To be Loved is to Belong
Folk Art Collection - part one
I want to show you a painting that I created last year. It is titled: The Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord. For the next few weeks I am going to share my Catholic folk art collection with you. These paintings are filled with symbols & themes that even now I am still unpacking. I decided to begin with this piece because it hits on themes that have been on my heart a lot lately.
In this email I will share some reflections, process photos, and then a life update. I’d love to hear if you resonate with any of it!
Belonging. This word has been a frequent guest in my vocabulary lately. I have been exploring what it means to experience true belonging - the way it leads to flourishing and wholeness. The way it only “works” when I am vulnerable and choose to show up authentically - which takes act after act of courage.
I have also been pondering what belonging looks like in the messiness of actual life - because communities are imperfect and family life is messy. What happens when the places I experience belonging are also the places I experience disappointment, rejection, and real harm?
For me, to belong means deep connection - it means I am an integral part of something much bigger than myself. I am necessary to the flourishing of others just as they are to me. We belong to each other. In this painting Joseph, Mary and Jesus are literally connected to each other/wrapped in each other’s arms. God didn’t have to belong to a family, but he chose to belong to the human race -experiencing love, pain, sorrow and joy just as we do. He chose to place himself in time and history, in the home and heart of a family.
To belong means safety. In the womb we are intimately connected to our mother and nourished by her. Out of the womb we remain connected at the breast. How fitting is it that the moment we are conceived, we belong. It is in the quiet safety of the womb that we grow, and then in the love of our family that we flourish.
Also, to belong means I am safe to be authentically myself - to be vulnerable. I don’t have to perform to earn a place at the table. I am wanted, known, and loved as I am - no strings attached. This is demonstrated in a beautiful way in the relationship between a baby and its parents. An infant needs everything and gives nothing, but is loved and wanted unconditionally. In this painting we see this reflected in the Christ-child.
Other Symbols & Themes
The star of David
The stump of Jesse
The humility of God
God as Infinite
God is near
Planets and stars as a mobile
The tree of Life
The tree of the cross
The tree of Good and Evil
This month is flying by! Some highlights:
My Grandpa and Eileen visited Michigan and we had the most wonderful visit. It was a day with so much laughter, hugs, and love.
Joseph will be one year old next month and I feel like I am still adjusting to having a baby in the house. I thought I’d have it figured out by now! He is full of curiosity and loves to get into everything -as a baby should. I’m still figuring out how to balance work and baby.
My husband, Paul, is so close to finishing his Master’s degree in counseling. This is a big career shift and change for our family. He is currently in the internship phase, and it has been a great fit. I am really excited to see what God has in store.
One of my favorite things this month has been long evening walks with Paul. We’ll bundle up (well…I will), make a thermos of tea, and walk countless circles around the block. Whether its talking schedules, theology, or processing through the joys and struggles of life, it has been really special.
I’ve been working hard on the book illustrations this month. So much painting! They will be done soon! Stay tuned for more on that.
If you appreciate Kristina’s art, consider becoming a patron. Thank you!