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Tag Archives | art for small space

Tree of Leaf-angelization

Today’s Advent Art Meditation is from Matthew 4:14-16. Scroll down to “Thursday”.

JN800_Autumn Walk Among the Leaves © Jen Norton

“Autumn Walk Among the Leaves”

We have a humongous tree in our front yard. It’s the tallest tree on the block, and I don’t mean slightly taller. It’s literally three times higher than any other tree. I use it as a landmark for people to find my house. When I point out my tall tree to someone in the neighborhood, they usually look up and say, “Wow, I didn’t even notice that!” How could they miss it? But then I think most of us live our lives, nose down, on auto-pilot, thinking about whatever it is we need to think about that day. We forget to look up and notice the foliage.

God knows we’re busy, so in the proper season, he relinquishes the leaves down into our world. My tree drops thousands upon thousands of leaves each fall, and not just on our yard. With the help of the wind it shares them with ALL the neighbors. I’m pretty sure my tree keeps several gardeners employed throughout the winter months. Some immediately clean the leaves away. Some might get really annoyed and wish I’d cut my tree down. But some may relish the leaves that bring the fall mood and change of season. And the children, especially, will rake them up and then revel in jumping into the middle of the pile.

In today’s verse, Jesus has just returned from his temptation episode in the desert to find his cousin John the Baptist  arrested. He leaves Nazareth and moves to Capernaum, fulfilling one of Isaiah’s prophesies about people from those lands living in darkness now seeing the light. Jesus begins his mission to teach people to reform their lives. He gathers his disciples, growing their budding faith. They will later travel like the leaves in the spirited wind to new lands to share the Word. Some who hear will welcome the new season; some will not.

God’s love is like my tree, grounded, providing life, branching out. We are like the leaves. We begin as buds and grow to big green leaves. As the green of youth leaves us, we take on our full colors and eventually ride the winds of our talents to help spread the message of love. Within the seasons, God is always creating and we are part of it, whether we are aware of it or not. I hope as you celebrate Christmas this weekend, wherever the wind blows you, you will be like the children reveling in the “leaves” of your friend and family tree and the mystery of the season. It’s your time to notice.

You can purchase this little illustration here.

This Little Lighthouse of Mine

The reference for today’s Advent Art Mediation is John 1: 6-9

Santa Cruz Lighthouse Art © Jen Norton

This Little Lighthouse of Mine

John is introduced as a man sent from God to bear witness to the light that was coming into the world. It is clarified that he is not the actual light, but merely here to testify. If we continue on past verse 9, we see that not all recognize “the Light”, but those that do are empowered to become children of God.

I have to admit, there have been points in my life where I wasn’t so sure about the light thing. Maybe Jesus was just a great social revolutionary. Maybe he’s just one iteration of many times God has become man. Other indigenous cultures have similar mythology, after all. I’m a painter…I work in shades of gray and alternate possibilities. But then I look at stories of men and women that really walked the earth (in recorded time) and historical narratives that tie together. The bible was compiled over a long period of time by a variety of people. It would be awfully hard to tie up all those loose ends and fulfill hundreds of prophesies without some form of divine intervention, not to mention stand the test of time under the scrutiny of scholars. And then there was that death and resurrection thing, with eye-witnesses. So I choose to believe.

Stronger proof for me has been in the moments when I’ve actually felt God’s presence. The occasion that comes to mind today happened about 15 years ago. We were trying to have children and coming to the realization that it wasn’t going to happen with out the miracles of modern science. I was really down and really worried.

One day, after work, I was “called” to go stand along West Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz, near the Lighthouse that houses the surfing museum. Called is a weird thing to try to describe (or believe) in an internet blog post. I can only say that I had this intense desire to drive 1/2 hour in the opposite direction from my house, over a mountain, to go stand on the cliff of the sea for no known reason. This wasn’t the first time I’d experienced this phenomenon, so I didn’t question. I just went. I stood by the ocean in the wind with my eyes closed. After a moment, all human sounds around me left and all I heard was the wind in my ears. In the wind, I heard a voice that instantly told me exactly what needed to happen and to not be afraid. It wasn’t an audible voice…it was more like the words were placed inside me.

You may be thinking I’m a bit crazy. That’s OK…I’m an artist, so your crazy might just be my normal. I only know that the feeling I left with that day carried me through the years it took to get my beautiful daughter, born on Christmas Eve. Near the lighthouse, I caught a glimmer of light to come.

This tiny Lighthouse art is available here.