The intrigue of pathways

Posted 06 Oct 2010

For a long time I have been fascinated with tracks & pathways. Sometimes when I am walking in the countryside I’ll come across a bramble covered track & I’ll wonder where it leads to. Perhaps I’ll see a gap in an otherwise impenetrable thorn hedge & I immediately wonder where it goes. If I can’t see where the pathway leads to, I am often curious to find out. I suppose my imagination is engaged by the unknown destination. I have been known to wander off & find out where the mysterious track leads to!

If I visit a country village I’ll notice tracks & footpaths that go between houses, or lead enticingly out of the community of close-knit homes. “Where does the track or footpath lead to?” I’ll often wonder. Stairs & steps, particularly worn, stone ones, are similarly engaging to my imagination. I often get a powerful urge to go up or down steps, particularly if they go round a corner, in order to find out where they lead to!

Generally I don’t like going into towns or cities. I’m a country lad at heart! But even here, amongst the urban shops & housing, sometimes I’ll notice little alleyways or covered walkways between the buildings & I am intensely curious to find out where they lead to. Perhaps many people ignore these things, or don’t give them a second thought, but I find these little pathways curious, often rather sad, lonely, forgotten, but also alluring & enticing.

Doors & gates have a similarly powerful enticement to my curiosity. Large, iron-bound doors, which old churches or castles often have, are particularly interesting to me. I often get a powerful urge to try the handle & see what lies behind the door!

When I was in Marrakesh, Morocco a few years ago, that city was full of little alleyways. Their mystery & intertwining nature really grabbed my attention & piqued my curiosity & imagination. Perhaps it is the fact that I don’t know where these small alleys & pathways lead to, that is so curiosity-inducing to me?! There were many fascinating examples of wooden, iron-studded doors too, which I photographed for reference. Don’t worry, I resisted the temptation to try the handles & trespass!

Bible references to paths, tracks & doors.
There are many references to paths, tracks, pathways, doors & doorways, etc in the Bible & whenever I read about these words I immediately get a picture in my imagination of a track, winding off into the distance.

There are 104 references to the words “path” & “paths” in my NIV Concordance *. And a whopping 838 references to the words “way” or “ways”! Not all of these words refer to a track or pathway – some are referring to people’s ways, as in their performance or lifestyle. For instance Genesis 6:12 says “God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways.” But quite a few of the words do refer to tracks, roads, alleyways & pathways, of the sort that I am talking about. So there appears to be plenty of scope for me to draw cartoon illustrations with winding, rocky, mountainous pathways in them – hurray!

Incidentally, there are 157 references to the words “door” or “doors” & doorway” or “doorways.” Whilst there are 70 references to the words “step” or “steps” & “stairs” or “stairway.”

So what…?
So, what’s my point? What am I trying to say? With so many references to doors, doorways, paths, tracks, alleyways, steps & stairs in the Bible, clearly there is plenty of scope to include all these things which fascinate me so much in the cartoon illustrations which I create! That’s good news for me!

It has dawned on me today that my fascination with tracks, pathways & great visual depth in scenery is why I often draw these features in a cartoon. I notice that many of my outdoor scenes tend to have a great depth of field to them… you can see way off into the far distance. Thinking about it, I love to see vast plains & panoramic views in real life, so it is not surprising that such things make their way into my cartoon illustrations.

Two pathways
One recurring theme that enters my imagination & which hooks my interest in tracks or pathways, is the idea of 2 routes in a scene, one leading one way & the other winding off in completely the opposite direction: 2 roads, with 2 completely different destinations. Ultimately the 2 roads or pathways refer to good & evil, or one road leading to Jesus in Heaven, & the other leading to the flames of hell. You can see that idea forms the basis of my 1 Corinthians 01 “2 Roads” illustration. I think there are a lot more of these “2 ways or roads” type illustrations to come! I wonder if the reason I am so interested in drawing this “2 ways” subject matter is because, for me, that is the critical, central decision point or message of the Holy Bible. I believe that everyone who is alive on earth has to face this choice: “Will I believe, in faith, that Jesus Christ died for me & so accept his forgiveness & free pardon for all my sins, or not?”
Jesus Christ said in John’s gospel 14:6-7 (NIV) “I am the way and the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” This scripture clearly says that there is only one way to God the Father (who lives in Heaven) & that is to believe in, & accept, Jesus Christ, His Son. It follows that if Jesus says He is the only way to God the Father (in Heaven) then all the other ways we have (other religions, philosophies, worldviews, etc) lead to eternal separation from God, which is another way of saying “hell”.

To me, the central message of the Holy Bible is God’s love for us, His creations. He has provided us with a way (a path) to Himself, by faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. Accepting Jesus as your own personal saviour will immediately put you on the road that leads, ultimately to your eternal life in Heaven. Now that’s love! Who wouldn’t choose that pathway for themselves & their future? If all other pathways lead to death & eternal separation from God (i.e. hell) why would you pursue anything that will, ultimately, take you there? It doesn’t make any sense!

To me, that central message (the “2 roads” thing) is very important. The truth of the life-changing decision that it encapsulates is vital, & that is why I am keen to draw such scenes. It is a message that needs to be understood by everyone. We all have this 2 roads choice to make for ourselves. That’s a pretty important message to get across, in my opinion.

I can see now how my love of steps, tracks & long, winding mountainous pathways connects with the cartoon illustration subject matter I am producing. My interest in pathways is being channeled by scripture… & hopefully, therefore by God Himself, into my cartoon illustrations.

I am very interested in tracing the connections between the various aspects of my life (interests, passions, behaviours) & finding out how they all intertwine, inform & reinforce one another. I have long sought what I call an “integrated lifestyle,” where all that I do is constructive, & builds positively together into one, cohesive, life-affirming whole. It therefore feels like quite a revelation when I can suddenly see how some aspect of my interests or way of behaving fits in with the rest of my life, particularly my artistic life. I love it when I become aware of God honing & shaped some aspect of my life, & using it to communicate some of his truth to a wider audience. How humbling, & exciting, is that!

* NIV stands for New International Version, which is a popular translation of the Bible.

A concordance is an alphabetical listing of the words used in the bible. It helps with, & is useful in, bible study.


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