A tremendous day of progress and people. Many visitors asking about the mosaic, Hope Venture, and the now standard question: "What are you doing?" After answering that question many times, I needed to come up with different ways of communicating why I am at Gateway and how to share the story behind the 16 Days of Hope. Like in life, there are moments when it's time to look at something in new and different ways. That's hard while creating art, especially if you can't take time away from the project to get a fresh perspective. But today, I think new thoughts are beginning to form about the piece as it becomes the holder of the stories of the past 12 and eventually 16 days.
Stories like the gentleman who came today and thanked me for doing the project. He explained his wife used to work with stained glass but she had passed 20 years ago. He expressed thanks for reminding him of good, happy memories. All through a piece of art!
Stories of people who came back to check on the progress. Men and women who share this or that experience with me. People who've met one another while standing at the art piece working or just talking. Teens who love art and want to keep creating. Kids who are drawn to the piece well before their parents are. The people who've taken part of the piece on public work days and the list goes on.
Also stories like those of the mentally challenged and their care givers who walked around the mall today. I don't know anything about their lives, but I noticed them. One lady saw the mosaic today and just kept saying "so pretty, so pretty," over and over. Something about the colors touched her soul. In pondering this encounter, I was aware at how we care for this portion of our society much better than many countries in the world. Yet, when someone like this acts in socially inappropriate way we see it as an unwanted disruption. I pulled one care giver over to thank her for her amazing work with her group and she shared her approach. She told me that if one of her group "acts out", she will sit with them or in some way make others look at them both not just the challenged individual. I saw her do this by playing hide and seek around a column with her group, and later sit on the floor next to one of the ladies who'd acted out. She said that if they were going to look at the lady they would also have to look at her. That inspired me. This care giver steps up, lays down her pride, and chooses to be associated with the people and actions which annoy and disrupt others in public. And this gal found such JOY in it. Why not, these are people God loves. People who aren't able to "do" for God can teach us about "being" before our Creator just as we are.
I am reminded that the joy of grace for me is God just asks me to be & believe. That there is nothing I can do to earn His favor. I could "do good" for the rest of my life and NEVER measure up to God's standard. But that is the point and the beauty. No one can measure up, that's why we need a Savior, someone to take our place. Someone who met the standard and paid the price for our not meeting it. That is the gift. The gift of grace I have claimed that makes me who I am. That is the gift open to each one of us if we so choose to accept it.
It is this news - GOOD NEWS that brings the ultimate Hope for all in this world. It is the acceptance of this good news and a choice to let God be Lord of my life that bonds and connects me to several of the people who have supported and encouraged me over the past 12 days. These are my brothers and sisters in Christ and I am thankful for them in ways I can not express. I have never experienced the joy of sharing what God has been doing with others like I have on this journey. People who are excited to see and hear the stories of each day and who are praying for me along the way. I'm in awe of the men and women I have met at Gateway who love the Lord and are everyday choosing to let Him use them to reach out to others in very practical ways despite their age or situation. And I am thankful for these folks because the realization of the hurts, struggles, and pains of people those I've met this past week and a half would otherwise be a burden too large to bear alone. Those who have read the stories or listened to me share while we worked on the mosaic have helped to carry the load of what I am witnessing and realizing this week. I have seen an image of community in action and it is beautiful.
Tonight I am again thankful for the lessons and experiences and look forward to processing the whole journey in the days and months ahead. And I'm thankful for the value and trust Hope Venture has shown in letting me share and represent them at Gateway.
Ann has worked as a professional artist since 2006. She currently works on her own studio artwork as well as large, commercial works and with other artists in any way she can.