It was when I began to paint it - silver on the inside and resembling cloud nebulae in the night sky (or blobs of paint, depending on your artistic point of view) - that I thought what a good metaphor it was for us. Here we are, I'm half way through life (or more) and have experienced some of the huge ugliness and overwhelming evil of the world. I've been to Bosnia and stood on the site where a mosque was burned down. I've seen buildings left in tatters in Belgrade after the NATO bombardment. I've shaken the hand of a little boy who had not had a wash in the last ten years (or so it appeared) and stepped over a dead cat on the way to help with a children's outreach in a Ukrainian gypsy church, where they told us how the Mafia had fought them for control of the camp. Above all, what sticks with me most is those stories of friends who have lived through abuse, violence and neglect. They come from all different backgrounds.
The bottom line is that in all that chilling iceburg of ugliness from the world, the tip of which we see in the papers, it can be taken, made strong and trasformed into a new creation. I don't think I should have left out those stories I didn't like. God doesn't. He takes us, if we allow him, as we are and knows our past without hiding it. He gathers us up in those potter's hands of his and works his miracles on our lives. Then, the very past which has been a work to destroy us becomes a work to build others up with, to tell them the story of redemption, to bring the good news out of all that catastrophe.