Awhile back I was asked to paint a mural in the youth room at Evangelical Free Church of the Palouse. I was excited to help but a bit nervous. I’d never painted something this big before… What if I turned out to be a failure when it came to putting together art of epic proportions? But pushing my fears aside, I boldly ventured forth in complete confidence. Actually that’s a lie… I just told myself if they hated it they could paint over it the next day with a fresh coat of white. No harm, no foul. Then I ventured forth… Semi boldly and somewhat confidently…
By the time spring break rolled around I had formed a vision in my head for the project and sketched out all the plans. My proposal was approved and I got to work. And wow, was it work. By the end of the first day my shoulders hurt, I had fallen of a ladder twice (While no one was looking… I’m still a closeted klutz.) and had spilled paint on the carpet multiple times creating the need to go sprinting through the big empty church for wet paper towels before the paint dried. Thankfully, each mad dash was successful. The carpet was as clean as when I began and no bones were broken by tipping ladders. But the mural was still not finished. I had to come back the next day… And the next day, totaling in over twenty-six hours.
In the grand scheme of things, twenty-six hours is nothing. Part of why it could be finished in that amount of time is all the help I received. In the end, I ended up being given much more than I could give back. I remember giggling quietly, painting a towering tree trunk, as Tiffany and her boyfriend argued over fonts for the verse above the window. I got to see my friend Kevin, not a painter by any means, working to get the sunset splotches exactly as Jason and I had done them until he had mastered the technique. As I freehanded birds in our bright sky that faded from yellow to orange to red, I sat perched on top of a wooden ladder, talking to Anita about all sorts of things and smiling to myself as she got indignant over wrongs in the world, using more compelling words than I could ever seem to find for myself. And then there was the baby shower… Oh my word the baby shower! After hours of solitude painting silhouettes on a wall dozens of ladies began popping in and out of my once isolated room. They ooo-ed and aww-ed over my progress far more than was deserved. Then they brought me into their party and gave me a place to sit and rest my legs. They fed me cake and much needed coffee. One lady even stayed afterword and chatted with me, rubbed my shoulders and insisted on me eating some good food she had found in the fridge. I had not even mentioned being sore or hungry. She somehow just knew how to help.
So I painted a few walls… That’s all I had to give. While the church liked the mural enough to not white wash it the next day, I know that eventually my work will be gone because it’s just a painting. But it’s a painting for people who care. For people who love their neighbors and serve others. I like to think that makes the mural a little bit more than paint on the wall. It’s a gift for friends.
(Please note: all of these silhouettes are from free clip-art I found online. They are not my original designs. Some were free-handed, others were traced via projector.)