My friend Jim Bickford is an artist and a long-time Jesus lover. He recently read Praying in Color and Praying in Black and White and pulled out his pen and his all-in-one 8 colors mechanical pencil. These are Jim’s first prayers. I like these continuous line drawings because they look like meandering paths. For me the journey with Jesus often feels like I’m wandering on winding roads in unknown territory. Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk, expressed this feeling so well for me in what is now known as the Thomas Merton prayer from his writings Thoughts in Solitude © Abbey of Gethsemani. Here is an excerpt.
MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you…. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it.
Here are a couple of Jim’s “real” paintings. He often combines oils and acrylics.
Just FYI, Paraclete Press is having a warehouse sale until August 29. There are some great buys on the Praying in Color series. The Spanish edition is just $5. Other books by Paraclete are on sale, also. Check it out.
Heaven does not occupy my thoughts very often. I figure if I’m doing my best to listen to God’s call now, everything will fall into place after I leave this mortal life. Minding my present day business is work enough.
Most descriptions of heaven from authors, speakers, acquaintances and friends don’t interest me very much: streets of gold, women in long flowing pastel dresses, endless family reunions in beautiful parks, calorie-less hamburgers, billions of people worshiping together for eternity…. I dislike pastels and billions of people doing anything together is an introvert’s idea of hell. I guess I suffer from some serious lack of celestial imagination and curiosity.
The other day on a 3-hour flight from Salt Lake City to Memphis I did have my first, tiny foretaste of heavenliness. It was 5:30 Mountain Time. In the lottery of frequent fliers I had lucked out with seat 1A. A hot washcloth appeared on my tray table along with a linen place mat and a chicken pasta salad. It was like eating in a revolving, skyscraper restaurant, only higher up. It was not just the experience of dining at 35,000 feet that was heavenly. It was the feeling I had looking at the mountains and desert bathed in exquisite light and color. I was overcome with awe and delight. It was a feeling I could live with for eternity.
I’m no closer to a physical or tangible description of what heaven might LOOK like, but I think I have an inkling of what it will FEEL like. When “He will wipe every tear from their eyes.” and “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4 NIV), every particle of my being will pulse with perennial awe and irrepressible delight.
Riding in the passenger seat of the car on endless interstate highways gives me a good excuse to doodle. My favorite on-the-road sketch/prayer pad is called the trav•e•logue series artist journal by hand•book and distributed by Global Art Materials, Inc.
Most of these doodles were just for fun. There is one prayer among the thorns.
The last four drawings are variations of a rosette following the idea of my friend Cindy O on her website Mostly Markers.
My grumpy self knew I needed to spend some alone time with God today. It was hot and muggy and I was irritable. I didn’t feel doodly creative so I grabbed a cereal bowl and drew around it. it was just the safe and contained framework I needed to get started in prayer.