Child’s Play, Paper Mache

And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, ‘Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’ Matthew 18:2-3

The sabbatical continued with yet the most unusual means of expression for me:  paper mache.

Isn’t this assignment child’s play, Father? 

He let me know that he enjoyed it when I was childlike.  He reminded me that I had permission to enjoy the “process” of making art.  And enjoy it, I did!

I needed a very strong base, so I filled a mason jar with weights and then added seven main branches, as I still had menorahs on my mind.  Seven is the biblical number for completion.  I used masking tape to structure the piece, then started the messy and tactile pleasing part of dipping strips of paper into goo.  I find it funny when I teach art that the boys, rather than the girls, are big wimps when it comes to getting their hands messy.  Not me — I love the sensation on my hands.

I moved to thicker, brown, grocery bag type of paper for additional coats.  I wanted to build up a head in the middle of the tree, as trees are like people with their own stories and purposes, and they produce seeds and fruits of great variety.  With each paper installation, I let it dry and get hard.  I made a paper pulp paste to enhance the details and used wire to attach further branches.  The project took weeks to complete.

As I was adding layers to my tree, my Father was removing layers from me!  I was simultaneously learning about personal deliverance, and had discovered that I had all kinds of hidden ugliness that needed to be peeled away.  It had been covered up and concealed, glamorized with shiny spray paint like my tree.  Fortunately for me, my Father is a gentlemen and tears off layers one at a time, like an onion, rather than ripping me to shreds.  In order for the process to work, I had to come to him as a trusting child and let Him do it.  Some layers were ugly, some rough, some tough.  Some peeled off easily, some took regular fasting and lots of prayer.  Just when I think I am done, I realize I am just beginning the process.  I want to be stripped to bare nothingness, so all I have is me and my God.  I am not there yet, but that is okay, as my Father is in no hurry.