at peace with that art I make. I am at peace because I don't feel as if I am wandering around aimlessly anymore trying to figure it all out.
God said something to me this weekend that I will never forget.
Just paint things that are pretty to look at.
So that's what I am going to do. Whether its a flag or a beach scene or something that doesn't even make sense. I am going to paint it because there must be other people who find beauty in the serenity of the water and the wide open sky and the beautiful wood tones on that chapel, and on that dock. My goodness do I love those tones...
I feel at peace.
|FCA Camp Marshall, Indiana...many years ago ;)|