This blog may be a bit of a ramble. I am starting it with my first cup of tea so I am not quite properly awake and I will finish and publish it tonight so it will be worked on over the day as I travel home from a 3 week holiday. So as well as looking at wonderful scenery with my beloved husband (and some boring bits of Motorways) it will keep me from thinking about work too much and wondering how many emails I’ll have to trawl through etc.
I’m not sure what I’m going to write, other than something about LOVE. You may wonder why I should start writing when I don’t have any clear idea, especially on such a large subject. The answer is simple – I have done a painting that started out as a play with watercolour paint then developed into a piece of abstract art and has finally become a piece with the opening verse of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians.
The bible verse was chosen because it was the one set for the day with the Northumbrian Community. And there was a heart already outlined, so it seemed a good idea. I am not 100% pleased with the finished painting. If you have any criticisms then I would probably agree with them. I may, however, do another with more care over the lettering and colour combination. At least with art you do get a chance to do something in rough and then go back and have another, more careful, go incorporating changes. If only life were like that!
But then again, I am glad that you only get one shot at life and that we can’t go back and re-live a day again in order to change our mistakes and rushed actions. Yes there have been days in my life that with hindsight I would have done differently. I have not always been the best ‘me’ I could be. I have made some terrible mistakes as well. And I have certainly not always been as loving as I could be. However I am who I am because of who I have been. And I am quite happy with myself and who I have turned into….. I hope others will agree!
But if we were able to re-wind and have re-takes then we might be tempted to be selfish and just ‘go for it’ (whatever ‘it’ may be) knowing that if things didn’t work out then we would do it differently next time. Knowing that you only have one attempt at each day then you are more likely to approach it in the best way you can, rather than as a first draft. As each day lies open to us, we will get the best out of it if we put the best into it. The gift of each day comes new every morning and full of potential of receiving other gifts. Paul ends chapter 13 by saying that love is the greatest of the trio faith, hope and love and urges his readers to strive for that greatest gift of love.
“All you need is love” the famous Beatles song is now playing in my mind. I baulk at the sentiment as it is far too simplistic. However, out of curiosity to see what all the lyrics are I look it up on that fount of all knowledge (and much misinformation I suspect). A very interesting article with this first paragraph:
All You Need Is Love” is a song by the English rock band the Beatles that was released as a non-album single in July 1967. It was written by John Lennon and credited to Lennon–McCartney. The song served as Britain’s contribution to Our World, the first live global television link, when the Beatles were filmed performing it at EMI Studios in London on 25 June 1967. The programme was broadcast via satellite and seen by an audience of over 400 million in 25 countries. Lennon’s lyrics, which were deliberately simplistic to allow for the show’s international audience, captured the utopian sentiments of the Summer of Loveera. The single topped sales charts in Britain, the United States and many other countries, and became an anthem for the counterculture‘s embrace of flower power philosophy.
To read the whole article go to https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_You_Need_Is_Love And to hear it go to: https://youtu.be/t5ze_e4R9QY
Three other paragraphs that are worth sharing are:
For his part, Lennon said in a 1971 interview: “I think if you get down to basics, whatever the problem is, it’s usually to do with love. So I think ‘All You Need Is Love’ is a true statement … It doesn’t mean that all you have to do is put on a phoney smile or wear a flower dress and it’s gonna be alright … I’m talking about real love … Love is appreciation of other people and allowing them to be. Love is allowing somebody to be themselves, and that’s what we do need.”[1
Maybe in the Sixties we were naive and like children and later everyone went back to their rooms and said, “We didn’t get a wonderful world of flowers and peace.” … Crying for it wasn’t enough. The thing the Sixties did was show us the possibility and the responsibility we all had.– John Lennon, 1980
As a statement on the power of universal love, the song served as the moral in the Yellow Submarine film; it plays over a scene where Lennon’s character defeats the Blue Meanies by throwing the word “Love” at their evil Flying Glove.[9
Love on its own, human love on its own, is not enough to defeat evil. The supreme love of God, shown in Jesus death on the cross AND his resurrection, defeats evil. Those who have thrown out organised religion and say that human beings don’t need God have been deluded by the influences around us, and thrown the baby out with the bath water. Yes, there have been terrible things done in the name of religion – and still are done – and God is angry. But far more evil has been done by those who act without God as their moral compass. The culture in the UK and our sense of fair play, sticking up for the underdog, being kind to people, doing charitable works – anything that could be described as love in action – has Christian roots and foundations.
Experimenting now – can I type on my ipad while we drive? YES 🙂
All you need is love. On one level, yes. I’m reminded of the rest of the corinthians 13th chapter – the one much loved at weddings. The Church of England website for weddings gives it the title ‘Love actually’. I wonder how many brides (its usually the woman who engages most with the hymn and readings selection) will think this is the official title of the passage. They choose it because of the section describing love:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
I have occasionally been asked if they could just have those verses and I always refuse – politely and with an explanation. I don’t like taking them out of context. The context of such wonderful examples of love is God. Paul is correcting the church members who are boasting about who is the best at preaching, teaching and serving others.
We’ve just passed a couple walking along the road (in Ambleside) and my immediate reaction was “they’ve been to church”. They stood out as different to the holiday makers and day trippers in casual wear. The man was in a suit and the woman wore a smart raincoat and had a nice handbag. Terry spotted the man had a bible too. Non conformists!!! Unlikely to be Anglicans. But they could be. I feel slightly guilty at not going to church today (and we did miss last Sunday too as we had been staying with friends overnight). You don’t have to go to church to worship God, but if you stay away too long, like a coal taken out of the fire, you can go cold. I will be in church soon enough.
