By Deborah Kendrick
“‘Come,’ my heart says, ‘seek his face!’ Your face, Lord, do I seek.” (Psalm 27:8)
An artist by profession, my husband has painted all his life—watercolors and oils, still-life, landscapes and portraits. One night in the 1970s, he awoke at three in the morning and drew a picture of Jesus. Unbeknownst to him, his life had shifted spiritually. The Holy Spirit had a hook in him. A desire to paint the face of Jesus overwhelmed him, and one evening in a restaurant, his eyes fell upon a young man sitting at the end of the bar.
“Who does that look like to you?” he asked his friend.
Without hesitation, the man replied, “Jesus.” Thus began Bill’s relationship with Andy, who became his model for drawings and paintings.
Rembrandt has always been Bill’s most revered artist. Regularly, he would gaze upon the reproductions of his paintings and drawings in a worn and well-loved art book, the first one he had bought as an art student. Rembrandt had moved to the Jewish quarter in Amsterdam and cast his models for his Biblical paintings from the neighborhood. For Bill, painting Christ was his own “apostolic succession.” He was entering into a great linage of others who had followed the same call. It also helped that Andy was Jewish.
Bill and I were married between the first and second oil paintings of Jesus. Within seven years, there were five new little faces in our lives and we were very busy. Oil paintings of Jesus gave way to spontaneous little ink drawings as there was the endless line of portraits of other people’s children to do and paintings for other people’s homes. Those five beautiful faces are grown now and we are looking at the faces of their children … all so very beautiful.
The face of Jesus has also reproduced itself … on the interior of our lives. Hardly a day goes by that Bill doesn’t come in from the studio with a new face of Him. I set them up on the book shelf so we can ponder them, each one being different. He doesn’t need to use a model any more. He is drawing the image out of the Presence of God in his own life.
“Seek My face,” is a familiar refrain from Heaven throughout the Bible. Bill sees Jesus more and more clearly as he draws. Perhaps you may want to try it. I see Him when I close my eyes and sing to Him. The Holy Spirit is ever revealing Jesus afresh when we seek His face. He has hidden Himself in a mystery waiting for us to come and search Him out. As one of the prophets of old spoke, “The Lord is with you, while you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him …” (2 Chronicles 15:2)
Dearest Holy Spirit, you are truly the artist who is masterpiecing Jesus on the inside of us. Grant us the graces to cooperate with your divine work, that the eyes of our hearts be opened and we may behold His beauty and His majesty. Amen.
About the Author:
Deborah Kendrick came into the Catholic Church in 2011 through her interaction with Catholics in ecumenical meetings thoughout Europe, where she was a conference speaker and led retreats for 20 years. During her testimony, she says, “The French Catholics just loved me into the Church.” She was first ignited for the Lord at the beginning of the outpouring of the Charismatic Renewal. With her husband William, a fine artist, and their five children they traveled extensively, living in France, England, and Israel. Deborah’s heart is to see people know and receive the love God has for them, which encompasses a New Pentecost for the New Evangelization. “God is calling us closer in this hour. Open hearts bring an open Heaven.”
To view more of William’s paintings, visit Jerusalem City of Gold.
This blog post brought tears to my eyes.
You and Bill have always lived at the creative cusp of Christ’s love–humble channels for the Holy Spirit’s outpouring. And Bill’s work is a testimony to God’s grace in art.
As someone who lives with Bill’s artwork, I can say that having it in a room is like receiving “visual communion” every day. Art that begets Life.
God bless you both.