There is a wonderful simplicity in this statement, that it is easy to miss the essence and profoundness of this message. How do I imagine or even grasp visually, intellectually or even emotionally not only who God is, but what does the phrase – “God is love” mean?
God’s love for me, you and each of us, can be found in the very first verse in the first book of the Bible:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit[c] of God was moving over the face of the waters.Genesis 1:1-2
When I really think about it, God the holy immortal one, did not have to create the world and humanity. He did. He created all out of love. It’s really profoundly simple: “God is Love.”
I can see him in the sky and in the soft fluffy clouds over yonder, and I can see him in the children playing in the park. I can hear God in the birds chirping and tweeting at the first ray of light. God is in the grass beneath my feet as I play catch with my dog. I see him in the ants crawling around their ant mound, or I see him in the trees that stretch outwards reaching out for the sun. I see him in the house plants that adorn my home, and in the seedlings and their sprouting stems as they lean towards the light. I see God’s presence everywhere, and I feel him with every changing tide and nuances in the movement of the moon as day change into night.
God is everywhere – and all the beauty around us is a testament of his everlasting love for us. He is in the beauty in each of us, in our children, in our community, in the our own outpouring of love for others.
Just as God is love, we are created in “imago Dei” – image of God. We in turn share in the beauty of life – in the creation of life in the womb. I had drawn and painted this earlier this week. After looking at it for the past few days, there is even beauty in it’s messy playfulness of color and scrawls.
Having my own quiet time is an important part of my daily walk with Jesus. The pass several weeks, this includes time to draw, sketch or paint. Today, I imagined what my quiet and private space looks like.
Jesus often spent time alone with his Father:
35 And in the morning, a great while before day, he rose and went out to a lonely place, and there he prayed. Mark 1:35
In my busy world trying to keep up my mom face, keeping positive, and, juggle all facets of daily life, I don’t allow myself the time to be think, reflect, be sad, down, or even depressed. These days, I take some time and do exactly that – allowing myself to say – I don’t feel too happy today. I feel achy and my joints hurt. I’m feeling sad! Time to cry! Taking ownership of these negative feelings allows me to own it and give them up to Jesus.
Yup, there is time spend on prayer, in reading the scripture, but time spent owning the “bad, good and the ugly”,” and giving it up to Christ gives me a sense of release and peace.
Mary Magdalene loved Jesus. When Jesus casted out all the demons from her life, she was healed and began a new life:
“Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. There Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out…” Luke 8:1-2
I can imagine how difficult her life must have been before she met Jesus. Due to her psychological mind frame, she must have been scorned by all, and probably lived in isolation.
Her sadness upon discovering Jesus’ body gone must have distressed her, and seeing Christ, I can imagine her running to him and holding Him tightly in an embrace.
Jesus asks, “Woman, why are you weeping?”
His wounds fresh, Jesus tells her, “Stop holding on to me.” Jesus had not ascended yet. He gives Mary Magdalene a mission.
My question to myself is, “What mission does Jesus give me?”
How do I feel about the resurrected Christ? How has it changed my life?
As part of my Art Therapy session today, I was asked, “how would I imagine myself as a landscape?” My thoughts drifted to Mary Magdalene, her search for Jesus when she thought He was gone, and then running off to share the good news. I closed my eyes and imagine my arms outstretched embracing the world sharing the light of Christ.
Mary Magdalene stayed outside the tomb weeping. And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the Body of Jesus had been. And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” She thought it was the gardener and said to him, “Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,” which means Teacher. Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and then reported what he had told her.
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us 5 even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— 9 not the result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.
Above drawing is from my series on “a stronger me in my own existence”.
How did I get here?
I got lost in my journey
cold and dark
my deadpan eyes looked for You.
i was lifeless, but
Your hands reached out for mine and held them
my body felt the tingling flow of your warmth
You pulled me into your embrace.
Just as i am
dirty and soiled
Your healing touch
my soul refreshed
You showed me a glowing orb
Mesmerized, I held it in my hands
lifting it up high
together in the dark
we walk the road ahead
The beauty of God’s mercy is in His abundant love for us. Where we were once tainted by our brokenness – our sins, by God’s grace, we have been saved by faith. What a wonderful gift He gives us.
It’s been years since I’ve work on my own themes and images. For the past 30 years, I’ve worked on small and large scale projects for work. Much of these themes were related to children and education.
For the past two weeks, I have been sketching again…building a body of background drawings for larger paintings.
Today, I feel free to express what I want to without constraints. I can be creative and express through my sketches and drawings for myself again. I can laid bare my soul in praise of God and His amazing love.
I have also been working with an art therapist along with a spiritual guide from St. Ignatius Spiritual Centre. Both have helped me deal with all the stress and anxieties that COVID-19 has produced in my workplace and communities.
Officially I am on sick leave, and taking the time to heal physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Praise be to God for looking after all my needs. I can take the time to glorify Him in everything I do.
Healing…what is it? We read of Jesus’ miracles of healing the sick, the blind and the crippled.
I think as much as they are real, the healing of Jesus is also a metaphor for us. A dark to light, or an unveiling of our eyes so that we see the truth – that is the only truth – that is in God the Father, in Jesus His beloved son, and in the Holy Spirit.
I can say this because I realize I am being lead by the Holy Spirit in a healing journey – and in the process giving me a greater insight into what it means when Jesus heals. It’s not some miraculous healing of the soul – it’s the choice within me to propel forward by faith into his embrace to be heal. It also means effort on my part to be an active participant in the healing process. A spiritual journey so to speak.
Picking up my sketch book for the first time in a long time, I am moved to draw and sketch again as I work through my heart. I feel this journey is for the healing of my soul.
