Friday, June 25, 2010


Do not let loyalty and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. ~Proverbs 3:3

This week I fell in love with elephants after reading Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen. At the same time, I've been struggling with last week's Illustration Friday challenge of paisley. I painted the intricate floral design with paisley petals and found it was missing something and was waiting for inspiration as to what to put on top. Many thanks to the friend who noticed that the shape of an elephant's head and trunk also make a paisley!

As I thought about the elephant as a symbol, I am most drawn to their social nature. The basic unit of their social structure is the mother-offspring, and several units comprise a family of protectiveness. However, at times several related families may exhibit association to each other and form "kinship groups" or "bond groups." They have highly developed systems of communication within their groups.. from a plethora of visual displays using different combinations of the eyes, trunk, ear, tail, body and feet, to olfactory communication through bodily secretions to tactile communications readily seen in their affectionate play to a wide range of audiotory communications. Just amazing creatures to be studied!

In thinking of their deep connection to each other, the words "commitment" and "devotion" came immediately to mind, but upon searching for inspirational words to connect to my painting, I only found verses dealing with personal success. Thus I was led to look at loyalty and found this gem of a Bible verse. Although these are words of wisdom King Solomon is giving to his son in reference to human relationship to divine, I think it is also a wonderful model for human relations. I'd like to point out to interesting things from this verse.

In looking at different translations, and admittedly not being up to par on my exegetical skills (apologies to my Old Testament professor, Carolyn Pressler) there are a number of different words in place of loyalty - truth, love, kindness, and mercy. For me, it brought up different aspects of loyalty.. the ability to be honest, acts of goodness to the other, the ability to forgive, and that indescribable connection to the other. Our loyalties to each other will always be imperfect but we can continue to relate to each other, just as God relates to us in our imperfection.

The second part of the verse refers to tefillin, traditional little boxes worn by jews and filled with parchment inscribed with Torah verses, commandments of God worn by the faithful. But the verse encourages us to not just have outward signs of our devotion, but to inwardly merge our loyalty to the very nature of who we are. What would happen if we took away our outward signs, our rings and certificates of marriage, our friendship rituals, our titles of address such as "mother" or "father"... are our relationships bound in the heart?

Would enjoy hearing your thoughts!

This painting is available for purchase from the Sacred Arts Studio on Etsy for $65.


  1. I too loved that book. Not often I find one that grabs me that way. it did.
    Your paisley are wonderful too.
    My DH wasn't so much in a hurry to get the piece of paper to show we were married, as in the seven years we'd been together before we did that he said he already felt committed to me. The paper was not important.
    Later, he decided it made it easier for my then teenaged daughter. Easier to introduce him as my mother's husband than my mother's live in boyfriend. :-0

  2. Beautiful work.
    Love the color and shapes.

  3. Love that scripture....what a wonderful reminder! And beautiful work too! Cheers!


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