Happy New Year!

I continue with my experiments with materials and a little bit of finishing off of paintings in progress.  I never work on one thing at a time.  I always need to have several paintings going on at once.  However, as I currently have well over 20 paintings on the go, I feel it would be a good idea to narrow down the range a little bit.

Though my plans are to paint on a bigger format, I still enjoy working on smaller pieces and I can see that continuing into the year.   I am mad to work on a bigger scale in so many respects, financial and practical.  But I cannot resist the temptation.   I feel that my painting is something that people should be able to immerse themselves in in the way that I enjoy immersing myself in it.  Making it bigger makes that easier I think.  So much is thrust at us visually.  We are completely bombarded with images from all angles.  Bigger in NOT better.  No way.  But it’s what I want.  It presents more challenges, and to be honest, I am so grateful for my mobility, that I feel if I don’t do it now, as the years go by, I cannot take for granted that I will be able to make bigger paintings later on.  Yet I must make bigger paintings which don’t take up too much room.  Because I don’t have enough room as it is!

I am also thinking about my oil paint.  I have a lot of it but am not using it in the way that I used to.  I am going to try and make some oil sticks with it, to use with my acrylic paintings.   I like making paints and enjoyed making my own watercolour paints a couple of years ago.  Making oil sticks will be fun too.

Here are some past oil paintings:

Oil Paintings “Poetic Landscape/When Trust Breaks” and “Alabaster Loving”

These two oil paintings are linked intimately with two of my poems, and I have enjoyed reviewing both the paintings and the poetry which accompanies them.

© Jenny Meehan DACS All Rights Reserved Oil painting based on one of the poems by Jenny Meehan

Part of coursework on a short course at West Dean College 2010© Jenny Meehan DACS All Rights Reserved

 

OOOps!   Due to moving things around on various hard drives I cannot locate the poem for the above painting right now!  Another time!

“Alabaster Loving”  is slightly later, finally resolved in the following poem:

Alabaster loving

I have hardened my heart.
Made a cave
within which I can hide away my flesh, bruised and dark.
Sobs in silence, surrounded
still
alone.

You came later, bearing gifts from afar…
Some nativity story you said, in recognition of me being the chosen one. Redeemer, and Saviour of your soul.

My love, holding the hope you hungered for…
But I could not carry it.
Each little spark of faith, placed religiously in rapid motion,
layer upon layer, tear upon tear, and sorrow upon sorrow.

You looked to me, and believed your self would define your better being
in a little child…
But I could not carry it.
“I wish you were like other mummys.” I say.
And you are sadder still.

I see them, with their children laughing.
I wish for my own fairy godmother,
able to transform rags.
Cinderella’s dress is blue with a bright bodice
Joy is not squeezed out of her, she lives.
Reality on the cover of a single book.

I am sorry for my hard heart. I know now
it must have hurt you, the reality.
I pulled myself together in such a tight knot
in order to preserve my life.
I did not mean to make a stone of it.

I remember wanting you on the coach back from Bexhill.
Lumps in my throat…(I had mumps),
but also bumps of sadness.
Looking out of the window, and seeing you in the distance
though you were not really there, as we had not got back yet.
I wanted to buy you some flowers, they were “Gypsophila”
(Commonly known as “Baby’s Breath”)
Small, white, and dry,
but pretty.

Then you were there,
I was glad to see you. You felt like my Mummy, and you looked after me.
But it didn’t seem to last very long.
The flowers, quite possibly,
may have outlived you.

I must be forgetting so many good times,
I am sorry for that. I know they are there.
But I cannot help wrapping the gifts in the paper you gave me.
It was not soft pink tissue, but earth brown, and protective.
I wish it were different.
Maybe it’s just too hard to think of the colours,
for they may only make the darkness darker?

“Commonly known as Baby’s Breath”

In tight knots of white
fight, outward
Tight
Clutch your bunch, in little hands
Finger strands reach
as thin fine stalks
balancing flowers
in air.

Know ” Gypsophila ” means gypsum- loving
Gypsum white
hard.
I’m making my dry flowers soggy
But my flesh is warm.

I think you are in heaven now,
It being a safe place, I know you are fine.
I know your maker knows you
and holds your story within his own flesh,
bound in holy suffering,
complete,
divine.

I know he knows my story, too…
Incomplete, but unravelling.

Unravelling as self-seeded flowers
Small and unpretending,
moisture loving, in the childhood garden.
Ever living little eyes, meeting mine.
No need of nurture, and
only spread by finding crevice or gap
in which to place and plant their fragile root.
Forget – Me -Nots
Lay their cloud-like carpet over the earth
winking dots of timid,
almost blue.

“The Creator thought he had finished giving the flowers their colours
he heard one whisper “Forget me not!”
There was nothing left but a very small amount of blue
but the forget-me-not was delighted to wear such a light blue shade.”

I can hold my stone, I need not throw it…
… hold it,
…bury it.
Not re-membered, exactly,
but neither
forgotten.

