I don’t know about you but seven months into this year has felt like seven years to me. Nothing has been familiar and some things have been strangely refreshing.
With everything socially, politically and personally happening, I keep reaching back in my brain to the image of The Great Wave by Kanagaw. This year, it relates to me in a way that I could never imagined it would. Since everyone is in the same boat, HA… see what I did there, I thought I could share about this print and how it has given me an image to put with what I’m learning myself.
This month we are looking at a woodblock print that was created in 1831 by Hokusai Katsushika, painter, illustrator, and of course print maker. This print caught my attention many time before but it was unknown to me that this piece was part of a series that was used to look at thirty-six different vantage points of Mt. Fuji. Hokusai was well known for his creativity and the colors he used. The Prussian Blue that is used in the wave’s crest was imported from England through China. I love blue and something of the richness of this hue is overpowering but not necessarily in an aggressive way, especially at the first glance.
This petite piece is 39cm X 26 cm but houses a punch of a meaning behind those waves.
The wave’s crest looks like it is about to take a massive dive into the water below. I love the ocean and the the sound of the waves are calming to listen to, ask me what setting I’ve used on the sound machine for the last four and half years- (OOPS). But this image is not calming to me, it makes me anxious.
When you look closely, you see the boats being tossed amidst the waves and tucked in the background is the peak of Mt. Fuji. In this print, Hokusai used a perspective view which is accredited to be adopted later from Europeans artists like Van Gogh and impressionist Claude Debussey. While that’s an honor to be a trendsetter in pioneering new art forms, the jaw dropper is the history surrounding this piece and how Hokusai integrates art with perspective. In the 17th century, Japan distanced itself from the Western world. I won’t go into detail, you can earn your own google degree on this time in history but in layman’s terms- Japan was isolated.
Even just typing the word, “isolated” was tough for me. I deleted it several times because I know how this acts as a trigger word for so many.
Isolation is so rampant from the quarantine and the differing opinions politically, socially, racially, and just the over extended use of technology. Suicide, depression, anxiety are at an all time high. Pastors and ministers are fleeing ministry left and right because of not only this season is so tough but just from cracking under the pressure.
I’m convinced this is where Satan wants us to campout and make a home in our fear. He wants us to keep our gaze at the crest of this monstrous wave towering over our boat like a force we cannot withstand. When you take your gaze off of that, and recenter your focus to the middle of the print, you can see the dimly the peak of the mountain. It’s there.
I want to remind you, this image I’m sharing is one of thirty-six. One of the thirty six where Mt. Fuji, the peak is the focal point and what every perspective is build around. But if you focus on the wave, you miss the peak.
And when you lose sight of the peak, the wave will engulf you every time. I’ve been told my whole life to not make mountains out of molehills. Maybe it’s time to acknowledge that if we don’t address this isolated view, we will succumb to it time and time again.
When I was about 12, I was conch shell diving. It’s a thing my Dad and I would do and bring back the treasures for my Mom’s science class. He was crabbing that day with my brother and I thought I would go alone and show him my treasures later. By the way, this was not parent approved.
Not only did I not ask their permission, what I also didn’t know that on that day the undertow was incredibly strong. So much so, that in the midst of diving I hit the stream and I was engulfed by the undertow. I remember flipping and flailing about and thinking this could be it. But luckily, I’m a pretty strong swimmer. My mom had a scare when she was younger and her fear of deep waters and my Dad’s upbringing gave us the best of both worlds in swimming lessons and water experience.
I was fighting my way back up when I remembered those prepped scenarios (Military dad, ya’ll) of the harder you fight the current, the more you will tire yourself out. The lightbulb moment was when I remembered to swim parallel to the shore to escape the current and then start swimming diagonal towards the shore.
It seems dramatic and too good to be true but I know it was a God moment for me. I couldn’t fight it while in the midst of it. But once I acknowledged my position, I swam like a crazy person to get out to safety. To stay in the current would mean death but having the knowledge to break free, was life.
This is the gospel. We can’t break free from the weight and sorrows of this world on our own. We cannot escape the undertow of sin and the toil that comes along in this journey of life but we can look towards the peak or the shore and see Jesus is anchored there. We can’t lose sight of Him. And when we let Him, He will take that wave on with you until you arrive to safety.
Verses that help me not succumb to the great wave:
2 Peter 3:8-9
But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold. The rich and the poor meet together; the Lord is the maker of them all. The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it. The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life…
And beware lest you raise your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away and bow down to them and serve them, things that the Lord your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven.
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