We just passed a church and I commented there was a church with people in it, and Terry says if I am feeling guilty for not being in church it is my own fault. I could have insisted. Is he reading my mind??? He hasn’t been reading this while I’ve been typing. I tell Terry that I am submitting to my husband! Therefore if we are not in church it is his fault! Our wedding vows did not include the traditional ‘obey’ but I do usually defer to his wishes – and not just when it suits me.
We did not plan to go to a church service today and part of the reason is that we are returning home and that would make it a late departure. Also, at Terry’s suggestion we are going via the Yorkshire Dales rather than the quickest route. We have just pulled over to review the route. What other delightful views can we include on our way home? We want to stop at Arncliffe to have a drink in the Falcon Inn which was the original Woolpack on Emmerdale Farm, and he wonders if we can go via Ribblehead. Yes we can – I will have to navigate us round some little roads. We stop off in Dent, possibly the prettiest village in the Dales, and call in at the church. We are too late for the service. I like the west wall which has been left as bare stone. I also read a prayer, and pray it for myself. It’s a 17th century nun’s prayer:
We have a drink at The Sun Inn and I manage to spill most of half a pint of lager…ooops. NO I was not drunk, I’d only had one slurp. Fortunately it went on the floor which was wood and not carpeted and not over anyone.
We continue on to Arncliffe via the viaduct at Ribblehead calling in at the station. We always call in if passing because Terry knows someone who lived in the stationmaster’s house for a few years. I enjoy the scenery en route and don’t think about the blog until we arrive at The Falcon. It’s now 3.20pm and so it will be fastest route home when we set off – about 2.5 hours via M6. So I will get back to writing then.
Here’s the room of The Falcon in which we have a drink.
I have inserted (below) the photos of the picture I painted in its various stages and will think about them as we continue our journey, once we are on the motorway. As it turns out, it is sooner than that. We have arrived at Skipton, the gateway to the Dales. So, goodbye to the Dales and hello to busy roads and more ‘normal’ scenery. We have enjoyed some wonderful scenery in the last 3 weeks. Some people may be interested in how the artwork developed. If you are not interested, then scroll down to after the pictures of the painting in progress.
I started off with yellow and red paint spotted on wet bits of paper and allowed to run and smudge. It was random with no pre-conceived pattern in mind. And that probably shows! I share this to encourage others to have a go. Too often we learn as we grow to not take risks with art and think that we have to produce something that people will recognise as good. And I know that my art is not ‘good’ but it is fun to do and I really shouldn’t care what people think. Too often we judge ourselves harshly and if we are not careful that critical spirit can affect how we think of other people. Do you remember the “Love is…..” cartoons? Well, if we are to love others, we need to love ourselves. So, Love is giving yourself permission to play.
One the first phase had dried I thought it needed some different colours, or something else. I asked on a Facebook group for advice, but was impatient and got started with some more colour. This time blue and purple (made mixing blue and red so not as purple as I would have wanted). I dried it using the hairdryer which helped with some of the spread of paint as well as speeding up the process. I thought it looked a mess and didn’t hold out much hope for it getting any better but wanted to continue rather than bin it. I still had hope for the potential of it becoming an abstract piece of art. I turned it around but still couldn’t see any pattern or shape appearing, other than the central blob could be turned into a heart shape, which is what I did. It’s a good job God doesn’t give up on us but continues to work in and through us especially when life is confusing and messy. Love is seeing the potential.
With the heart outlined and coloured in, I did a bit of joining up the yellow blobs but then decided that wasn’t working, which then led to the turning the background yellow. I wasn’t totally happy with it, but decided to stop and thought it was finished. I accepted the picture as it was and that it was part of my learning and developing . It was after that that I used the Northumbrian community daily prayer which contained the verse that I then went on to write on the picture. What a ‘coincidence’! The more I pray, the more I experience such coincidences and have come to call them God-incidences. Love is accepting imperfections.
So I wrote out the bible verse over the painting, having first worked out the placing and spacing of words on a piece of scrap paper. I was not as careful as I could have been and know the writing could have been much better. I could have chosen a better colour. The red did not stand out as much as I had hoped and so I tried various ways of adding highlight, as you can see from the image at the top of the blog (the finished piece). ‘Could do better’ was often on my school reports! I think by this point I had decided that this is not going to be a brilliant piece of work and that, at best, it will be a trial run for another one. Real artists will often do smaller practice pieces in preparation for a painting. Whatever we do in life we improve as we learn from our mistakes. This is true of our work, our play and our deepening of faith in God. Love is willing to work at improving.
That ends my explanation of the painting process. We are now in a roadworks section of the M62 (Oh joy). It is too difficult to read while we are driving, although typing has been quite easy on my ipad + keyboard. So although I would like to re-read what I’ve written that will not be possible, and I expect I will not have time when I get home so thank you for ploughing through this blog until this point.
I’m looking forward to getting home, to sleeping in our own bed and to our evening. And I suppose in a way I am looking forward to being back at work tomorrow. You can’t stay on holiday for ever, and I know that soon it will fade into the past and a distant memory. It has been a good 3 weeks and I am well rested, and I know that when I get up in the morning I will enjoy getting stuck in.
I hope I remember that as I minister to others, be that face to face or in the various administrative tasks behind the scenes, that love is the most important thing. Whatever I do, I need to do it in love. So I pray for more of God’s love to fill me. As I experience God’s love, I will be more able to help others to experience God’s love, which is surely what I am here for. I do not want to be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal!
I hope that you also will know more of God’s love in your life. Thank you for reading.