 

 

 

© Jenny Meehan DACS All Rights Reserved painting the poetic, art poetry, expressionist, lyrical abstraction, romantic, Alabaster Loving - Abstract Painting by Jenny Meehan

Alabaster Loving – Abstract Painting by Jenny Meehan. Relates to the Poem “Alabaster Loving”.
Painting the Poetic is probably the whole point of things for me! © Jenny Meehan DACS All Rights Reserved

 

 

Pat Steir Painting Video

While overcoming my jealousy with respect to the size of her studio, I loved watching this video.  I use some dripping paint in many of my paintings and love what it can bring to a painting,  and so I found seeing what Pat Steir does on a large scale working just with dripping fluid paint very interesting.

http://painters-table.com/blog/pat-steir-painting-vermont?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Painters+Table+-+Weekly+Update+-+October+10+2015&utm_content=Painters+Table+-+Weekly+Update+-+October+10+2015+CID_98eca7c15fb24f505654ebd1fb7159ac&utm_source=PT%20Email&utm_term=View%20the%20full%20post%20at%20Painters%20Table#.VhoewvlViko

St Paul’s Church of England, Hook, Surrey in the snow with blossom.

I cannot remember when I took this, but I love the combination of blossom and snow!  I think it must have been one Spring a couple of years ago.  This is my local church and we have been going there for  years now!  How time flies!

st pauls church of england church hook in snow

st pauls church of england church hook in snow

 

The Other Side of Chaos by Margaret Silf

Great quote:

“When we are in transition, depending on how serious the breakdown is, we may feel as though almost every aspect of life has been disrupted. The old certainties, the old habits and comfort zones, have been dive-bombed. The old home, the old job, the old “me,” may be almost gone. It may be the time to ask, “What is that essential core of who I am that remains through all this upheaval?” This is an important question, because it is this remnant that will be the starter for the new stage of our growth.
The thing about this remnant, this core of being, is that we often don’t discover it until the force of change has stripped away the outer layers of past certainties and securities. Just as the seeds of the eucalyptus trees in Australia can’t germinate until they are exposed to the intense heat of a forest fire, so, too, there may be deep parts of ourselves that are activated only when the shallower layers are stripped away.
And it isn’t just about survival; it is about growth and transformation. The new you that comes through the blast of change will not be just a shadow of your former self, but truly a new you, with deeper layers of your personal potential exposed and invited to grow and flourish. For example, through apparent disaster you may discover skills you never knew you had. You may discover qualities that had never previously been called upon, such as resilience, patience, ingenuity, empathy with others going through similar upheavals, and even a sense of humor to laugh through the tears and glimpse the rainbow through the rain.
—Excerpted from The Other Side of Chaos by Margaret Silf
– See more at: http://www.ignatianspirituality.com/19469/the-challenges-of-life?utm_source=emagislist&utm_medium=email&utm_content=201509&utm_campaign=emagis#sthash.2sf1vNEK.dpuf

Singing in the rain

It is rather wet, dark and very January!   This thought brings me to a fairly recently completed painting “Singing in the Rain”.  The joyous dance of colour along with the running paint marks makes a nice combination here.   I also often do a fair bit of walking backwards and forwards if I am at a turning point when painting, and I need to think about moving a painting forwards in a more definitive way, but am not sure which way to go.  A bit of dancing breaks up any dead ends too! Now I can do this pain free there is every reason to be singing in the rain, even when indoors!

Singing in the Rain abstract expressionist colourist lyrical painting by jenny meehan jamartlondon

Singing in the Rain abstract expressionist colourist lyrical painting by jenny meehan jamartlondon

This makes me think of the past painting “London Downpour” which is now in the hands of a collector:

London Downpour- Jenny Meehan painting abstraction at The Strand Gallery London as part of "Lines" visual art exhibition, jenny meehan jamartlondon london downpour process led painting british contemporary female abstract expressionistic painting, claude venard style work of london southbank tate modern river thames,contemporary emerging artist exhibition london.

London Downpour- Jenny Meehan painting abstraction at The Strand Gallery London as part of “Lines” visual art exhibition. Lyrical and geometric abstraction painting southbank london from the imagination! painted in a process-led, intuitive guided fashion, external impressions from regular trips to London appear to have seeped into my subconscious!

 

London Down Pour process led painting contemporary female painter Jenny Meehan southwark southbank memory based abstraction lyrical solid liquid dialectic,contemporary london south west based visual artist woman painter

 

I like looking back on different strands in my painting.  It seems to evolve in a cyclical way, with different strands being repeated on quite a regular basis.  This is why it is important to let your painting develop naturally and not artificially confine it, but spend time reflecting on what you have done in the past, while being willing to try completely new directions as well.

I think I posted this one before, but no harm in posting again.  It’s acrylic on canvas, mounted on board and framed under glass.

 

clog dance, sacred dance, dance inspired painting,clog dancing, jenny meehan, jamartlondon, licensable painting, painting for sale, contemporary british abstract painting, lyrical abstraction,colourist expressionist abstract, modernist romantic, 21st century painters,

clog dance/sacred dance abstract paintings colour

This Clog Dance/Sacred Dance is oil on stretched canvas.

It’s more structured and painted in oils which has changed my relationship with it a lot.  It was done while dancing in my clogs.  I like to dance when I paint, it helps a lot.  This one is still available.  If you are interested please contact me through my website jamartlondon.com.  There is a contact form there.

I have started posting some recent paintings on my website.  As I complete paintings this year I will post more up.

http://www.jamartlondon.com/

I need to think about what I will show at this year’s Kingston – upon – Thames,  Surrey based “Kingston Artists’ Open Studios”

It’s a nice event to take part in and if you would like to visit me and see some of my work, along with lots of other wonderful artists, then do pencil it in your diaries!  Time whizzes by!  This years Kingston Artists’ Open Studios  will be taking place on 9/10th and 16/17th June 2018 from 11am to 5pm each day.  It is open to all artists and makers living or working in the Kingston area.  Registration is happening right now!

