spirituality

Rooted

Rooted.

At the end of last year, the painting “Rooted” had found a new home. This week, I finally had the opportunity to see it in its new context and frame. By this I mean not only the spatial frame but also the picture frame. The owners happened to have this beautiful old frame that matched the picture and now it shines in new splendour in a place of honor in their reading and video room.

Rooted Acrylic Painting - SOLD
Rooted Acrylic Painting – SOLD

Rooted – fitting for Good Friday

The picture “Rooted” is very fitting for today. Today is Good Friday and we commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on the cross at Golgotha. His sacrifice on the cross enables us to receive forgiveness for our sins and reconciliation with the Almighty God. Jesus’ willingness to be treated as a felon is described in the Philippians’ letter:

Though he was God,
    he did not think of equality with God
    as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
    he took the humble position of a slave
    and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
    he humbled himself in obedience to God
    and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor
    and gave him the name above all other names. (Phil 2:6-9 NLT)

Out of love for us, Jesus went the not at all easy way into death and into the distance from God. He himself compared this in advance with a grain of wheat:

I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives. (Jn 12:24 NLT)

Jesus died to bear fruit. We are this fruit. Those who follow Jesus and live rooted in Him are thus part of this fruit and contribute to Jesus’ joy.

Rooted – A Reason for Joy

The anticipation of these effects helped him to endure when he was confronted with suffering, contempt, shame and injustice.

Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. (Hebr 12:2 NLT)

Finally, a last quotation from Isaiah, where Jesus’ death was predicted in a prophetic word:

Yet it was our weaknesses he carried;
    it was our sorrows that weighed him down.
And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God,
    a punishment for his own sins!
But he was pierced for our rebellion,
    crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
    He was whipped so we could be healed.
All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.
    We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
Yet the Lord laid on him
    the sins of us all. (Is 53:4-6 NLT)

Jesus’ sufferings and death on the cross, sad and terrible as they are, eventually became a source of joy and peace for him and for us. He died so we could have peace with God. In this sense, I wish you all, HAPPY EASTER!

Soar

Soar

Soar
Climb high
Enjoy the freedom
and endless vastness.

Open the wings
Float in the blue sky
Carried by the wind
as your friend.

Unfold yourself wide
Once again flourish
Rejoice in life
that’s given to you.

Let yourself be carried
On the wings of the eagle
During your next stage
on the way to the goal.

The evening is approaching
The strength is waning
But the eternal Father
lovingly carries you home.

(2016)

Soar * Schwinge dich auf
Soar * Schwinge dich auf

The poem was written on the occasion of the retirement and 70th birthday of a dear friend, inspired by Willow Tree‘s figure “Soar”. The picture was made later.

Both the figure and the picture symbolize for me a release for something new. The original reason was the knowledge that even at the age of 70, my friend will not simply fall into a state of inactivity, but will now use the time for a new, last period of flourishing of the God-given gifts and possibilities. But this is not only true for my friend or others on the verge of retirement. There is potential in all of us and we are challenged to unfold the possibilities that lie within us, just like a butterfly that has just hatched out of its cocoon and is unfolding its wings. Gradually the full size of its wings becomes visible.

The bird in the picture and in the figurine is encouraged to fly away by raising the hands. Sometimes we need such “midwives”. They remind me of some bird species that push their hesitant offspring out of the nest or unobtrusively deprive them of their direct support when flying. The fledglings have to overcome their hesitation and flap their own wings. And so we too must fly ourselves or we will be sucked into the comfort of the status quo.

Therefor, you too – Soar – to new adventures – and open your wings wide!

Steps of Faith in a Storm – Poem

Steps of Faith in a Storm – Poem

I wrote the poem “Steps of Faith in a Storm” in a very difficult time, when people whom I trusted harassed and hurt me deeply. It’s my first attempt of translating a German poem into English.

Steps of Faith in a Storm

Spilling breaking waves waves waves waves waves
storm storm storm
fooooog

The boat sways on high sea
I stand uncertainly on my legs
powerless against the powers
powerless

I stare at the shape in the fog
and a gentle voice in me calls:
Come! Trust me!
Come!

