Today’s post is shared by Sue Riger from A Painter’s Journey
…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. Isaiah 61:
In the 70’s my school showed us film clips of atom bomb survivors.
The radiation poisoning caused unthinkable suffering. Bandaged people walked aimlessly among the ash and rubble.
My school taught that the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki ultimately saved lives by ending WWII. But my gut writhed with the atrocity. I wondered how recovery could be possible.
Incredibly, post-war Japan produced a group of artists in the early 1950s who believed beauty emerges when something becomes damaged or decayed. The Gutai group professed that a thing’s inner life is released during the process. Breaking from traditional Japanese art, they produced this figure:
Looks angelic doesn’t it? It’s called “Electric Dress” by Atsuko Tanaka.
The concept reminds me of Lodgepole pine trees.
High above the forest floor, their cones are sealed shut by resin. In patient dormancy they wait for the liberating furnace of a forest fire.
Only intense heat will melt the resin and release the seeds from the tree’s crown.
In this way beauty emerges from destruction and ashes.
Borrowing a phrase from the 70’s — this next part really blows my mind.
Isaiah says we are to receive crowns of beauty instead of ashes and that we will be called plantings of the Lord, oaks of righteousness!
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. Isaiah 61:1-3
Jesus – despised, rejected, scourged, condemned to die – received a crown of thorns.
Beautiful because he willingly took it all for us. Without the suffering Jesus bore, we could not take part in the victory he offers to us. He descended into death. Total surrender.
Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. John 12:24
Oh happy news! On the third day Jesus emerged from the grave. He is alive and we receive crowns of beauty instead of ashes. By faith we join him – sprouting new growth in the midst of a suffering decaying world. Restoring broken hearts. Setting the captives free.
…all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross. Col. 1:18-20 MSG
I’m sojourner. Here for a lifetime and hoping to make it count. For me, creativity is a fun gift from God and an avenue to display gratitude for the beauty around us. My husband, three great kids and four giggly grandkids fill my life with wonder and joy. Whether looking through the lens or holding a paint brush, the creative process is a way for me to thank God for surrounding us with so much beauty.
Connect with Sue at: apaintersjourney.com
More Beauty from Brokenness:
Art from the Brokenness of Alcohol
The Redefined Dresser
Beauty From the Ashes