God is Love – so it’s been said. It’s also been analyzed that if A equals B, then B equals A. So if God is Love – then Love is God. “Whoa, hold your horses”, says my former evangelical minister. “When it says God is Love, it actually means that God embodies Love, not that Love and God are the same.”
Uh-huh. Evangelical ministers have God’s very ear. They would KNOW. I find it amusing to watch the apologetic armament arise against such a claim that God IS Love, not merely the embodiment of it. No one knows who, whom or what “God” is, much less the mindset and timeless purpose of God. “God”, like Yaweh, Allah, Zeus, Ahura Mazda and a pantheon of others through the ages is merely a name given to a force we’ve all experienced in thousands of different ways, yet been at a loss to accurately describe because of the limitations of both language and wisdom. A horse can no more describe to another horse what it is to be human than one human can describe to another what it is to be God.. “God” is a name to identify that which cannot be identified. We associate it with forces of creation, of existent beauty and eternal glory ~ something we’d gladly die for. “Love”, by the same measure is also a force. An inexplainably powerful force that tames the beast and empowers the meek, breaks the soul and heals a nation, inspires quantum leaps of creativity and drives us to obsessive madness. Something we’d gladly die for..
I ask you to consider the possibility, and a very real possibility according to the Unified Field Theory, that all that has been, is and will be is the manifesting result of a single magnificent force known by as many names as emotions we simple humans can experience. God, Love, Fear, is all an aspect of one single force with what we call Love being the feeling we experience when we are most deeply aligned with that force and Fear being the feeling of our distancing from that force. A single force that we are the very cells of. We are but a microcosm of one force and when we are most aligned – we see that we are Love. God is Love and Love is God. And if A equals B and B equals C, then C equals A. We are all one force. You, me, Earth the Milky Way, the universe, the multiverse . . . God? Hmmm, it is possible, you know.
In this painting I try to encapsulate the many elements we associate with the force of Love. From the dark and light aspects of it all – the great storm cloud behind her pouring forth the rainbow (passion) to the regeneration of life through fertily (rabbit ears) and seduction (subtle right hand position). From the great loyalty signified in the Borzoi to the idea of all things united as one force in the messenger from above (raven) tying it all together in the evolving shape of a heart.
Christina the Astonishing
Born in Belgium in 1150 and soon orphaned. At the age of 21 Christina suffered a massive seizure after which she was declared dead and said to have visited God who gave her a glimpse of both Purgatory and Hell where she saw numerous friends suffering. She made a deal with God to return to earth and let her suffer the torments there in the stead of her friends who would then be cleansed by her actions and they could then ascend to heaven.
When she returned to earth, she levitated to the ceiling of the shire where her body was lay in state, and after being coaxed down by a priest began her journey of living a life of poverty and torment for the sake of those she loved. She would sleep on rocks, wear rags and beg for food, throw herself into ovens and reportedly laid for hours in freezing rivers during the dead of winter. She even allowed herself to be dragged under the waters by a mill wheel, and through it all never suffered injury.
For this I chose to paint Christina in ice blue. Her hair rises as though carried by a great gust of wind ascending up towards the heavens and releasing the beauty and joy bestowed upon her friends and loved ones as the result of her torment. I try to show this through the flowers, bee, butterflies and doves evolving forth and the red flow behind represents the cleansing of the blood in transition and the release of it in loving and life giving sacrifice for the sake of others.
I think of Christina as the perfect empath. We can give her our pain and our stress and she will bear it out in our stead allowing us to refocus our gaze to the cosmos.
This painting is about the strength that arises from facing fear “head on.”
The wedding gown brings relationships into focus and its blossoming spread signifies the opening up to life that occurs when we water and give light to those relationships.
As her hair tumbles down the front it transforms into a waterfall that feeds the waters of our origins. In this we see the various forms of life all of which play critical roles in maintaining the ecological balance.
Keeping life simple gives us the flexibility to travel light at a moment’s notice, to adjust as a situation dictates change as signified by the ready suitcase.
The butterfly, the symbol of metamorphosis, is always moving toward the light, signifying the natural progression of spiritual evolution which comes only after we free ourselves from the bindings of co-dependence and the material world.
This painting is about the presentation of the young southern Debutante, a tradition that dresses up a young impressionable and naive child in the false expectations of parents plastered up against the Plexiglas of social acceptance.
The humble and barren origins are laid up against a game board on which the girl is positioned and maneuvered by her parents till she reaches the drapes that separate the social spheres. Upon presentation we see a scared child decorated in the lawn ornaments of southern landscape beautification, while the mask hides a self-identity that may unfortunately never become known.
Waiting to Fly
There’s an adage that states, “the more we know, the more we know how little is known.” Not much more than 100 years ago, scientists had concluded that Newton was the final word when it came to physics and that we’d learned all there is to know on the subject. One theory, one discovery later in 1905 and we realized we’d not even scratched the surface of who, what and even where we are. All that we believed about the universe, the earth , time, space and everything in between was completely turned on its ear. To assume that the final word on the concept of God, the cosmos and the afterlife was established by ancient observers 2000 years ago seems a bit short-sighted to me, particularly where the big picture is concerned. But is it wrong in the smaller picture, the personal one that guides our relationships with each other? Is ‘fact’ even the point here? hmmm . . .
