Ash Wednesday happens this week. It is big on my mind today because I get to participate in our Ash Wednesday service at Luther Seminary.

Above is a photo of two paintings that are currently sitting in my studio. These paintings are the inspiration for the art that I will create live on Wednesday, using my iPad (pray that the technology cooperates).

The one on the left is a 16″ x 20″ oil painting on canvas that I painted in 2005, when I still lived in Las Vegas. It has moved three times with me. I used it as the basis for an Ash Wednesday sermon at Grace Lutheran Church in Andover in 2011. It hung in a Lenten show at a friend’s church a couple years ago. It stays tucked away, always reminding me of its important message.

The painting on the right is a 12″ x 9″ oil on a canvas panel that I painted this past Saturday. It is obviously a reprise of the first painting, 19 years later.

Last summer we in Minnesota breathed the smoke of the Canadian wildfires throughout the entire season. We’ve watched many states burn over the past 19 years. So many things have burned, both physically and metaphorically in the past few years. Many of us are tired, exhausted, discouraged, defeated.

Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return. These can seem like harsh words.

Yet, they are true.

My paintings try to capture the reality of death and the reality of new life. We can’t have one without the other.

I invite you to use these paintings as objects of contemplation as we move into Ash Wednesday and begin the Lenten Journey.

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