Thursday, April 21, 2011

Rites of Spring

The kids have been on spring break and The Princess just got her driver’s license -- creating a crazy combination of life and activity and all things new and exciting. The jonquils at the base of the oak trees in the front yard have sprung to life, smiling at me every time I approach the driveway. And there is (finally!) no snow to weigh them down. The plum tree at the foot of the hill has burst into blossomy pink. All seems right with the world.

As a second witness that Easter is approaching, we had the enormous privilege of seeing the Carl Bloch exhibit at the BYU Museum of Art just before we left town. There are no words to describe what it feels like to walk into room after room where you see a sensitively rendered, lifesize depiction of the Savior -- the closest thing I can imagine to actually being in His presence. There was palpable reverence and peace. The holiness brought me to tears. A time or two I couldn’t stop myself from whispering out (while inwardly shouting) my love and praise for the Master. Powerful.

Having recently painted the Savior myself, I couldn't help but be moved by this quote: "God helps me, that is what I think and then I am calm." - Carl Bloch.

Then we spent five warm and sunny days in southern Utah on a painting excursion. I felt all kinds of ideas and emotions waking up inside me as I packed the cooler and filled my palette, barely anticipating the possibilities.

I tend to think of the desert as a barren wasteland, and an odd place to usher in Holy Week. But the house where we stayed was in “a desert community” where the pueblo-style houses are built down into the ground so as not to interrupt the landscape, and the residents commit to leave the surroundings untouched. Cotton-tailed bunnies would bounce through the sage brush and run right past our windows, while red-tailed hawks circled the sky. We walked through a sculpture garden and labyrinth, hiked to a plethora of petroglyphs, soaked our feet in the stream, and sat and stared at the stars.

Early-ish one morning I went out for a walk with my camera, looking for something spectacular to paint, and what gradually struck me is that the desert landscape is very like Jerusalem, and the landscape itself an atonement metaphor. Virtually everywhere you look, there is:

a scarlet robe

a crown of thorns

swords and spears

a stone rolled away

an empty tomb

great drops of blood

deepest darkness offset by blinding light

stone tablets; ancient writ

death and decay; new life

Suddenly I can’t wait to get back to my studio and create a whole series of desertscapes, with imagery symbolizing the atonement.

I found that while the desert itself may seem dry and desolate, my search for deeper meaning led me to Living Water there. I was not just awake, but invigorated. Joyful. Filled to overflowing. I hope I can make that newness and excitement last far beyond Easter morning.


Luisa Perkins said...

Oh, how your brilliance astonishes me. I LOVE THIS. I am eternally glad to know and learn from you. "All things testify of Christ," and here you are, putting that into action. Thank you.

deb colarossi said...

oh , thank you as always .
You are loved.

Dedee said...

Ditto to Luisa and ditto to deb. I love the southern desert. I've loved it from an early age. And this just makes it all the more real and amazing to me.

You are brilliant and amazing and everything else good!

Kristina P. said...

You. Are. Awesome.

Melanie Jacobson said...

I have been feeling a restlesness lately to deepen my spiritual life. This is a good reminder of how to do it. Mostly now, I find my reminders by watching my children when they don't know it, and that's been a good step, too.

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

This is really beautiful. I love love love what you were able to see in the barren desert. It honestly inspired me.

Barbaloot said...

Five warm and sunny days? Jealous. I thought the Carl Bloch exhibit was beautiful. So grateful I got to see it.

Heather EO said...

I just want to ditto everyone here, lady.

You are so lovely. I consider it an honor to see through your eyes like this.


Patty Ann said...

Oh, I love it. You make me itch to get out my paints again and capture that beauty. I grew up in the desert, and there is beauty there, sometimes you just have to be willing to open your eyes and look. Love it today.

Sandy M. said...

I LOVE Carl Bloch! I'm not jealous, or envious, but I would be if I wasn't so righteous! lol I'm having a wonderful few moments just imagining it from your description, thank you!
Haha - I see the alliteration bug has attacked. I'm gratifyingly glad, since I seldom see others overcome, yet am frequently felled myself :)
Congratulations to the Princess on obtaining her licence! And you sound so calm... :)
Your life sounds happy, and full :) I'm glad that you had such a lovely holiday.
I like your Atonement metaphor. Truly, the world all around us teaches continually of the Saviour.
Happy Easter!

Kazzy said...

I heart this post. The way an artist sees the world that we so often take for granted. Thanks for this powerful reminder to see the atonement wherever I may be.


L.T. Elliot said...

I admit, I've never seen this in the desert before. Now that I have, I'll never see it the same way again. How can you be such a master? Of words. Of paint. Of the canvas of the heart?

InkMom said...

I love the way you think, my friend.

And one more thing on that last post (which was actually the next post, but was the last one I read, or whatever): my saving grace in organic chemistry lab was my husband's experience in the class. He saved his old notebook and his percent yields were always, like, 95% and mine were never that good until he convinced me that precision was the key. What's that? I'm a musician! I do what I feel! I don't measure stuff, and have you tasted my awesome cookies? Well, precision was the key. The more perfect my adherence to the "recipe" in my lab instructions, the greater my yield at the end of the experiment. (But my cookies are still way better than his.)

Heidi said...

Everybody already said it better than I can. You are incredible.

Jessica said...