The story and symbols of “Hope Waits” – a painting by Sohma Rae Hathaway

No audible words are needed when we speak the language of art. How many of us are persuaded by a beautiful painting or the sound of a symphony. I’ve felt this way ever since I was young but I couldn’t quite articulate it. I didn’t think of it as a language. It was just a silent stirring of my soul, the dance that an artist has with destiny. But you do not need to be considered a creative, to enjoy and benefit from the dance. I discovered this language for myself when another artist spoke to me.

Image Courtesy of Musée d’Orsay via Wikimedia Commons

I remember the moment vividly. It was the first time, the only time, I was so profoundly touched by simply seeing the paint strokes of a master’s hand. I was at the Musee d’Orsay in Paris, looking at the bold and beautiful brushstrokes of Vincent Van Gogh.

As I looked intently at the green and blue shades of a tortured face, I could literally FEEL the pain in his portrait.

Unintended tears welled up in my eyes, then ran down my cheek. I was surprised to feel such intensity of emotion. It was like Vincent was there, telling me a story. I didn’t know until many months later that this painting was his last self-portrait before killing himself. Only then did I understand my tears. The song “Starry Starry Night” get’s me choked up every time I hear it.

Now I understand, what you tried to say to me, and how you suffered for your sanity. And how you tried to set them free.”    Starry Starry Night – Don McLean

Art has a magical way of connecting us.

I can relate to Vincent. I try to speak but my hands find it easier to paint the things of my soul. Some people do this through music or poetry.  In each case, the language is universal.

In my painting, “HOPE WAITS.” I wanted to speak about things that really matter. I wanted it to enhance my feelings of gratitude. I hope it does the same for you.

The boat represents our life’s journey.

We may be nearing the end of an arduous voyage or feeling death’s door draw close. Maybe it’s just the end of a challenging day and we long to get off the ride or out of the boat.  Life itself is invaluable, and yet, it doesn’t always feel that way. We might be waiting for the tide to come in or for the winds to lift our sail.  We all have unique challenges and varying situations but the beauty of life is that the same principles apply in finding peace.

Low Tide. The ebb and flow of life is a natural occurrence.

It can feel overwhelming and daunting when the tide is low and our trials abound. Our hearts can sometimes fail us as we sink deeper into the mud of despair, loneliness, fear or physical pain. But, with a little vision, we can see that there is “Hope smiling brightly before us and we know that deliverance is nigh.”

The sunset

is like God’s promise of a new tomorrow wherein we know the sun will return (and The Son will return).The brightest spot of the sunset is symbolic of what is most precious to me, my Savior’s love. In the dusk of a long day, Jesus shares His beautiful light, which fills the sky, extends to the boat (to our personal lives) and fills our souls.

A new perspective.

A sunset is formed as light filters through clouds and different impurities in the atmosphere. This illustrates that God can take our imperfections and transform us, by shining his glorious light on us and through us. With perfect clarity he knows that our trials, temptations and sufferings are here to bless and refine us.  When we allow this light to penetrate our hearts, we see a new horizon, a perspective on pain (and our imperfections) that mold us into something better. His love is felt at a deeper level. In this, I am reminded,

The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”         Romans 8:16-18

What a beautiful promise that is! Think of our potential with God at the helm.

The Anchor 

is symbolic of the scriptures and other inspired words from leaders and prophets. They will anchor us in Jesus Christ. When we do all in our power to keep the commandments of God and stay in connection with that Higher Power of Creation, we receive promptings from the Holy Ghost. Then, with this gift, we are safely guided through our hardships. Our trust in God and in this process puts us in a better position to help others.

Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, (and) maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.” Ether 12:4

We need not wait until the sunset of our lives to experience peace.

The fruits of the spirit can bring us joy now; even in our suffering. When we have these experiences of joy and peace, and are given fruits beyond our own capacities, it strengthens our faith in Jesus Christ. Our hope is renewed. Without this anchor, our boat will be lost in a turbulent sea. There are no oars in the boat because you are holding them. You have your God-given agency to steer your life in the direction of your potential, to answer the call and use your talents

Just like the light from the sunset subtly reaches the seemingly abandoned boat, even in our darkest hour, God is there for us.

The scriptures assure us of this.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine or nakedness, or peril, or sword?… Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35, 37-39

We will not be left hopeless when we patiently wait for the tide to return, relying fully on God’s timing. We can “be still and know that (He is) God.” Through our “anguish of spirit” or a raging tempest, we can be assured that “The winds and the waves shall obey (His will).” This hope saves us from the storms of life and the wiles of the devil.

For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.” Romans 8:24-25

“Hope Waits” is the painting. It is also my wish for you. May you, have many opportunities to hear the language of art in a way that elevates your perspective. And may you have hope in and be drawn to the ever-abiding, love of God.

I’d love to hear from you! Comment below.
What art has inspired you?  What gives you hope?