I finished a new oil painting. It's called "...to the place I belong." It is a painting of the log circle at Grand Rapids Public School's Zoo School. My daughter Ellie is attending this 6th-grade-only school and is in the painting. It was a gift for Mr. K (Dennis Kretschman) who has taught there 39 years and counting. Prints were also auctioned off to raise money for the school and their annual auction.
picking Ellie up from Zoo School one fall afternoon I was particularly
moved. A sequence
of observations followed…
·The symbolism in the scene, -covered and
surround by the very nature they are studying and captivated by.
·The significance of moments like this in the lives of these kids as they
grow into adults.
·The devotion and heart the teachers put into
these kids that extends far beyond their “jobs.”
·The sheer beauty of the setting.
of the song “County Road,” often sung at this spot with Mr. K playing the guitar, came to mind.“Country roads take me home, to the place I
place I belong” just seemed to describe all of these thoughts.
I snapped a couple
take long to think of painting the scene.But I wanted to paint it a way that was more timeless and less
specific.–Like it could be any class,
any year and represent the thoughts above.I attempted to represent years and lives and memories in this frozen
moment. “Life is old here, older than the trees” and “all my memories gather
‘round” are a couple more lines from Country Road that seem appropriate as
acknowledge that this art is a poor reproduction of the real thing, -of being
there that day.But I hope as years pass
and people grow up it helps bring them back to this place, “…to the place I
There isn't necessarily any theological basis for this or anything, there isn't even any reason to think this would ever happen. But what if you spent eternity in the kind of heaven you designed while here on earth? What if heaven operated on the laws and rules you live your life by? What if people treated each other just as you've treated others in this life?
Would you want to live in a heaven like that?
I think it might look way too much like this world.
I pretty much spent most of my life living a sort of Christian "escapism" life. One where Good is unattainable. Where we're no good, but forgiven, and heaven will be a place where it all gets better.
I think those things are true but...
I think this can be toxic thinking for a Jesus follower if it leads to some sort of fatalism about our potential in this world. Or believing we simply can't actually do any good that our Father would be proud of. Listening to one of the songs on the new Switchfoot album, Vice Verses, called "Where I Belong, -a couple of verses made me think. They go like this: And on that final day I day I die I want to hold my head up high I want to tell You that I tried To live it like a song And when I reach the other side I want to look You in the eye And know that I've arrived In a world where I belong For most of my life I felt so strongly that there is nothing I could do that I would ever be proud of in front of the Lord for. According to at least one parable Jesus told, the character representing God says, "well done good and faithful servant.". This has always bothered me because I could just never see God saying anything like that to me. But I guess now I'm starting to think there is such thing as doing a good job in the kingdom of God. Not a perfect job, or a job that saves our souls, but a job that is good, verses bad.
These lyrics have really challenged me to live a life that I can at least say "I tried my hardest" about. There is a certain honesty reached that we don't have to feel ashamed of when we try our best, regardless of the results. My best may be terribly ineffective but it is still my best and far from my worst. And I can live with the truth of knowing I tried. That truth really appeals to me. So, inspired by the idea that all is not lost already I will TRY like the lyrics say, to life my life "like a song," -this one.
Ellie had to do a forestry project on a tree and she picked the Ohio Buckeye. She had to do a bunch of stuff on the tree but one of the things was 2 creative types of literature. She chose a recipe and a magazine article. Here they are!
From the ground, life rises up in a massive collective of praise to its creator. The trees spread up and out their leaves together, reaching to give glory to the one that gave them life. The view of a valley, is a symphony of greens fighting toward the sunlight. A open field expresses its own mosaic of colors and textures rising to their maker. It is their purpose. Like the rest of the earth, we were created to rise and extend the reaches and efforts of our lives up and out in praise to the one who made us. It is our very purpose. If the efforts of your life are not growing up and out to praise the one who made you are, quite simply, missing the reason you exist. You may do some interesting things but understand, you will miss the whole point of life.
As I sling imperfect measurements of flour and brown sugar into a big enamelware bowl this morning, as I sip my coffee out of the Swede coffee cup (”you can always tell a Swede but you can’t tell him much”), as I drag my brushes through the vibrant liquid colors and commit them to the paper, my grandma is with me in the kitchen today. Hazel was my mother’s mother. Her middle name was Fern.
She loved her family and was a consummate homemaker. She loved the nothingness of the Arizona desert. She loved the pink, cloudy evening skies of the West. In her opinion, the Tetons were God’s most extravagant gift to his children. She was an artist and took painting courses by correspondence. She had a real gypsy spirit and didn’t mind moving around, wherever the winds of opportunity blew her and her family. She was a rascally tomboy when she was young, and kept a healthy portion of that feisty nature as long as she lived. Read the rest of this entry »
I have finally finished a drawing I was asked to do a long time ago. I spent a long time trying to figure out how to accomplish what I was asked to do. I was asked to do some sort of commemorative drawing to go into the center of a mat signed by a bunch of people (myself included) who worked at Blodgett's Family Birth Center over the years. I ended up doing a collage of images representing the building, old and new, and a mother and baby (Molly and Ellie). Honestly the hand drawn lettering was probably the hardest part of it all. I still have no idea where this piece will reside in the end. But its finally done nonetheless.