Colleen Briggs very kindly agreed to be a guest here today. She is a superb artist and I love her work… but there is more to her gifts than those that fill a canvas with colour. Please visit her blog to read more about this remarkable woman and the stories she tells… You might like to start here.
There was a time when a single dandelion spoke courage and life to me. It was a time of letting go, a season of grief. The death of a close family member and concurrent loss of certain dreams cast a melancholy shadow over my heart. I leaned back in my yard swing and noticed a dandelion. Just at that very moment, a tiny parachute dislodged from the head. It barely hung by a filament, ready at any second to launch into the sky. I wondered at my presence at just that very moment when the dandelion released its first dream for the future into the universe.
Overnight, a violent rain and hailstorm raged. The next day, all that remained of my dandelion was a broken brown stem. With everything lost, its lifespan spent, what remained? When loved ones disappear behind the impenetrable veil and hopes are shattered, in those moments when we can’t avoid our deepest questions, what is left?
I suppose I painted the dandelion the first time in search of the answer. And I did indeed encounter a Presence as I created. Once complete, I could honestly say, “It is well with my soul: yes, the Sacred Centre Holds.”
Recently another situation involving someone I love pushed me back up to the edge of that cliff where old ways of seeing, familiar answers just do not suffice any more. Hope scattered like parachute seeds, buried in deep dark soil.
I jumped off the cliff, and started painting.
I always intended the first “Sacred Centre Holds” to be a study, but as creative energies carried me elsewhere, I did not return to it until recently. Once again, I needed to know what still holds true when everything I know up to that point feels like a brown withered stalk.
I remembered my four-year old study. As I painted the same image again, layering frisket, cheesecloth, watercolour, acrylic like so many layers of soil over seed, then winter snows and spring rains and hail, truth sprouted like persistent dandelion seeds.
I wrestled my way deeper into the centre. I found myself in a new space, larger and more mysterious that I ever imagined possible. And yet it is so simple even a dandelion understands.
The moment of losing everything, of surrender, is never the end of the story.
About the artist
Through painting, I unearth a place of goodness and hope. I press beyond darkness and affirm it can never overcome light. When I paint, I hear God speak to the depths of my soul.
I graduated from the University of Denver with a BFA in drawing and printmaking, but far-flung journeys around the world since then shape my artistic purpose and themes. For me, only painting can capture the kind of intangible, miraculous hope I’ve witnessed in dark corners of the world, in places like Mathare Valley slum of Nairobi, Kenya or poverty-stricken mountain regions of Vietnam.
My husband of 23 years, David, and I adopted two of our four children from a Kenyan orphanage. We welcomed the opportunity to help pioneer Sanctuary of Hope #1 and #2, orphan homes in Kenya for 24 children. Through these experiences, we encounter heart-shattering suffering and watch miracles unfold beyond our wildest dreams.
In images and words, I cling to “fragments of light” – evidence of God’s relentless pursuit of each one of us, of His ability to redeem suffering, and of His intent to give us a hope and a future.
Find and follow Colleen
You can also visit Colleen’s Etsy shop to buy prints and original artwork.