In life’s quest for knowledge and understanding of both the sacred and the secular we may gain new insights by employing a formula for exploration that Jesus apparently often used. Viewers may also find this formula helpful in transforming this painting into a useful tool for contemplation. Begin with a question which is of personal interest to you. It may be some scientific puzzle in the physical world you’re attempting to solve or it could refer to a deep spiritual concept, a moral or social issue you’re seeking to comprehend. Next, look to the world around you with an inquiring mind and ask yourself if there is anything about the things you are observing that is like the question you are exploring. How is this like that? (Example: How is faith like a mustard seed?) Some comparisons and analogies may seem like a stretch, they may even appear absurd, don’t worry! The point is to cultivate a habit of “seeing” connections and likenesses, patterns and types. This way of seeing is a major key to creativity and it helps open the windows of enlightened understanding. It primes our minds for personal inspiration. Finally, observe the layers and levels of understanding and insight this process can reveal. Seek to stretch your heart and mind so that you can uncover and comprehend the richest and deepest treasures of truth that are just waiting to be discovered. HERE’S A SIMPLE EXAMPLE: The artist’s paint pallet in this painting might represent the secular study of pigment and paint. That study may include courses on color theory, color harmony, hue, chromaticity, saturation, value, contrast and luminance. The framed painting on the easel above the pallet may represent additional levels of knowledge. One level of knowledge is used to manipulate the paint using artistic principles so that it transforms into something beyond the colors on the pallet. In this case the painting may simply represents a man lying on a rock looking at the stars. Another level of understanding is created when that same image is superimposed with a story. In this case the man could represent Jesus gazing at the heavens. We may even begin to shift our understanding of these paint strokes on canvas to a sacred level when we find a message or deeper meaning in the story they represent. Now Jesus is not just lying there on a rock trying to locate the Big Dipper, he may be contemplating the Universe, its creation, its purpose and its meaning. The image may now inspire us to do the same and ponder our own place in the cosmos. Now the viewer has potentially transformed mere pigment into a pearl of great price! With “eyes to see” the world becomes a wondrous workshop of alchemy where small and simple things are transformed into treasures!
by Greg Olsen