(10-11/2004) I have these moments from time to time when inspiration strikes me as I observe the world around me. It is as if I see the beauty of creation in a new way and a small voice whispers in my ear, “Paint this!” This painting is the result of such a moment. In my mind’s eye, I still remember the first time that I saw this Acacia tree. Its beauty took my breath away as I felt the cool Kenyan air brush against my face. However, to me, the tree’s significance was even more meaningful than its innate beauty because it is an actual place of worship! In 2003, a church was started here which is still going strong today. As you can see, it is not your average church with stain glass windows, gothic arches, and golden altars. Instead, its reverence inducing qualities are produced from its intense natural grandeur that is just as, if not more, awe inspiring than great European cathedrals such as St. Peter’s in Rome. The members of the church meet on small handmade wooden benches under this tree every Sunday morning. Even in the midst of a drought, they take time from their hard working lives to come to this church and honor God. Even though losing a morning of work may mean missing meals, they come anyway. Their faith is admirable.
In the painting, the tree itself emanates light through its branches and serves as a symbol of the truth being given beneath its branches. As the pastors share, a man in the crowd is distracted as he glances out of the painting as if beckoning the viewer to come closer and display the same reverence for God that the people next to him are displaying.
As I was painting this, I often thought about these Bible verses in Jeremiah:
“But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD , whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree
planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves
are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”