Radiant Epiphanies

Last week we resumed our therapeutic art workshops with the ladies at The Lighthouse, a faith-based residential treatment program for women recovering from substance abuse. Several months earlier I’d come across a reading entitled Launching Out into the New posted on Inward/Outward, a project of Church of the Savior in Washington, DC. A sermon segment by N Gordon Cosby, the church’s founding minister, said “breaking from the old, launching out into the new, always means inner turbulence and outer turbulence.” Especially in relationship to one’s journey of faith. And, I thought,  on one’s road to recovery. This seemed a perfect prompt to begin the New Year.

The women were invited to create two oil pastels: the first, an image of their inner/outer turbulence before coming to The Lighthouse, and the second, an image of what their life is like, or becoming, now that they’ve “climbed in the boat with Jesus” and begun their recovery. As each woman finished her drawing, they were taped up creating a wall of “turbulent” images. Each shared her interpretation of her drawing. So much richness emerged it was hard to decide which drawings to feature.  

Ultimately, Mayra’s had one of the best teaching moments. Her “turbulence” drawing featured a dark storm cloud and lightening over a boat broken up on the rocks, on fire, and sinking. She’s sinking while surrounded by floating containers of alcohol and drug-filled plastic bags. She had sailed away from the island of refuge on the left side of the drawing.

That drawing was in contrast to her “launching out into the new” image. She’d made her way back to the island refuge and begun her journey of recovery. When I inquired about the brown object in the water, Mayra said it was a raft with oars that God had provided from the wreckage of her life. Oh boy! Major teaching moment! I shared that God often uses the wreckage of our lives as vehicles of rescue, and that there is often a common repeating theme to the problems we encounter. We’re given multiple opportunities to learn something from the  debris of our life that leads to our healing, especially if we’re a little dense about getting it the first time. But we’re also given opportunities to see the light from different angles about the core issues that plague us. Sort of like eventually getting to be all of the blind men touching the elephant in order to fully describe it. There’s nothing quite like the God-efficient radiant epiphanies that get our attention and shed Light.

The following poem was written the day before the art workshop at The Lighthouse. Serendipity.

Radiant Epiphanies

Screwtape said
to the junior devil
why have them commit
murder when playing
cards will work just
as well – it’s the elegant
efficiency of temptation
he was speaking
of, but radiant
epiphanies function
much the same way

Why offer up a completely
unrelated crisis time
and again when it is
so much more God-efficient
to present a variation-
on-a-theme gotcha,
one you recognize
as familiar,  one you’ve
got a bit of a handle
on, one that has allowed you
a wee bit of blessed insight,
a knee slapper , a leg up,
a light bulb, an ah ha

It’s so much more God-efficient
to allow us to be each and
every blind man touching
his own elephant in the room
till the scales fall
from our eyes and
the epiphanal radiance
gives light to our grey
wrinkled darkness.

What would your drawings of “turbulence” look like? Your drawings of “launching out into the new?” Do you have an “elephant in the room?” Are there still parts of it you need to touch? What are the “radiant ephipanies” that have made all the difference in your life? 

Thanks for companioning me on this journey! I love your comments.

The opening lines of the poem refer to CS Lewis’ book The Screwtape Letters.

7 comments to Radiant Epiphanies

  • Lori Silvey

    Well, just a big thank you for inviting me to witness the miracles taking place at The Lighthouse. What a privilege to witness these women whose lives have taken a path from which so many never get to make the return trip. Humbling. I will pray God uses me in these precious lives. Amazing, in the midst of Colonia, sits such a refuge. Now there’s an epiphany.

  • Deanna J Bowling

    This seemingly appears to be one of those periods of my life within which I am receiving a number of opportunities to re-examine issues/situations in my life. Almost a “spring cleaning” of my thoughts about and attitudes towards the events of my life, so that I can go forward with a cleaner fresher out look on life. I have received several epiphanies lately that are helping/encouraging me to do so. If I were to draw a picture, it would be of me sitting at a classroom desk, with the Bible open in front of me, and written out above me in the picture would be several bits of information that I am receiving in a manner not unlike the “bubbles” drawn in cartoon strips that encase the words of the characters as they are thinking/saying their thoughts.

  • Rosalind

    My moment of epiphany is the deep realization that God knows who I am. My art work would be a page of black background with tiny dots of shinning stars and the caption “He knows my name!”

  • Rosalind

    Dear All,

    I have been asked to be in charged of “Creative Space” in a conference for adults on God, children, and theology. Creative space is a 45 minutes reflection time before evening liturgy. We are expecting about 80 people. Can anyone help with ideas?

  • Lynne

    Dear Rosalind, my dear friend in Malaysia,

    Your “epiphany art work” would be a great beginnng activity for “Creative Space.” Have each person create a larger star that is their star on a piece of black paper surrounded by tiny dot stars. Have each person reflect on what God knows about them that is specifically unique to them. Good things, bad things, things to love, things not so lovely. Yet knowing God loves them thoroughly. A great opening activity since it has a playful approach to the word “space.” It has aspects of outer space as well as inner space.

    Alright, let’s everyone collaborate with Rosalind. Let’s hear your suggestions.

  • Lynne, I am so thankful for the love you share and the way you communicate. Keep it up!

  • Lynn Dempsey

    Just a vivid image of Mayra’s flotsam and your epiphanic commentary.
    Perhaps this is another way of describing God’s providence, that
    nothing can keep us from his love. He always provides a flotation
    device among the flotsam of our disasters which can buoy us
    back to his love.
    Thanks for your work, your words, your self.

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