Move Over Easter Lily!

Last year I had the privilege of visiting artist, Sylvia Woods, at her studio in Guelph.  

Sylvia's husband (Brad) is a long time friend of my husband (Kenneth) so it did not take much convincing to take a road trip despite the wintry blizzard conditions outside.  

While Brad and Ken caught up, I was honoured to have a private showing of Sylvia's stunning paintings from her floral collection at her rustic studio conveniently situated above the tea shop on the main strip.  Who wouldn't want a studio above a tea shop?

Sylvia's work is inspired by Renaissance symbolism.  I was captivated by stories of the spiritual significance told through the vibrant strokes of each glorious flower coming to life on squares of hung canvas.

If you ever have the honour of meeting Sylvia, you are in for a blessing. She has a welcome ease that enables a visually-challenged, art-loving novice, like myself, to not feel intimidated. 

I felt this pull toward one particular striking work of art that was displayed at the back of the studio.  In Sylvia's quiet attentiveness she approached to assist me with "seeing" - the type of "seeing" that enables one to enter into the story with a deeper understanding than what the eye could see at face value.  

Spiritual disciplines also enable space for the Spirit to help us with "seeing."

 "both awakening and surrender are shaped by seeing because how we see determines what we see, and what we see shapes the soul."

~Juliet Benner, Contemplative Vision, A Guide to Christian Art and Prayer 

Sylvia explained that many people thought this particular painting was a poppy when in fact it was another flower called the anemone.

She revealed that the anemone symbolizes anticipation and waiting.

This particular species grows, almost like wildflowers, in the Garden of Gethsamene.  After further research, I have since learned that anemones are sometimes referred to as "drops of blood."

Luke 22:44 recounts the hours of anguish as Jesus prays that evening in the Garden.  The Word says, he prayed with such earnestness that "his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground."

God's story is all around us, even found in a simple flower!

As I examined the intricate details of this floral portrait, I could vividly imagine the scene of Jesus that night in the Garden.

The words, waiting and anticipation lingered and stirred deep in my soul.

Through the image of this glorious flower I could see the suffering and hope of the resurrection of Christ through a fresh lens.

The scarlet brushstrokes spoke to the anticipation of the torture and agony of his imminent death as he prayed in the Garden that evening.

As I gazed into this work of art, I imagined the anticipation of Jesus longing to return home to the embrace of his Father.  The hope of salvation, the fulfillment of the divine plan.

Needless to say, this painting called to me deep in my spirit and today hangs on the wall beside our bay window in our home.

This painting is my source of contemplation during this lenten season.

It speaks to me of the beautiful paradox of the gospel story.

The paradox and mystery of suffering and joy.  Anticipation and hope.  Death and resurrection.

This flower reminds us that in the midst of every dark season of the soul we must wait in hope.  Hope will not disappoint.  

This resurrection life is not just a future hope to await.  God longs for us to live in the power of His resurrected Son, through His Spirit, in the here and now.

There is hope, because Christ has died, offering his life on our behalf.

Hope, because his outrageous grace washes away our sins.

Hope, because we are never separated from his everlasting, unconditional love.

Hope, for righteousness we could never earn.

Hope, because He has covered our shame with his very own blood.

Hope, because we are made new in Him.

This particular work of art fills me with wonder and gratitude.

It is not just the beauty of nature being captured by the strokes of a brush.

It is the mystery that the creation of a humble flower can intentionally bear witness to the glorious story of the gospel, which in turn draws me to Christ Himself.

Thank you Sylvia for revealing the fullness of Christ through your extraordinary gift as you humbly create in His image!

To view or learn more about Sylvia and her collection please check out 

Art and religious icons have been used as a means of contemplation throughout the years in various faith traditions.  It is less that you look "at" the image and more that you look "through" the image - giving you insight into a deeper spiritual reality. 

Why not consider creating your own symbol as a source of reflection to be attentive to Christ throughout this lenten season? 

Typically at Easter we have the regal white Easter lily adorning the front of our sanctuaries.

As we begin this season of lent, I wonder if it is time to let a new flower take centre stage.  May I suggest, the scarlet anemone!


  1. Thank you Belinda - I am so grateful you take the time to read and comment here in this place.

  2. Thanks for sharing this beautifully reflective post :)

  3. Thank you so much - Love is a gift! I am grateful you have taken time to read and share here at arils and castles.


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