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Full disclosure: I don’t have a clue about art. I know what I like when I see it, but ask me to describe the artistic reasons behind that feeling – I soon struggle. When you know you know, am I right? With that being said, a few months back I had one of those moments when I bought a painting from a friend of mine, Chris Duffett. With the painting came these prophetic words:
‘I had a picture of some dark woods, but with light at the end of the path. This painting carries a prayer to keep going. I feel the words of Jesus, ‘do not fear’, as I look at the painting. The trees are silver birch, also known as Pioneer Trees. To pioneer we need to take paths we simply haven’t walked before.’
Every day since lockdown began, I go into my office and I think about these words. They seem to resonate somewhat more in these times. Lockdown, for many, feels like that dark wood. That feeling of darkness may come in the form of loneliness and worry. Maybe it comes in another way. Some of you, in a small way, may actually be relishing lockdown, and the opportunity it brings to tackle those to-do lists you never had time for before. Or maybe you’re somewhere in between? Wherever you are, reading this, I hope you hear these words loud and clear:
Do not fear.
There is a light at the end of the darkness. The light at the end of this picture is a promise of what is to come. How that will look I can’t say right now. The amazing thing is that amidst the darkness there is also new life and opportunities. There are paths that no one has walked before. I have seen this in our society as we gather together to clap at 8pm to praise our frontline staff. I have seen it in how the church is filling the cyber-space with content that is designed to inspire and encourage people. I have seen it in how All We Can is living out its value of solidarity with its partners and supporters, by joining together every day on social media at 1:17pm. These are just a few examples of new paths that have not been walked before. What new ‘pioneer trees’ you have seen, during this period?
All We Can wants to be a part of that light in the darkness, for some of the poorest communities affected by this global pandemic. All We Can and the Methodist Church’s Emergency Coronavirus Appeal is just one of those silver birches, rising up to encourage each one of us: to pray, give, and save lives. The impact this will have is significant to vulnerable communities and will be a tangible way of communicating this powerful message of the gospel: ‘Do not fear.’
The artwork featured in the blog is ‘Unknown Path’ by Chris Duffett. You can find out more about Chris and his art on his website.
Matthew Forsyth is All We Can's Churches and Volunteers Officer for London and the South East.