There are times when friends endure such suffering, that the only thing I feel I can do, is draw…draw something for them to ultimately receive, but also something for me to process my own grief and compassion. I don’t really know how to tell you the full story of this not-even-two-year-old girl, named Kate, who sometime in May, came down with a regular ole ear infection which led to something far worse within a few short weeks. The good folks at Brenner’s Children’s Hospital tried many many things to pin point what was going wrong, as this little dear continued to worsen, her body showing the ravages of whatever disease had hold of her. Eventually they were able to diagnose it as a rare form of a very rare disease. I will not go into all that she has endured. Suffice it to say, her sweet little body was taken to places none of us would ever want, wish, or entertain for even our worst enemies. Unimaginable.
Unbelievable…she has just recently come home from her summer in the hospital. She still needs a lot of care, but is on the improvement end of the continuum. These friends of mine have walked and are walking a path of suffering that few of us have endured and which breaks my heart to see. I want to make it all better, and I cannot. I want to help, but most times those efforts seem to fall flat. The ONE THING I can do, is uphold this family in prayer and plead for mercy on their behalf.
C.S. Lewis, the author of the beloved Narnia Chronicles, wrote stories surrounding the relationship between children and a great lion, named Aslan, a Christ-like character. These books have been favorites of this family for many years. Throughout the summer, I kept thinking of this precious girl in the arms of the great Lion Aslan. There is a point in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe where Lucy asks the beavers what Aslan is like. She asks, “Is he safe?” To which the beavers reply, ” ‘Course he isn’t safe, but he is good. He’s the king, I tell you.” That phrase is both theologically rich AND confounding. Only a family who is clinging to their Heavenly Father as they watch their little girl grow more and more sick, have any inkling what this phrase might mean. No, he is not safe….but HE IS GOOD!
These parents do not only affirm this to be true now that their little girl is home from the hospital and is improving. They affirmed this to be true even in the midst of huge unknowns as to what was ravaging their daughter’s health and whether or not there was any help for it. Their affirmation was not made with a plastic smile on their faces…but rather with tears, questions, uncertainties, yet with an underlying assurance that He who brought them to that place of suffering was indeed WITH THEM and was GOOD. Not THEIR definition of good…but they were willing to humble themselves to Aslan’s idea of good, no matter what that might mean.
From an artistic standpoint, my aim was to make a portrait of Kate with Aslan in such a way that the two were one. I like how their fur/hair (which she doesn’t have right now, but will one day!) emulate each other and blend together. I like how the relaxed lion’s claws are still seen, but neither put away nor flexed (a hint at the whole idea of him not being safe). I wanted her expression to be one of utter joy and comfort in his arms. I wanted the lion’s eyes to be both strong yet compassionate.
She is indeed Aslan’s Girl…He will never leave her nor forsake her. He is healing her and restoring joy to this family in doing so. In this I rejoice.