A common denominator between gardening, mercy, and love
What is Timeless?
I asked a group of friends to look at my newest painting so they could help me come up with a title for it. I wanted the name to convey a character trait they admire. And with Mothers’ Day on the horizon, I suggested that if the name was something that reminded them of their mom — well, that would be even better!
Timeless was the word that jumped off the page, appearing multiple times. A word so rich with meaning that a book is probably a more appropriate venue to discuss this topic.
I would love to find out more about what motivated each of these women to independently choose this word. That may come later, assuming they are willing to share their inspiration.
A few examples of Timelessness:
- The Classic Southern garden.
- Showing Mercy.
- The myth of a Mother’s Love.
The Timeless Camellia
I can’t think of a plant with a more classic, elegant, dependable beauty than the Camellia. And if you live in the North where it is too cold for them to grow — I am so sorry for your loss. The Camellia embodies everything that is perfect about the Rose minus a fragrance, but with the ease of the independent, dependable Coneflower.
Camellias grow on a bush with a waxy leaves that look like small copies of the deep green leaves of the Magnolia tree. I find their biggest selling point — second only to their rose-like blossoms of course — is that they keep their luxuriously green leaves all year long.
Camellias are neat, tidy, and easily trained. All they ask for is healthy, rich, loose soil and the right kind of sunlight. Give them these things, along with some good haircuts as they age, and they will do their job for decades.
I cannot take credit for the Camellias in my yard. They were planted over 50 years ago by a man who loved to garden. So much so, that he was he was president of the Men’s Gardening Club and also the Camellia Society back in the 1950s.
I am pretty sure he’s the man shown in the photo above, and definitely sure he’s the man shown in the photo below.
If this kind gentleman didn’t plant “my” Camellias, then it was his father-in-law who did. Which in that case would make the bushes even older. And even more timeless.
What I CAN take credit for, is my passion to preserve these Southern beauties. I love to paint Camellias, capturing them in the permanent, timeless media of oil paints applied to a canvas. Nothing new or innovative about this process. For centuries this work of documenting life with the use of oil paints has existed. That is timeless.
MERCY is also Timeless.
No matter who you are, or what your life circumstances, you are always better off than SOMEBODY else. You are always in a daily position to make the choice to try and see the world from the perspective of the people you encounter as you go about your own business. The people around you need mercy.
Because people are annoying. And ugly on the inside. And often mean.
I am this way. You are this way.
When it comes right down to it, we are all pretty much just terrible inside.
If you don’t believe me — try this for an experiment. Keep a running log of all the thoughts you think in one day. Document your stream of consciousness as you are alone in your head. Write down all the selfish things you think to yourself but are smart enough to leave unsaid. Think about all the ways you are not truly listening to anyone you talk with because you are more interested in what you want to say next.
Write all of this down. Do not edit it. Do not clean it up. Do not show it to anyone, because if you did, you would have no friends left.
I realize this little experiment probably isn’t possible. But I am sure you get the point.
So with that premise in mind, cut the people around you some slack.
And look at the people who aren’t near you or aren’t even anything like you — with merciful eyes. See them as PEOPLE.
With feelings, and families, and souls. Not just faceless characters in a News Story.
Being kind is never, ever going out of style.
Going out of your way to help somebody is always, always, always cool. Even if it doesn’t always feel that way in the moment. It is the right thing to do. All the time.
Thinking and then acting with mercy is Timeless.
Which leads me to my final element of timelessness…
The MYTH of “A Mother’s Love”
It has never been out of vogue to talk about Mothers and their super special, magical love for their children which is impossible to sever. Like Superman, these Moms have secret powers of LOVE like none other, that can never be shattered.
In a perfect world, of course. But that is NOT what we are dealing with here. A perfect world is not where we are.
Yet somehow, we are fed and then believe the lie that Mom’s (and Dad’s) have this perfect love that covers ALL.
I don’t know your story — but I was fortunate enough to have been raised by two very loving parents. Both of who loved me as best as they possibly could. Yet still, they were by no means perfect. Because who is? I am certainly not.
With Mother’s Day on the horizon, there will be a lot of talk about Moms in the coming weeks. Lots of talk that sounds good on the outside. Talk that that is most certainly an ideal to strive for — but talk that should also be taken with a grain of salt.
Timeless thoughts on LOVE.
Since I use the Bible as my guidebook, it’s my go-to-source when I am looking to learn principals on how to better navigate my journey through this life here on earth.
I remembered a fairly well-known passage the other day. One that is normally read at weddings. Probably even at my own wedding (maybe??!)
A passage I find extremely applicable to this topic of Timelessness.
