Advent is the Season of Hope
By Lynne Benson
a Selah Companion
Ad = towards
Venture = about to happen
I love playing with language, words, derivatives, and meanings and considering what is intended. So, my little brain put together “advent” – looking forward to what is about to happen. This advent season stirs the beginnings of what I can offer to my friends when I send out Christmas greetings. I want to give something of meaning, and value, something of myself that took effort, thought, and the work of my person. So, the last few years have been devoted to painting pictures for greeting cards. While it might not have the intended meaning extended to the receiver in quite the way I began the work; I am drawn to what comes to mind as I look at life.
My first attempt was of Christmas ornaments hanging from the limb of a fir tree. It is something that most people recognize, no matter what tradition, culture, or country of experience. So many things come to mind. If I want to decorate my world with my attitudes, actions, and presence, I realize I cannot hang in midair but need support and dangle in midair, hopefully showing off the reflected light of the other brilliance around and show that I get to be part of a great whole that graces that tree. Not alone, hanging, dangling with others to make a more beautiful whole.
The candle painting from a different year displays light in a dark place. Truthfully, my favorite part of the picture is the rounded glass holder that catches the drippings. Something about how it catches the light and roundness warms me, a reminder that it doesn’t shine on its own. It holds something of substance that supports a wick that runs through the waxy pillar that, by its composition, warms the hardened to a softened texture and lightens the dark. Nothing of that pictured object works by itself.
My tree was intended to have a whimsical feel to it. While in the cold, it holds up the softness of the snow, a tree that is a remembrance of nature, a symbol of the season we often bring into our homes to remind us of a holy-day (holiday), yet in some ways, seems a disconnect with the true meaning as it was kind of a non-biblical, non-Christian way of commemorating the birth of Christ which likely happened in a different season anyway.
The picture beckoned something else – warmth; I wanted life to speak into what seemed cold. While bunnies are not often out and about during this time, it just seemed fitting to have the little guy depicted. Not only does it symbolize warmth to me, but they emerge in little bundles of fur into adolescent fluffs during the spring on our property. I watch for them as they give me such delight. Life. Warmth is expected after the cold and dark of winter. I look forward to the winter solstice as a reminder that the daylight hours will begin to lengthen. The tree by itself seemed lonely. The presence of the rabbit is a bit of hope; in turn, the tree is a bit of shelter: Christmas is the season of hope for our Shelter.
All considered, the conclusion is Emmanuel – God with us. As I have compiled my thoughts in writing this, all these pictures bring the realization that we are not alone. And isn’t that what God meant when it was said, “Come,” “I am with you,” “You will be with Me,” and “I will be with you”? We are not alone.
My painting teachers often point out the need for light. It is critical when painting realism that you consider “where your source of light is.” It determines shading, the hues used, where the light hits the objects painted, and whether your finished illustration “makes sense.” One of the most stirring things in pondering creative handiwork is the eye. Imagine: If the pupil of the eyes is too close together in a portrait, you can imagine what that person looks like. More like a toon, I’d say. If they are raised, the point, or the “apple of the eye,” as some name it, must be in the correct position for the viewer to know where the person is looking, and you tend to look in that direction and wonder what is being looked at. Have you ever heard of someone being the “apple of one’s eye”? That speaks to preciousness. I find it funny that we also call it the pupil – a place of learning. It is also a place that uses light and adjusts to it, and the cones of the eye allow for color to be perceived. The eye’s structure, function, and workings are nothing short of miraculous. By the way, our pupils widen in darkness to catch whatever bit of light possible. My cat’s eyes become more beautiful when those huge, dark pupils enlarge. His face looks more dear to me. Do I strain to see the Light who calls me precious, and will the learning of my gaze widen with amazement at Beauty? Do I see the Light more clearly?
There are techniques such as the rule of thirds and the “s” curve to provide movement, so your “eye” will travel across the picture, clearer and more distinct in the foreground, less so for distance. So many things that I have learned to help me to “see” my world differently, including the tremendous variations of green there are when I look at a wall of trees through the “eyes of my heart,” and meaning grows more profound. Until someone pointed this out, I never would have recognized that, and now my awareness has been piqued for all kinds of details. This creates profound wonder in the beauty I don’t want to miss and helps me see there is so much more to the world than I realize. My Light is growing brighter, showing more details, and shining greater wonder into the beauty surrounding me. And thus, begins my lessons on creativity. They continue.