I find a misty well rising in my eyes these days. Stinging. Breaking. Falling. Like my heart. It’s because every tear holds a face, and every face holds my heart. Tears drip onto pages of my life and the colors bleed together, making forever indistinguishable what was once separate.
Endings loom and threaten to deem senseless what has become permanently united. And, if I simply end here, there is no meaning in the blending. But, I think it is not truly so. These colors and this bleeding and this ending is but a layer, a foundation. I cannot see the fullness of this purpose, but I know every future layer relies on this beginning one.
I read the wise words of one whose colored pages are still being layered upon despite his earthly ending. “There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind,” says C.S. Lewis. There is a stinging note to this statement if it means that what “we leave behind” is to be forgotten. But, I think that it can make such a bold statement because it looks with hope to the things ahead, notwithstanding the things behind.
How can a painter complete a painting if he mourns the ending of each layer? He must rejoice in that layer and begin again with newness and freshness and excitement for what he will build upon the previous.
I suppose one of the greatest joys to a painter is the actual process of painting. In reality, it’s a continual series of beginnings and endings that make up a whole realm between the beginning and the ending. The middleness of it all. I wonder if it’s really this middle part we are after, the process between the beginning and the ending, and the process of beginnings and endings.
It is here that I catch a glimpse of the Ultimate Painter, the One painting on the pages of my life. I find myself mourning the ends of the layers and fearing the beginnings of new ones, and the tears sting and break and fall in the process. But, I forget that He is the Master Painter, loving every stroke and blend of life and color in each season that I pass through, willing to allow unseemly drips and tears to become a part of it all because I think He loves the middleness, too.
He came and lived in the middleness. He painted the lives and loved the heart faces that He bled for. With blood He painted their lives into finishedness. And, so He paints mine. I am not finished in my life today, but I am being painted into finishedness, layer by layer, grace upon grace, glory to glory. And, as He paints strokes and layers, blends lives and colors, He is making something beautiful in the finishing process; making beauty in the middleness.