This morning, I read Psalm 1 in the Message paraphrase. The verse that leaped off of the page was verse 3: “You’re a tree replanted in Eden, bearing fresh fruit every month, never dropping a leaf, always in blossom.” What struck me, was that on this tree, there are both fruit and blossoms. In the natural, most fruit trees such as apples, pears, peaches, plums, apricot, etc., bloom once in the spring, and then the fruit grows and ripens. The blossoms are not on the tree at the same time as the fruit. But, this verse says that both blossoms and fruit will be on the same tree at the same time all of the time.
The rest of the Psalm, is clearly talking about a person whom God loves and likes. A person who follows after righteousness and godliness. So, it would appear, that the “tree” referred to above, is also this same person. One who is following God and His ways.
The amazing thing about the Bible, is that it can speak to you no matter how many times you read it. The words are the same, or at least similar in meaning depending on the version you are reading from at the time, but the application of what you read may be quite different. I have no idea how many times I’ve read this Psalm and this verse over the course of my life. Undoubtedly quite a few. And yet, I don’t remember noticing the strangeness of this tree before.
There are a couple ways in which I believe that this speaks to me. The first is a broad statement that this life isn’t about “arriving”. It is about the journey. The blossoms speak to me of new things learned and tried. The fruit speaks to me of things tried and true that you can then pass on to others. Fruit that is fully ripe does no good to the tree. It is meant to be picked and eaten. In fact, fruit that isn’t picked can encourage disease and decay. Therefore, I am encouraged to keep going, keep learning, and to share what I’ve learned with others.
For my artwork in particular, possibly because of the multiple layers that I use, this is a perfect picture of that process. There are pieces in my studio right now that are in the blossom stage, there are some that are ripening, there are some that are ripe, and there are some that I may need to just toss out because they are not cooperating and make me feel frustrated. They are the ones that have been hanging on the tree too long and are causing a negative environment.
So many people and artists seem to me to be able to focus on one painting or task at a time. Finish it, and then carry on with the next thing. There tends to be this question in my mind, although it’s much quieter and less frequent than it used to be, if that’s not really how one is “supposed” to work. Of course, this question could be based on a complete lie or false impression, I do realize that. I just want you to understand a little bit of why this verse was so powerful to me. Because it gave me permission to be and to do just as I am.
I can be free to have many pieces at various stages of progress. I can be free to work on one piece for a while and then another. I can be free to have 30 paintings going at once. I can be free to try new techniques. And I can be free to celebrate a piece’s completion, it’s birthday, if you will, when it is finally ready to meet the world. Because, the truth is, that’s how it’s supposed to be, at least for me.