Art, Soul. Weaving the Art part and the God part of our lives together. I promised we would explore that theme together. Let’s begin by me sharing some thoughts on my personal weaving story and my Art, Soul philosophy.

We are born Creatives, Mark Makers. We are Poiema. The Greek definition of Poiema is workmanship; work of art; epic poem, masterpiece. We are a masterpiece; created in the image of the Master; and daily we walk through his gift of a never-ending art gallery of inspiration. Visual artists often use a reference photo or painting to inspire (not to copy) their own imagination and creation. That’s what I see God’s creations as, a “reference photo” for my art, creativity and imagination. I could never run out of things to inspire me, to make me want to make; to put my pen to paper. What a gift. I have no excuse for no Poiema. My art and my soul indisputably weave together.

God is God; the Creator. Many only see him as a God of law, but he is also the God of beauty, creation, art. His original and great desire for us was to walk and live in freedom in the beautiful garden he breathed into being. We all know the story of the loss of that for us humans, but he didn’t curse the entire planet and take every majestic, beautiful and awe-inspiring reference photo away from us. We might be temporarily locked out of the garden, but he still handed us the key to the secret of artistic freedom. Every day on the planet you walk through the perfect reminder of who he really is.

You might counter with a huff and tell me that the only picture many people live in daily is one of darkness, dirt, broken things and the stench of hate. That for this population there is nothing inspiring. You are right, of course, but there’s always something, some bit of hopeful beauty.

I once spent a long amount of time in a very depressed area of Russia. It was mid-summer and sweaty-hot. No clean water, no air conditioning, no break from the daily outdoor visual of dusty dirt, the color brown, and rebar spiking up from broken concrete. I was physically and emotionally weary. I had been in this environment too long; I needed a break; I wanted to go home. My exuberance for sharing my soul through the healing power of the arts had waned to a pathetic whimper. How could I “paint a picture” that would draw the people to a loving Creator and a beautiful life, when their entire world was one of dirty deprivation? There was no “reference” to compare it to. Was God, the God I knew and loved to drink in when I walked through his art gallery of inspiration even here? Was there not one beautiful thing that gave me hope?

On that day, when I had had enough, when I wanted to give up and run home to my comforts, I stopped my weary trudge up through the chunks of concrete and I wept a little. Only as much as my pride would allow. If only I had one glass of clean iced water. Or a cold American soda. Or an air-conditioned breeze.

“Oh, God, if only I could see one bit of beautiful! A sign that you are here, somewhere. A sign that I’m supposed to be here in this disgusting dirty dirt!”

I had gripped the bent pipe handrail and leaned my head over to sputter out my prayer. I gave myself a few seconds of pity time, then swiped my eyes. As my vision cleared, a small spot of yellow made me squint. Something on the ground, wedged between the concrete and rusted rebar spikes. I bent down on my knees, my soul washed with a strange mix of shame and gratitude. A lone yellow bloom; a gift as if held out to me in God’s hand. A profound sign; an answer to my prayer.

Where there is life, there is the Creator. Where there is the Creator, there is beauty; where there is beauty, there is art. And suddenly, I felt the art part of my life and the soul part of me weave back together. I had not seen a colorful, blooming thing in this environment in six long weeks. Of course you have, came the small whisper.

The babushka wearing rags, missing teeth, smiling wide, handing me precious bread. Oh, how I had wanted to capture her on canvass. The waif of a girl, growing up in the darkness of an orphanage, staring wide-eyed, straight into the deepest part of me as I mimed caressing a broken heart into a whole one. Oh, how I want to teach you to dance in the sunshine, little one! The merry band of church-family picnickers, walking dusty miles to the dacha, sharing their scant bounty, campfire and hopeful songs with our privileged American team. They have nothing; they give us everything; I will write their stories.

Colorful, blooming pieces of soul, all. All around me. All the time.

I would not pluck the lone yellow bloom and keep it for myself. I would leave it as a tiny beacon of hope for the next weary traveler in this depressing landscape. A brushstroke of sacred art to weave into their soul.

Do you have an Art, Soul moment? Do you believe the two weave together in our lives? Think about it for a while. Then leave a comment for us to share. Thank you for being here today.