I am not a point A to point B person, but what right brained artist is? Yet, making a work of art requires planning and structure, just as building a house requires plans, or both will fall apart before very long. This is why some of our efforts continue to please us many years into the future, while others, with our more experienced eye, now are relegated to paint over land.
This field of trees caught my eye, not because it was full of light or promise of abundance, but because only one great tree stood proud with a glorious yellow robe amid a field of dried up stunted trees and weeds. It was so different that I had to detour from the interstate, retrace my path on the old state highway and take a picture with my camera. I’ve kept this photo for a dozen years, waiting for the time when I had both the skill and the spirit to bring it to life as a painting.
I have shown this photo to various people over the years. “That’s nice, a big tree, it’s a lot of yellow and brown, and it looks half dead and half alive” are some of the comments I’ve heard. I’m used to this, for most folks don’t have vision. They cannot see the promise in the grey clouds of the rainbow to come. The rainbow must be there in all her radiance, dancing all seven of her colors across the heavens, for the hope of the promise to be written in bold enough letters for most of us to read it in the sky.
A few rare people have vision. Some are cooks, some are tinkerers, some are prophets, and some are artists. If I had copied this photo, I would have made a very different painting, one in which all the values are nearly the same, for it was an overcast day when I took the image. As a photograph, it was unworthy, but as a sketch or a plan for a future work, it was worth keeping. My mother saw this photo and said, “This is a strong tree that survives and shelters others.” My Mother had vision.
I could have gone in several directions with this painting. One choice I considered was the gathering grey clouds anticipating a certain storm. The lighting of the trees and the field would have been more dramatic. I decided to go with a brilliant autumn day, with the sky and fields full of light. All the trees were in their full dress glory as the winds shake their leaves of yellows, oranges, and reds.
The verse from Ezekiel 17:24 came into my mind: “And all the trees of the field shall know that I am the Lord; I bring low the high tree, and make high the low tree, dry up the green tree, and make the dry tree flourish. I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it.”
This vision of sunlight, warm wind, healing and uplifting the dried up landscape brought hope into my heart! We may be discouraged for a season, but our standing rooted as we trust the God who loves us means that we will be there when God’s promises come true. If we are the dry tree, we will flourish! If we are the low tree, we will be made high!
As artists, we are constantly creating, so we share this activity in common with God. Do we have the vision to see beyond our circumstances to God’s promises that await? Do we have the courage to continually work along side God to bring God’s vision into reality? Take your sketchbook, your easel, or your camera this week out into the countryside. Find the tree that calls you apart from your designated journey. Enter into a conversation with this place. Perhaps you are not used to being still, or quiet. Listen to the sounds of this place. Do not be too quick to hurry off to worship the idol, “I’ve got better or more important things to do with my life.”