Our lives are made up of moments. It is sometimes hard to tell which are the ones that will leave the lasting impression: moments that either haunt or inspire us. So, as artists, you aim to capture as many as you can in hopes that one will rise to the top as most memorable. I suppose we paint that way, also. Creating canvas after canvas, never knowing which one will spark something in somenone's heart or mind. There are moments from this weekend that will forever be in my mind. Some are captured by polaroid, some by phone, but most are etched indelibly in my heart.
This weekend I travelled to my favorite Old City with two of my favorite artists. St. Augustine is always a favored gathering place for us: art, history, the beach, great food: we made memories all weekend long. I especially love being with artists looking at art. And with these two I am always intrigued by what moves them, attracts them, and causes them to wonder. They both brought along their paints and spent time on the sandy dunes creating, while I ambled along the shore and dreamed. They are different. They are the same. They are talented and they are fierce. Please meet Julie and Julia.
Julie Ann Holmes, by trade, is an accomplished Closet Designer in Charlotte, NC. She is the queen of “One Call Closes,” and is a leader in sales. She has raised three amazing children and came to art later as her children were well on their way. She paints stunning botanicals but has recently enjoyed the “Flow Art” craze and has had several shows and also sells from her home studio, near Matthews, NC. Her full-time work does not allow for a large amount of time for creativity, but what she lacks in opportunity she makes up for in intensity. She hones her craft with education and practice.
Julia Alexis Hunkler has been artistic her whole life. As she approaches her graduation from UNC at Charlotte, she has only scratched the surface of her potential. She has an uncanny ability to paint from life, and reaches beyond the mundane, pursuing adventures that call forth the sweetest and most intriguing of subject matter. Whether rising at dawn to track down Shetland ponies in the mountains, or trekking lakeside to capture Mount Dora’s reflected beauty, she has an artist’s eye that will take her far, both literally and figuratively.
Strong women are like magnets and static all at once. You can be propelled to them by their charisma, and also be blown back by the force of their personality and giftedness. Being a strong woman can be a blessing and a curse, at times. Her core is strong and soft and she doesn’t always know which one to reveal, and so both unveil themselves in a dance that can sometimes be hard to follow.
These two are in that category of strong women. They will find themselves in the midst of friends, and yet, at the same time, will feel uncannily alone. Their needs are as deep and as wide as any other. Their talent cries out for release. And they are never more content than when fully immersed in their craft. It is a joy to watch.
As I follow them from a distance, I am struck all at once by how we can be close and far apart at the same time. How we can walk with and be divided. It is the same in all of life. Knowing the core of a human being is not the same as being near them – and may in fact, be the farthest distance of all. I have been told that it is a sin to want to be known. I heard yesterday that it is dangerous to want to be known. I don’t understand this at all. In my core, I think we were created to be known, by a God who knows us, and who, Himself, desires us to know Him.
I think of the amazing scene when Moses was spoken to out of the burning bush. This is what God said:
I have surely SEEN the affliction of my people which are in Egypt; and have HEARD their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I KNOW their sorrows, and I am COME DOWN TO DELIVER them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to BRING THEM UP out of that land unto a good land, and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey… the CRY of the children of Israel is come unto me, and I have also SEEN the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them.” (Exodus 3:7-9)
I reflect on these words this morning because I see it as a privilege and an honor to get to really know someone. It makes me feel like I am doing “God’s work.” That I am in essence, “walking in his steps,” doing the thing that He does best – He knows us. When I get the chance to really “see” someone and speak goodness into their lives, I feel a satisfaction that I feel no other place in this life.
Getting to know these two women in particular will be a life-long joy for me. Watching them grow and continue to become all that they are meant to become will continue to be a source of wonder. And I will continue to deepen my knowledge of who they are and ways that I can speak truth and grace into their lives on their journey.
Because, you see, Julie is my sister. And Julia is her daughter. Our lives are intertwined forever – and I count it a gift to know them and to continue to get to know them. I hope they know how much I love them and how much I look forward to seeing all God has in store for each of them – because He is the one who knows them best.