Sheltered in a Cloud of Affirming Witnesses

Morning Bliss while Sheltered

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.

Hebrews 12:1 (King James Version)

On this Saturday morning, I feel that I’m sending up a rather wan smoke signal, but I feel compelled to put something out there. Sandi and I moved back into our Arlington home after being at her place in Lubbock for long stretches at a time. We’ve been working on this house for several days now to make it as nice as it was in the days she lived here long ago. There is still much to do, and studio time has been hard to come by. But those times will return.

This morning, before returning to the daily tasks, I had this thought fleeting through my head that I posted above, a quote from the New Testament. I made use of that passage a number of times long ago when I was in the pastoral ministry. In recent decades, it has taken on a modified meaning for me.

The “cloud of witnesses” surrounding the writer refers to the list of faith heroes mentioned in chapter eleven of Hebrews. The writer envisions them as a spectator crowd in the stands cheering on the current participants in a race. I have preferred “journey” as a metaphor for life, but “race” works for some people.

For the past thirty years, I have journeyed in this life through countless struggles, many of them devastating. I’m thankful that those are in the past and not abiding with me in present years. I never tire of saying that retirement has been a real salve for my spirit compared to all those years in the workforce. Nevertheless, throughout my years of teaching, I did in fact fall back on this New Testament passage, thinking on the intellectual and creative heroes in a pantheon that I created in my mind throughout those years.

And as I served daily, especially when things got tough, I imagined those heroes cheering encouragement from the spectator stands, yelling out their approval. If this picture works for you, perhaps you should consider writing out a list of your own pantheon of encouraging heroes. And if you choose to post them on this blog, I for one would be delighted to see them. Here is a portion of mine:

Edward Hopper, Andrew Wyeth, Paul Tillich, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, William Carlos Williams, Jack Kerouac, Walt Whitman, Martin Heidegger, Rainer Rilke, Neil Young, Robert Motherwell . . . these are some of those in the stands whose presence I feel when I am alone and musing over some creative task.

Thanks for reading. I should get back to painting soon.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.


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