Earlier this year, I was away at a retreat with The Salvation Army, spending time "embracing slow" with some brilliant women of God. We had the gift of time and space given to us by our leaders, our families and our ministries, and it was so precious to be away amongst the fruit trees in a rural part of WA.
We were encouraged to bring things to do that help us relax, so of course I brought along ample art supplies! One afternoon, as I sat in the quiet, in a sunlit room, I laid out a still-life arrangement, the "fruits of the harvest" - some that I had collected from the orchard and another, over a few days.
Lemons, pomegranates, mandarins... plucked from trees, chosen for their colour, their aroma, their flavour. Selected amongst thousands of others (mostly green), and gathered together on the table, with much care and thought. Likewise, paint colours were laid out on my palette - reds, oranges, yellows, greens and browns - brushes chosen, my space prepared with a towel and water for cleaning.
The enjoyment I feel and the beauty I find in creating art simply cannot happen without preparation - whether it is time marked out, inspiration sought, skills developed, materials gathered or space prepared...
Encountering God in the quiet place can involve all kinds of preparation. Making time, setting up a space, reading the Word, lifting my voice in worship, interceding for others, recording my thoughts... It is absolutely worth the effort and time to make a space where I can connect with Jesus. Tending my "inner garden" allows the harvest of my spirit to be much more abundant with many kinds of spiritual fruit!
At the retreat a reading was shared from Song of Songs, expressing the love of the bridegroom (Jesus), to His bride (all believers!)...
"Your inward life is now sprouting, bringing forth fruit. What a beautiful paradise unfolds within you. When I’m near you, I smell aromas of the finest spice, for many clusters of my exquisite fruit now grow within your inner garden."
Song of Songs 4:13 TPT
This small painting is a prayer for you and I - that your inward life and mine, would sprout forth clusters of exquisite spiritual fruit in a paradise of great beauty unfolding within!
Jo Brookshaw is a passionate woman, a mother and Christian minister, who seeks to bring light and life into the world through her art and her ministry with The Salvation Army. As an Australian Visual Artist, she works primarily in acrylic, watercolour and ink.
Jo is heavily influenced by her experiences of community and service as a Salvation Army Officer (minister). Jo has worked in Desktop Publishing, Children’s Ministries and loves leading the local Church within community – which since 2009, has taken her to Darwin, Melbourne and now Perth.
Jo published a successful Christian colouring book in 2016, and authored a well-received children’s book in 2020. She has taken an active role in encouraging young artists at creative arts camps, loves to paint “live” on stage at events (notably at ‘Art Battle’ and national Salvation Army events) and is studying a postgrad Diploma in Visual Arts with Eastern College.