Art and Meditations by Sean Shimmel
In his short piece, The Hunger of the Wilderness, Pastor A.W. Tozer likens the moral bent of the soul as the encroachment of nature upon order and calls the Christian to vigilance of the heart: “Every farmer knows the hunger of the wilderness, that hunger which no modern farm machinery, no improved agricultural methods, can ever quite destroy. No matter how well prepared the soil, how well kept the fences, how carefully painted the buildings, let the owner neglect for a while his prized and valued acres and they will revert again to the wild and be swallowed up by the jungle or the wasteland. The bias of nature is toward the wilderness, never toward the fruitful field. That, we repeat, every farmer knows.”
As a counterpoint to Tozer’s portrayal, I imagine nature as reaching for God, insistent upon worship. The meadow blooms, creeps and sways past the impassive, breathless idol sitting in fungal decay towards the Glad Maker. While art is best experienced rather than dutifully explained, here are some thoughts and impressions that went into this piece.
• Acts 17:24-28: Paul to the Athenians and their Unknown God, “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’
• Luke 19:40: Jesus during his Triumphal Entry, defying the caustic Pharisees, “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
• Pencil: I thought of a light watercolor wash to finish the drawing, but decided instead to employ the simplicity of pencil alone in two ways: to emphasize the lifelessness of the unknown idol and to focus on the sheer life and movement via the stroke work.
• Wind: Like God breathing life into Adam. And Aslan in The Magician’s Nephew singing creation into being.
• Irony: living vines strangle lifeless form; swaying grass ignores and reaches past the ignoble stone. Flowers and berries burst into beauty within the seeming chaos. Form within freedom.
The mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.(Isaiah 55:12)