Behind the Cover Art

The artist holding this issue’s cover painting: Still in the Light: George Fox 400, 12″ x 16″, acrylic. Original painting: George Fox 400, 24″ x 24″, acrylic.

It was a perfect September day in Indiana. I was sitting on my back porch taking in our flower gardens and noticing the silence of the morning. I had a hot cup of coffee in my favorite mug and my sketch pad ready to capture the first images of the day. Yet something was still speaking to me from earlier in the week. It was a George Fox quote that I had shared in a sermon about the importance of holding oneself in the Light—a theme I have found myself returning to on numerous occasions in my ministry and personal life. The Fox quote was:

The first step of peace is to stand still in the light (which discovers things contrary to it) for power and strength to stand against that nature which the light discovers: here grace grows, here is God alone glorified and exalted.

That morning, I walked out into the dawning sunlight and simply stood still in the middle of my backyard. At first I sensed all the distractions around me, but then I closed my eyes. The sun created light marks on the inside of my eyelids which resembled the glow of colored Christmas lights. Not worrying what my neighbors thought, I stood there for quite some time centering down and contemplating Fox’s first step. Even though this was a very real moment, there was something transcendent and spiritual about it. Standing there in the Light, I sensed peace. I felt the warmth of the Divine and a synchronicity with nature. As I opened my eyes, all I saw was the blue of the sky above me: no clouds but remnants of the light still in my vision. I walked over and grabbed my sketch pad to capture what I had just experienced.

Remembering that it was almost the 400th anniversary of the birth of George Fox, I wanted to honor him in this piece. Inspired by my experience that morning, I strove to capture Fox in the same manner, with eyes closed and colorful lights all around. Later, when I would begin to paint, I would realize how important the color was and how it brought both hope and diversity. I originally painted Fox in several shades of Quaker gray, but my wife, Sue, said it needed color. As I added the color into the lines of Fox’s face, I wanted them to represent the diverse expressions of Quakerism and the equality that we value. Each colorful light surrounding Fox represents a spark passed on to neighbors, cultures, and nations.

Upon finishing this piece, which I’ve titled George Fox 400, I found it reminding me not only of my experience that day, but of the honor it is to serve among Friends and live out the legacy of Fox and all those who have come after seeking the Light!

The painting that graces the cover of this special edition of Friends Journal was designed from the original George Fox 400 painting. It’s my pleasure to share it with you.

Robert Henry

Robert Henry is the pastor of First Friends Meeting in Indianapolis, Ind. Along with being a pastor, he is an artist and gardener, and he loves to take road trips with his wife and three adult children.

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