In the pages of the Holy Bible, we are first introduced to God as a creator: “In the beginning, … God created the heavens and the earth…” (Gen. 1:1). I don’t think it’s extravagant to substitute the word, “artist” for “creator”. After all, one doesn’t have to travel too far and wide to sample a fraction of the beauty of God’s creation. In fact, all one has to do is to hold a baby in the arms to be reminded of the glory and wonder of God’s creative power and majesty.
with that in mind, consider the painting displayed above. It’s a print, actually, which takes nothing away from the astonishing beauty, but it means something significant to me, but before I tell you what that is, I want to say that I know the artist who painted it. And that is vital information for you to know because knowledge of the artist – in this case, who she is – is critical for full appreciation of her work. I would go further to say that an awareness of an artist’s life is forever and always inextricably linked to a proper knowledge of any work of art. Oh, you can look at this painting I am talking about, and discern much about it, but you’ll never know the full ‘what’ about it unless and until you know the ‘who’ behind it.
The artist responsible for bringing this piece of art into the world is Sister Margaret Kerry, FSP. For 40+ years, she’s been a Pauline Daughter of St. Paul. You can find many more examples of her art on Facebook and on Instagram. She’s all over social media, though, and in addition to her capability with a canvas, she’s a formidable writer, as well. Check out her work at http://www.paulinelaity.blogspot.com, and http://www.catholicmom.com. Sr. Margaret is also an author: St. Anthony of Padua: Fire & Light; Strength in Darkness: John of the Cross. She also leads Bible studies, conducts workshops, and is an effective public speaker. As if that weren’t enough, she also manages Pauline Books & Media in Charleston, South Carolina, where much of our book budget dollars go to die. There is so much more, but that is also my point; each and every one of us is a precious soul in God’s sight, possessing gifts and traits that God wants to use to bring His Kingdom into actuality. Sr. Margaret is but one example (and a fine one) of someone who said “yes” to God and continues to usher in light and beauty into God’s world.
So, my appreciation of the painting my wife and I purchased from Sr. Margaret is enhanced by the increasing knowledge of that painting’s creator. I can say that after spending considerable time with her, that Sr. Margaret is nothing but self-effacing, funny, astute, and as colorful in her deportment and language as the work of her hands. Most of all, when I see our prized possession – now hanging in our study, I am reminded of the soft, sweet, and revitalizing virtues of our Blessed Mother. Yes, I dubbed the subject a modern day Mary. Why not? And thoughts of the art created are not far from the thoughts entertained of its creator.
I advance in this life ever so haltingly. At times, it seems more steps are lost than are gained, but God is ever with me. But then I recall the simple prayer that we all pray every Mass, words that are found in Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 8, verse 8: “Lord I am not worthy…”. You know how it goes. But what is the first assertion? It’s not one about Jesus, about this or that, but only about the Centurion’s own state of being – I AM NOT WORTHY. More about that in my next post, but for now, please understand that the journey of true knowledge, whether pertaining to art, to the artist’s who create it, or to Jesus, Himself, only begins by asserting our own inability to ascend the mountain of intimacy, alone and unprepared. Being in the presence of great art humbles you; it makes you realize how small you are in the face of such wonder. Like I said, next time, now that I have tipped my hand, I will expand upon that theme. Suffice to say that real art is a joy to both possess and to be possessed of, as is knowing true creators and purveyors of God’s own beauty, just like Sr. Margaret. God is everywhere, but we must be open to seeing Him in all places and at all times.