A bit more about Surrey’s wonderful opportunity to meet artists and makers, from our website:

Kingston Artists Open Studios is a group of artists and makers based in and around Kingston. Our main annual event is our open studios when we open our studios to the public for two weekends in the summer. But our members are active throughout the year, taking part in exhibitions and events both nationally and internationally. See the events page for more details. For more information about our members please visit our artists pages.”

http://www.kingstonartistsopenstudios.co.uk/

 

Photography Examples – Jenny Meehan

I use photography as a type of creative meditation, and through the act of composing an image, the finely tuned observations I make inform and educate me with respect to the natural world.  Indeed, these representations serve as reminders to me and speak the abstract language of art just in their very being, enabling me to get to the root of natures meanings (in a mysterious, and felt sense). I then  hopefully retain some given aesthetic sensibility, which I can then use in my  paintings.   The beauty of natural forms is inspiring and I find it helpful to have images to hand of things I have seen from times I remember.  Even though I don’t translate the images directly into my paintings, it is the looking, seeing, noticing, and taking in of nature, and the creative inspiration behind all creation, which inspires my paintings and fuels the desire to carry on painting.  I have a lot of photography in my archives, and haven’t done very much with it, so I will share a little bit here with you!

 

 

jenny meehan jamartlondon art work uk licensable images

jenny meehan jamartlondon art work uk licensable images

 

These lovely day lilies were seen at West Dean Gardens, when I was on a course at West Dean College a few years back.

jenny meehan jamartlondon art work uk licensable images

jenny meehan jamartlondon art work uk licensable images

 

Suburban Meditations/Painter’s Development

I’ve been reviewing fondly many images I took in what I will call my wilderness years… The years when increasingly the sense of life disintegrated  and while life carried on externally pretty much as normal, internally I became increasingly aware  of that gaping void, the one we avoid…The depth of the personality which we sometimes fear investigating, because it is harder to face our innermost being than it is to focus on the frontage!   It seems wrong maybe to use the term “wilderness”  because I think that by wandering in the dry and difficult places of life, we often find that the source of life, the spring, the waters which take us into new places, come unexpectedly up from the hard ground.  Though I haven’t sorted through these images yet, and I will probably think further and arrange them with others into several collections,  I enjoyed reviewing them recently in the light of my present preoccupations with painting…I can see how that seed began to grow.  As I look at the images, and the instinct which led me to dwell so deeply on the fences, pavements, walls, and all the other places I walked through,  I can see myself gathering the matter which enchants me now as I experiment with painting in the way that I do.  My intense  desire to paint in the way that I do is surely founded on those walks and the way that I let myself become so absorbed with the surfaces which met me and which I took note of  by means of a camera shot.  The images vary in quality, and should be seen more as a personal record than anything else.  They are meditation, and meditation carried out at a time of searching and of internal turmoil.  I think I found some reassurance in the way that beauty could be discovered in the most unlikely places.  A sense of order, through experiments with composition. Beauty even in erosion, wearing down, and breakage.

The following images were taken as I walked around my local suburban area, often through rear access roads and alleys which offered alternative routes, and were less on the beaten path (or pavement to be more accurate!)  These are a few examples.  Many were taken as I took the children to and from school, aided by the slowness of toddler-walking and pushchair pushing, which is very helpful in encouraging observation!

suburban meditations painters development series jenny meehan

suburban meditations painters development series jenny meehan

 

suburban meditations painters development series jenny meehan

suburban meditations painters development series jenny meehan

 

jenny meehan jamartlondon suburban meditations painters development series jenny meehan

suburban meditations painters development series jenny meehan

 

suburban meditations painters development series jenny meehan

suburban meditations painters development series jenny meehan

 

suburban meditations painters development series jenny meehan jamartlondon.com

suburban meditations painters development series jenny meehan

 

Looking intently at all those surfaces is something which certainly has influenced my approach to painting.  I think texture is very important in painting, and even more so at this current time, when we are so accustomed to smooth device screens, which we view so many images on.   Light, colour and image viewed on a screen is a completely different experience to having light bounce off textured surfaces.  I know that goes without saying, and I still find the smooth surface of a printed digital image pleasing, but I do think it is sad sometimes that our eyes are drawn to a screen more than they are to the effects of light bouncing around all over the place!

 

Frost From the Heavens

© Jenny Meehan. All Rights Reserved, DACS

© Jenny Meehan. All Rights Reserved, DACS

Needless to say, you cannot see this painting at all well on the screen…It has tiny glass beads which reflect light very decisively!

 

Virgin Birth?  Or Not Virgin Birth? And Does it Matter Anyway?

Some theological wanderings!

Read this with interest:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/dec/24/story-virgin-birth-christianity-mary-sex-femininity

Christmas is finished with for another year…Decorations put away, lots of rubbish thrown out, and more things to fill the space, which in our house, isn’t much space at all!  As I was ill with some kind of flu bug in the run up to Christmas, I had plenty of time lying in bed unable to do much, and resorted to some theological wanderings, which I do enjoy. On the topic of the virgin birth.  It bugged me last year… this matter of the virgin birth….  A question popped into my mind regarding did it matter?  I thought about it a year ago and left it, but during the run up to this most recent Christmas it popped into my mind again, so I gave it some attention.

