The beauty of a watercolor painting is its transparency, allowing the light to penetrate the colors, and shed hues that shimmer. Watercolors are composed of a series of washes, layered much like a collage, and the trick is to allow the water to move us and speak its sacred language.
Anyone who has ever painted with watercolor knows it can be tricky. The water may not flow but become a startling tsunami. One wash may mix with another and produce an unexpected color or undesirable color. Unlike oils, one cannot mask a mistake with more paint. In fact, if one tries to hide a mistake in watercolors, it will quickly become muddied, and the painting ruined.
Watercolors require trusting the water, and when a muddied disaster appears, it means the artist has overworked the paint – dwelt too long on trying to make the color or shape happen. The mud gets thick, reveals no light, and looks like a nasty blemish on a face getting ready for Prom.
Lent will not allow us to dwell too long on our guilt or griefs, nor beat ourselves up over our mistakes and errors in judgment. Lent asks only to name them, and claim them, and feel them, deeply, but then move on. The moving on is like the ripping up a watercolor. It is hard to admit our efforts did not work, nor produce the desired result, and that we cannot retrieve the time or effort spent.
Lent is when we admit something is over, finished, gone. Still, the ripping up or the saying of our goodbyes will hurt, and this hurt can last for quite some time. The ruined painting, like a day or dream or relationship, will now reside in the realm of “WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN”; remembering the loss still cause a twinge of pain.
O, Lord of Lent, help us not overwork our sadness, or try to make beauty out of something which has revealed its ugliness. Remind us we cannot and must not dwell. When we are in a hole, we need to know when to stop digging. At the bottom, there is always just more mud. Amen.
Reverend William R. Grimbol has spent the past 30+ years helping people create and develop strong spiritual connections with loved ones and God. He is also a published author, with over a dozen books to his credit.