Last night I offered the first of nine liturgical paintings as part of a commissioning project with Holy Family HTX UMC. The painting was displayed in the Ash Wednesday services and I had the privilege of sharing with participants about the work and my process for completing it. It was surreal.
All of the liturgical paintings I'm creating as a part of the commissioning will begin with words. The words that served as the foundation for this painting were: "remember you are dust + to dust you shall return". The painting was also inspired by lyrics from music I was listening to, + lines from a Howard Thurman poem about the season of Lent.
The painting was a reflection on the dual encounter that the season emphasizes: our own mortality + the deep need for God's redeeming love and life in Jesus Christ.
The line of color, breaking up the rich layers of purple on top of warm yellows, browns, reds and blacks, represents our mortal lives within the expansivness of eternity.
Music was an important part of my process. There were very few moments, if any at all, in complete silence. The last marks were made to the soundtrack of "Saturn" by Sleeping at Last, which I had on constant repeat. Following are four lines specifically I mediated on as I completed this piece:
You taught me the courage of stars before you left
How light carries on endlessly even after death
With stillness of breath you explain the infinite
How rare and beautiful it is to even exist.
Lanecia A. Rouse