painters and peacemakers

I recently went to an interactive exhibition featuring artwork from the well-loved Impressionist painters including Monet. 

As I wandered through the rooms set up as fields of flowers and was led underneath the waterlily pond (projected onto the roof!) I was struck by the artists’ obsession with Light. One of my favourite bible passages came to mind “God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all.” (1 John 1:6).

Have you ever had an experience of Art turning your eyes to The Light?

The Impressionist style of painting is my favourite. On my first trip to Europe, visiting Monet’s garden in Giverny and then the L’Orangerie gallery in Paris to see his famous ‘Waterlilies’ were non-negotiable bucket-list ticks. Did you know that Monet gifted his painting to France in 1918 to commemorate the end of the war and a hopeful new era of peace?!

I hope these three reflections from art and 1 John 1:4-10 encourage you in your peacemaking journey. 

Focus on the Light  

“Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing.” Camille Pissarro

The Impressionist painters were known for painting simple everyday scenes, gardens and casual gatherings of people. For the art world of the day, these scenes were too ordinary. For the Impressionists, the ordinary was the place of transformation. Monet and his friends discovered something the rest of the world seemed to miss. Light. They were obsessed by it! 

Living as a peacemaker means that the canvas of my everyday life is transformed by the Light. I see things differently – especially conflict. Where my old habit was to see conflict as dark and hopeless, I am learning to see conflict as an opportunity where God can do some of his best transformation work. Focusing on The Light gives me a hope that I can joyfully share as Jesus’ disciples did, “We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy” (1 John 1:4). 

Reflect the Light

“It’s on the strength of observation and reflection that one finds a way. So we must dig and delve unceasingly.” Claude Monet

The Impressionist painters would quickly capture an ‘impression’ of a scene ‘en plein air’ (that is, in the open air outside) and then return to the studio to spend more time creating their final pieces. Monet’s ‘waterlilies’ depict the same scene but at different times of the day, showing different effects of the light. 

Along my peacemaking journey I constantly make mistakes. My relationship as a peacemaker needs time in the studio where I ask God for help and allow him to work on my heart. I can reflect on the moments of my day through the light of his grace and ask for wisdom. Looking at situations from God’s perspective may prompt me to go back to someone that I have wronged and apologise and ask for forgiveness. A restored relationship is a reflection of God’s light. 

1 John 1:7 promises that fellowship with one another is a direct result from living in the Light: “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”

Gather in the Light

“One morning one of us ran out of the black, it was the birth of Impressionism” Pierre-Austen Renoir

The way The Impressionists painted attracted significant push-back from the wider art community. I am convinced that neither Monet nor any other lone artist would have been able to successfully challenge the culture of the rigid art community solo. 

Sometimes we struggle to see the Light ourselves or feel discouraged in seasons of darkness. The PeaceWise community has been such a help to me in this way. Not only are there amazing practical resources and training for my peacemaking journey, but the material is backed by an incredible community of committed peacemakers that share that same audacious hope that the world can change through the light-filled ministry of peacemaking. 

My everyday life is in constant need of transformation through the Light of God. My peaceMaking journey continues to be a learning one – but I am encouraged that when I give my life over to the Heavenly Artist, and confess my sins and need for Him “He is faithful and just to forgive” (1 John 1:9). 

Is there an area of your life that you feel the Holy Spirit prompting you to bring to Him for transformation? Maybe you have a longing for the community you are a part of to become a culture of peace? Can I encourage you to ask for the Holy Spirit to guide you and lead you to your next step? 

This devotional was written by Lucy Dessington. Lucy is an apprentice of the ultimate Peacemaker- Jesus and a passionate member of the PeaceWise board. She loves discovering more of God’s character through her love of gardening and art, when she can enjoy a quiet moment amidst the busy-ness of work & family life with a young toddler. 

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