Now, firstly, I have been a Christian since the age of 18…That’s a long time.  And in time, a lot of things change. For example,  I was brought up, in my early Christian walk, with the penal substitution theory of atonement.  Urgh?  Here’s a short quote from Wiki:

Penal substitution (sometimes, esp. in older writings, called forensic theory)[1][2] is a theory of the atonement within Christian theology, developed with the Reformed tradition.[1][2][3][4][5] It argues that Christ, by his own sacrificial choice, was punished (penalised) in the place of sinners (substitution), thus satisfying the demands of justice so God can justly forgive the sins. It is thus a specific understanding of substitutionary atonement, where the substitutionary nature of Jesus‘ death is understood in the sense of a substitutionary punishment.

Yes,  and then, many years later, when I thought more deeply about it, and got to know the character of our marvellous Creator God a little bit better, (as much as I was able, in my limited capacity!) and got to sort out a little bit more of my own internal mess, I realised that there were problems for me with this stance, and the biggest problem being that this theory didn’t fit in with my understanding of God as being a God of love, mercy, justice and compassion.  So quite a few of my ideas changed, as did my approach to the Old Testament books of the Bible, with the character of God they tended to create in the imagination.  I changed my approach and started to see that the image of God shown there was indeed the image of God perceived by the people at that time…BEFORE CHRIST.  Christ being the full revelation of the character of God puts a whole different light on things.  What a relief, because the image of God I was getting from the old Testament, even with dollops of mercy and patience and even a bit of femininity thrown in here and there,  was violent, schizophrenic, and predominantly masculine.

I am not quite sure what relationship this has to my rethinking on the virgin birth,  but I guess it served as an invitation to be willing to think over once again certain aspects of faith and belief which I had taken for granted, on face value, in the past, without allowing myself to think them through again. Lots of researching, while very ill in bed with flu before Christmas, led me to the point where I have no issues with believing that the Lord Jesus Christ was conceived naturally in the usual way, and also, conceived of the Holy Spirit.  One need not be exclusive of the other, and natural ways don’t suddenly erase the holiness in life in my opinion.  It doesn’t make Jesus Christ less a member of the Trinity.

I am a firm believer in the truth of God as three in One, Father (also “Mother” is helpful for many, for the term “Father” is used as a matter of following Christ’s terminology, which was what he himself was brought up with), Holy Spirit, and Son.   It doesn’t make the significance of Jesus any less, or make God less God, or anything like that at all.  Surprisingly, I have found in my own experience, the alteration in my belief has made Christ even more significant to me. I have been blessed by this change of understanding.  My relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ has altered in a very good way. God did not abhor the flesh in any sense in the incarnation. The womb of my life is thoroughly human, but still Christ resides in it. I am not unclean to my Creator, his Holy Spirit resides in me.  (Lot’s of work to do there, but still, God is faithful!)

I think that previously I had kind of placed Christ in a  superior position to me with respect to his humanity.   I guess it may have sprung from the idea that he wasn’t quite human in the way that I am.  What with being God.  (It is hard to comprehend, well, impossible, that Christ could be fully God and fully human.  It is, as many things, a matter of faith and choice.)  However, believing that the Lord Jesus Christ is, and was, fully human and fully man, hasn’t changed for me. Even with a change of mind about the virgin birth.  His position in the Trinity hasn’t changed.  When asked by Christ “Who do you say I am?”  My answer will always be “You are the Son of God”.  Christ is part of God’s wonderful plan to BE IN INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP WITH US.  But something has changed for me.

I don’t believe that the Lord Jesus Christ was just a prophet, a teacher, or someone particularly gifted and enlightened.  I do believe that he is exactly who he said he is.  But his humanity has changed for me.  Well, this started a way back for me, a few years ago,  when I understood that he understood both doubt and fear. Fully.   That God, my Creator understood MY doubt and fear. Even at the point of it being completely overwhelming. Completely. That it wasn’t a sin to feel they way I did.  Just part of being human. But still something which God understood. Really understood.  But still, even in and through his complete humanity, Christ chose to believe God.  He did not curse God. He held onto the love of God, though all suffering.  In and through it. Yet he knew the experience of FEELING forsaken. Though he was not forsaken, he wasn’t somehow immune to the full human experience of life and death.     That was a liberating realisation!  I think I used to think it was easier for him because he wasn’t quite the same as me in his humanity.

Side line: Maybe the link between the “penal substitution” idea and the “virgin birth” idea, and the idea of Christ being “sinless” (in the sense this is taken at face value by many folk) is the basic concept that Jesus Christ had to be a “perfect” sacrifice, to take the perceived punishment for us?  Yes, there are references in Hebrews for this, but this was a very specific context.  (By the way, to those not into this theological wandering, this may seem a waste of time, but I am re-thinking over layers of assumptions, many of which have been presented to me in the past as being the truth, with no further thinking or questioning to be encouraged!)

But to now… As I slide down the slippery slope, maybe?

Reading the article on the birth of Christ got me thinking about what isn’t recorded in the New Testament.  (PS  I don’t personally believe the collection of books we call the Bible is inerrant…that doesn’t mean I don’t believe it’s not a crucial part of a Christian’s life, or that it isn’t inspired by the Holy Spirit!)  The different gospel writers had their own angles and own approach, and brought a different flavour and emphasis to their narratives,  which all provide a vital perspective and record of the life of Christ.  But while there is a lot that they do write about, there is a lot which is not included as well. Not everything could be written down!  It could not be a perfect account (if perfect means  complete), because it has limitations, as every written record has.  (And the limitations of such as I, in reading it!).  So I got thinking about the parts of Jesus Christ’s life which we don’t know anything about, because the New Testament doesn’t say much about them.  I began to wonder if Jesus was normal?  Was he a normal boy? A normal teenager? What was he like? It seemed silly I had never thought about this before.  To start to think about the Son of God needing to grow, develop, evolve, into the person that he was.  To start to imagine that he would be subject to all the usual psychological and emotional, as well as physical developmental stages.  I had never done this before. Don’t know why!

