This piece, which I recently completed (although it took the whole summer), started from an idea that came in the beginning of the summer (late May), not long after I began my internship. As I struggled with adjusting to this new phase of life, uncertain of where God was leading me next, I pondered, "Where am I headed?" In response, God struck me with a verse I'd been meditating on from Jeremiah. "This is what the LORD says, 'Stand at the crossroads and look, ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls" (Jeremiah 6:16). The phrase, "the good way" really stood out to me and prompted the start of this piece.
I wondered how my spiritual path might relate to my physical journey this summer. Reflecting on the long, but varied bus rides to work, I decided to document my physical routes through journal entries written in May, June and July. These included the day-to-day bus rides from Columbia to Silver Spring to Takoma Park, my own experiences behind-the-wheel, and my vacation to my family's ranch in Evanston, Wyoming, which consisted of a quick flight from DC to SLC and a long, tenuous car ride back to MD through the windy, red-rock canyons of Utah and 8 other states. To begin the piece, I traced my travel routes by hand using Google Maps and placed torn copies of journal entries close to their corresponding route. Painting over these collage elements, I left a few slightly visible beneath a landscape scene from the Proffit ranch in Evanston, WY. This setting references a literal "crossroads" in my summer (as the apex or middle of my travels, our July family reunion), but it also points to the meaning behind the piece, as the ranch for me represents a place of rest and repose, the place my heart always longs to return to.
The pose of the figure (me) reflects the stance of a person looking right before crossing the road (as I often do going to and from work). But in this moment of stillness within the chaotic and busy "ways" or "routes" of life, I stand and look up to the clouds above--the beautiful Western sky, the heavens which "declare the glory of God" (Psalm 19:1), and see דֶ֤רֶךְ הַטּוֹב֙ ("The Good Way"). In this summer of new beginnings, transitions, change, distractions, frustration, fear and uncertainty, I wonder what lies ahead. "Where is the Good Way?"
Though I still wrestle with not knowing what's coming, God has reminded me that the answer to the question is actually very simple. Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-29, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Notice how the last phrase directly references Jeremiah 6:16, "you will find rest for your souls". Jesus puts it more plainly in His declaration, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). Jesus is the Answer to the question. He is the Good Way. Amid the crossroads of life, He calls me to stand and look to Him. In coming to Him, I find the Good Way, and in taking up His yoke, I walk in it. Day by day, gently He reminds me of what He has called me to--a life looking ahead, not behind--to deny myself, take up my cross daily and follow Him (Luke 9:23), which I cannot do apart from Him (John 15:5). And though I may stand still now and simply look--and see that He is all that I need, He provides rest for my soul through His steadfast love and calm assurance. "It is Finished" (John 15:30). "I completed the work. I paid your debt. I set you free. Rest in me, daughter." And like a Good Shepherd, He gently leads me by the hand in His Way, the Way of rest, hope, life, and peace. No matter what happens next (major decisions, big life events, etc), my soul can rest secure in the Good Way.