It is about me saying a strong YES to my own existence! Reclaiming and letting the hand of God mold me in His image.
Thank you Jesus for your arms of love ❤️🔥my heart on fire for You.
(In the name of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit)
Jesus, my Savior, and King
I humbly pray before you
May you grace my heart to love and adore you more,
to give me the grace of deepening faith
to give me the grace to place my trust upon you above all others,
and to give me the grace to be confident you are ever present in my life.
I proclaim you Prince of Peace and lift you high above all in this mortal realm.
As I wait for your second coming, let me not waste a moment
I ask that you grace me – this unworthy sinner –
with the inspiration and confidence to use the gifts you have given me
to share your story and love with others.
So that they may also rejoice in having a living God in their lives.
(In the name of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen)
I started praying the Christ the King Novena yesterday, and following the lead of my sponsor, I have reflected upon it, and personalized it. As I think in the abstract, one of my challenges is to bring it down a notch – or to bring it out of my headspace into the everyday.
Through prayer, especially the Rosary, I feel the depth and width of my love for Jesus growing with each passing day. There has been a few instances when during prayer I have been overwhelm with emotions and tears as visons of sin unrealized and unconfessed come to mind. Jesus has also shown me through prayer that He has always been with me, and He has also shielded me on numerous occasion from falling into the clutches of darkness. Just as he has opens my eyes, He also comforts.
Once a part of the darkness, the road back to the light is soul wrenching. There is no other way to describe it. I know that meeting my husband was God send – His unconditional love for me never faltered through our 30 year plus relationship. Just as my children were gifts from God – to me – a woman who fervently claimed I would never bring children into this world. God blessed me with two adopted children.
The goal is making Jesus Christ real in every facets of our lives.
Since the start of the Advent, my sponsor and I have each chosen a Novena to focus and pray on. Through the process of sharing our thoughts each day via phone or text, I have come to realize how each of us have personalized and made praying real based on our personalities and character.
Through a process of self reflection and reflecting on key words or concepts, it opens up for each something uniquely special and personal. It leads to a journey of deepening faith and love for Christ. It guides us to prepare our hearts for celebrating not only Jesus’ arrival to us through His birth, but preparing our hearts and soul to receive Him upon His second coming.
Having a partner during this prayerful period has enriched me. As I am a person of extremes, my prayer partner reminds me to maintain a balanced life. This has been an enriching experience for me, as I realize through our conversations and text messages that not only are we two unique individuals, with different approaches to prayer, she has shown me her own process of personalizing the Novena. This has helped me to bring abstract concepts from my headspace into my daily life. Coming down to earth so to speak – as I think in the abstract – personalizing my Novena, brings it down to my everyday.
From the Mouth of a Child
My daughter often says to me, “Mom, use normal words, I don’t know what you mean.” Upon which I would stop and rephrase my sentence, or explain to her what I mean.
The other day I reminded Aleeza to pray (and ask Jesus for the confidence to stand in front of her class for her oral). Her adamant response was, “Mom, I don’t pray. I talk to Jesus.” I smile now as I recall her statement. Yes, that is what we do when we pray, we talk to Jesus. I like the way she has personalized her relationship with Jesus. He is her friend.
Finally, from the mouth of a child, “Jesus is our friend”.
Aside: God has a way of grounding us through our friends and family.
Many homes in my area have already decorated for the holidays. It’s so nice to see the outside adorn with pine garlands, Christmas wreaths, and lights.
After being pestered by our children to decorate for Christmas, my husband finally took out our artificial tree and several boxes of decorations.
As my daughter and I decorated the tree, I shared with her the stories behind some of our ornaments. There were “Baby’s First Christmas” bells and balls, to their first kindergarten Christmas crafts, to their own collection (my husband’s best shopping day is Black Friday and Boxing Day. He delighted in a yearly trek amidst the crowd to let them chose a decoration for their own collection – at 50% off). There were also decorations gifted by my mother-in-law, as well as decorations to Meimei from her aunt.
It’s touching to see our children decorating their rooms this year. They wanted to personalize their room with their own decorations.
For many, it will be the first Christmas alone or with the immediate family. We normally travel to Toronto to see my side of the family, but due to Covid-19 restrictions we are not traveling. My side of the family decided to keep it simple, and we’ll have a zoom gathering on Christmas Day.
In Montreal, Christmas has changed in the past few years. We live in an age of political correctness. Christmas is now refer to as the “Holiday Season”. Festive window decorations in stores are a thing of the past.
There was a sense of wonderment when children watched the mechanical display. I use to bring my children to see this display after the Santa Claus parade.
Since the onset of Covid-19, one of the things I miss most is going downtown. I have fond memories of walking along the main streets to look at all the colourful Christmas lights.
My husband and I have always focused on the birth of Jesus at Christmas. Pre Covid-19 Christmas Eve, we would attend Candlelight service and sing hymns.
This year most churches will have a limited seating capacity of 25. Most have adapted to COVID-19 restrictions and will use zoom or live stream to celebrate the birth of Christ. I pray that all of you will be able to celebrate Christmas via one of these technological platforms.
Today as we live and adapt to new norms, I find we need to create our own Christmas tradition. A tradition that embraces and envelopes those around us in love and peace. After so many years of celebrating Christmas with the family, we are kind of forced to isolate. We shouldn’t let this stop us from sharing with one another. We can text, zoom, email, or call someone on the phone. We can use snail mail and send a card. I think the important thing is to not leave anyone out.
I really appreciate my neighbours decorating early this year. They drew me into their warmth. This helped create the mood in me to decorate and celebrate. My neighbours added to the Christmas ambiance by sharing their joy and love of the season. I think this is the most precious part of this year’s Christmas – sharing the peace and love of Christmas with one another with a festive heart.