One of the best things about May is the colorful outbursts of iris blooming every where you look around Tennessee. The bearded iris is the state flower so no self-respecting Tennessee garden can be found without at least one variety of iris gracing the mid to late spring garden. Though purple is most often associated with the state flower, iris blooms can be seen in a rainbow of colors gathered around mailboxes, fence rows, lining driveways and more with their distinct tall pointed leaves and large velvety petals . It would seem that iris would be the flower of the month for May, right? Apparently not.
Bearded iris are probably my favorite flower to draw and to paint. I love drawing the ruffles that adorn the falls and standards of the petals. They remind me of antebellum dresses. Or I could say I love painting the many colors they come in, but the truth is I love the purple ones the most. Yes I play favorites!! Thinking about painting another iris, I decided to look up the meaning of iris and found some interesting facts.
According to Flower Meanings.com this beautiful flower was named for the Greek goddess, Iris. The Greeks believed the flower symbolized the rainbow bridge between heaven and earth. Petal Republic.com says the iris was adopted as the symbol of France in the Fleur-de-lis when King Clovis I adopted Christianity as the official religion. The three petals of the iris falls and standards were believed to embody the Holy Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Irises frequently show up in the portraits of kings and queens leading to an association with royalty.
With all this noble and mystical history, who decided that the iris was the flower of the month of February? Most bearded iris bloom after the daffodils and tulips have come and gone. Neither of those make good February flowers either. Maybe daffodils in some locations but not usually. Why isn’t crocus or snowdrops the flower of February? May should have been Iris month! Whoever the big flower of the month assigners are, they goofed on iris. Why didn’t anybody tell them when Iris bloom? At least they gave iris a month. For that we can be grateful!! Now back to painting…
Dancing for joy. Singing for joy. Shout for joy. Rejoicing. Enjoying. Bringing great joy. Ecstatic happiness. The very word “joy” makes people smile. “to experience great pleasure or delight” is one definition from Merriam Webster. I think of joy as a feeling in motion, something that must be acted on as in the dancing, singing and shouting. We could all use a little more joy in our lives right now.
A constant barrage of negative information hits most of us right in the face every morning. It’s everywhere you look. In everything you read. Wouldn’t it be nice to have more opportunities to feel joyful? Instead of the negative daily greeting, how about seeing some dancing for joy, hearing some singing or shouting for joy? There are genuine reasons many of us have to not feel joyful. We have bills to pay, medical issues, the car needs repair, the roof is leaking, illness. The list goes on and on.
Listening to a series of sermons on the Psalms of Ascent reminded me of how often the theme of singing for joy comes up. Painting during these sermons was something I was drawn to very strongly. Painting the Word of God through His Spirit was a longing in my heart. The theme of these Psalms was churning in me..
I can’t count the number of times I have actually in my life wanted to truly shout for joy or sing for joy. There have been some times when I felt that much joy. Is it a regular thing? No. But I wanted it to be.
As I sat in my painting spot listening, I painted. And I asked the Great Creator to paint through me and show me joy so I could show others joy. And guess what?? He did! AS I looked at the first paintings I thought, “this is what joy is!” He showed me that all I needed to do was ask. And guess what else? I started to feel joyful. And then I smiled and started to sing. Praying you will too!!
Realizing all art came from a Creator much bigger than us little humans forced me to look at art in a way I never had before.
The title of a recent workshop I taught spurred me to do some soul searching. More and more information has come out lately about art’s benefit to the soul. All the information now has really been around for years. Arguably, it can be said it all started with Julian Cameron‘s ground breaking book, “The Artist’s Way.” I first read and worked the book over 20 years ago and to say it changed my life is putting it mildly. Realizing all art came from a Creator much bigger than us little humans forced me to look at art in a way I never had before.
You would think that once the light goes on and you realize that all art is much more spiritual than it is cerebral, you could sit back and let the Spirit takeover. “Bingo” you are creating on a higher level and don’t have to think any more. It is actually the opposite. You think more, not less. How can that be, you ask? A wrestling begins between your two warring factions, your heart and your brain. That battle must be fought meaning the ability to sit back and let Spirit takeover doesn’t happen naturally.
For many of us, the reality that art comes from the heart has been known for some time. To allow the Spirit to takeover is to allow the heart to open up. The heart is a lot more vulnerable than the brain. The heart is easily wounded and the artist’s heart even more so. Our soul is contained in the heart. For the soul of the heart to be set free, trust in the Spirit must begin. Trust begins in baby steps.