I inhale deeply
I want to dare the leap
and let go of the edge of the boat
I step on the water…

I forgive my enemies
pray for those, who persecute me
and don’t take revenge

I step on the water
and the water carries me
the water carries me
hopefully for a long time!?!

And if not
I will try it tomorrow again.

*

Spilling breaking waves waves waves waves waves
storm storm storm
fooooog

The boat sways on high sea
I stand uncertainly on my legs
powerless against the powers
powerless

I stare at the shape in the fog
and a gentle voice in me calls:
Come! Trust me!
Come!

I inhale deeply
I want to dare the leap
and let go of the edge of the boat
I step on the water…

I forgive my brothers and sisters who wrong me
I pray for those, who hurt me
and I don’t lash out at them

I step on the water
and the water carries me
the water carries me
for a loooooong time!

*

Glaubensschritt * Steps of Faith
Glaubensschritt * Steps of Faith

I had painted the picture that meshes with the poem “Steps of Faith in the Storm” more than one year before that. Originally, for me it referred to the steps of faith that I take by trusting God and following his guidance.

I wrote the poem, when I discovered a new dimension of steps of faith – when I am unfairly treated and harassed, to not insist on my right, defend myself or strike back, but let go and trust that God is above it all and can turn things around for good.

That is what happened in the specific situation, during which I suffered a lot and felt helpless at the mercy of some higher powers. In the end, God turned the situation around and changed it into blessings.

Dance with Immanuel – Cold Wax Painting

Dance with Immanuel – Cold Wax Painting

Suddenly I felt lifted up with a lot of momentum and whirled around as if we were dancing exuberantly before Immanuel put me down in the middle of a green mountain pasture.

Tanz mit Immanuel, Wachssalbe auf Papier, 50x65 cm * Dance with Immanuel, cold wax on paper, 20x25.6 in © 2015 by Faith Dance Art
Tanz mit Immanuel, Wachssalbe auf Papier, 50×65 cm * Dance with Immanuel, cold wax on paper, 20×25.6 in © 2015 by Faith Dance Art

Come, trust my guidance!

Dancing is like no other activity an expression of vulnerability (Brené Brown). Especially if it is a free style form of dancing. Only when you are inwardly free and healed, do you have the liberty to express yourself in dance.

During a conference one unit started with a time of quiet and guidance for the Immanuel process (a kind of spiritual exercise). We had just been told to remember a moment where we experienced God’s presence especially clearly. Even before I could think of something, I suddenly had the inner impression that Jesus lifted me up with a lot of momentum and whirled me around in a circle as if we were dancing and frolicking around, before he put me gently down in the middle of a green mountain pasture.

What a surprise! I was completely unprepared for this and speechless. I certainly could not have imagined that on my own. It was a moment of reveling joy in a beautiful surrounding. It was an expression full of exuberant joy, joy about being together, freedom, liberty, vulnerability, beauty, wordless appreciation and agreement.

When reflecting on it and wondering what Jesus wanted to tell me through this vision, he showed me that this was in a direct contrast to the treatment by others I was used to. Jesus rejoices in me, despite my imperfections and treats me with a lot of appreciation and respect as a woman.

With Jesus, I do not need to be afraid, that he might tear off my stripes or treat me pejoratively because of some failure or lack of gifting, or that he would treat me like a second-class citizen because I am a woman.  Only in Jesus can we find such complete acceptance and security!

***

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
Zeph, 3,17

Jesus Stood Still – Cold Wax Painting

Jesus Stood Still – Cold Wax Painting

The story of a blind beggar in Jericho became my own personal story when one-day several years ago Jesus stood in front of me during a worship service and asked me the same question: What do you want?

Jesus bleibt stehn * Jesus stood still
Jesus bleibt stehn * Jesus stood still

Come, tell me what you really want!

The story of a blind beggar in Jericho led to an amazing process of healing in my own life. When Jesus and his disciples walked past the beggar, he called out “Have mercy on me!” The bystanders threatened him to stop shouting, but Jesus stood still and called the beggar to himself and asked, “What do you want me to do for you?”

During the sermon about this biblical story, suddenly Jesus stood still in front of me. And he asked: “What do you want me to do for you?” What a unique and God-given moment, like rarely before and after.

