Two powerful images in Coventry centre right now - hands held in unity and the Knife Angel.
Then there's my latest painting - 'The Life Light'. Come and visit our latest exhibition as part of the Belvoir Art Trail. You'll find us as part of Kooroon @ the Old Sorting House, Bottesford, NG13 0AA. Love to see you there!
Soft white snowdrops, crocus in blues and yellows, bright yellow daffodils almost shocking in the Spring sunshine. After all the greys of Winter, Springtime heralds COLOUR! Plants are waking up after their dormancy. That's one of the things I love about gardening. I'm constantly learning to keep to its natural rhythms - planning ahead and maintaining, even when , as so often happens - you get thrown a 'curved ball' and everything seems to go pear-shaped!
Something new is always going on in the garden that invites curiosity and exploration - it's a highly creative process. I was given a brilliant book recently where the opening quote read, 'I wonder what my soul does all day when I'm at work.' (Graffiti seen in London, from 'Alive at work' by Daniel M. Cable - a must-read!!) My heart went out to the person who wrote those words. His creative spirit had obviously been shut down and he was on auto-pilot.
My mind went to a beautiful vision given to the prophet Ezekiel:
'The man led me back to the bank of the river. When I arrived there, I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river. He said to me, 'This water flows towards the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, where it enters the Sea. When it empties into the Sea, the water there becomes fresh. Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows.....But the swamps and marshes will not become fresh, they will be left for salt.' (Ezekiel 47:6-9 NIV)
Life feels like this sometimes. There you are happily going along in the 'fresh water', where exciting and new things are happening. Suddenly something goes wrong and you find yourself in a dead end with no prospects and seemingly, no way out - the 'salt marsh'. You watch those still in the 'fresh water' going by. Now what?
One story that may help to answer is from the book of Acts. The apostle Paul and his companions were travelling from Syrian Antioch to Greece. They stopped over a few days at Philippi.
'On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. One of those women was named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshipper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul's message. When she and the members of her household were baptised, she invited us to to her home. 'If you consider me a believer in the Lord,' she said, 'come and stay with us.' And she persuaded us. (Acts 16:13-15 NIV)
An intriguing moment. One of those 'being in the right place at the right time' moments. Here was Lydia, a business woman and a 'worshipper of God' but with no synagogue or church to belong to.She seemed to be single so could have been a freed woman, widowed or divorced and under Roman law if she had at least three children, she had certain privileges, one of which was being a business woman. Lydia was a 'dealer in purple cloth' - a very lucrative business at that time. The dye was extracted from marine (murex) shellfish and was difficult to manufacture, making it very expensive - more than the price of gold! However, there was a great demand for it for the official Roman toga. So Lydia was a woman of wealth and influence. Despite her wealth it seems she was searching for something deeper and more meaningful. She was a 'worshipper of God' but perhaps that's as far as life was going right now. Nothing seemed to be changing. She was stuck in a 'salt marsh.'
Suddenly, Paul and his companions enter into her life and everything changes. Paul explains the Gospel message and 'the Lord opens her heart to respond.' She must have listened attentively as the words filled her deepest longings. Both she and her household were baptised there and then!
We read later:
'After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia's house and met with the brothers and encouraged them.. (Acts 16:40 NIV)
As a result, Lydia and her household became the nucleus of the Philippian church.
What a changed life! There's something ironic about a wealthy woman dealing in fine purple fabric for Roman leaders finding out about a greater Royalty, Jesus, who's only purple robe on earth was worn just before His crucifixion. He belonged to a different kind of Kingdom where the least are first and power is in weakness!
'You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man (Jesus) did not come to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many.' (Mark 10:42-45 NIV)
So Jesus rescued Lydia from her 'salt marsh'. As you read this, where are you right now? If you're in a salt marsh what about following Lydia's lead and accepting the Lord's invitation?