By Leah Robin
We all started with the same blank canvas. The same base colors, the same brushes. The finished template was there, resting on an easel, front and center. We were given the same instructions and even the order in which to bring the painting to life: background, sun, bird, outline, shadows foreground, and so on.
Yet to see each woman create her own piece of art was to see them drawing forth something unique from within themselves, something that reflected their own personality. Some mixed bold red with white or yellow to create rosy pinks and sunset orange glows; some followed the template with meticulous attention to detail while others went off the script completely and created pieces of abstract art or silhouettes of the Rocky Mountains. As I walked around the room of women painting at our last Wellspring Women gathering, I was struck by the utter uniqueness of each canvas and was reminded of how God created each of us by hand.
The intimacy, joy and creativity in which God creates and sustains us came to mind in the words of Psalm 139: “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me…you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” One of God’s very first creative acts was to make you and me! But no generic human prototype: there’s nothing generic about us. That phrase “inmost being” – refers to God’s intentionality in crafting our spirits, our personalities, our desires, our loves, our nephesh - the very parts of us that make us come alive, our very souls. All of this was God’s design. Lovingly, skillfully he crafted each one of us, singing us into existence. His creative powers knew no limit – no two humans are exactly alike – not even identical twins.
As I continued to watch the women painting, I thought about how we are created in His image, and therefore, we are innate artists. We are little creators imitating the Ultimate Creator.
Every time we make something – whether it’s a painting or a feast to share with friends, a hand stenciled card or a spontaneous dance in the kitchen, an artful arrangement of lilies on the Easter altar, or a created safe space in one of our children’s rooms – we are reflecting a bit of God’s glory and beauty back into the world.
For hundreds of years, Christians led the way in The Arts. Because literacy was often an issue for the masses, the visual arts were the primary educator for people to learn the story of the gospel and the history of the faith. Think about the world-famous artists commissioned to adorn the grand cathedrals during the height of Christendom, which still fill our imaginations (and travel plans) to this day. I remember seeing Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam in the Sistine Chapel when I was in high school. The life-like details of God’s divine hand, reaching for Adam’s human one, still vividly come to mind. I had to crane my neck to fully take in the splendor of the canvas of the entire ceiling – but I could have gazed upon the scene all day.
It seems Christians do not engage The Arts the way we once did, and I think we are missing not only an opportunity to engage our culture with the redemption of the gospel, but also activate the creative parts of ourselves that reflect the Imago Dei. As humans, we make art because we are, by nature, little artists created in the image of the Ultimate Artist. And as Christians, we have an even deeper calling to create, promote, and support the arts. Every Sunday during the communion liturgy we lift up our hands toward heavens and say: “We are the Redeemed (People of God).” We bring the narrative of redemption into all that we do – especially art.
As I walked around the room again at the end of the night, we laughed and celebrated the distinctness of each of our personalities and how they were reflected in our paintings. Twenty women following the same template- and not a single one alike. What a creative God we have!
Today, may you celebrate the absolute unique ways in which God has created and equipped you. May you use what’s inside of you, to place beauty, bit by bit, back into this world that so desperately needs to see the Most Beautiful One.
If you would like to know about the next Wellspring Women gathering, contact Leah Robin at firstname.lastname@example.org.