Surviving Through Art (And A Little Humour)
I want to discuss my sister, briefly, in the safest way I can. The majority of ex-Message Believers I’ve connected with know her more than they know me, because I was gone at 16. So you - if that's you - you'll know who I'm referring to. You’ll agree she is the kindest, gentlest soul.
My heart aches as I realize all she's been through. I wish I could save her but when I try to show her the newspaper articles or the history archives revealing the facts on Branhamism, she tells me “Becky, it makes me happy,” with the saddest eyes. While reading Charity Rissler’s recent memoir and how she managed the confusion of her Message childhood through art, I'm reminded of Josephine. Her talents always fascinate me. I believe that although she never escaped the cult, she's past the worst times of her life and has gained some independence. So here’s an artistic visual into her past. Our past, despite each of our quirks and different paths. We shared the same family, the same home, the same pain, and sisterly bond.
We’re forever connected.
Here I will share her screen shot art and some of my poems, a small window revealing the hope that lit up our hearts in the bleakest moments. Yes, it’s a much lighter subject matter than my earlier posts.
The first is clairvoyant?!! Could anyone have guessed that this picture would hold significance in the toilet paper shortage of 2020? She sketched this odd piece as a young child during the mid 90s. When the pandemic lockdown hit in March, she uncovered it from inside her art supplies. Joel and I definitely had a laugh.
The next is a sketch of my older brother in a school photograph, taken before my parents pulled my siblings out of ‘wordly education.’ The original I haven’t seen in years.
And this one, the face of William Branham, seeming more joyful than in any other picture of him I’ve come across.
I’m amazed at these puppets she designed from our mother’s sewing scraps and various other items she salvaged. I was not allowed to touch them. They are very gawdy in Message terms and they’re wearing a little makeup? I love that she was able to express herself and surprisingly, without criticism.
Then, there’s the tragic story of a green monster thing, shot to death with ten bullet wounds. We hadn’t heard of the Farm yet and lived in a dingy area ridden with crime when her inspiration struck. Here goes another snort and a snicker on my part! It’s pretty morbid.
My Lovely Creations
There’s a good story behind this one but it’s not entirely artistic. This was my Sunday purse, poor waif that I was, and I replaced its missing arm strap with bit of yarn, straight from the cat’s mouth, I’m sure. It held special memories so I couldn’t part with it, serving as a hiding place for the baby finch I saved and brought into Church Service, chirping it’s heart out. I remember getting looks but no one suspected. Or did they?
As you can see, my sister takes the cake. I didn’t get far with sewing or drawing. (I once drew a detailed picture of a frog leaping over a pond on a huge canvas but halfway through I realized it was too large to fit the legs into the scene. I was left with peaceful pond ripples, lily pads, and a frog’s belly, more or less. And no screen shot to prove it.)
I more so enjoyed art in word form and will share just a portion of that with you, provided you don’t run for the hills.
A Love Letter
Darling, thy hair is like a red soreThey freckles, they shine like dirt puddlesThine eyes, thine eyes, reflect the mud floorThy cheeks are fatter than bubblesThy posture is humpedOn thy head is a bumpAnd thy voice likens unto a boarPlainest, thine arms, they stick out like hairpinsThy warts hold no worldy appealThy breath smells much like the trashbinIn pity thy suitors shall reelMy sweet dearest love at morningThou lookest thy loveliest bestThy figure resembles a well-fed henAnd thy hair resembles it's next
Rude, I know.
Just an awkward pre-teen dreaming of romance. This next one hurts now on a personal level.
There was a man from Time's own clock
Who was a thief by trade
He stole the weeks, the months, the years
And soon he stole your age
He promised doom upon those who lived
Wrinkles came afar by night
Folds and flab and missing hair
Were found in morning's light
And just to add on to this crime
Remind us day by day
He encouraged us to invent the mirror
To see the horror made
Beware, beware, he's quick and fast
Before you blink an eye
He adds on belly 'neath that belt
And makes you crave that pie
No king no gent has caught him yet
He's known to rob them blind
To Hell with legs, he gives them canes
And steals away their mind
I know there're men who robbed the bank
Were never found nor caught
The same with time would happen still
If you tied it in a knot
We'd spit out quick those plastic teeth
Hearing aids we'd throw
Content and smug to be alive!
Who cares if those gums show?
Up from the bed, all flailing arms
Imagine, no single birthday!
We'd hold our head so it wouldn’t fall off
And share the news with Bernie!!
All shivering limbs and jawbones
We'd take each careless step
One slip and on the pavement
We'd fall and break our neck
If time were done and then as well
We in our age stood still
The jolt itself would knock us flat
Like bugs beneath Time's wheel
Ugh, sorry if you’re male......
Tadpoles, mud holes, slimey goopy muck
Green worms, spleen worms, writhing leeches suck
Fat boys, lots of noise, grinning crooked teeth
Filthy hair, reeky air, splashing muddy feet
Muddy pigs, messy digs, snorting loudly they
Streams of sewer, gooier n’ gooier, in the slop alay
Running home, shrieks and moans, they await their fate
Squished bugs, trampled rugs, Mother’s gone irate
Worms all dead, a fish's head, from their boxer’s crawl
Wriggling pockets, bug-eyed sockets, Mother sees it all
With a spoon, a wooden broom, she runs them to the hoses
Muddy pools, speckled ghouls, with dirty sneezing noses
Mud-soaked floors, slamming doors, away from Mother's dread
Screeching shouts, whimpered pouts, they crawl into the bed
Piled laundry, dirty laundry, hold your nose beware
Stinky toes, there he goes, into his stinky lair
On a more serious note, I thought this might show our resilient mindset during that time. We still remain very strong people and laugh our way to happiness, finding expressions that distract or heal. Hope you could chuckle, too.
Silent ghost-white birch trees, standing bare and tallNature wakes and listens for that far away lone callThe frozen world in frost-bit jaws, quivers in the sunMist in sparkles glisten, as they see the darkness runIn hidden glades and forests, life repeats its testAnd lurking in the shadows, is hunger’s starving guestRivers watch, slow their course, as dawn reveals the preyThe wings of death beat closer, and snatch its breath awayClouds are gathering quickly, in mounds of endless pinkIn a cave beside the water brook, wild eyes stare and blinkThrough the dome of falling skies, rain like nature’s tearsDrop by drop remind us, that Mother Nature hearsIn a cave beside the brook, the blood is washed awayBut from a dripping lonely flower, remains a scarlet stainThe wild thing is lurking still, down by the valley stairNature sends down through the wind, the warning to beware
The last poem I’m sharing was likely influenced by Branham’s love of the majestic eagle. He constantly stressed their significance, how that the rest of the world were chickens and the Bride of Christ were eagles. I didn’t quite know what it meant, I just let the words flow. Now I look back, and my childish rhymes give so much depth to who I was and who I longed to be.
I looked with farseeing eyesI stood on the dividing brinkHere I saw the crashing tideAgainst the silent beachBeyond the floors of whiteFar over the crest of blueThe tug of the distant skyWas pulling, pulling me throughA myriad of feathersAs complex as the seaSoar up within the vaultOf endless air and breezeI held onto the lifelineWhose anchor is in the cloudI floated through a blurAnd cries were piercing loudI heard the cry of freedomThe clash of falling chainsClose under the wing of HeavenWe glide through misty lanesEye to eye with NatureI feel its beating heartThe curved beak now opensAnd whispers in the darkIt spoke of unheard secretsTo lift the spirit, mendOf how to spread the unseen wingAnd find a rainbow’s endLike the crashing wave tide lungingToward the sandy shoreI flew across the dividing lineOn wings where eagles soar