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  • Writer's pictureKaren Lembo

"Emmaus" Walks (2023)

I want to tell you the story of how this painting came to be. You see, it is a story of transformation, much like my own personal journey...

This painting began as a less than stellar attempt to paint a gorgeous orange fall tree and its shed leaves. I had such high hopes for that tree, but I can't tell you how difficult painting with orange became for me! So I set it aside for a while, until I resolved it was just not going to happen, at least not on this canvas.

You know what? There's something really satisfying in changing course, in squeezing out white gesso all over hours of work and dedication...there's a freedom that comes in resigning oneself to the process, accepting defeat and the victory that comes with battling through to something new. In this case, I didn't know exactly where things were going to go with this canvas, but I knew I was going to feel better releasing it. Since the painting already had texture from the failed tree, I began adding more pieces of my old journals, tissue paper and sewing patterns to increase the actual texture of the painting's surface and building a potential sense of mystery. Then I leaned into that texture by painting this scene of a favorite walking path.

The bits of journal pages and the layering of the paint and textures reflect the little "God whispers" I experience throughout my day, and particularly on these wooded walks. Over the past year or tw0, mixed media has become a way for me to capture the experience I have of hearing the Lord put things into place and perspective as I walk and talk to Him. You see, God has blessed every believer with His own presence, His Holy Spirit, to guide and direct our steps and our understanding. The title of the painting comes from His followers' Emmaus Road encounter after Jesus' death and resurrection, as described in Luke's gospel:

Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him... And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself (Luke 24:13-16, 27).

While the resurrected Jesus is not physically present with me on my walks, He continues to speak and explain things to me along the way by His Spirit dwelling in me. He lets me whine and complain, question and petition, and then He mixes in His wonderful bits of guidance and consolation to my own thoughts, which I try to capture in my journals, and now in these paintings.

My hope in sharing this is two fold. If you know Jesus as your Lord, carve out time to cultivate time for contemplation with Him so you, too, can hear Him speak. If you don't know Him, I hope this encourages you to ask questions and find out more. He is an amazing God, who longs for you and I to know Him personally and to be transformed by His presence in our lives.

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