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.

A Drawerful of Time: An Observational, Story-telling Poem

drawer full of time1I was surprised when I opened the drawer
to see a crowd of watches
with frozen faces
staring back at me.
I felt as if I’d opened
a portal to another dimension,
another world —
The past. His past.

Ninety-six years worth of living
seemed to be sitting there,
still.
As I stood there in the silence,
I could hear the faint heart-beats
of a few of them
who didn’t want to let go
of the life wound in them.

Decades worth of living,
remembered by these timepieces
once perched on the end of his arm —
or hers.

How vulnerable and fragile and fleeting
is the space called time
that surrounds us as earth dwellers.
we value it too much.
we waste it too much.
we take it for granted too much.
it holds us too much.
We let go of it too much.
We don’t let go enough.

Day after day, the sun rises
and shadows and sunbeams
slowly move across the room
where the drawer full of time
lays hidden and closed yet
still ticking away —
in the empty room when no one is present,
in the hushed room when he sleeps,
in the tired room when he slowly moves through it —
their faint and fading heartbeats;
the frozen, broken faces
lay there next to one another
keeping company in the dark.

Today he spoke of his Scottish ancestors
recalling their simple way of life;
“They worked hard
and did what was needed
without complaining”.
Then pausing, he gathered
the history within his chest,
and said softly;
“I sure hope I don’t disappoint them.”
And the little boy seemed to appeared
for a moment in time
with this present-tense devotion
to his parents and his parent’s parents
Who are all long gone.
But while he waits for the reunion,
the legacy they left him
was also left through him —
upon their children’s great, great, great grandchildren
whom they never met.

And someday when his casket, too, is closed
and the drawer full of time
is finally emptied and given away
to perhaps sit quietly
in a ragged box in an antique store —
Until the last tick fades away
into the fullness of time.