Stories Behind the Art: An Unknown Language

An Unknown Language, 2015
Acrylic on Canvas, 16×20
By Nanci Stoeffler, Stoeffler Art Studio

There is a deep longing in every soul to be heard, known and understood by another. It quenches a thirst and fills a hunger as nothing else can. The human’s desire for love through connection in this way is not an accident; it is a part of the intentional design of a Relational Creator. We desire connection with other humans, but we also desire a connection with God (Psalm 42, Psalm 63, John 6:25, Isaiah 55)

Through my life’s quest to understand and question the human condition – it’s purpose, meaning and significance, I’ve come to the realization there are many, many parts of my own soul that cannot be touched, understood or reached through connection with other humans or even through self-revelation, self-realization. I find in myself, an “other-world” longing and hunger which is always forging for food from a foreign land beyond the stars.

ThNanci Stoeffler-An unknown language 2014rough one specific, spiritual encounter with my very Relational God, he allowed me to discover a place in my soul that’s like a huge library. This library is full of books I long for other humans, myself and God to come a read to be understood, to be known and loved. There are many sections in the library. There’s a section of collected memories and experiences. A section of pain, loss, disappointment and grief. A section of wondering, seeking and searching. A section of hopes and dreams. A section of laughter, silliness and restored childlikeness. A section of books specifically to be given away. A section of private secrets only meant for me to read. There is a section of books God and I have read together, and event written together. There are many other sections I have explored and others I have not.

god reads our soulSo it was during this particular encounter with God, I saw a whole section of books inside my soul that he himself stood before and I knew nothing about them. As he looked them over, touched their spines, enjoyed their fragrance, he pulled out one book. As he opened it, I saw it was full of words from a language I did not know. And as he ran his fingers over the letters, I soon noticed this language was also written in braille. Mysteriously, as he ‘read’ the words in this foreign language written for the blind, an undiscovered land inside myself began to melt into the glorious feeling of being known, loved and…read. I began to weep with soul-nourishing cries of a beloved one experiencing ‘known-ness’ by her Relational, Creator God.

I came to realize this section of books was about things he placed in me that I cannot know, but only he can. This unknown language was intentionally created to bring us closer together. It has something to do with the “other-world” longing in me as well as letting go of the desire to know the unknowable.

As I grow in trusting my Everlasting God (Isaiah 26:3, Romans 8:28, Deuteronomy 32:7) and reside in intertwinement with Him (John 15), I enjoy the “other-world” mysteries and realities his Presence brings (Psalm 16:11). And I also relax my grip on knowing the unknowable (1 Corinthians 13:12) and simply rest in the realty that My God know. He is the one and only God who resides over everything unknown (Psalm 139, Psalm 147:4-5, Psalm 33:13-15).

So, this painting represents the Unknown Language I believe God intentionally put in every human soul. It is written on our hearts and meant for our Beloved, Creator God to come and enjoy in its reading (Song of Solomon 4:17). And in so doing, we as created beings, are invited to let go of our deepest self, to trust, allowing ourselves to be known by Him and simply take His hand as he leads us into the Scared Dance.

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POEM: Words Like Lanterns

She led him into
the circular room
on the left.

The moonlight fell
across his face,
as he breathed deeply.

His eyes patterned
over the rows
reading each spine;
his hands
slowly ran across them
as if to draw back
a theatre curtain.

He chose to reach
for one volume.
Just one.

In its reading, his touch
lit words like lanterns
until the face
he came to read,
shown.

Story Behind the Art: Silhouettes in Grief

Silhouettes in Grief, 2018
Acrylic on Canvas, 18×24
By Nanci Stoeffler, Stoeffler Art Studio

This painting speaks to me of the beauty, movement and motion of grief on the human soul. It is to our detriment when we do not allow our soul-self the necessary and poignant opportunity to grieve – whether it’s the loss of a loved one, or a move to another state, or the unexpected loss of a job, or the loss of what we expected our lives to be.

Nanci Stoeffler-Silhouettes in Grief 2018 more detailScripture tells us that “there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). When we gloss over the painful, difficult and sorrowful parts of life we actually are not living life to the fullest. For all of the negative emotions and the loss that comes with them, have their unique and intended purposes in our lives.

Jesus is called the “man of sorrows, acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). As I look throughout my own life of all the sorrows I’ve been through, within each one I could find the Silhouette of the Man of Sorrows, Jesus Himself holding me, caring for me and grieving with me – bringing meaning, comfort and much needed companionship in my times of grief.

So as you view this painting, I encourage you to allow yourself the space and expanse to search your soul and grieve things that you’ve pushed back and hidden. No longer fearing sorrow but becoming comfortable with its meaning, purpose and release. And I encourage you to open the door of your heart to this Man of Sorrows – Jesus Himself and ask Him to lead you through the maze of grief until you come to the place of wholeness, healing and restored joy.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep & a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones
and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and
a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.”
~ Ecclesiastes 3:1-8