Cloudy Visions

I’ve been painting clouds, and they have gotten the better of me.

I have at least three problems. The first is that if I like what I paint when it is seen up close, I don’t like it when I stand at a distance. The second problem is that if I like what I paint when seen from a distance, I don’t like what I see up close. The third problem is that I’m not really that fond of my results either up close or at a distance. Plus, I am ever wiping my brow in exasperation or ponderously stroking my chin and so get paint on my face!

But I’m having fun all the same. In fact, yesterday evening I painted for close to three hours and it was as five minutes. It seems to me that in some ways painting is a parable of a life of faith.

On the one hand, we like to “see” God up close and personal: a face to face God who will speak to us of unconditional love, and remind us that this divine presence is ever beside us. This is a God near and dear to us. But sometimes we want a God who is powerful and transcendent: a God who can set the world right. But then I remember that setting the world right means setting me right too, and I’m not necessarily so thrilled with that vision.

It seems that it is as hard to speak “God” as it is to paint clouds. Yet I persist at both, and in speaking God I join a host of others across denominations, and lands, and tongues, and creeds. Why? Because God is a “mystery” in the best sense of the word and mysteries draw us in by ever evoking in us a posture of curiosity. God is not a riddle to be solved but an adventure to be lived. The more we know God, the more we know we don’t know God and that is a humbling, yet strangely fulfilling knowing. In fact, it gives us the freedom to admit our ignorance; it frees us to try and to fail; it encourages us to persist in faith rather than certainty. A life of faith means that ignorance is strangely now a virtue rather than a vice.

I suppose, in some ways, I experience the same when I venture in paints all the while allowing myself to fail. When I let go of the need to be perfect, I enjoy the journey as much as, if not more than, the destination, and along the way I have the joy of messy fun. In some ways, the life of creativity and the life of the Creator meet in mystery, curiosity, and sheer joy. May your New Year be full of such graces!

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12 thoughts on “Cloudy Visions

  1. jannatwrites says:

    This is a great post! For me, this line sums it up well: ” When I let go of the need to be perfect, I enjoy the journey as much as, if not more than, the destination…”

    Those moments when imperfection is tolerated can be the most fulfilling.

  2. agjorgenson says:

    Thanks Janna! I agree with your comment about fulfillment. And it always perplexes me that it’s so much harder to accept imperfections in myself. i don’t know if that is true for many or most.

  3. Sean says:

    Thank you for the post. My Sunday School class was making the comment on how people want to be able to feel and see God instead of just knowing that He is there. I think we are so finite that we are unable to completely comprehend what infinite really is. It is something that can’t be truly understood until that last day when we are given the knowledge to finally understand.

  4. agjorgenson says:

    Yes, I agree. Yet from time to time little glimpses strengthen our faith, and for that we give thanks. Thanks for commenting and a blessed New Year to you!

  5. shoreacres says:

    Your post reminds me of the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. In one version of the story, Goldilocks tries chair, porridge and beds, finding the first too small or too hot, the second too large or too cold, and the third “just right”.

    In your cloud story, some are too far away to be appreciated and some are too close. As soon as you brought God into the discussion, I just laughed. It’s not impossible to see Christmas as God’s version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears – choosing to be neither infinitely distant nor impossibly close, but letting himself be seen in a way that’s “just right”.

    • agjorgenson says:

      Well, Linda, I have to say that I quite like this! Jesus as “just right”.means that I am saved by just-right-ification: sounds good to me! Thanks for the inspiration!!

  6. I wanted you to know that I have nominated you for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. http://ichosetolive.wordpress.com/2013/01/02/very-inspiring-blogger-award-nomination/The link will lead you to the guidelines if you would like to participate. Thanks for being a great inspiration, not only to me, but to many people that visit this blog. God Bless!

  7. agjorgenson says:

    My goodness! How very kind of you, and it truly is my pleasure to write. It is a gift,not a task, to write and to have readers who are inspired makes it gift upon gift. Thanks so very much, and blessing back to you and yours!

  8. Whimsy Mimsy says:

    🙂 reading this, I was reminded of being back in school in wood shop and trying to learn to square a board. I kept trying and trying, but the end kept being rounded. Finally I learned that you have to pick one side to align with the square. You can’t use both edges and have the end straight.

  9. agjorgenson says:

    Good point! Thanks for this. I wonder if the analogy works with writing too? Can writers square their comments with both sides of an argument? Or do they have to choose a side? But then again, sometimes we might want to write round!

  10. dianerivers says:

    This is a lovely image of God’s relationship with us and ours with Him. I hope you keep painting clouds and I hope you DON’T get it “right” so you can keep coming up with these insights for the rest of us. Meanwhile, I’m going to chew on this one for awhile.

  11. agjorgenson says:

    Thanks for the encouragement! My evening will involve more painting over my painting, which can be strangely satisfying…

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