Walking Strong in the Spirit

Well before the start of 2018, I knew that my “one word” for this year would actually be five words that form one phrase:

Walking Strong in the Spirit

That’s the title of this striking new painting by Abbotsford artist Linda Klippenstein, which I received as a special gift this last year.

Walking Strong in the Spirit
Walking Strong in the Spirit by Linda Klippenstein

Last January, the Personnel Committee of my church surprised me by commissioning a work of art for me with the subject, style, and size to be determined in conversation with Linda. At first I was so blown away, that I just enjoyed their card and the thought of a Linda Klippenstein original.

Then I loved dreaming with Linda–would the piece be resin which is one of her current passions, or a painting, or collage? Abstract or figurative? Framed or unframed? What size? What colours? Where would I hang it? For me, being part of the creative process was as much a gift as the painting itself.

As I looked again at Linda’s work, and dreamed of the piece she might create for me, I felt most drawn to her Walking Strong series, and kept returning to the idea of Walking Strong in the Spirit–not as a self-portrait of any kind, but as an expression of faith as I’ve experienced in my life and ministry over the years and as a prayer for the future. I imagined three figures in Chinese-inspired dress with high collars and rich patterns. Colours of red and white to represent both the blessing and mourning that have been part of my life. A setting that would convey both a sense of being grounded and moving forward, and the dynamic movement of the Spirit.

Linda delivered the finished painting shortly before Christmas, and I love it! It beautifully reflects the creative elements from our conversations, makes me feel connected with other women who have taken part in the Walking Strong series, and connects me even beyond that to the broader community.

“Why are there no hands and faces?” I was asked recently. Perhaps it’s a matter of artistic style, since all of the figures in the Walking Strong series appear that way. My own answer is that the absence of facial features allows anyone who looks at the painting to imagine themselves into it more easily. And rather than having hands that emphasize “doing,” the painting focuses more on “being” and “walking”–on the movement of feet and arms with just the suggestion of hands also swinging freely forward. That at least is how I answer that question.

That’s the wonder of art, isn’t it, to provoke good questions and creative imagination about art and ministry and all of life.

Thank you, Linda, for your beautiful and engaging work, and thank you, Emmanuel, for such a special gift! I look forward to how this new year unfolds, Walking Strong in the Spirit.

Writing/Reflection Prompt: What questions does this painting raise for you? How will you walk strong in the Spirit this year?

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12 thoughts on “Walking Strong in the Spirit

  1. I love the painting, April! Thank you for sharing it. I’m “walking strong in the spirit” this year by writing down 100 positive thoughts for 2018, one every day. Sometimes it comes easy, other times only after some reflection. My sister gave me a beautiful journal for Christmas, made out of recycled elephant dung paper. Just by using the journal I’m acting positively–thinking about the environment, thinking about my loving sister, honing my writing skills.

    1. What a special journal and a special way to use it, Elfrieda. I hope you’ll share some of your positive thoughts in due time. May you continue to walk strong in the Spirit this year.

  2. “Walking Strong in the Spirit” exactly fits my day today since this is the day for my Special Procedure which we are all praying will relieve my paralysis.

  3. What a beautiful gift your congregation has gifted a very special person in their lives. The process of working together with the artist is another very special gift and that you chose to work so closely with Linda is another gift. I like how you describe how you look at this actual physical painting and I’m sure, on different days, you’ll respond differently as to how you view it – another gift. May we as women always encourage one another to walk courageously BUT also give that same encouragement to all the men/children that we encounter in our lives. Thanks for sharing this beautiful gift.

  4. You are so right, Pearl, looking at the painting at different times is another on-going gift. When my husband first saw it, he called it “inspiring,” and that’s my hope for all who walk strong in the Spirit that we might inspire others of all ages and backgrounds and gender. Thanks for the encouragement.

  5. What a beautiful painting. I like the implied difference in the women’s ages, based on their hair color. I also like that they’re barefoot. It makes me think of the importance of feeling sure-footed and grounded.

    May you experience much strength in the Spirit this year.

    1. In Scripture walking is often used as a metaphor for living. So at any age and stage of life, whatever our physical abilities and disabilities, we can walk, i.e., live strong in the Spirit. Thank you for your words of blessing. May you also be grounded and draw strength from the Spirit.

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