I had put him in a separate category to myself.  Human but not really human. And his holiness, and fully righteous, mature and Godly character, which is communicated so well and so beautifully expressed within his humanity through the images we get from reading the accounts of him in the New Testament… Was this how he ALWAYS was, right from the point of birth?  Years back, if someone had asked if Jesus Christ was “sinless” for the entirety of his life I would have said “Yes”.  Not sure why.  Must have just picked it up from the Christian cultures I inhibited!  I wouldn’t have even thought about it.  Indeed, many people feel the question a foolish and pointless one.  Maybe even irrelevant.  But nowadays, not thinking about it isn’t an option for me.  Thinking about things in a questioning and analytical way isn’t opposite to faith.  It can open doors into a great depth, and things can be thought about  with always an openness for change, held along with the thinking and the believing!  Plus, when you have flu and all you can do  is look on your tablet, it gives you something to put your mind to!

So I have a slightly different understanding of the Lord Jesus Christ during his time on earth now.  I am not going to go into all the reading, thoughts and theories I read.  It’s enough to say, I did some research, and found a way through it suitable for myself.   There is room for him to experience sinfulness for some of his life.  Why not?  Would this make him somehow less who he said he was?  That he needed to grow and evolve in obedience and perfect submission to God?  That he was not fully enlightened, perfect in holiness, for the entirety of his life, but just a portion of it?  Does being perfect ( whole, complete,  fully obedient, attuned, enlightened, submitted to God, letting God define your very being) for a few years of a human life make it any less amazing, divine, significant, or noteworthy?  Does it make the achievement of Christ’s way, the path he honed out, the extent of how God was revealed in him, and the work of the cross and the resurrection, any less?  Some would hold the opinion that it does diminish Christ to perceive things in the way I do now, I imagine.

But for me it doesn’t. It makes Christ’s achievement all the more inspiring to me, and gives me strength.   I don’t see a conflict in the idea of evolution, and the way that  things are evolving and developing  and the will and purposes of a Creator God. Or of divine things happening through natural human means.  Or of God’s ways revealed in natural and supernatural events.  Sometimes happening at the same time.  Sometimes overlapping.  Meeting.  God in all things, and the eyes to see and heart to believe, is an important principle for me in the way I live my life.  So not embracing the idea of the virgin birth isn’t a case of me not believing it would be possible. Oh no, I don’t have any issues with the fact that our Creator can do what he-she wants.  My understanding is that Christ put his deity aside, and was fully mortal. That all that is hard for me about life was also  hard for him.  For me, the idea of him being conceived naturally (as well as divinely) makes more sense and actually feels more profound and amazing.  No natural process shunned, but integrated divinely.

This is the difference for me in my present understanding and approach.  Christ was fully human. And also (at a point in his life) fully God.  That full measure of the Holy Spirit at his baptism, marked the beginning of his work and his full identity.  It is amazing that God himself understands humanity in a way that would otherwise not be possible without Christ. From a place of complete powerlessness and vulnerability, weakness and fragility.   God is WITH us, in and through Christ, in a way which can be experienced  in a wonderfully liberating and powerful way.   In placing our faith in Christ, as who he is, as the full revelation of God, placed both in history and time and beyond it, it is the case that a whole new way of relating to our Creator opens up.  This kind of makes arguments about a virgin birth, or not, feel a bit trivial I guess.  But I am not here to argue theology, just to share my current perspective.

What matters is who God is.  The Trinity is always going to be well beyond any human comprehension.  So that’s the biggest step of faith I guess.  In the end, we are left with Christ’s question “Who do you say I am?”.  The question and the answer are going to resonate  slightly differently for every person, because we are all unique and God knows each of us entirely.   Some will say Jesus Christ is God, others won’t.  What Christ means for different people is variable, because what the character of God is understood to be, will vary from person to person.  What Christ said about himself will be taken in many different ways.  For myself, as a Christian (a follower of Christ) I find in Christ a way which opens up the love of God to me in a life changing way.  The way we perceive God’s character (if we have a belief in God)  is vastly affected by our own developmental experiences.  Part of my journey so far has been casting off a very negative view of God, and letting the love and consolation of God flow into those places which previously only held desolation. Christ offers me a route into experiencing and relating to God in a way which has proven itself to me, through experience, to be life giving, life enhancing, liberating and revolutionary in many respects.

To entertain this newer idea of the Lord Jesus Christ has been helpful to me. To think that Christ could experience sin is a good thing, because he knows the feelings of guilt and shame which are part of being a human too. I see no need to assume that Jesus Christ was a really disobedient child, wildly rebellious, and rather immoral before he took on his mission.  It would make a good film drama, but not a lot of sense.   It sounds from what is in the New Testament that he was gifted and intelligent, and I do think there would be a serious inclination towards the ways of God from a young age, which would make him a pretty “good” boy, I should think in terms of morality and social behaviours and actions.  I think he needed to apply himself very diligently to learning and growing in the ways of God.  I find it very conceivable that from his baptism onward, in the later stages of his mature life and the time of his ministry, he could later be accurately described later by New Testament writers as being “sinless” and “perfect”.  What these words actually mean in the context they are used in probably quite interesting, and  Jewish and Greek scholars would have a much better grasp of things than I can have.  If “sinless” means “spot on”, and right on the mark, then I am very content to settle for that. A man of total and complete integrity, as I believe Christ was/is, is someone to be believed.

