Monday, May 30, 2011

Golden Brushes

I listened to a story about an artist on NPR. Old habit from when JD was in Iraq, I keep the radio on to get the news. In the process I get many other interesting things.

I have always loved illuminated manuscript and treat myself to bits of it when I can as copies. Our first Christmas in Anchorage the folks at First Assembly gave John a bonus and being John, he spent it on me! He knew I was fascinated by the Book of Kells and there was a coffee table book at Barnes showing all the colorful book plates full of the images of scripture. I spent that Christmas in a monastery in Ireland without ever leaving the Lazyboy.

This is a news story about a woman who has opened an apprentice program to teach illumination. She has designed and created, with the help of students who live with her, 6x9 ft paintings of cities torn by war or tragedy. They are called Cities of Peace. She has many interesting touches in the works. She even had astronomers configure the night sky as it appeared over one city on a specific date. Jerusalem is my favorite.

The link will let you look at the works, hear the newscast or read the story if you like.

What struck me was her description of how the illumination is created. I never knew in all of my reading, all of my looking, all of my wonder, that illumination is, in part, a joining of mud to gold. Many other inks are used but wherever you see gold there is mud under it.

Mud is mixed to a thin paint and laid down as a base for the work. Then the artist, through the use of a mordant or special glue overlays the work with precious metals, usually gold. The monks did this to illustrate the attachment of man to God. The beautification of the common by the sacred. "Faith" came to mind. Faith as a mordant joining dusty man to the sacredness of his Creator by faith in the atonement of Christ. Beauty for ashes.

When we look at illuminated works we do not see the common. Our eyes see only the craft, the mastery, the beauty produced by the overlay. May the world see that when they look at us. No more dusty-muddy people but people Illuminated by a special, costly (Jesus paid it all) beautification program created in the heart of a loving God.

My heart knows for a certainty that the artist who drew the heavens, who mixed purple and red into the sunset, has a desire to beautify our lives to reflect such artistry. Heaven knows the world needs it. All our muddy footprints removed from sight. Have you ever considered that you can be a masterpiece? God has considered it and you are a work in progress. The gold is standing at the ready. More glue? Make mine extra sticky.

By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that's not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God's grace and glory, standing tall and shouting praises. Romans 5

The Holy Spirit has mixed His paints. He has dipped His brush in your color pallet. His artistry is without question. What has He ever touched that has not testified to His skill? He is a Master. He will bring you to breathtaking, technicolor life, shot through with Christ's illuminated glory, mud marks not withstanding. Trust Him. For you it is all about love and golden brushes.

The Four Evangelists, Book Of Kells, Ireland

(From a 2008 email to friends)

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