photo by j l commons I have a dear friend from college who is an artist. She does graphic design, to pay the bills, but her heart belongs to drawing and painting, illustration and mixed-media.

Her work is beautiful. Four of her pieces hang in my bedroom. Each one speaks to me with depth and meaning.

In college, all of the art majors had senior shows during their final semester. They planned those gathering the way some people plan their weddings. Usually, on art show nights, I didn't eat dinner at all, preferring the mini-quiches, soup bars and chocolate covered strawberries (accompanied by live harp, or piano) to the same old cafeteria food.

My friend's show came in the midst of a difficult time for me. I was moving to a different room, with a different roommate, I'd just returned from a stressful, month-long trip through the UK and I was a week or two away from breaking up with my first boyfriend, which I'd never thought would happen. I was worn to a slim thread.

But all of that melted away at the show, an oasis in the midst of a turbulent time. I arrived half an hour late and almost all of the pieces had already sold (an unheard of thing at my school). My friend looked amazing in a dress purchased for the occasion and we hugged and laughed together for a few stolen moments before she had to mingle. I began to mingle too, with the art.

I have a rule about purchasing art. I ask myself if I could live with it. There were a few pieces that I fell in love with, on sight. I wanted to live with them.

Through happenstance, and wondrous changes of circumstance, I was able to buy three pieces. As we wrapped them together, in bubble wrap, for the plane, we talked about these paintings, dear to my friends' heart. She told me about one: "Weather or Not," about the layers she built up to create the canvas, including vintage weather magazines to go along with the theme. "There are layers in these paintings that no one will ever know are there," she said. We both grinned.

photo by Cara Strickland

I appreciate these pieces of art in every way I can, and in some ways, I appreciate them even more because of this mystery. When I look at them, I think of my friend, and her grin, and know that she crafted them with love and care. The layers that I can't see might be my favorite part of all.

So it is with God and I. He has knitted me together, building depths that no one (not even I) have ever seen. He has added layers which will not be known or appreciated, perhaps ever, perhaps until Heaven, except by Him, and, perhaps, by me.

There are those who will come to see some hidden layers to my personhood; dear friends and family. They will hear about the vintage weather magazine which fits with the theme. Perhaps they will grin with me when they think about the layers which none of us can see, but which help to make us who we are.

I think about my friend, often, as I write. I think about the layers of meaning: the surface, and deeper. There are things that I weave into my writing that no one will ever see, because they don't know the context of the private jokes which exist in my mind. Some things lose power when explained. Some things do more in me than they would in someone else, bringing healing, illumination, or grace.

There is a theory, written and studied by a man I have met, and respect, that C.S. Lewis based his Narnia books around the mythology of the seven (at the time) planets of the Medieval times. The argument is compelling. Nothing in Lewis' writings mentions anything of the kind. It is likely that I will not know on this earth whether this theory is true. Whether it is, or not, I know that Jack was a man of many layers, and with him I grin, and think about what is hidden, and what will one day be revealed.