What was is it like to Paint Myself as Veronica?
The very first oil painting I created was a self-portrait and it was me as Veronica, the woman who wipes the face of Jesus. What was that like? Well, it was not only a good challenge for technique, since I know my face, but it was also quite the spiritual challenge as it brought me into deep reflection.
When I was developing the work I constantly was thinking of that moment and what it would be like to wipe Christ’s face. How would He look back at me? How would He see me? How would I see Him? Veronica is quite a woman, someone I felt completely inadequate to be. You see, many times in my early spiritual journey I thought I was hot stuff. I thought that I was super spiritual and could help anyone. It equated to a naive little girl who knew not her own ugliness. During that time of my life, I would have experienced this painting quite differently.
God loves me too much to leave me in such prideful ignorance so He continued to take me on a purifying journey. In 2010 He led me to India on a mission. I thought that mission was me helping the poor and orphaned. God had different plans. It was during that time He began showing me the reality of who I am and who He really is. I saw so many people who hurt, were starving, and in pain physically and emotionally. The children I was with for two months were constantly looking at me with eager eyes hoping that I could take them away from the sorrow that they knew. However, I had nothing and could not do anything for them. More so, I kept encountering the ugliness in my own heart, the heart I once thought was ‘so good.’ With self-pity glooming over me, I closed up and could no longer see those around me. Soon I realized, I could not be who I thought I was nor who I wanted to be let alone who these children hoped I was for them.
One night this inward cage began to transform. I called my parents from across the world and wept. “Send me home,” I begged. With compassionate hearts, they were ready to do as I needed but my father wanted me to be sure that it was truly what I wanted to do. So, he asked, is this really what you want? I prayed about it and I realized I wanted to complete my time there and see what God was doing in my heart. That night I recall taking a bucket bath in an orphanage of Mumbai as tears streamed down my face. All I could muster up was “Yes Lord, I will stay in your will even though I am in so much pain and find myself to be so ugly.” In that simple yes, grace poured over me. Buckets of water fell over my head and it literally felt like I was renewing my baptism.
No, things did not drastically change in my heart but there was a strength that was there from Him. It was not my own, it was not me trying to pretend but rather it was me getting out of the way. From then on I began to see those around me better. Yes, there was still very little on a practical level that I could do for those in need who surrounded me but what God was asking is that I love them at that very moment. “Smile with them, dance with them, just be with my People and in that I will do the work.”
Six years later as I painted my face in place of Veronica, I was reminded of the lesson that the Lord continues to teach me. I can’t wipe others faces let alone His face but He will wipe it through me. Yes, I am a major work in progress but I must let God be the master artist of my heart. I must let Him transform me into the beauty He intends for me to be. I have only the duty of getting out of His way and just opening my eyes to see those around me.
Kate Capato is an adventurous creative who seeks all things beautiful. She often travels and serves in mission and now shares God’s love through her artistic creations of Sacred Art, Dance, and Photography. When she is not creating or traveling, Kate loves spending time with friends and family while drinking a good glass of wine and consuming extra dark chocolate. To see her work, visit her portfolio and share in this mission of spreading truth and goodness through.