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Mirror Image (Who Am I?)

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  • The story behind "Mirror Image: Who Am I?"

     

    I wet my face with a towel as I feel my heart start to race with the burdens of “why”? The cold water does nothing except cool my skin. Jesus, you’ve got to meet me here, because I don’t know how to find you. I pull the towel away. This isn’t working. Something has to come out.

     

    So I paint. I had found this Bible verse the other day, and something about it inspired me:

     

    James 1:23-24 Those who listen to the word but do not do what it says are like people who look at their faces in a mirror and, after looking at themselves, go away and immediately forget what they look like.

     

    I do that! I think to myself, I forget what I look like! I stare at my face in the mirror all the time. This verse twists inside my mind. The imagery is obvious, but what does it mean to my soul? It’s a process: I fill the canvas with bright yellow guidelines that sketch out my bathroom. I block in the shades of pink. Speak to me, Lord, I pray. I assume the position of surrender: my hand is poised, holding a long, thin brush. I’ve filled the bristles with the color of human flesh. Speak to me. In time, my face emerges from the canvas and it stares back at me. That still doesn’t tell me who I am, God, and I paint another image of myself; this time it’s the back of my head. Thinking, thinking, I sketch in my teal shirt, the tan towels and yellow toothbrush. I mill over the grains of the wooden bathroom door. My painting’s stare never breaks eye contact. I feel like I’m in a cloud of darkness again as I revisit this moment of who am I? I must escape. 

     

    I drop my brush into a jar of water and head to the bathroom. I wash my hands and echo my painting as I look into my eyes through the mirror. If my reflection could speak, what would she tell me? Those who listen to the word but do not do what it says are like people who look at their faces in a mirror and, after looking at themselves, go away and immediately forget what they look like. I think my refection would tell me, wake up, dummy! Take off your blindfold. 

    I return to my work and paint the words at the same time they are being spoken to me. The verse is written in mirror image as if the real me is on the other side of the mirror, waiting to be freed. Colors splash onto the canvas; lines flow and bleed and mend. Truth forces its way through the clouds, and light begins to pour inside. Tears water a vine that grows up my leg, following the line of my arm, twisting itself through my long blonde hair. The vine grows closer and closer to the blindfold. It so desperately wants to loosen it. Here I am, God. 

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