Faith and Life,  General

The Divine Artist

Some years ago now, I stood in this professional artist’s studio and watched her take a palette of oils in simple colours; she lifted a brush and began to mix the colours, placing each upon the canvas in front of her. Simple outlines at first, these gradually took on shape and definition and character until the figure of a woman began to emerge from the surface. Using particular brushes, she would shade the tones, setting highlights and shadows until a true sense of depth was bestowed upon the figure.

It seemed to me that such creation from nothing spoke of the creation of humanity by the hands of the Divine Artist.

The beauty of humanity is that every single individual person is entirely unique and completely different from every other person. Whilst we share a great many similarities with everyone else, there is only one of each person. I suppose the analogy of painting is indeed appropriate here. Every one of us is a different image, all reflecting the love of the artist – but that artist has used a different combination of colours and of brush strokes each time. And every one of us is a masterpiece.

Looking inwardly at ourselves, we might imagine that we wish we had a little more blue or a bit less red; that this stroke was more emphasised and that one a little less so, or this detail greater and that one lesser. But we are all masterpieces nonetheless, not withstanding any faults or imperfections we might see within ourselves, for we are each the work of the Divine Artist.

And that Divine Artist knows what He is doing. He is very skilled at His work and upon looking out across it, upon each and every one of us, He declares that it is ‘very good’, as Genesis tells us. We are very good. He made us to be very good.

Many artists are perfectionists – they do all they can to achieve the very best in their work before they are content with the final image. Since the Divine Artist is creating us in His own image, so that we ever-more perfectly reflect Him, He will often continue work on His creation to bring out the very best within us. For our part, we can perceive this working as the experiences – and the exasperations – of life. We don’t like trials and tribulations to befall us, yet these events can offer the opportunity for our most beautiful characteristics and abilities to begin to shine brightly upon the human canvas.

Like the coal, they are not crushed, but transformed into diamonds

Often, it is only in the midst of real adversity and the darkest difficulties of life that – like coal under intense heat and pressure, which then becomes a diamond – our deepest qualities emerge. The first glistening shafts of light pierce us painfully, but then begin to dance within us and then ultimately sparkle in such a way that their light dazzles all who look upon them.

This is how those who suffer great tribulations in life are able to use those heavy experiences to become beacons of hope for others – like the coal, they are not crushed, but transformed into something exceedingly beautiful.

Within the Church, we call such souls ‘Saints’ – but they are, in fact, all around us, to one degree or another.

One lady I know is such a soul. Her son took his own life just over a year ago. Since then, she has suffered terribly; but in the midst of that intense pain and grief, she has been able to use her dreadful experience as a way of helping others who find themselves in similar positions – and to great effect. Like the coal, she has resisted the pressure to become crushed and she has, instead, become a shining diamond. For her, the Divine Artist used precisely the colours necessary to allow this particular shade to be created; perhaps not something she would have chosen for herself, but something very beautiful and which is showing the love of the Artist in whose image she was made.

Not all of us will experience such intense loss on that scale, but we do all have the colours within us which are necessary to bring out the very best shades and tones which the Divine Artist intended us to have so that the final painting might be truly beautiful.

I suppose the real trick is to see adversity as opportunity – at least later on, if not at the precise moment of it’s occurrence. The hand of God and His divine grace are there most powerfully in those darker moments of life, perhaps more so than in other more ‘usual’ moments.

We see everything in the present moment, in the ‘now’ beyond which we are not able to go just yet. God, on the other hand, sees all – what has been, what is and what is yet to be. If we can just trust in Him, in the power of His grace, then all the moments of life – including and perhaps especially the hardest ones – becomes moments of opportunity, in which that grace can act.

It is in such moments that coal can become a beautiful, perfect diamond; and basic colours in the hand of the Divine Artist can be transformed into the most exquisite painting.

 

Catholic | Retired Nurse | UK

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