Pushing through chemo lethargy and killer headaches, I've been preparing painted papers for my next piece, The Annunciation, during the past two days. I use watercolor paper and paint with acrylic paints. Additionally, using found objects, I add layers of texture to these painted papers. One "found object" I use is something called "sequin waste." Seen above as the aqua strip with cut out stars, it is the waste after star sequins are cut and collected for sale. Thus, it gets its catchy name - sequin waste.


As I pull the sequin waste away, I blend different blues and whites into the star pattern left behind so that the paper looks more painterly. I am hoping to use it for the sky in the annunciation piece, so I am thinking, painting, changing my mind, adding more stars with the sequin waste, blending them away, etc. The sequin waste goes on and off the painted paper throughout this whole process.

With a name like "sequin waste", while lying in bed ignoring the chemo headache, I think over the word waste. The chemo headache is a waste of my time, cancer is a total waste, loosing my hair is a waste, lying in bed for hours on end seems a waste. You get my train of thought. My train of thought seems a waste, and then I decide to redeem it...kind of like the sequin waste. I suppose the Holy Spirit should be credited with this change in direction.

I think about two New Testament people who seemed to be "wasted" lives. First, I think of the woman at the well, the one who had had five husbands and was living with a sixth man, who encountered Jesus while filling up her jar of water. He knew all about her, didn't think she was a waste at all. He so reached into her heart with love and acceptance within the knowing of her wasted years, she was motivated to run to her community and lead her village to Jesus.


Then, there is Matthew, a really unpopular tax collector who bilked, cheated his own people, for the financial gain of their oppressors and himself. His life was an irritating waste in the eyes of his community, and yet, Jesus saw Matthew differently. Jesus invited him into a relationship of love and forgiveness, worth and value. Jesus modeled for Matthew's community the act of moving in closer to their enemies, the wasted people in their minds, and into transformation. 

Then, having plenty of time on my hands these days, my mind moved onto Jesus, His life, and then when He was on the cross. Looking at Him, nailed and bleeding beyond recognition, must have looked like an overwhelming, horrendous waste. Is it? That's the question everyone needs to answer, as they encounter Jesus - just like the woman at the well or Matthew. I believe, right there, on the cross, Jesus is taking God's wrath, just anger, for our sins, wrongs, darkness of our hearts, whatever you want to call what you know you have, in His own person. Then, He gives us His perfection in the most profound exchange ever given throughout all eternity, and says, "It is finished."

Later, after His death and burial, the stone is rolled away from Jesus' tomb, more importantly, but similar to my pulling away the sequin waste with my painted papers, and we all see the beauty of His resurrection, conquering death for each of us. I guess sequin waste isn't a waste after all. It's actually shown me a great deal today.

He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
   and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
   nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. 

Isaiah 53:2