Project 1, Post 4: A Stray Pup and Forgiveness

A Stray Pup & Forgiveness

Reflection:

As I finally took some time to work on my painting my mind replayed the busy last few weeks of my life. – Wow! What an interesting few weeks it has been!

“To err is human. To forgive, divine.” (Alexander Pope)

It began on a Saturday when a stray dog wandered up. The second that I laid eyes on him I let out a gasp in complete shock and disbelief. Never, ever have I seen a living creature look so dead. The dog, a Boxer, hesitantly came over to accept an offering of food and water from my husband. The poor boy’s little bobbed, nub of a tail wagged incessantly. His body had been reduced to a semi-alive, emaciated, skeletal condition. Each vertebrae, each rib, each joint in the hips and the shoulder were almost as formatively visible as any veterinary program’s fleshless, skeletal teaching specimen held together by wire. The Boxer is a breed of large dog, and yet this boy’s waist (behind the ribs and before the hips) had been reduced to a mere 2 ½ or 3 inches max. His movements were slow and lethargic. He had no energy left in his little body. We happily took this poor boy in hoping to bring him back to health.

“Houston” as the stray pup is now called (after the street where he was found) had no flees and was remarkably clean. He even sat for me when I asked. He was not micro-chipped and had no collar or identification. To spite his horrific body condition and appearance, his hair was soft, like a puppy’s. A thorough vet exam produced an educated estimate of his age to be around 6 months to 1 ½ years.

As much as I wanted to believe that “Houston” had been wandering about for long enough to have landed himself in such a dire physical state, the clues point us to a far more likely, far more unpleasant circumstance. Houston was likely kept inside and simply not fed. The reasons why a person or persons might not feed an animal vary, but the result is definite.

Yet, this dog has demonstrated more divinity in his plight than most humans.

“We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid the power to forgive is devoid the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.” (Martin Luther King Jr.)

In spite of being starved, Houston has forgiven men. He clearly has reason to begrudge the human kind, yet he doesn’t. Instead, he forgive. He loves. Houston, through his ability to forgive, has actually given himself a fresh start. Gone are days of the past. Gone are those broken relationships. Now, new relationships are formed: relationships based on love in spite of past transgressions. Had he not come to us, he likely would have perished within the week.

Today, in America, we see various special interest groups on university campuses comprised of students demanding a variety of measures that they believe will right past wrongs, end all pain, and put the world at peace. Many of these demands center on “white privilege.” The idea that past grievances determine the “goodness” of an entire race of people is not only illogical and shallow, but is also diminishes the humanity and the value and worth of those people as well. This idea has no clear goal in mind. There is no pot of gold at the end of this rainbow. Instead, “endocrinees” of this social theory are none the better: these young people are still left with a spiritual void in their souls, hearts primarily filled with anger, and minds focused solely on vengeance.

Behind the anger lies pain. Pain can only be healed through love. Forgiveness is hard, but it allows us to let go of our pain and finally move on.

Christ taught us to strive for forgiveness.

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” (Mahatma Gandhi)

Just like “Houston” has demonstrated, it is through forgiveness that we unload the weight of the past, giving ourselves a new start, a new future. Forgiveness isn’t just a gift to others. Forgiveness is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves.

So, the next time you feel angry, wronged, please remember that the weight of anger only drags us down. The gift of forgiveness is what allows us to move forward. We should all, myself included, be a little more like dear “Houston.”

Amen.

Artistic process:

I have been suffering from “artist’s block.” Finally, I decided I would try painting some very simple blue flowers. I do love the spring! So, this week, I just played around with a few simple lines, adding a background of “reeds” before I go any further.

Project 1, Post 3: From Division to Unity

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“From Division to Unity”

Reflection:

Inspired by the idea of color-blocking I applied a few squares of color to my painting. The result? Eeesh…

My painting looked chopped up, discombobulated. Staring at the damage I had done, I recalled King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream interpreted by Daniel and recorded in the Book of Daniel, chapter 2.

King Nebuchadnezzar was the greatest ruler of Babylon and responsible for the creation of the famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon. This great nation, once encompassing south Mesopotamia, ultimately fell. Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, as interpreted by Daniel, described the great nations that would come to rise after Babylon.

The king dreamed of “statue” with a head made of gold. Below the head of gold was a breast and arms were made of silver. The stomach/abdomen were made of brass. The legs were made of iron. Finally, the feet were made of part iron and part clay. A rock was thrown, hitting the statue’s feet. The feet were crushed and the entire structure crumble into pieces on the ground becoming dust. Wind carried away the dust. All that was left was the stone that had destroyed the “statue.” The rock then became a mountain, seemingly filling the whole Earth.

The golden head represented the King Nebuchadnezzar’s great Babylon.

The silver breast and arms represented a kingdom which would follow, but without Babylon’s strength.

The kingdom of brass would then follow which would rule all of the Earth.

A fourth nation made of iron would follow. With the strength of iron, this nation would crush all the others.

Lastly, the feet made of iron and clay represent the fifth nation. Being part iron, this nation will have some of the strength of the fourth (all iron) nation. However, this fifth nation is divided. The two parts of this divided nation would try to join together, “But they will not stay together any more than iron mixes with clay” (Daniel, 2:43).

In Matthew, chapter 12, Jesus tells us that a divided nation cannot last, saying “Every nation divided into groups that fight each other is going to be destroyed. Every city or family divided into groups that fight each other will not stand” (Matthew, 12:25).  He goes on to say, “If the Devil puts out the Devil, he is divided against himself….. But if I put out Demons by the Spirit of God, then the holy nation of God is come to you” (Matthew, 12:26, 28).

….. Thus, for my painting, I faithfully decided to go the route of unity, not division, and I quickly worked to remedy my artistic blunder.

America today is a divided nation. In some ways we are divided into many groups who are fighting one another as Jesus described in Matthew. America is also divided in two, like the iron and clay feet depicted in King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. Once you slice a pizza, it is never whole again.

The Devil is walking amongst us, causing Christians to question the tenants of their faith and causing fellow Americans to turn against each other. Groups who seek to cast out the Devil by the Devil’s own means simply further divide us. Sadly, these groups are no more holy than a fox with mange.

It is important for Americans to remember that our nation became great because of two things:

  • Our Christian faith in God and the Holy Trinity.
  • Unity

Only God can caste the demons out of our country, of our society and heal a divided nation. If we continue to turn our back on Christ and his teaching, we are allowing the Devil to divide us.

Keep your faith.

Renew your dedication.

Ensure your body does not become a divided nation itself.

Pray.

Believe.

Give thanks.

Art Process:

Using acrylic paint, I tried color-blocking a few small squares before I stopped. To reunify my piece, I chose to follow the same whitewashing technique described in my last post (Project 1, Post 2: Whitewashing). Now what? Looking at my painting I feel I have a suitable background. Now what? What will I paint? I’m not sure… My mind is filled with many ideas and, for this painting, I will simply be proceeding in the spirit of experimentation!