I have been working as a graphic designer for 30 years — on everything from printed pieces, T-shirts, displays, graphics, logos and now even some video editing. When I enter the creative process, I begin with words. Then, I look for inspiration in photos, or in the world around me. It's a back and forth dance of creation with the words speaking into the image and the images speaking into the words. Like putting a puzzle together, I don't know what it will look like until it is complete.
Sometimes, the creative process goes quickly and smoothly. Other times, it feels like birthing a child. Once art is "out there" for the world to see, it has a life of its own. If what I have created communicates clearly, I feel I have been successful. Yet, what I create may speak to others beyond my intentions. Sometimes, my creation even teaches me!
I recently experienced this with a scripture graphic for Habakkuk 3:17-18.
17 Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
I began looking through photos for inspiration. Desert photos. Drought photos. Desolation photos. Nothing seemed quite right. I came across a close-up of a dead flower. I could put words on the petals. I found THE photo! The petals had good space for the words. The heart of the verse, "Yet I will rejoice in the Lord," could go in the center.
This turned my thoughts to our current situation. So many people are dealing with loss. Loss of jobs. Loss of security. Loss of homes. Loss of family. I decided to use highlights from the ancient words of Habakkuk and incorporate some modern aspects of loss. I finished the graphic and put it out there.
But then, as I surfed various programs on my computer, I kept seeing the Habakkuk flower. The more I looked at it, the more I saw. The image now spoke to me. Or, maybe it was God speaking to me through the image, giving me a message of hope I hadn't noticed before.
All the petals had struggles written on them. No food. No shelter. No sheep. From the Habakkuk flower, my thoughts turned to my own garden. The petals were falling, eventually leaving just the center.
And, what is at the center of that flower? The seeds. And what are seeds? Hope for the future in abundance!
We go through many struggles in life. But we can know that at the center, there is hope and new life waiting to find fertile soil in which to grow again. So, we have a reason to rejoice! The petals and the leaves on which life's struggles are written give life to the seeds. Our struggles are not in vain!
I have been trying to decide when to cut back the flowers in my garden. They are dead and shriveled up. But this morning, I saw a bird sitting on a cone flower, picking out the seeds and eating them. Here again, new life coming from the old!
May God's spirit blow our seeds of hope and new life onto fertile soil so that beauty may come again. In it all, God is our hope. God does not leave us nor forsake us.