And, most importantly, a passage which should go a long way towards letting Moms EVERYWHERE off the hook. (Which I will explain in a minute.)
From a book of the Bible called “First Corinthians”…
And now I will show you the best way of all. Suppose I speak in the languages of human beings and of angels. If I don’t have love, I am only a loud gong or a noisy cymbal.
Suppose I have the gift of prophecy. Suppose I can understand all the secret things of God and know everything about him. And suppose I have enough faith to move mountains.
If I don’t have love, I am nothing at all. Suppose I give everything I have to poor people. And suppose I give my body to be burned. If I don’t have love, I get nothing at all.
Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not want what belongs to others. It does not brag. It is not proud. It is not rude. It does not look out for its own interests. It does not easily become angry. It does not keep track of other people’s wrongs.
Love is not happy with evil. But it is full of joy when the truth is spoken. It always protects. It always trusts. It always hopes. It never gives up.
Love never fails. But prophecy will pass away. Speaking in languages that had not been known before will end. And knowledge will pass away.
What we know now is not complete. What we prophesy now is not perfect. But when what is perfect comes, the things that are not perfect will pass away.
When I was a child, I talked like a child. I thought like a child. I had the understanding of a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.
Now we see only a dim likeness of things. It is as if we were seeing them in a mirror. But someday we will see clearly. We will see face to face.
What I know now is not complete. But someday I will know completely, just as God knows me completely.
The three most important things to have are faith, hope and love. But the greatest of them is love.
— I Corinthians 12:31-13:13
LOVE is the Timeless, secret sauce.
(For basically everything.)
I read that passage above again this morning, but today was struck by something I have been slowwwwwwwwly learning over the past eight years since moving to South Carolina. Something our pastor talks about. All. The. Time. (Emphasis meant in a good way.)
Reading that bible passage above, COULD make you feel just about as bad and burdened down, as you would by any of the well-meaning Mother’s Day cards out there.
OF COURSE WE SHOULD LOVE. Of course we should be more patient. And kind. And less rude. And stop keeping a record of wrongs. Of course. OF course. OF COURSE.
But who can DO this???? Not me, that’s for sure.
At my wedding, on the most perfect summer day back in August of 1993, I promised to DO ALL of this Love-showing. Fail. (fortunately not the marriage — just my ability to love well)
Since another perfect summer day, back in July of 2003 on the day my son was born, I’ve known I SHOULD BE this kind of Love for him. Double, Triple, Quadruple Fail. (with only one child, but what feels like enough failure for four)
Then this morning, I remembered…
A TIMELESS truth.
And now I am crying as I write — which is what happens to a person like me who stores all of her feelings inside in the teeniest, tightest knot possible until something finally shifts and untangles the knot by a millimeter or two — because the weight of the burden lifting off my chest is so freeing that I am literally shaking with relief.
Some Timeless GOOD News. FOR ONCE. In regard to LOVE, and the mom you wished you had had — or the mom you wished you were, or could become.
I am now yelling this part below, so listen up. And listen good.
DO THIS LOVE
ON YOUR OWN!
It is impossible. The only way to be a remotely merciful or loving person is through the help of Christ living inside of you.
I know that sounds totally wacked out to some of you. Which is OK. It DOES sound totally crazy, I get that.
But that being said, I personally have found it to be true for my own life for these last three to four decades. (Which, you must admit, is a reasonably long time to try something out and still find it to be true.)
• So to my friends who DO believe in Christ, I hope this painting is a reminder to you that HE is the one who will help you to be the Love you were called to be. He doesn’t expect you to do it by yourself.
• And to my friends who might just be cautiously thinking about Him from a safe distance, I hope that you will continue to search out friends and places where you can hear more, and see examples lived out around you, of the loving and merciful God that He is.
How this painting was given the name “Timeless.”
My friends in the beginning of this story were merely thinking of names for this piece that could describe a person or mom they admired. But in the end, the title they came up with ended up meaning something completely different to me than they had probably ever intended.
But isn’t that the beautiful thing about ART? It can touch a person in the heart like nothing else can. When you aren’t looking, this undercover mender sneaks into the craggy crevices that need to be healed, working a remedy to release something inside of you that needed to come out.
30 days of “Timeless”
If you’d like the chance to have your own heart touched in unexpected ways during the upcoming month of April, why not try out my free “Art of the Month” desktop calendar?
Who knows — maybe like me, you’ll also think of even some more reasons this painting should be called “Timeless.”
What does Timeless mean to you?
If you think of anything please leave a comment below… we’d love to hear your thoughts on the idea of Timelessness and what that means to you. In any area of life.
Until next time…