Filling nearly an entire wall, the painting is one of the first things you see when you enter the Good Samaritan Center. First, it catches your eye. Then, when you look a little more closely, it captures your heart… and the heart of what takes place every day at the homeless shelter.
The stunning painting, by New Milford artist Bryn Gillette, was dedicated last week at a gathering at the shelter, which is run by Good Samaritan Mission, a Jericho Partner Ministry. Those who use the shelter, as well as men who live in transitional housing at the mission, were a vast majority of the audience. The image, showing a man knelling over a needy traveler and pouring out healing and love, was held up as a beautiful depiction of GMS’s mission.
“Sometimes, people come into the shelter, and they don’t necessarily know you and what you do… so what better example could we have than this painting?” said Mark Grasso, GSM’s director. “This painting sums up what we’re about. As Christian believers, we believe that everyone is our neighbor. We’re not supposed to decide who our neighbor is. We’re not supposed to decide for whom we have compassion. So this painting sums that up, and it also gives people something to remember us by.”
Bryn shared the inspiration for his creation, which he painted several weeks earlier during a day of worship at the Center.
“I feel deeply humbled and not worthy of special recognition for a painting,” he said. “It’s truly my joy. When the spirit touches me, as He will touch each one of us uniquely, this is what I do. I see images… So this is my sweet spot, to come and really soak in the Spirit of what this place means and what the Lord is doing here, and capture that in an image.”
Bryn said that Hal Robbins, the shelter’s manager, “did an incredible job cultivating a day-long environment of worship, prayer, and teaching that provided fertile soil for the painting to naturally grow. In the few hours I spent painting live in their space, I was surrounded by participants, teachers, testimonies, and worship, all centered around the essence of being a true and self-sacrificing neighbor to those in need.
“I was so thrilled to allow my act of painting to be a physical manifestation of that very posture, and I based the imagery around Jesus’ classic parable of the Good Samaritan from Luke 10. The image started with the image of “Zion” in the top left, and the descent into the brokenness of life and human choices from those passing by an “enemy and foreigner” in need.
Bryn continued, “I tried to emphasize the humanity and physical presence of need that was lovingly confronted by the unlikely generous Samaritan. As the tale reads left to right, the descending road continues to the village where the victim was housed and provided for at the inn. The colors and sense of light around the figures are meant to convey the collapsing space between our physical actions and the spiritual Kingdom, brought near by our choices to love the Lord with our heart, mind, and soul, and our neighbor as ourselves.
“May this image pull that same Spirit from heaven to earth, standing as a permanent testament at the Good Samaritan; praying without words: ‘Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.'”