Chaney Janssen painted a picture of a dandelion just about to go to seed, for our friend, Lori Leaman, back when she was having some bout or other with chemotherapy. The painting hung in sight of her bed where this past week, she breathed her last.
I was sitting at the table with Lori's husband, Scott and some others when the topic came up of the printed programs for her services. I had this idea in church today of backlighting a dandelion over black (sometimes called, 'shooting in limbo"), but I didn't know what I'd use it for. I just thought that it was just cool and symbolic, this idea of Chaney's.
A seed goes to soil, it becomes a lovely flower, then as it struggles against the death throes finally the flower, now fully mature lets fly with the seeds... that this is what Chaney meant... this spreading of love not by words nor actions alone, but by one's giving of his or her life. As she goes, Lori has started those seeds of faith, and courage, and fear and passion and love over again in the lives of those left behind.
It's how we'll all go in one way or another. And as we do, if we're well-lived, we'll be blown to the four winds, our small offerings of our selves. Of course the other way to look at this picture is as the part of a greater community. Ancient (and some not-so-ancient) Christians considered it the cloud of witnesses. I had the chance to talk with Lori a month ago about that. I apologized. I told her, "I'm sorry, you're about to see me as one of those in the 'cloud', and I'm going to say right now, I'm sorry. You're going to be so disappointed in me...." Of course she denied that she'd be able to see anything. Someone joked about not wanting to be seen by a cloud of witnesses. The word witnesses, I argued, means they can observe something... of course, the counter argument was made, "a cloud means maybe they can't see all that well..." So perhaps that's the saving grace... if it's more like a "tule fog" of witnesses, maybe Lori won't see what a jerk I can be. Still not a bad idea to think a little about Chaney's painting... and what it is we all have the opportunity and responsibility to sow well.... Seeds.
So I'm sharing this picture with you and the story behind it. I loved making it. And I thought of the many things that come into my thoughts through the lens and through the physical world around me that tell the story of God's love for us. That tell the story of struggle, and hope, and joy and life and death and life again.