When I was in Puerto Rico, author Mayra Santos-Fibros talked about the practice of setting out a meal for the dead. I was surprised at the practice and wasn’t tempted to follow it, but it did bring to mind the Hebrews 12 reference of “being surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses.” When I mentioned this scripture to her we found common ground between her work and mine. Since then I’ve been wanting to paint that unseen realm. Because we have all experienced some kind of marginalization, gross misunderstandings or heartache, I wanted this central character to reflect internationally “eclectic” features. Remembering the “great cloud of witnesses” turns my focus to the larger life and reminds me I am not alone.
“Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!” Hebrews 12:1-3The Message (MSG)