by Lisa DeRosa
With Springtime upon us, it seemed like a lovely idea to paint pots together as a household community when the weather in Seattle warmed up a little. As you can see, I was the only one crazy enough to wear a short sleeve and shorts romper that Goldie (dog in picture above) is sitting in front of. Activities like these are something that I grew up doing for my sister’s birthday parties with friends in April like decorating Easter baskets and other Spring-themed crafts. But because I do not consider myself to be the artsy-creative type, I don’t usually engage in this type of practice very often. I enjoy making cards, sewing, and cooking which allows for many opportunities as creative outlets for me. Painting does not tend to be one of them…
At the time, I did not plan to write a post about painting pots as a spiritual reflection, but looking back at the process, I see many reasons why this is indeed a spiritual practice and points out lessons that can be applied in other areas of life. It gave me a chance to try something new, not in the norm of my day, and learn from what I was experiencing.
Firstly, as a recovering perfectionist, painting is a challenge in many ways. The endless options of paint type, color, shade, texture, and the right implement to use to paint the stuff on there was too much for my unexercised right-brain to decide. I stuck with what I know and love: blue. Once my color choice jumped out at me, I decided to cover the whole pot in blue because I figured I couldn’t go wrong with at least establishing a base layer. So far so good. But then… the sponge I was using worked against me by not absorbing the paint in the way I thought it would. It globbed on so thick and uneven, I thought even the base layer was ruined. I kept going, hoping it would fix itself. Eventually, with another evening layer, the base coat was finished. Nice and blue. My lesson from this was not to panic; just keep painting and see what the next stroke would bring. NOT an easy task when in my head it was already too far gone, but persistence seemed to work this time.
Secondly, in between paint layers, I found myself getting impatient. It was a slightly breezy time of day with the sun still out, but it seemed as though no amount of waving a flimsy piece of newspaper around my pot would get it to dry. This solution of mine only led to a tired arm and a still wet, painted pot. I thought it would be a good time to go around and mingle to see what my housemates were up to.
Which leads to my third lesson, the envy that rose in my heart over the other painted pots was very evident in that moment. Our house has some truly creative people, as you can see below. The snowy mountain with pine branches across the top is my husband’s. Each unique and thoughtfully designed in their own way. But I felt like mine was just a product of globbing on paint with some clouds. It looks like the wallpaper in Andy’s room from Toy Story… As in life, comparison and envy did not bode well for this activity and it contributed to missing the point of enjoying a fun activity with my housemates on a beautiful day!
I am proud that I finished my pot and that I chose to engage even when it isn’t a skill of mine. In reflecting on the photo above, I am grateful for the diversity that each pot uniquely gives to the garden. That they will provide a safe, and stable home for a seed, seedling, and eventually, a plant to flourish in. They bring color to the garden year round and hold memories of our house gathering that store-bought pots cannot.
As I think about God as the Creator, I know that my struggles listed when painting this pot do not surprise God and they are not challenges for God either. Creator God doesn’t waiver in trying to make perfect things, they just are. Impatience does not well up within. And why would envy creep into the Divine’s thoughts? Everything else fails in comparison! God’s character does not contain a striving towards perfectionism, the impatience and limits of time, or the envy of others. Instead, perfect peace, incredible patience, and unconditional love abound. I am thankful today that when God interacts with me as part of Creation, these are the character traits that are expressed.
Want to paint a flower pot?
Here’s what you will need:
- clean terracotta pots (any size you want!)
- outdoor spray paint (we have several of these in different colors) or outdoor acrylic paints (this brand is non-toxic)
- paint brushes – we used these for the various sizes
- spray on Mod Podge Clear Acrylic Sealer (could use the paint-on kind too)
- a jar of water for cleaning the brushes
- a box to use for spray painting (optional)
Maybe you will have an easier time deciding on what to paint, what colors to use, and the painting time will be relaxing for you. Maybe you are like me and have to try a little harder. Wherever you are at, whatever mood you are in when you come to painting your pot, accept that that is where you are and how you are feeling. Allow God to meet you there, be open to Divine Presence. Ask for inspiration, a memory, or a picture of what to paint. If you already have something in mind, great! Go for it! Enjoy the activity, welcome the experience that it holds, and let yourself be immersed in the creative process.
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