I think the character of Christ would speak, and still does speak, for itself.  My personal issues with Christ being thought of as completely sinless, I think,  is that the idea, in my thinking, seems to have come from an underlying belief that Christ had to be sinless, because if he was sinful AT ALL he couldn’t do the work he needed to do, in redemption. But now I tend to feel this is not the case. A man fully with God, immersed in the Holy Spirit,  is capable of perfect listening and perfect obedience, to the way that his Creator directs him.  A true servant.  Able to fulfil the word of God completely.

I also think, as I did before all this re thinking,  that  “sin” cannot be thought of as simply what goes on on the outside of our lives.  God knows the heart, and a lot happens inside of ourselves totally unseen by others.  The most morally upright and law abiding person, apparently perfect on the exterior, may have a lot of hardness inside.    It is hardness of heart which turns us away from God. And God is Love.  Choices, sometimes unconscious ones,  become part of our personalities and  sometimes have the potential to close us down to God working in our lives.  For most of the time we are pretty clueless as to what is going on in there!  I think of Jesus Christ as having a person hood which, in full maturity, continually said “Yes” to God.  A man with a truly repentant heart, constantly turning, constantly choosing, even though extremely hard…to the point of death on a cross.   I am certainly thinking that, rather then focusing on whether Christ ever sinned or not,  it may be wiser for me to ask what the heart of Christ was like, and take that as the point for focus.  And simply ask Christ to teach me the way he walked.

The heart of Christ. It must have been a thoroughly repentant heart, in the greatest and truest sense of the word. Constantly turning, softening, changing, learning.  Always opening up to God the Father. To change this beautifully repentant heart simply into a mind that never entertained an wrong thought for a second doesn’t seem necessary.  And I have to ask myself, “How can a person be fully human, without  a sinful nature, even if “wrong” (ie faulty) thoughts are never translated into action?”  This idea doesn’t mean that it wasn’t possible that Christ WAS completely sinless by the way,  if by sinless we mean in terms of actions, for a significant portion of his life.  Righteous is not the same as sinless, but one who acts correctly in all respects.  But surely the ability to bear the tension we all feel between what is good and evil and what is right and wrong in life, is the very place where we would both want, and need to meet our Creator? Where we would need to find him there, with us, and to experience the work of Christ, in that place in our lives?

I think I have had some old misconceptions nagging at the back of my mind, which I am chewing over, underneath this all.   I have confused “sinless” with blameless, for a start.  And for some of my Christian walk, in the early years,  I did think that God was expecting me to be sinless.  (Well, easy not to  manage that one!!! Lol).  Must have been that part of me that really didn’t believe I was acceptable to God, unless I was absolutely perfect, and caused no trouble at all!  That’s a cruel load to carry.   Ideally we should not sin, (I mean in actions) of course, but I don’t think avoiding sin should be the focus of the Christian walk.  We are called to be blameless – living above reproach and not creating stumbling blocks that turn others away from Christ.  Holiness is not merely the absence of sin, but having the nature of God and living according to that.  It’s a subtle difference in perspective, but an important one.

Christ summed up  what mattered:

(Gospel of Luke)
“And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.”

— Luke 10:25-28

I am certain that Christ loved completely,  in a way which blew people away when they encountered him, and to an extent to which his set apart-ness, his holiness, was clear to all he encountered.  That cannot of made life easy for him.  And I don’t quite know why I have never thought about the assumption of complete sinless-ness for Christ before. Or even if it matters or not.  I feel a bit of a twit really, for imagining a non-developmental pattern for the life of Christ.  Whatever place he inhibited throughout his ministry, I never cast my mind to the time before that. Oh well, questions asked now! Things do change as time moves on.

Was Jesus Christ always successful, did he never fail, never make a mistake? How did he learn, or did he not need to learn? In his entire life, from toddler-dom  onwards?  H’mm.  Really? We all have to start somewhere surely?  Is a plant less a plant because it starts as a seed? Does the unfolding nature of God within Christ, evolving and developing within the boundaries of time, make it any less holy?  Any less sacred?  Is there room for normal human development in the person of Christ?  Common sense would say “of course”! And Christ grew, to full stature!  That is amazing!  Fully who he was!  And what is more, he took on a task ordained for him, and one far more difficult than any  other living being could imagine.   What was hard for us, would be even harder for him I think.  Because the forces of darkness and evil would fight all the harder against the divine revelation of the Love of God. God incarnate.  How aggravating Jesus Christ would have been to many people.  How wonderful at the same time for others, if they received him with open hearts when he was walking the earth.   The “virgin” or “not virgin birth” will divide opinions for certain, but fades into insignificance in the light of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ to my thinking. The more central point for a Christian to believe is the resurrection and the reality of Christ’s life, death and resurrection, and to believe, and continue to believe, what the Holy Spirit testifies about Christ.

Well, all this theological thinking is part of the background to the poem I wrote before Christmas, which I hope you enjoy. As for differences of opinion, they are part of the wonder of being on this earth, and I certainly don’t intend any offence to anyone.  I just share my own thoughts and ideas.  Just that.

