In the last few months I traveled halfway around the world. The trip was like a rock dropped in a lake, and I’m flowing out in the ripples. Opportunities to share the story of Sanctuary of Hope and Pamba Toto abound. I’m swimming hard to keep up.

Amidst it all, my children, home on summer break from school, moved in and out of my coming and going. Summer bustled with joy. Now, as they return to school, quiet settles over the house and over my soul.

I feel expectant and afraid.

Brushes and paint, gathering dust during my longest break from painting in the last four years, quietly whisper, “It’s time.”

I try to ignore it.

The same old taunts leak into my mind. Art is such a lonely journey with no clear markers, like wandering in a forest without a trail. Every tree looks the same and there are few guides. By nature of exactly what it is – a creative journey – each artist’s path is individual and unique, a work of art in and of itself. When you fall, you pick your own self up off the forest floor, grit your teeth, and take the next step. You never know exactly where you are going or if what you are doing is “successful.” Encouragement comes, but is often dwarfed by the silence of not knowing how or even if your art speaks to anyone.  Art is rarely rewarded by the world’s definition of success – financial reward – especially when the amount of heart and time poured in is weighed against measurable outcome. It rarely intersects with the world’s system of progress like promotions, awards, or years of service markers. An artist can wander for years in the forest, having no idea where the trail is going, circling around and around. At times, it feels “voiceless.”

But in my heart of hearts I know there is One who hears, and there is One who is speaking. I know, because I can’t deny the whisper, sweet and alluring.

And so I moisten the watercolors and begin again, where I must always begin: in “hesed”, the steadfast love and constant mercy I only hear when I am painting.

7 thoughts on “Painting and Listening

  1. Dear Colleen,

    I just now got to read this. Please keep painting . . . it’s beautiful, worshipful, holy. The tenderest expression of your heart and soul before God. Like Hannah’s tears. Moves His heart (and ours). He sees, He hears, He knows . . . And He answers.

    Your art touches me in a deep place whenever I see it, and I love reading your thoughts behind your paintings. Keep living truly, beautifully, vulnerably and boldly as you have these past 4 years. You have a special gift that ministers to the heart of God in a unique and beautiful way. And your openness and transparency—your vulnerability—enables you to touch others in a deep way. When Christians fail to be vulnerable, as you have been, hearts are not moved. And that’s why I admire your artistic, open, beautiful heart so much.

    Happy painting and worshipping, my friend! ~joanna


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