On a promising July morning in the mountains of western North Carolina, I sat under a maple tree, set up my paint box and painted the Newdale church. On a hill nearby sat a house, on the front porch a girl was rocking, watching me paint. She had a clear view of the church.
The day before, I was talking to a woman who just moved to the area from a large city. She said, “when you meet a stranger there they ask you your name and what you do, here she said, they ask you your name, and what church you go to.” Later on that day, I was studying a barn in a farmer’s field, with my back to a vegetable garden; I turned to measure the height of the corn, behind the farmers’ house a tall white spire rose from the valley beyond. Around every other bend, hill, or in a hollow, there are reminders of faith.
I have been living on faith the past few years. The things I believed in and held true for most of my life failed me. Or maybe I failed them. I am living closer to what is true for me, and as an artist I am committed to my life’s work and know I am being what I am meant to be, my stony faith in this rises above all my struggles, solid like the mountains surrounding me.
The people around here are believers, they work hard, tend to their gardens and God; constant reminders of life’s ephemeralness, living faith that what is sown today will someday reap rewards.