May the Spirit Shine



This is another example of an illustration that I was commissioned to do by a Christian publisher, about twelve years ago.  It is my interpretation of the parable of the mustard seed – a common theme from the Book of Matthew and the Book of Luke.  The Kingdom of Heaven is likened to the tiny mustard seed – the smallest of all seeds in the Levant, yet the fastest growing.  It symbolizes the potential of the human spirit to grow in leaps and bounds, once faith takes root.

I love mustard plants in all their variety, with their slightly bitter taste.  These are marvelously nourishing greens, and among the easiest to grow.  This year, I had an abundance of  “volunteer” mustard plants in my garden and even on the outside of the fence.  A wonderful addition to soups and stews – but more important, a wonderful metaphor for inner growth.

My client, the publisher, wanted me to depict the metaphor in modern terms – so I placed the tiny seed like a radiant star within a curled up figure.  It was not the first time I used a curled up figure as a symbol of potential.  This one lays in the roots of a tree that is populated with a village, and with branches that bring forth flowers and fruits in the form of human potential: music, dance, and baskets full of harvest.

I enjoyed working with this palette of winter hues.  The Catskill mountains, where I live, are a patchwork of muted browns and purples at this time of year.  I’m sure it was autumn when I did this illustration.  My editor was a pleasure to work with, and overall, it was a nice opportunity.

May the spirit shine in you this holiday season!

A good week to all –

D Yael Bernhard
Author / Illustrator of
THE JEWISH EYE 2018 / 5778 Calendar of ArtNew!!
LOVE IS – a unique crossover book for all ages
THE LIFE OF AN OLIVEExplore the life of a 2000-year-old olive tree
JUST LIKE ME, CLIMBING A TREE: Exploring Trees Around the World
NEVER SAY A MEAN WORD AGAIN – A Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review;
winner of the Sydney Taylor Award and National Jewish Book Council Award
THE DREIDEL THAT WOULDN’T SPIN – A Toyshop Tale of Hanukkah
WHILE YOU ARE SLEEPING – A Children’s Book Council Notable Book
A RIDE ON MOTHER’S BACK – An American Bookseller Assoc. Pick of the List
– and more!


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