I was approached at a show in Seattle last year by a rather grizzled man in his mid-30’s who’d had an obviously challenging life. After reading the collection of “diaries” next to my paintings he turned to me in a distressed state and blurted, “you’re going to hell!” After 44 years entrenched in Southern Baptist Evangelicalism, I knew his state of mind well. I responded, “For your sake, I certainly hope so.” This was a different response than he had anticipated and wanted to engage me concerning the horrors of never ending hellfire and the unceasing torture of unimaginable magnitude for all those who did not believe as he did. I knew instinctively that this man HAD to believe that there were irrationally terrible consequences for his actions, that his God really created it and that there was no room for question or doubt. Fundamentalism was his only hope to surviving this life – a young soul that would only fall back into destructive patterns without the fear and the redemption of a simple and understandable God. For me to challenge him would be a step toward destroying him – and that, I believe is a sin. By taking a fundamentalist stance he had advanced spiritually from the downward spiral he was once in. He has taken flight. This process of spiritual evolution can be repeated on any number of levels. Case in point #2: two years ago I received an email from a couple who were very upset with my definition of “evil”. We spent the next several months in heated debate and the result was a bit surprising – we found that we began to focus not on our differences but on our similarities and grew into a mutual respect of each other’s beliefs and have developed a very dear friendship in the process agreeing that Love is the most important ingredient of humanity. While they still hold their beliefs dear, they have grown stronger in their relationships with Love as the distilling factor.
Defending beliefs is not the goal. Challenging them is, and growing in a direction of love and empathy to the human condition is. And sometimes this doesn’t happen without a shift in the “fundamentals”. Case in point #3: my parents were dyed in the wool Bob Jones University Evangelicals. When I began my spiritual metamorphosis, it was my parents, with love as their guide, who would walk into the mouth of the devil to bring their child home. They believed strongly that truth would become evident as they chose to study what I had studied in order to show me the error of my way and help me back on to the one true path. But another shift happened, a realization – that we all see the same light, the light that all people of the earth see and try to interpret in their own way within their own customs and stories. One river, many wells. They’d been ready to fly for years but were hindered because, like most of us, we don’t know what it is we don’t know. Between tears, my mom recently confessed that her only regret was that she didn’t discover this earlier. To summarize, I don’t believe that my viewpoint is correct and everyone else is wrong, because in the big picture – we’re all wrong (see first paragraph). But in the smaller picture, when it comes to what we as individuals need and grasp for in order to live a life-affirming and abundant existence – we’re all correct in our choices, when it is based in Love and compassion for all living things.
In this painting, the bull represents beliefs we’ve held tightly be it religious, (fundamentalist, progressive, mystical, humanist), personal (sinful, saved, alone, chosen) or civic (might is right, the earth and animals were created for human use and consumption) or any other form of belief held as absolute. The poppies represent all that we don’t know we don’t know. Beautiful and scentful they’re all around us waiting to be plucked. The balloon represents consciousness and its innate understanding that everything we know is only a grain of sand on the ocean floor of potential and its desire to rise up and evolve. The breastplate is a symbol of our evolutionary fixation on survival, a defense against the fear of loss of certainty and thus the security of living forever because we still view death as an end rather than the doorway to a new beginning. The birds indicate those who’ve taken up the challenge to evolve and are flying from the cocoon shaped trees, however – they’re not all going in the same direction, but are flying according to their own unique dreams and understandings.
Katrina the Unforseen
Since the dawn of human awareness three basic questions have burned on the tip of our collective cerebral cortex: Where did we come from, why are we here and what’s going to happen to us when we die. But there is a fourth question that soon arose as likely the result of a pterodactyl feces crashing down on the skull of a most beloved – why do bad things happen to good people.
For almost as long, the philosophical responses have flooded volumes of holy books and classrooms ranging in responses from the butterfly effect to shit happens to God is punishing us for allowing women to take off their bras and gays to marry. Of course there are a range of arguments in between these basic headers, but regardless of the reason, the fact remains – bad things do happen to good people. Often our very best. And it will continue to happen. What we need are thoughts on how to live with it ~
Katrina the Unforeseen is my way of sharing the words of Kahlil Gibran in his transcendent poem “A Tear and a Smile”.
“I would not exchange the sorrows of my heart for the joys of the multitude. And I would not have the tears that sadness makes to flow from my every part turn into laughter, I would that my life remain a tear and a smile.
A tear to purify my heart and give me understanding of life’s secret and hidden things.
A smile to draw me nigh to the sons of my kind and to be a symbol of my glorification of the gods.
A tear to unite me with those of a broken heart; a smile to be a sign of my joy in existence.
I would rather that I died in yearning and longing than that I lived weary and despairing.
I want the hunger for love and beauty to be in the depths of my spirit, for I have seen those who are satisfied the most wretched of people. I have heard the sigh of those in yearning and longing, and it is sweeter than the sweetest melody. With evening’s coming the flower folds her petals and sleeps, embracing her longing. As morning’s approach she opens her lips to meet the sun’s kiss.
The life of a flower is longing and fulfillment. A tear and a smile.
The waters of the sea become vapor and rise and come together and are a cloud.
And the cloud floats above the hills and valleys until it meets the gentle breeze, then falls weeping to the fields and joins with the brooks and rivers to return to the sea, its home.
And so does the spirit become separated from the greater spirit to move in the world of matter and pass as a cloud over the mountain of sorrow and the plains of joy to meet the breeze of death and return whence it came.
To the ocean of Love and Beauty ~ to God.”