Just before Christmas I wrote the poem below.  Bit clumsy and not my best, but it was challenging at least!

………………………..

I’ve written a Christmas poem…it’s pretty much all I can do, but it was fun!

Would Jesus take my toys? Mummy?

A mother and her child talk, while tidying the child’s room.

Would Jesus take my toys? Mummy?
If he came to play?
Because frankincense and myrrh
Are not much good for you
when you are six!

Would he want, what I have got?
And would he want to play?
Or would he simply look to God
Hold his hands in prayer, to pray?

I think you know the answer, sweet,
You know what I will say!
Jesus isn’t perfect, so
He might take them,
and play!

But when he sees your sorrow, sweet,
Or sadness he has brought,
Well, he’ll quicker, faster, sooner,
than other friends
Open up his truer heart.

You’re very good friends…you’ll work it out!
I can help you, if need be.
Don’t worry about Jesus coming to play
There’s room enough
for BOTH of you!
(And hopefully, IF we do this task…
Maybe even me!)

As she picks up the toys…

Your little play friend isn’t perfect
(Which is just as well for you!)
You kind of jumble on together
In this messy life, don’t you?

BOTH of you are perfect, well…
So, a mother’s heart would say
But as for him, he has a task
Beyond ALL comprehension.
(I dare not even ask his mother!)

She puts a toy in her child’s hand.

We don’t know what his life will be
Anymore than we know yours…
He still needs to learn the ways of God
While doing household chores.
He needs to trip and stumble
And maybe even hit his head?
He’s just a little boy, you know,
Whatever people said.

She pauses for a moment.

But there is something…
A depth of beautiful insight…
It’s like the brightest star…

The child throws the toy into a box.

Oh mummy! Do you love Jesus more?
And wish that I was just like him?
Because he is so very good
And hardly ever sins?
If you could have a child like him
Why would you want to keep one like me?
I groan when doing household chores
And I’m often quite naughty!

But mummy looked,
And mummy smiled,
And mummy took
The little child
Then in, when in her arms, she said,

THE KINGDOM OF GOD BELONGS TO YOU!

Your friend and you, are one of a kind,
Just hold his hand,
You’ll understand,
And when his work is done, there will be no
Comparison
IN YOUR HEART
He’s only just begun!

His humility will touch you,
His obedience, show the way,
His acceptance, open up your heart,
To the fullest light of day.

And now, my little sweet heart,
Let’s just PUT THOSE TOYS AWAY!

They laugh.

 

I’m glad I invested the time into that. Yet I need to focus on the following:

Gospel of Matthew:

“Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

— Matthew 22:35-40

and:
Gospel of Mark

“And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.”

— Mark 12:28-31

Gospel of Luke

“And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.”

— Luke 10:25-28

 

I feel all the better for addressing my questions, and not just ignoring them.  Minds are handy, hearts are vital!  The bottom line is, that unless I was there, and asked the Lord Jesus Christ personally if felt himself he was completely sinless, and if so, what exactly that meant,  (or if he even wanted to be perceived that way!) I cannot speak with any authority. It is amazing how certain many people are about this idea though,  and it matters a great deal to them.   I fall on the “Of course he wasn’t and he never claimed he was” side of the matter.  Some people say Jesus Christ never sinned, and others say that he did.

I guess all this thinking has at least settled in my own perspective where I stand. It’s taken some chewing over though! I tend to feel the Lord Jesus Christ was clearly aware of his own humanity and his own human nature, and was someone who was very aware of how we deceive ourselves by judging things externally, while not fully acknowledging the mind and the subconscious.   “Sin” as in action,  is clearly a different realm to an understanding of the errant quality of human nature, and the distortions and perceptions of our minds.  I am ignorant of  the Jewish context, understanding and traditions, which inform the text, and of the culture at that time.  I only offer up my own musings as part of my own faith journey.  I can embrace the idea of Christ doing no wrong and “committing no sin” for the period of his active ministry.  I cannot stretch that to a  totally sinless life from A to B with a strange, detached humanity, which wasn’t rooted deep within his very being in the way that mine is.  To be fully human and fully God, I see a Saviour who possesses all of that which marks my own human existence.  Including personal growth and development. And yet, manages to be fully obedient in all respects when anointed in his mission.  This may not be simply equated with being “sinless”.  It is possibly (?) easier to pass over a sinless Christ, in terms of actually applying his work, and way, to our own lives?

For me personally, it’s been fruitful to throw off the idea of perfect Jesus, in the way I had previously understood perfection. For someone else, this might be an unhelpful and disturbing way of approaching Christ.   So apologies to you if this does offend. It’s not meant to.  I don’t share it by way of feeling I want to convince anyone either way, but just because this is where I am right now.  I won’t be entering into any debate or argument about it, because I have not interest in putting my energy that way. As I get older I tend to take the approach that “I cannot know anything for sure” but can only know what feels true, and can only choose to believe what feels right.  It’s wandering in the dark for me, and yet, my personal experience of Christ in my life has brought me where I am, and of that, I need not doubt, because this is the life I have lived and still live.  My story unfolds on the very foundations of my faith, which is rooted in Christ, my God, and all I can do is pray that I listen to the Spirit, and be as open as I can, to any way I might grow in Christ, who is Love, and God incarnate.

Sometimes this may mean chewing over things I have thought before in a new way, and sometimes I will change my mind.  It is the fully human aspect of Christ which I find so inspiring right now.  What he did with his humanity, and his human nature, which is something we share and relate to.   For the character of Christ is something I know just a little of, and that itself surpasses all other.  I just need to immerse myself more in that!

