A Young Adult Expresses Her New Understandings of Marriage in a Painting

Jacqueline Claire Leal, a third generation American Bahá’í, took the course Thinking of Relationships and Marriage? (faculty: Susanne Alexander, Alex Blakeson, Wendi Momen) because she is “interested in deepening” her “application of Bahá’u’lláh’s principals in all areas” of her life and her relationships. She is an artist and an actress, originally from Texas but now living in the Los Angeles area. Her latest professional project is a life-affirming comedic pilot for a television series that approaches the topic of death in a relatable and loving way. For her final learning project for the relationship and marriage course, she chose to create an as-yet-unnamed painting. About it, she wrote the following.—THE EDITORS

by Jacqueline Claire Leal

treeoflifeThis piece represents my evolving understanding of marriage in light of the Bahá’í writings.

The tree is strong, earthy, and grounded, set against a cosmic background, and there is a sense that the roots and branches extend eternally, part of a timeless process and dimension beyond its own individual existence.

A few specific images from the Bahá’í writings that served as inspiration and I attempted to incorporate:

From Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá 86: 118

“The true marriage of Bahá’ís is this, . . . that they may . . . enjoy everlasting unity throughout all the worlds of God.

From Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá 87: 119

“threading lights of Thine abounding grace”
“luminous rays of Thy bestowals”
“branch out from this great tree”
“the gifts that rain down from Thy clouds of grace”

From Bahá’í Prayers, U.S. 2002 edition, 119

“attracting perpetual grace”
“cast pearls of pure and goodly issue on the shore of life”

The act of creating the piece was an apropos learning experience for, though I had all the materials and a vision for what I wanted to make, it still took longer and went through more evolutions than I expected. It is a balance of clear-headed preparation  (which I could have done more of) as well as allowing the art, the process itself to guide, let it be what it wants to be, not what is imposed upon it. I also consider this piece still unfinished, which I feel is also a fitting reflection of where I am in my understanding of the topic.

The painting is as yet unnamed. I welcome title suggestions!

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