Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Creating the World

In the beginning the wall was formless and empty, and darkness fell over it. 

So we scraped

 and primed
 And went to great heights to prepare the wall 
(nice work Kevin!).

And God said, "Let there be light."

And God saw that it was good. 
And there was evening and there was morning---the first day.

And God said, "Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place and let dry ground appear."
In order to make the dry ground appear, we got up at 4:30a to head to the church while it was still dark so we could project the image and trace it on the wall.
 Racing the sunrise clock to finish before the projected image became too light!

 The artist presenting all the possibilities for shading and highlighting

 And it was so
And God saw that it was good. 
And there was evening and there was morning---the second day.

 Day 3 brought us a team of friends to help our creation story move along much faster
God made two great lights - the greater light to govern the day. He set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth and to separate light from darkness.
 Painting this in the playground of the preschool, we had a very enthusiastic audience.
And God saw that it was good. 
And there was evening and there was morning---the third day.

The next day we got up at 5a.m. again to head to the church and use the projector. 
In the rain. After spending most of the day resting and hiking, we returned to the world refreshed and ready to finish.

  Thankfully we had more help!
And God saw that it was good. And it was evening (which was great so we could use the projector one last time!) and it was morning---the fourth day.

With the final day of creation upon us, we started our morning with the sun.
The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. John 1:9

 In him was life and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. John 1:5

And finally, on day five, our mural was complete!
God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. Genesis 1:31

What I Learned from Helping Create the World
Spending the week painting with my sister was a lot of fun. During the countless hours brushing and rolling color after color across many of the lands I have visited and those I have yet to see for myself, I couldn't help but think about what this world might be able to teach me. Here are a few ruminations from our experience creating the world.

There is something profoundly beautiful about a clean slate. It was amazing to see what a difference our simple coats of primer and white paint made on the wall. The whole backyard looked better immediately, even before the first brush of color made its appearance.  
"If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone; the new has come." 2 Cor. 5:17

It is utterly ridiculous how small some parts of the world are that get the biggest amount of the world's attention. Ahem Korean peninsula... There are many more, but as I splattered paint across this little blip on the wall, it seemed particularly fitting.
Conversely, it's amazing how big and intricate some parts of the world are that get so little attention. I had no idea the northern Canadian islands were going to require the most amount of attention of our whole world. So many crazy coastlines up that way. Part of me thinks that might be a great place to explore one day. If only it weren't so cold....
You never know where a thing of beauty may be found. Among the two dozen or so rusty, unlabeled, hopeless-looking cans of paint that were donated for the project, we found every single vibrant, gorgeous color we needed for our world. A few of the cans were complete duds, needing to be disposed of immediately. But what remained was absolutely perfect---on the inside. 

"The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." 1 Sam. 16:7
In fact, even that which is thrown aside can be a thing of beauty.
(Yes, this is a macro shot of the inside of the mural trash bag. Maybe splatter painting from the 80s will have its comeback soon... so fun!)

One of my favorite moments from the week was when Courtney overheard one of the preschool moms asking her son, "Where does Grandma live?" His reply: "Blue!" and "Where does Aunt Cindy live?" "Red!"

Made me think of John Lennon's lyrics... Imagine there's no countries. It isn't hard to do...

I loved considering the innocence of these little people who have no idea what wars and turmoil are going on at this very moment. Their only concern is playing on the playground until snack time. O that all the world could be so simple.

The scale of a place is relative. Guam is definitely not bigger than Hawaii. 
But it sure is to us!

Creating the world is hard work. No wonder God rested on the 7th day. We didn't make it that long. We actually rested on the 4th day. We spent part of the day napping and lounging around the house, and part of the day exploring God's actual creation, which included Waterfall Valley and this very lovely butterfly sighting. From the top of a waterfall, Court also spotted a freshwater eel (which I had never seen here before). Waterfall Valley is such a beautiful place. It could be a mural in itself. It made me consider that perhaps all the world could be a mural.

My favorite part of the mural design is the positioning of the "Far East" on the left side and the Western hemisphere in its proper place to our right. For those of us who grew up on the left side of the map, this is certainly a new way of looking at things, and a reminder that everything, after all, is a matter of perspective.

Despite the last touch-ups we did in our final hour of work, our world isn't perfect. And no amount of paint or artistic prowess could ever make it so. But even with its missteps in balance and scale and texture, our world is somehow still beautiful. The colors, the shapes, the vastness all come together just so to create wonder, provoke mystery, and inspire greatness. And here we are---for such a finite time---positioned to enjoy and explore all that it has for us.
"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them 
in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." 
Matthew 28:19


  1. I love this! You guys did a great job. It's so great when the opportunity arises to use art as a means to change one's perception :)

    1. Thanks Audra! I just realized you would be a great graphic designer for future murals. I may ask for your help if team Holston-Toth does any more of these :) Great to hear from you!

  2. AMAZING! I was wondering how you guys were able to replicate such a perfect map! It all turned out beautifully! In fact I think some of that paint may have been ours at one point, I'm pretty sure we gave our spare cans to the church before we left, hope they weren't the duds. :)

  3. Peyton- this is one of the BEST blogs I have ever read- ever! I love how you said "There is something profoundly beautiful about a clean slate. It was amazing to see what a difference our simple coats of primer and white paint made on the wall. The whole backyard looked better immediately, even before the first brush of color made its appearance." It is so true. I just see so much symbolism in this and love how you related it biblically to our lives. WOW- you never cease to amaze me. And can I say that I am a little (ok a LOT) sad that I wasn't there to do this with you guys? Yes, selfish, I know...but what a beautiful piece of art- you all did a fantastic job!

  4. What a beautiful mural! I love the picture with the preschool kids...it was already touching lives and it wasn't even finished. You are an amazing person Peyton! (And thanks for sharing that completely made my day!! :) )


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