There nothing quite like a mural. A large public display of art calling everyone who walks by to engage. A mural speaks about a community’s life; what their culture is like and what folk hold important. Not everyone in community always agree with a murals subject matter, or style, or even if it is art, but because it speaks to at least a faction of community, it speaks of community.
A little over a week ago I dropped by Noah’s Ark on a Sunday afternoon. Noah’s Ark is a homeless shelter in Wapato with whom the Mission partners. Even though they are twenty miles from the Mission, Noah’s Ark is the closest and only homeless center who cares for our community. On this Sunday afternoon, Hilary and Alicia were working on a mural design for the shelter. Starting two days earlier, they worked with local folks, both of the shelter and surrounding community, to raise ideas and concepts as to important community images. They had hundreds of images to work with by this afternoon and Alicia and Hilary were busy molding images together into a design that will begin in the next few weeks.
That same afternoon Rebecca and Katherine began taping a portion of the Log Church basement wall for a children’s mural to begin the next day. The trick to this mural was to give the children an open and full opportunity to express themselves in the midst of their community. Much like Paul’s thoughts recognizing community as the Body of Christ and each person individually a member of it, the mural was to show how individuals in community, doing art, brings forth life and hope. With life and hope at the murals core, key images were tree and rainbow. Late that Sunday evening Katherine and Rebecca were ready for painting to begin the next day.
Monday morning finally came and children began arriving at the Mission. Piling out of cars or arriving in the Mission van they headed off to the playground and morning snacks. Then from morning through afternoon a few would leave their normal activities and go paint on the mural. After being fitted with a garbage bag with holes for head and arms and with open opportunity to express whatever is important in their lives, they painted. Bugs and butterflies, words and clouds and sky and dots and squares and hands and paws and faces, they painted. Younger children painted low, older youth painted high. And the tree grew. And the rainbow brightened.
As the afternoon wore on, the sun moved to the northern horizon, which allowed sunlight to flow through the window above the mural. Light streamed down over painters, through the tree, magically lifting the rainbow off the concrete basement wall. Light swirled around painting and people, like a back eddy on the Yakima, filling space, giving life, as if to say, “It is good.”