Thursday, February 12, 2009

Mountain Top

As I pondered this piece, after I had finished it, I wondered to myself, "This doesn’t seem like a mountaintop experience to me! It’s too dark. What gives?" Did you have this reaction to it too?

I didn’t plan this artwork, as is usually the case. I began with a feeling, a need to express something for which I had no words or thoughts. Although the image is somewhat complex, with the layering, it is a simple expression. It is a picture of what it feels like to me, at times, to be in the valley, sharing the pain or burdens of others whose darkness or distress has overtaken them.(1-- this is the best I could do for footnotes, Scripture verses listed at bottom) It is the stark reality that although the light and peace of the Lord are always available, people don’t always live there. It is an expression of a desire for more of Him and the heavenly reality, remembering times of greater revelation, greater intimacy and greater glory, and a desire to rise above circumstances and reach a higher level of spiritual experience and power.

The female figure stands tall, though she appears lonely. She is located in two places at once– in the valley and on the top of a mountain. She has quite a vista– one of a sunset, and the other, the view from the mountaintop (2), and of the lion. So far in my pictures, the lion figure represents Jesus, the Lion of Judah (Judah = "praise" in Hebrew), who is the King. She is not afraid, as she knows this Lion, and He knows her. He is reclining, which indicates to me to "enter into His rest". His face is turning towards the viewer, which speaks to me of His interest and attention towards her. He is the focus of the picture. His presence is available to us if we accept the mountaintop as Reality, and approach Him, even in the midst of the darkness of the valley.(3) We may not necessarily see Him in all His glory, but we can interact with Him, receive what we need from Him, and lay our burdens at His feet. "Jesus loves me" is not a Sunday school platitude, it is Truth. The feeling here is not that this truth has been lost, but that a greater experience of it is desired and sought.

The Holy Spirit constantly works to prepare us for greater closeness and deeper relationship with Christ. He spoke to me more about this piece as I meditated on my desire and need for more of Jesus in my weariness and in the place of seeing the darkness around me and feeling others’ pain. Prayer is where the mountaintop mingles with the valley, and our praise is where we connect with Him, in thanksgiving and worship. And His word is the food He feeds us to strengthen us on our journey. I need Him so much. I need more of Him to impart to others. I must keep my lamp filled with oil to shine the light in the darkness. I must carry the mountain with me in my heart.(4)

There is a dark frame in the picture, only a piece of one, and it speaks to me not letting the darkness dictate to me what I see. I must see the big picture, the true picture, and not let the darkness and evil of the world be my frame of reference, to box in my viewpoint. I must see with the eyes of the spirit, with eyes enlightened by hope and truth.(5) I must hold firm to the promises of God.(6)

The swallow speaks to me to "not swallow" the lies of the enemies of my soul: the world, the flesh and the devil. It also gives me a picture of soaring freely above, in the atmosphere of heaven. I must make my own atmosphere in the midst of trouble. A swallow is not a raptor, it is a bird that pursues and eats flying insects, especially mosquitoes. This speaks to me of the ability to "eat" the things that "bug" or harass people and the things that bite and spread disease, by opening our mouths and speaking the word of truth in the appropriate moment and manner. This reminds me of Jesus saying "I have meat that you know not of" as He ministered to the woman at the well.(7)

The woman is standing in ankle deep water, which indicates to me the need to press on to the deeper things of God, rather than to stand passively in shallow water. This water is the river of God, which flows from the throne of His presence (from the mountaintop). The scripture in Ezekiel, one of my favorites in the Old Testament, gives us a good word picture of this.(8)

So, I believe this artwork is a visual to help locate us in our life and pursuit of God, and to warn us and encourage us. As Christians, we cannot constantly live in a "mountaintop experience" as we tend to think of it, we must love God’s creation and people as much as He does, and go down into the valley, moved with compassion, taking the Light of Life with us.
But we must keep going deeper and higher in our relationship with Jesus, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. If we do not, we will be swallowed up by darkness, and our light and effectiveness will be gone. Kingdom living partly entails moving mountains: casting the prideful mountains into the sea, and doing our part in bringing the mountain of His Kingdom down to the earth as He rules and reigns in our lives.(9)

Epilogue: I’m continually amazed at what the Lord communicates to me as I seek to interpret the art He inspires me to do. I hope this helps you receive what He was saying to me, and to the Church, His beloved people, who are to be His Bride.
(1) "Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." Galatians 6:1

(2) Since I took the photo, I know that it was early morning on the mountain. The sun is setting on the kingdom of darkness, but it is rising on the Kingdom of God.
(3) "I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Matthew 28:20
(4) "For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you." Luke 17:21

(5) "the eyes of your understanding* being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints" Ephesians 1:18

(6) "For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us." II Corinthians 1:20

(7) But He said to them, "I have food to eat of which you do not know." Therefore the disciples said to one another, "Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?" Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. "Do you not say, 'There are still four months and then comes the harvest'? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! John 4: 32-35

(8) "Then he brought me back to the door of the temple; and there was water, flowing from under the threshold of the temple toward the east, for the front of the temple faced east; the water was flowing from under the right side of the temple, south of the altar. He brought me out by way of the north gate, and led me around on the outside to the outer gateway that faces east; and there was water, running out on the right side. Again he measured one thousand and brought me through the waters; the water came up to my knees. Again he measured one thousand and brought me through; the water came up to my waist. Again he measured one thousand, and it was a river that I could not cross; for the water was too deep, water in which one must swim, a river that could not be crossed. He said to me, "Son of man, have you seen this?" Then he brought me and returned me to the bank of the river. When I returned, there, along the bank of the river, were very many trees on one side and the other. Then he said to me: "This water flows toward the eastern region, goes down into the valley, and enters the sea. When it reaches the sea, its waters are healed. And it shall be that every living thing that moves, wherever the rivers go, will live. There will be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters go there; for they will be healed, and everything will live wherever the river goes."
Ezekiel 47: 1-9
(9) "Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold were crushed together, and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; the wind carried them away so that no trace of them was found. And the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth." Daniel 2:35

All Scripture quoted from the New King James Version

Photo art by Karen Gladys Henry, copyright 2008. All Rights Reserved. Credits for licensed images are on Flickr, link in the title of this blog.

1 comment:

Brenda Craig said...

Karen, I would like to add you link to my website under my Art Category...if you are willing...I love art and have done some pencil and pastels over time but I mostly stick to writing...let me know...

blessings Brenda