Many of us were jarred out of complacency, or at least sleep, by Russia’s recent insane invasion of Ukraine, asking: God, Where are you? Why should so many innocent children, women and men suffer and die for no reason? Aside from prayer, it is difficult to know exactly what one can do to help. I grapple with this, just as I used to with Afghanistan and other injustices.
Written on the wall of many Christian Science branch churches is this sentence: Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need. This is a comforting thought; one I’ve long accepted; one I’ve known to inspire healing.
If you’ve been a reader of some of my other postings, you know I understand God to be infinitely Good, to be Love, Truth, Life, Mind, Spirit, Soul, the governing Principle of all that is, in which is no evil, anger, dishonesty, hate, suffering, war, or any etcetera of evil. There can’t be two powers, good and evil, if God, Good, is supreme. In God’s Allness and omnipotence, where is the room for evil? So evil must be an illusion, a nonentity, sometimes a horrible nightmare, but never reality. If God, Good, is Truth, evil is a lie. If God is Love, hate has no real power. If God is Spirit and created us in His image and likeness, we must be spiritual, and material man can’t be our true identity. Like a puddle ahead in the road that isn’t really there, like a desert mirage, or a child’s monster under the bed–pick your illusion–we climb out of any unreality when we grasp reality, or at least some piece of its puzzle. Exploring reality is exploring God and includes living in tune with God’s goodness. This is no easy task for human beings! But as we try, study, learn, practice, grow, we move away from illusions into the real.
Often ideas for paintings come uninvited, exhorting me to make them exist. With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a gray image came into my thought–asking to become a dark mixed media piece. The suggested image was of holocaust victims huddled in an unending line at a death camp. Today, it could be a line of Ukrainian refugees fleeing their home, or, staying to fight and finding almost certain death. Superimposed over this tragic scene, in crude, bold, block print, was this sentence (quoted above) that I see on my branch church wall every Sunday.
This sardonic, or hopeful (depending on how you take the overlay of words), artwork-to-be spoke to the age-old question I and many others have long asked: God being Omnipotent Good, why, how, is there evil? How can evil even seem to be? (How many Sunday School teachers and wise men and woman have I asked that of!) Where are you, Love, when evil appears? Where are you, Truth, when lies rule? Where are you, Life, when genocide happens? Where are you, Mind, when insanity governs? Once again, I sought to answer what never has an easy finality.
Being an artist, I began to paint my way to clarity, to create a mixed media work of art, proceeds when it sells to benefit Ukrainian refugees. It came to me to start with a little Ukrainian girl in native costume–“a little child shall lead them”– kneeling in rubble, her arms outstretched upward where a dove of peace flutters, just out of reach, or about to be held. Behind her are ruined homes, Russian tanks on either side. It came to me to incorporate sentences spoken by Ukrainian President Zelensky–“Our weapon is our truth!”–and former President Poroshenko–“We have to be above the fear” and those by Eddy on my church’s wall–“Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need.”
Somewhere in this mixed media piece is innocence, hope, beauty, bravery, peace, as well as destruction, death, anger, hate–evil’s awful illusion. Over all reigns the difficult truth that God will meet the human need. For all its terror, the Russian invasion has unwittingly caused phenomenal courage, generosity, caring, and unity among diverse nations–except in those under autocratic, mendacious dictators. Incredibly, good can appear in time of crisis, can show itself stronger than evil’s illusion. When we let them, Zelensky’s words, “Our weapon is our truth!” and Poroshenko’s, “We have to be above the fear!” and Eddy’s “Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need” echo in how we live our own lives, taking us above fear, for that’s where God is.
About the Artwork:
Ukraine: Above the Fear, mixed media, 36″ x 26″, framed, $400 (to be donated to The International Rescue Committee helping Ukrainian refugees)
Motivated by Ukrainian bravery midst Russia’s invasion, and inspired by words spoken recently by Ukraine’s past and present Presidents, this piece in pencil, pastel, watercolor, and fabric came into being. It grew, as art often does, from its original inception which was possibly sardonic asking for bold overlay in block letters stating God “meets every human need,” a statement that seems blasted apart by Russian tanks, human suffering, and destruction. It grew to a finely rarified spiritual understanding that indeed evil doesn’t win, that Love supersedes all. The piece “told me” to begin with the little child–a girl in Ukrainian costume representing youth’s innocence and courage–“a little child shall lead them”. Next came the dove of peace, followed by tanks pushing in, as homes in the background burn and fall into rubble in which the little child kneels fearlessly reaching for peace. Above, float the three sentences of Zelensky, Poroshenko, and Eddy in pencil. Last, it came to me to pencil in faintly in the background ghosts of the holocaust, or perhaps they are crowds of refugees fleeing Ukraine.
A joyful thing happened when I took this piece to be matted at my framer’s. He liked what I was doing and volunteered to donate the framing! Now all proceeds from this sale, when it happens, will go directly to Ukraine. Even small signs of goodness take us above fear.