One of the greatest difficulties of parenting is to watch our children struggle against loss and hurt.
Yet change, and the pain and joy that come with it, is an inevitable part of the human experience. Each storm that is weathered must become a part of the story of our resiliency, and each struggle must become a lesson that teaches us to trust in a God that is infinitely more powerful than we are. One of the most effective ways we can integrate our experiences, good or bad, is to create art, make music, or find a way to tell our story.
God is the ultimate Creator:
In the beginning God created the Heaven and the Earth.
And He created man in his image:
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. Genesis 1:27
And we, who are created in the image of God, unique among all living things, are in turn given the ability to create.
This painting is about finding that gift. When we put pencil to paper, we commune with the God who created us and who is the source of all things, including our own healing.
This is my youngest son, Jackson. I found him drawing this maze and was compelled to paint his process. As I worked, fledgling blackbirds found their way into and out of his maze. Blackbirds have a rich and ancient symbolism that relates to creation and the discovery of one’s artistic voice. The peoples of the Pacific Northwest tell how at the beginning of the world, Raven was the one who brought light to the darkness. The Celtic Sun God, Lugh, who is creator of the arts and sciences, was closely associated with ravens, his name derived from a Celtic word for “crow.” In the Druidic legend, the blackbirds of Rhiannon are three blackbirds that sit and sing in a World Tree. Their song was said to impart mystic secrets and put the listener into a deep sleep which enabled her to travel to the Otherworlds. Likewise, the artist learns to travel between the world of the here and now and a world that is unseen, a world in which his very conscience can be reordered and he can be made whole through his communion with the Creator.
Blackbirds are symbolic of one's ability to sway with the winds of change and to direct that change to shape one’s future. The blackbird’s gift is to discover one’s creativity and one’s own wisdom and joy, and to remain grounded while walking a spiritual path. Too often this gift is misunderstood or squelched. With the recent focus on standardized tests, Jackson and his classmates have been discouraged from drawing at school. Our teachers believe drawing is a waste of time. It is vital that our children develop the gift of the blackbird so that they have the means to integrate the changes that befall us and become whole, resilient people who are able to weather life’s storms.
"But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you;
or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you.
Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this?
In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind. JOB 12: 7-10