What things would come to your mind? Wealth? Health? Long life? Marriage partner? Special gifting?

After some going and back and forth in my thoughts, I answered, “Jesus, I want to be free from my addictions.” Even though I had learned with the help of the 12-step program to manage my addictions fairly well, I knew deep down, that I was not completely free.

Jesus answered “OK!” I did not know when it would happen, and I did not want to shout victory too early, but after a few months it was obvious that a real change had happened. I was free from my addictive behavior such as workaholism, overeating, control addiction and their various relatives. Praise God!

The same year God gave healing and liberation in several other areas of my life. That’s why I call it my “Year of Jubilee.”

***

Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.”
And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.
Mk 10:52

God’s Eyes Speak Acceptance – Cold Wax Painting

God’s Eyes Speak Acceptance – Cold Wax Painting.

God’s eyes speak of his acceptance and love. Meanwhile this is the most natural thing for me, but this was not always the case. What is your inner picture of God?

Gottes Lächeln * God's Smile

Most people project their negative experiences with strict and overly critical parents or teachers on to God. In front of their inner eyes they see somebody who always watches them with a strict frown, or they hear with their inner ears an inner critic, believing that this must be God.

Come, let his love heal you!

Even though I never consciously had a negative image of God, in the sense, for example, that he watches me with a strict frown, just waiting to catch me in the act, it was still a long journey until I realized his love and acceptance more fully. Not just once in a while, but constantly.

One thing that helped me a lot in this was a simple line drawing of God’s benevolant smile. For a long time this drawing hang in my bedroom as a daily reminder of what I knew in theory. Through it, it trickeled slowly into my subconscious that God is indeed on my side and that he loves me just as I am. His love and acceptance was the most important factor for my transformation and inner healing.

This painting is an imperfect attempt, to picture this inviting expression of God’s eyes, that expresses his perfect love and acceptance.

◊◊◊

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Cor 3,18

Talitha Cum – Resurrected to New Life – Cold Wax Painting

Talitha Cumi – Resurrected to New Life – Cold Wax Painting

Paralyzed with fear, a person is sitting in the cave. The path passes an abyss. The fear of falling into the abyss keeps her from reaching the summit and flourish. Does this sound familiar?

Angsthöhle * Fear Cave
Angsthöhle * Fear Cave

For everyone there is something else that paralyzes us and discourages us from reaching a goal: Fear of failure? Fear of ridicule? Fear of great responsibility? Fear of not being good enough? Fear of being excluded ? Fear of loneliness? Afraid of what others think of me?

God showed me this picture of my femininity huddled together, paralyze by fear, shriveled and half dead sitting in the dark cave. The abyss is called “false femininity” – women whose lives consists of pink ruffles and drinking tea from delicate china cups with outstretched little fingers. Out of fear of falling into these stereotypes, I did not dare to walk the path to flourishing as a woman.

Jesus called “Talitha cumi!” and resurrected me and my femininity to new life. I could only marvel at how many things automatically changed in the months following. They were an expression of my healing and the new life of femininity Jesus had called me to.

***

Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,”
which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” Mk 5:41

Safe in God’s Hand – Cold Wax Painting

Safe in God’s Hand – Cold Wax Painting

Pictures or sculptures, where a baby lies in a large hand have always touched me deeply and triggered a strong longing. I longed for this safety in God’s hand, but thought somewhat subconsciously that there might not be enough room for tall people like me.

In God's Hand - In Gottes Hand
In God’s Hand – In Gottes Hand

Come, let go of yourself and relax in my hand!

If we have met, you know that I am fairly tall (5′ 11″ / 1.80 m). As a result it happens quite often, that when I am in a group and I look around, I notice that the majority is much smaller. On the other hand, it happens not very often that others perceive me as weak, need, feel led to help me or put their arms around my shoulder to comfort me. Although I need this as much as most other people.

This impression I projected onto God and subconsciously had the idea that I have to always be strong, because God is busy comforting small and delicate people.

Some of you might know these sculptures where a baby lies in God’s hand, or a child puts his head in a protective hand. They have often triggered a lot of longing in me, because I somehow thought that there is not enough room in such a hand for tall people like me. Until one day God gave me this inner impression that showed me that there is certainly enough room – even for tall people like me.

