I am not a great fan of graffiti. They I do know that some of it is a great work of art. I used to ride the subway train out to Etobicoke and pass by some walls that were magnificently drawn on buildings. They were lovely works of art on dreary buildings. In Mexico City I admired the great murals of Diego Rivera which told the story of the history of Mexico. Even here Innisfail there are a couple of nice murals that beautify our town.
But it is the run of the mill graffiti that I don't like. Tagging is what some people call it. People put their initials on walls and bridges just to prove that they have been there. People spray paint over other signs. People make derogatory statements about others on the sides of buildings. Sometimes this tagging is painted over by the city but sometimes these tags remain as scars on local buildings.
Churches have not been immune from this tagging. Take the Anglican church in East Gosford, New South Wales, Australia. The minister there is widely known for putting very political signs up on the church message board which is on a very prominent corner in that small city. He has placed statements there which has encouraged the government to drastically change its policy on immigration and refugees. He urged people to vote yes on the referendum on same sex marriage. He has called out racism. He has placed signs in front of the church that were supportive of the rights of Aboriginal Australians. Of course these signs have faced some opposition. The church has had to deal with much hate graffiti on it's sign and it's building. The congregation though feel it is their duty to push forward on their ideas of openness and tolerance.
In Canada, some churches have had to deal with graffiti. One church that works a lot with the first nations people woke to find anti-Indian slogans painted on the church. Other churches who have declared themselves to be open and affirming have found anti LGBTQ messages painted on the door. These churches though did not let the naysayers prevent them from spreading their message. Like the church in East Gosford, they painted over the graffiti messages of hate and continued to preach a message of love.
This morning, when I walked up to the church, I noticed chalk drawings on the side walk. My first thought was, "Oh no," as I wondered what hateful messages these drawings might have. But to my surprise they were messages of love. Messages like "God Loves You." Pictures of a smiling sun. Pictures of flowers. The dread that filled me as I walked up the church side walk and saw chalk drawings, quickly changed to a smile on my face. Suddenly there was an act of hope that brightened my day.
This demonstrates that we all have tremendous power in our hands. We can spread messages of hope and lift up, or we can spread messages of hate and loathing. We can create artwork that lifts us beyond and enhances the beauty of the world, or we can tag buildings that deface, denounce others, and make the world a less beautiful place. The chalk drawings today reminded me that hope and beauty can be found even on a dreary, smoky, cool day. Let us all work to enhance the lives of others with love and vow never to destroy or put down others. Blessings.