These are difficult times for us all and many of us are grieving – some of us have lost loved ones to covid-19 or other causes during ‘lockdown’ and we can’t do many of the usual things we would do to grieve.  Some people have lost their jobs, some have lost their much-needed contact with family and friends, and some have lost their usual patterns of living. 

I lost my beloved Mom in March to covid-19.  I then became ill myself from the virus.   Grief has been a huge part of every day since.  Sometimes it feels too difficult to bear and other times there is a numbness which I have interpreted as my mind’s way of shutting out what it can’t cope with.

But in amongst all this grief there is also hope.

Hope has come to me in the presence of Christ through the prayers of my family, friends and church fellowship.  Their prayers and messages have sustained me through some of my darkest times, giving me hope that there is life and purpose beyond the grief.  I have felt God’s presence through the outpouring of love and concern for me and my family.

During this time of grief, I have found comfort in creativity.  In the midst of the chaos and the lack of things I can control, I have connected with my Creator through the gift of creativity that I’ve been given.  This creativity has allowed me to connect with beautiful things. 

Isn’t it interesting that when someone is grieving or ill, one of our first instincts is to send flowers?  I have received lots of flowers over recent weeks and each gift has told me in its beautiful blooms that I am loved and cared for and held.  But more than that, these flowers are signs of hope; that despite the darkness and the loss, there is still beauty in the world to behold.

As I come to terms with my loss and recover my strength after my illness, I am appreciating my wild garden with it’s flowers that sprout up each year despite my best efforts to neglect them.  I see rose bushes that have been brutally pruned during last autumn, flourishing once again with beautiful flowers.  The Buddleia bush, pruned back to about a foot and a half, is now around six feet again and getting ready to be food for passing bees and butterflies.  Life has sprung where once things seemed dead.

This is the message of the Christian faith.  We believe in new life; resurrection; that death is not the end.

The image above is from my sketchbook and I painted it during the few days after I lost my Mom.  It is an image that is bright and colourful, depicting my need for hope during the darkness of loss.

These words from scripture also give me hope in the darkness …

‘ The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young people stumble and fall;

but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,

    they will walk and not be faint.’

Isaiah 40: 28-31

The artwork:

This is a painting in a simple sketchbook, on thick cartridge paper, using my Koh-i-noor watercolours, which I love for their vibrancy.  I then used some coloured pencils to pick out details and give some depth.  And finally I used a fineliner to pick out detail and shape the flowers, leaves and stems.  This picture was imagined by me – I didn’t use any source material – so the flowers aren’t real ones and to some extent I just let the paint do it’s own thing on the paper.  So the flowers and leaf structures are imposed afterwards.


Peace to all

So I managed to get about half way through Advent before Christmas activities and preparations took over. But I want to finish my journal so I will continue to make pages based on the Advent Words 2017 which of course are appropriate at any time of the year since they are taken from Scripture.

But in the meantime I wanted to post a piece of artwork that I had printed into postcards for this year. The sentiment is Peace.

When I look at today’s news I see that the World is divided now more than ever. There seems to be a rise in nationalism and tribalism which sees the ‘other’ in negative ways and ascribes the worst of motives and intentions to ‘them’ while ascribing the best of motives and intentions to ourselves.

It is into this darkness that God sent Jesus as the light of the world; a light to reveal these ‘sins’, but also a light to bring hope and peace in the darkness of despair and conflict.

The People walking in darkness have seen a great light: on those living in the land of deep darkness, a light has dawned.

Isaiah 9:2

So as we celebrate Christ’s Mass together, may you know the great peace that only the Prince of Peace can give.

Merry Christmas!

Advent 2016-6: Water of Life

” ‘The poor and needy search for water, but there is none;  their tongues are parched with thirst.

But I the Lord will answer them;  I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.

I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys.

I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs.

I will put in the desert the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive.

I will set junipers in the wasteland, the fir and the cypress together,

so that people may see and know, may consider and understand,

that the hand of the Lord has done this, that the Holy One of Israel has created it.’ “

Isaiah 41: 17 – 20