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Year of Prayer – behind the design




BY CHLOE RICE

The National Year of Prayer campaign launched on 29 October, giving Salvos across Australia the space to gather in prayer and connection. The aim behind this time is to focus prayer around the four seasons – spring, summer, autumn and winter.


Art has incredible power to express what we sometimes struggle to fully explain through words. As it is often said, one picture paints a thousand words, which is the case when we meet the artist behind the Year of Prayer designs, Laura Welsh, who depicts the different seasons in life’s journey.

For 20 years, Laura has made an incredible mark on the art world through her journey of creativity, resilience and faith. From exhibitions to community involvement, Laura’s story is a testament to the transformative power of art.


A life painted with seasons


Laura’s journey as an artist reflects the various seasons in her life. She explains, “It’s funny I was asked to do this; I’ve been thinking about seasons quite a lot lately, just the different seasons in our lives.’”


Her inspiration for the art is derived from the various seasons, not just in a literal sense but also in terms of her personal growth and life experiences.


In her own words, Laura shares how art has been her constant companion throughout the different chapters of her life. “Art has helped me in these different seasons. I do not always know how I feel, but art has helped me to do that. It has helped me explain and understand my emotions.” Laura’s identity extends beyond her artistic endeavours. As a person with a disability, she is often seen for her wheelchair, but she aspires to be known for her art, her faith and her role as a child of God. “The wheelchair is just part of me ... it’s not a bad thing; it helps me get around, but it’s not what defines me.”


A beautiful inspiration


Growing up in Leongatha, a small town in Victoria’s Gippsland, Laura found her muse in the beauty of her hometown. From an early age, she was encouraged to explore her artistic talents, especially by having her stepdad as an art teacher at her school. Laura’s journey into the world of art was nurtured by both her family and her surroundings.


Laura’s faith has played a significant role in her life. Growing up in the Church, Laura one day decided to try something different and ventured to The Salvation Army. In recent years, she has become more involved in the mission by becoming a soldier and taking on administrative work at Leongatha Doorways (an emergency relief and financial counselling service).


“I have been given a lot of different opportunities that if I were an able-bodied person I wouldn’t have had.”

Meeting different people through the various aspects of work, Laura shares her belief in the importance of being authentic and transparent with those around us, not always trying to paint a perfect picture, and sometimes needing to be honest about how you are feeling, especially during the different challenging times in life.


Overcoming challenges


Some of these challenges have included many surgeries and the ongoing battle with her health. “Put this way, I wasn’t meant to live very long; the nurses told my parents that I would not survive the first 48 hours. I’ve had 25 surgeries so far. It gets harder as you get older. It’s not something I thought I’d still be doing.”


“I remember when I was 18, on the day of another surgery, I said, ‘Mum, no more,’ and she replied, ‘Laura, you know there will be more.’” Twenty-one years later, Laura is still undergoing surgery.


During the operations, Laura sometimes questioned God but remained faithful to his goodness. “During a particular season, I grappled with my mental health to the point of stopping attending church.” Laura explained that she didn’t place blame on God but couldn’t help but ask him why.


Laura has found a spiritual home in The Salvation Army.

“Why was I struggling like this? Why wasn’t he fixing me? The idea of healing has always been a big question in my life as I’ve witnessed others being healed from different things.”


Laura continued, “Yet I feel healed in my own way because I’ve learned to accept my situation. I might not have the same things as my sisters, like children or the ability to drive, but I’ve come to appreciate my life just the way it is.


“I wouldn’t have learned what I have if I wasn’t sitting down ... he knows everything about us anyway.” A true testament to the faith she holds to navigate these hardships, a reminder to herself that God still and has always had a purpose for her life. In times of mental and physical struggle, Laura reflected that her family, including her mum, stepdad, brothers, and sisters with their children, provided a profound source of motivation. She cherishes the thought of seeing her loved ones grow and thrive. “I look at my nieces and nephews and think I really want to see them grow up; that’s really important to me, and I plan to be around for that.” Laura continued, “If that’s not God’s will, that’s okay; he’s given me a lot throughout my life. I have been given a lot of different opportunities that if I were an able-bodied person I wouldn’t have had.”


Inspired by nature


The beauty of nature, including landscapes like rain, the sky, mountains and flowers, significantly inspires Laura’s artwork. She finds it awe-inspiring how the world’s different tones of colour are created in natural scenery. Laura’s art often reflects the wonders of the world around her.


Laura’s life has taught her the importance of perspective and gratitude. She appreciates the gift of sight and the ability to witness the world’s beauty.


Laura’s story inspires us all, reminding us that through faith, we can navigate the seasons of life with grace and purpose.


This reflects the heart and motivation behind The Salvation Army’s Year of Prayer. Join us in being a part of this time where we can experience #salvosprayingtogether.

 

To find out all you need to know about our Year of Prayer, just click on the following links or copy and paste them into your browser: My Salvos - https://my.salvos.org.au/a-year-of-prayer/



Or contact Aux-Lieutenant Rosy Keane at rosy.keane@salvationarmy.org.au


The four colourful designs representing the four seasons of prayer that the Year of Prayer is following.






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