Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Swallowed Up In Victory

He sought to counsel and calm the despairing man by pointing out to him the man of resignation, and transform the grief that looks down into the grave by showing it the grief which looks up to the stars.  -- Victor Hugo, Les Misérables
One of my favorite Bible passages is 1 Corinthians 15. I latched onto it in middle school mostly because of the grandeur of Paul's phrases. I'm not sure I understood it at all for a long time. I know I'm still working on it.

I heard the famous lines -- "Oh death, where is your victory? Oh grave, where is your sting?" in a service memorializing Josh Larkin last night. I only met Josh once. I was in a friend's video she was shooting for class. Josh was picking songs for us to dance to. Since then, I'd seen him around, but I never really knew him.

It's amazing the outpouring of love I've seen at Taylor since his death. Now, I feel like I really know Josh, at least as most people will remember him. Strangely, in all the tears, it's also been a time of real joy and awakening. This week has brought me back to another time of joy and tears -- the death of my speech teacher, Mrs. Petrie.

I've been to funerals before, but they were quiet, family things where I didn't really know the person who died. Mrs. Petrie and Josh Larkin were different. Their memorial services were both a giant outreach into the Christian community. They placed me in the center of a mass of grieving people with their arms around each other. When those they loved spoke, the were obviously grieving. But I am amazed at how deeply and truly these communities -- the Blairsburg Missionary Alliance Church and Taylor University -- worship God in the face of death.

Mrs. Petrie was the most gentle and loving Christian lady I have ever met. Josh Larkin embraced the life he'd been given and loved everyone he knew. Death is an opportunity to give a long and hard look at a person's life. And they live on.

Mr. Larkin spoke to Taylor yesterday about the death of his son. There is a word I hope stays in use around campus: Joshian. That was a Joshian thing to do. We should all have Joshian love.

Really, we should all love like Christ. Mrs. Petrie exemplified that. I'm learning that Josh did, too. And because of the things I've learned, I can see what Christ's love looks like. I can strive to love as they did.

And I will strive.

For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Art and the Rembrandt Project

When I was younger, I wanted to be an artist. I still do, in fact. Now, writing is my focus, but drawing and painting is something I want to come back to.

I haven't taken any art classes here at Taylor, so I feel out of practice. I've got a schedule worked out for my novel project, but maybe I should have one for art as well.

I do have one long-term drawing project. My sophomore year of high school, I was assigned to draw a 4" x 6" pencil portrait. This was the result:

I while after this, I started getting really interested in Rembrandt as an artist. I learned that he completed at least 40 self-portraits in his life, possibly as many as 90. I decided that I would make one self-portrait a year. I call it the Rembrandt Project.

My teacher pointed out that my eyes look somewhat dead in this one, but it made me think of this portrait of Rembrandt's:  
My goal is to get them done before my birthday for a given year. I slacked off on this one and didn't finish it till the day before. Since I was rushed, I didn't notice until the very end that I had an extra finger. It's fixed here; I can't find the picture I took before I changed it.
For 18 years. I was actually sitting in the bathroom window on my floor when I took the picture.
I've drawn them all from gridded photos. I want to be able to draw without the grid. Someday, I want to do one in charcoal or oil paint. Currently I don't have the materials, and I'm afraid not even the time. I even worry that I'm not as good at drawing as I used to be.

But when I see a friend working on a project, I get excited. Interested. Jealous. I want to be able to sit and work on something I love for hours upon end for school credit. The only thing that's stopping me from doing it anyway is all my other schoolwork and projects.

And now writing is something else that gets me excited. I've always loved stories, and I know writing is what I want to do.

But am I cheating on writing with art? Sometimes I almost wish I could.