Updated: Oct 3
ABOUT THE PAINTING “The Take Off,” A.K.A “Take Flight”
Have you ever noticed that you can’t fully see through colored stained glass windows?
Though, it sure is beautiful as the light attempts to shine through. You often see this in old church buildings. There’s so much history in those buildings as the ornate stained glass captures a bible story from window to the next, featuring one saint to another, sometimes, all the way up to the story of the crucifixion. But that’s all I remember. It’s like the story ended there, at the crucifixion.
I don’t remember seeing His resurrection captured in stained glass and if it was discussed during Mass, I totally missed that Sunday sermon and the one after that. As I listened to the Priest speak of verse after verse, sing hymn after hymn, my imaginations grew and released themselves as shadow puppets on the pew in front of me, during the breaks of sitting, standing, and kneeling in unison with the others. Once in a while, I'd get pulled back into reality as I caught a tweak of my mother’s face as if to say, “straighten up and pay attention.” Sometimes, I'd fixate on the thoughts: I can’t see through that stained glass. What’s on the outside right now as I sit inside? Did it start raining? Did the sun come out? Can Jesus see into this building right now, even if the light outside isn’t penetrating through?
I grew up in a Catholic culture, though later only attended Mass on the Holidays. If I lost my toy, there was a Saint to pray to find it again. If I lost a friendship or felt desperation, I had a St. to pray to for that as well. If all else failed and no one listened to me no matter what Saint I prayed to, I could pray to the Mother Mary because as they say, if you tell her to ask her Son for something, He will do it because no son can deny their mother. She would be my last resort in prayer. But if I needed the Father for forgiveness, I could go to confession through the priest, sit in a dark box that had a separation, between him and I. The Man of God would request forgiveness for me, and prescribe a work of some kind or a specific number of prayers to speak that would cleanse me from my sin, my wrong doing or in other words, righting the wrong from missing the mark. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I never understood why it had to be this way. Didn’t God remember my sin, no more?
At some point, years later, after what seemed like one unanswered prayer and another, a series of rejections, and an illness that doctors told me wasn’t curable, I searched for my own faith and for most of those years I kept the concept of the Christian God’s existence at arms length.
Religion was a stained glass window I couldn’t see through yet let in just enough light to have some fun with shadow puppets until I got a tweak. Who wanted that?
In my early 20’s, in desperation, I did return long enough to pray to God as Father, leaving all the saints that passed on out of the conversation, hoping that something would work and my prayer would be answered. Speaking directly to my Father felt right. “Heal me in every way possible, and I’ll be yours to bring healing through. However, You want.”
Twelve years later, I became His, with a full water immersion baptism to declare it so. I was on the way to see into the resurrected one, no religion, just a relationship. Healing came in a process but it did come. He showed up as God, the Healer. One of my prayers instead would become more like, “Free me from every bit of religious spirit, so I can know what it is really like to love and be loved by You.”
I painted this dragonfly, as a symbol of my healing and changes that were taking place in my life, as I journeyed towards freedom. The journey looked like a dance of stepping into Him, and He stepping into Me (John 17:23). All the years of trying to be perfect and do perfect, I realized the perfection is His grace as He is perfect for us. He completes us where we fall short of perfection. There’s no need to go though a middle man or another saint. He wants you and I just as we are. There is no box, no wall, separating us, in this relationship. He wants us to fully see through into Him. As I painted the dragonfly, I went back to my old style in oil painting, yet merged it with something new, the dragonfly. I never attempted to paint realistically before that. I wanted it to stand out from all that was behind it. Our past is part of our beautiful, interwoven story, that His light shines through. When I painted it, I didn’t know months later, I’d be baptized. But as I painted it, I had begun a journey, taking flight towards healing and to rediscover what I believed in as well as who I believed in. Not long after finishing it, I gave Jesus access to see into my stained glass heart, so He could clear the way to shine through.
The wings on a dragon fly are like a see through stained glass, with all the intricate parts of our life appearing to have separations yet, they are one, parts of a story woven together so that we can take flight. The light of the sun highlights with a shimmer, each section of the wing, in a glorious way, just as He shines on us.
To fly all day, Dragonflies must warm up in the sun first thing in the morning. It reminds me, that if we are to never grow weary and continue to fly through out the day, we have to commune with the Son first thing. It always starts with that warmth shinning through into us and we shall be filled up again and again the next day to take flight.
No matter how dark things look, where He is, there is always enough light to make shadow puppets. No matter if our hearts are made of stained glass, He can still see through and make them clear as a sea of glass.