My friend asked me why I named my blog “Pearl Music,” and I realized there’s no explanation on my About page. My name, Megan Celia, means Pearl Music. My mother named me Megan because she thought it was pretty, and Celia after my aunt. As I sought identity as a younger woman in high school and college, I sensed that though the meaning was not intentionally given by my parents, God had an intention for it.
I used to blog on MySpace, and Steven and I were looking back on past blog entries this weekend. Everyone experiences irritation and pain in life, and my life was no different as I looked back on those entries. I experienced deaths of family members, the death of a good friend, loss of relationships, loss of health. I have always been an inquisitive and expressive person, and that shows through in my past writings. As I went through those painful times, I felt like such a spaz–squirming, wincing, shaking my fist, asking why, cursing, crying, asking God to show up, asking why He’s touching my life when He does show up…. I am not very impressive in my pain, but I think it’s that writhing that yields the reward of a pearl in the end.
I read one entry that pulled a connected thread between that entry in 2006 and my heart of today, in 2010. Read it here, if you’d like. It was the beginning of the Wings painting, which soon turned into paintings plural, born of the pain of a series of losses. I had this vision in my head that never seemed to make it onto canvas quite right. I painted, repainted, gessoed over, and painted on a new canvas. Then it turned into birds with these wild wings that curled on the ends. I sketched over and over, these birds… like an obsession. Somehow, every time I pulled out my sketchbook, these birds would burst onto the page, always in a motion like they were escaping from something below. Always with curled feathers, never resting, always bursting up from the bottom of the page. Then I started painting two birds on a big piece of cheap wood. I picked colors, painted over the colors. It was obnoxious how clear the vision was in my head, but how disorganized it seemed to fall onto the piece.
My husband noted what I was painting one day, and requested that his bird be painted as ornately as my bird. What was he talking about, “my bird” and “your bird”? He had assumed each bird I was painting represented each of us, and while that was not my initial intention, that is how it’s evolved. My bird is dark orange and coral. His is blue, and just as ornate as my bird, by the way.
The children who were part of Sam’s prayer team knew that one bird was me and one was Steven (I don’t recall telling them, but Steven may have). They requested I paint a baby bird for Sam. They even pointed to the spot on the wood where he should be. Children see things adults dismiss, I think. For weeks after they first saw the painting, they too started drawing birds who looked very similar to the birds in my painting. Curled wings, always looked like they were going somewhere. Clearly they saw something.
After Sam passed, Steven began to think through ideas for the memorial tattoo he wanted. He soon landed on the idea of a phoenix, which is a symbol for resurrection and renewal. The phoenix is a bird born of fire and ashes, a formerly pagan symbol adopted as a Christian symbol, for all things point to redemption. As we looked for pictures of phoenixes, I gasped at what I saw. Birds with curled feathers, bursting out of fire, flying to renewal. These birds looked eerily familiar. Those who have seen the painting in progress, take a look at this Google search and tell me what those images remind you of. Weird, right?
For years, I had unknowingly tried to paint the phoenix, without realizing that what I painted would become a symbol of the redemption I experience day by day, and the redemption I eagerly anticipate. The thread that connected the series of losses I have experienced since I began these paintings pulled tight with this revelation. God has accomplished redemption. God is accomplishing redemption. God will accomplish redemption.
I wrestle with anger and hurt over the loss of my son. My prayers are so honest, they are bloody with writhing. There is so much in need of redemption, so much broken, and I am honestly hesitant to trust God. In the same breath in which I beg God to leave me alone, to stop touching my life, I beg for Him to finally show up and make it right. These wrestlings are between me and God, and I share them only so that you will know that redemption is not something accomplished in a well-aligned life. Redemption is accomplished in dusty children, during the bloody writhings of loss, and ultimately through the perfect blood of Jesus Christ.
As one of those dusty and writhing children, let me declare that I know that I know that I know that Redemption has come to me, even before I have seen it all come to pass, even while my son is buried, even while my tears still fall and I fathom the lifelong burden of grief. Redemption has come. This is why I carried Sam with such authentic joy, though I knew I would lose him. This is why, even in the writings in which never mention God or quote scripture, you write to me and tell me that you see Him. This is my pearl, our pearl. This is the thread that will pull tight all the scattered loss of life in a broken world. This is Redemption.