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Fisherfolk Painting

If you're at all familiar with Christian tradition, being a "fisher" for God is a familiar image especially as it relates to mission. It has never been a strong motivating image for myself but when I read Arthur Paul Patterson's take on it, the story of these ancient labourers that spend their days out at sea became a new story and I was part of the narrative.

click on picture to enlarge
click on picture to enlarge

Except this time it wasn't me who was doing the fishing but rather it was my soul that was being dredged up from the bottom of the sea. To be taken out of water is death to a fish but when it's the nebulous, murky water of the unconscious, gulping in new air is the promise of new life. I like the idea that the fish in the painting that are swimming in the turbulent waters are colourless. It is their natural environment but only in so far as it is the place of their first birth - the place of the instincts. This lower place has no power of imagination and thus can never make life vibrant for these fledgling beings.

I don't quite know why I added the trees, maybe because in some way they resemble spirit beings with their feet in the ground and their arms reaching heavenward. Although they are another image from nature, to me they are the conduits of the Spirit. With their branches that intertwine with one another a "safety net" is formed. As the fish swim heavenward they inevitably get caught in this net and as a result transform to be colourful, magical creatures. Like salmon they swim toward their death only to find it is the second birth that awaits them.

No amount of earnest swimming or learning to jump and flip can colour my spirit. Only by the grace of God, through his roots that bury deep in my heart and his branches that carry me to higher ground, does my albino soul become distinct and colourful. When we swim against the current in a state of faith and grace we start to flow in and out of branches, leaves and twigs - and discover God. FisherFolk implies community and compassion. Like fish we are not meant to swim alone. A school of fish - what better image to describe what it means to be part of a community that cares about formation, growth and rebirth. While we were once lost and drowning, we are now connected and whole, a small piece of the big picture.

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