 

And I have put my words in your mouth and covered you in the shadow of my hand. Is 51:16

Dare to Trust – Cold Wax Painting

Come, dare to trust!

When Peter saw Jesus walking on water, he believed that he could do that too, at least if Jesus gave him the assignment. And that’s how it was. Jesus said, “Come!” and for a short while Peter was able to walk on water. Like Jesus. But when he started looking on the high waves (circumstance), he started to sink.

Step by Faith * Glaubensschritt
Step by Faith * Glaubensschritt

I have never walked on real water, but figuratively I have done it very often. In my being “En Route” with Jesus it happened countless times, that Jesus gave me a commission that seemed impossible. In these situations I have experienced time and again, that when I trusted Jesus, the impossible became possible. My task was only to follow the instructions, and let him take care of the results.

Faith for me means every day anew “walking on water”, doing things in dependence on Jesus, that seem impossible to me.

 

Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; let it be my only worry to trust and obey you. Ps 86:11

Sit With Me – Cold Wax Painting

Come, sit with me!

The worship time during this service was organized similar to the pilgrimage toward Jerusalem, where pilgrims would start out with lively  praise songs on their way. But when we entered the temple and God’s holy presence, their songs became more quietly and awestruck, until most of us were worshiping face down in front of God’s throne (inwardly, in our mind).

Suddenly somebody taps me on my shoulder. It is God Father himself. The Father says to me, “Come, sit with me. There is still enough place next to me.” I am deeply touched that God sees me. I am not just one out of millions of worshipers, but he sees me personally and loves me as if I was the only person worldwide.

This experience has helped a lot to make God’s love more concrete for me.

Sit with me * Setz dich zu mir
Sit with me * Setz dich zu mir

Only years later I realized more fully that his love for me does not depend on my performance. He does not love me more, when I achieving more. He does not love me less, when I am doing less. His love is always at its maximum.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!
1 Jn 3:1

Invitation to the light – Cold Wax painting

Invitation to the light – Cold Wax painting

Finally, I no longer want to hide the paintings that are now on display at the exhibition in Wels. As it says in the invitation for the opening, they are very personal – they reflect certain mile stones of my personal journey with Jesus, which is a journey of healing from deep hurts to freedom and wholeness.

Light on the Path
Light on the Path

Come, dare to walk the way with me

God’s light falls on our path and we are challenged to decide, whether we accept the invitation or not. Will we continue on our way, following the others, the masses? Or do we dare to break out? It is a risk, since we don’t know what exactly it means to be ‘en route’ with God.

At least that’s how I experienced it: as an 18 year old atheist I suddenly realized that God does exist and that I am not in harmony with him. I knew without any human explanation that if I died today, I would not be with God but somewhere else – far away. The light fell onto my way. I stood a the crossing and could not know whether I will get another chance. My thoughts went back and forth. What should I do? This was no longer a question whether God existed. I also understood where I would end up if I continued as before. It was more the questions: what it entailed, what God would expect, what are my motives, would it be an egoistic motive? My reflection did not get me anywhere. My thought where quite confused.

In the end I decided that I could know the answers to my questions, unless I tried it out. And so I dared to accept the risk – I invited Jesus to take over the leadership of my life and lead me on this new way to the light – back to God. Since then I am ‘en route’ with Jesus and I have never regretted it.

Exhibition in Upper Austria “En Route”

Exhibition in Upper Austria “En Route”

In three weeks the exhibition “Unterwegs” (en route) will be opened in Wels, Upper Austria.

Unterwegs Exhibition

This is a group exhibition of Marten Berger, Jutta Blühberger, Bernd Friedmann, Judith Lanz, Anna Mayer, Jochen Mayer, Solomon Okpurukhre, Beate Riepl, and Fritz Wolf.

The opening of the exhibition will be on Saturday, February, 28th 2015 at 7pm, at the Galerie Nöfa (Anzengruberstraße 8-10, 4600 Wels, Upper Austria. Tel.: +43 7242 35 1 36-0).

We are nine Christian artists who have met along the road and want to share a part of their journey with each other and you. The exhibition wants to be a road sign to the good road that lead to the Father house.