Wednesday, April 16, 2014

More on the Journey Through Pain

First of all, I wanted to include an update on my current piece, now entitled "Dave's Pain". My time to spend on my art has been squeezed down to a couple of hours/wk. So, production is minimal. 
I still need to expand some of the dark line-work into more of the face and hair. Not sure if I can get that done by this Friday. What's the rush? Well, I entered the piece into a local invitational. Even without the touch-ups, the portrait can hold its own. 
The delineation, while continuing to support the concept of a "maze", has taken on a secondary message relating to broken pathways. Our perspective is limited. We can't see the end; just bits and pieces of what appears to be a pattern. I'm reminded of the metaphor of the tapestry or weaving as viewed from the backside. In the following quote,  Jean-Pierre de Caussade explains it in a powerful way:
"When the soul is well, all is well, because what is from God, that is to say, His part and His action are, as it were, the counterpoise of the fidelity of the soul. It is the best part of the work, which is done something like beautiful tapestry, stitch by stitch from the wrong side. The worker employed on it sees only the stitch he is making, and the needle with which he makes it, while all the stitches combined form magnificent figures which do not show until, every part being complete, the right side is turned outwards. All the beauty and perfection of the work remain in obscurity during its progress. It is the same with the soul that has abandoned itself to God; it has eyes only for Him and for its duty. The performance of this duty is, at each moment, but an imperceptible stitch added to the work, and yet with these stitches God performs wonders of which He sometimes allows a glimpse to be seen, but which will not be visible in their entirety till revealed on the great day of eternity. How full of goodness and wisdom is the guidance of God!" (p.97)

Abandonment to Divine Providence, Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Here are some more quotes from the same book, just for your contemplation:

When one is thirsty one quenches one’s thirst by drinking, not by reading books which treat of this condition. The desire to know does but increase this thirst. Therefore when one thirsts after sanctity, the desire to know about it only drives it further away. Speculation must be laid aside, and everything arranged by God as regards actions and sufferings must be accepted with simplicity, for those things that happen at each moment by the divine command or permission are always the most holy, the best and the most divine for us. (p.16)

The will of God has nothing but sweetness, favours and treasures for submissive souls; it is impossible to repose too much confidence in it, nor to abandon oneself to it too utterly. It always acts for, and desires that which is most conducive to our perfection, provided we allow it to act. Faith does not doubt. The more unfaithful, uncertain, and rebellious are the senses, the louder faith cries: “all is well, it is the will of God.” There is nothing that the eye of faith does not penetrate, nothing that the power of faith does not overcome. It passes through the thick darkness, and, no matter what clouds may gather, it goes straight to the truth, and holding to it firmly will never let it go. (p.29)

There is a kind of sanctity in which all the communications of God are luminous and distinct; but in the passive state of pure faith all that God communicates partakes of the nature of that inaccessible darkness that surrounds His throne, and all ideas are confused and indistinct. The soul, in this state of obscurity is often afraid, like the Prophet, of running headlong against a rock. “Fear not, faithful soul, for this is your right path, and the way by which God conducts you. There is no way more safe and sure than this dark way of faith.” “But it is so dark that I cannot tell which way to go.” “Go wherever you please; you cannot lose the way where there is no path; every way looks the same in the dark, you cannot see the end because nothing is visible.” “But I am afraid of everything. I feel as if, at any moment, I might fall over a precipice. Everything is an affliction to me; I well know that I am acting according to abandonment, but it seems to me that there are things I cannot do without acting contrary to virtue. I seem to be so far from all the virtues. The more I wish to practice them the more remote they seem. I love virtue, but the obscure impressions by which I am attracted seem to keep virtue far from me. I always give in to this attraction, and although I cannot perceive that it guides me well, I cannot help following it. The spirit seeks light; but the heart is in darkness. Enlightened persons, and those with lucid minds are congenial to my spirit, but when I hear conversations and listen to discourses, my heart understands nothing; its whole state and way is simply an impression of the gift of faith, which makes it love and appreciate those principles, truths, and paths wherein the spirit has neither object nor idea, and in which it trembles, shudders, and falters. I have an assurance, I do not know how, in the depths of my heart, that this way is right; not by the evidence of my senses, but by a feeling inspired by faith.“ (p.75)

This is because it is impossible for God to lead a soul without persuading it that the path is a right one, and this with a certainty all the greater the less it is perceived. And this certainty is victorious over all censures, fears, efforts, and all imaginations. The mind vainly cries out and seeks some better way. God and the soul work in common, and the success of the work depends entirely on the divine Workman, and can only be spoilt if the soul prove unfaithful. (p.79)