For those of you who read this Journal more for the visual art content, my writing has always been part of my creative output, and while not seeming relevant to what I do visually, it’s another dimension of my work which grabs me from time to time.  It’s so dark and cold in the studio tent right now, that January has mostly been spent with writing, domestic tasks, and admin!  Come to think of it,  I should possibly christen  the Winter as  as my writing season, because it’s not the first time I have turned to words rather than images at this time of year!

And for those of you who are more proficient in theological wandering than I am, be merciful!  And for those of you who find what I write offends your faith in some way, then even be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect, and know that God loves both the “right” and the “wrong”!   There was a time, a long time back, when I would have thought that if I didn’t believe Christ was sinless, and I didn’t believe in the virgin birth,  I couldn’t possibly call myself a Christian.  Obviously I don’t hold that view now, but I fully appreciate that some will, and mutual respect is due, whatever stance one holds.

 

Jennifer Meehan/Jenny Meehan No Problem/Moving On abstract art print by Jenny Meehan jamartlondon.com bright bold motivational art for physiotherapy experience personal mobility challenges, jenny meehan,now at SWLEOC south west london elective orthopaedic centre

No Problem/Moving On sign of the times series jenny meehan (jennifer meehan) now at SWLEOC

 

No Problem/Moving On – Geometric Colour Abstract Print by Jenny Meehan jamartlondon.com

One of the “Signs of the Times Series” by Jenny Meehan

This artwork design conveys a positive attitude, and is the fruit of my interest in positive psychology and personal mobility challenges. A “can do” attitude in the face of resistance and difficulties is the only way to move forward. The design has something of my own experience of exercising in a gym with motion suggested through various formal elements, of varying speeds and a sense of progression.

Do you like this print?  You can buy it easily and safely through Redbubble.com, just follow the link:

https://www.redbubble.com/people/jennyjimjams/works/20507601-no-problem-moving-on-geometric-colour-abstract-print-by-jenny-meehan-jamartlondon-com?asc=u

Briefly…On the knee

Well, I will save the big post for the one year mark and put that on “The very patient knee replacement story by Jenny Meehan” but things are great!  I love being mobile and I don’t miss my sticks!

Tidying up old research, I found this reading:

https://healthskills.wordpress.com/2011/03/23/its-there-and-im-stuck-with-it-chronic-knee-pain-after-knee-joint-replacement/

It’s an excellent read about pain after TKR.   I am very happy with my results, at 11 months now.  Yes, you do get a bit of an ache sometimes, but it is NOTHING compared to the experience of frequent constant pain before TKR.  And when you are able to live your life, pain in itself is no bother at all. Before my knee replacement I wasn’t able to live my life as I needed to.

It’s a good article, well worth reading.  I think anxiety is a major issue after a TKR for a lot of people.  There is such a vast variety of types of pain you get after the surgery as the soft tissues and bones are healing!  It’s very easy to focus on each one and worry.  I found it best to take a “I will wait a couple of days and see what it is like then” approach.  By the time a couple of days had past, there had been some change, and even if that change was a different pain,  the point was the initial worry had past!  I think it helped me that I did not have an expectation that I would be pain free necessarily, but that I would be mobile and have less pain.  Actually, my post surgery experience has exceeded my expectations, and I feel normal again in a way I did not expect.   I do worry a bit that I may wear it out, because I am whizzing around, but the reality is, even if this only lasted five years, I would consider it worth it.  Having said that, I do expect longer!!!   Keeping the weight off, and respecting the knee is the way forward I think.  I won’t be running or jumping up and down, unless I am in water!

Interesting Read

I found this blog interesting, as I was just sorting out some old emails and found I had been approached by the “It’s Liquid” venture.  I just chuck that kind of thing in the virtual bin, but it is often tempting to consider such invitations.

http://badartbad.blogspot.co.uk/2007/12/luca-curci-and-artexpo-scam.html

I don’t have very much disposable income to throw away, so it makes this kind of decision easy for me.

It’s best for artists to create their own exhibition opportunities if possible IMO.

 

About Jenny Meehan’s Paintings

This process led painting…romantic, expressionistic, abstract and lyrical, is simply the result of my own contemplative practice, which I work through in many ways. Let by instinct and intuition, inspired by my own life experiences, and several much loved artists, including Klee, Hitchens, Claude Venard, Matisse and Kandinsky, it provides the ground for the viewer’s own interpretations and responses, and will be whatever you want it to be. My own titles reflect my own interpretation/,sense of meaning, but the beauty and openness of non objective painting allows you a place in the process exclusively yours!

The image doesn’t show the extent to which texture, and various surface finishes are used in the painting, for example, I use tiny glass beads for their effects on light hitting the surface of the painting. Maybe they could be seen as a dance of light and colour? Certainly, as the light in the day changes, the appearance of the painting changes considerably, with different parts being emphasised and other parts sinking into the background. This painting is one which responds, and I hope you get pleasure from viewing it! See more at http://www.jamartlondon.com

COPYRIGHT INFORMATION

Copyright in all images by Jenny Meehan is held by the artist.
Permission must be sought in advance if you wish to use images by Jenny Meehan. In the first instance, please contact Jenny Meehan. Copyright for all works of art by Jenny Meehan is managed by the Design and Artists Copyright Society (DACS) in the UK.

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