I find myself falling for a fella who’s long and thin and, well, can be a little bristly. But when we are together…..add a little magic, a little color, a bit of creativity, and who knows what we can do.
And today, after taking a few painting classes with instruction to create a picture similar to the one by the teacher, but with my own flair, I was in a class called “Art Mind and Soul.” It was about reaching back to the creative people we were as children before we worried about it being perfect or what colors would be “right” or how it looked compared to the work of others. I was there with my oldest and with our sweet friend. We started the class by using crayons to color a sheet from a coloring book or playing with clay. After a few minutes of quiet listening we set about creating the pieces that were on our hearts.
At the beginning of this year, I selected my “word,” what I wanted to focus on in 2013. Open. I wanted to be open to all kinds of things, but I have just about decided that I was supposed to be open to change. Not my favorite of things by any means. When I was choosing the word, I looked for a photo of a gate or door that was somewhat open to remind me to open my heart, my mind, my eyes. I never found the perfect one. So this afternoon I decided to attempt to paint the picture on my heart of “open.” I was a bit nervous, but the wisdom of our instructor from Thursday night echoed in my ears, and I began.
I quartered the canvas, sketched it out, blocked my colors and then began working on the detail. I was intimidated and wondered if I could do it, but as I did one small bit at a time, I found my heart lifted and I actually giggled out loud. By the time I added the bougainvillea I was downright tickled with it all. It was not photographic, but it was mine, and it was full of what was in my soul today, and in that I was joyful.
I wanted the gate down my path to be open; that was my main idea. But as I drew and painted, I found other ideas creeping in.
The red clay path that was much like my Granny’s dirt road that led to her home and so many happy memories. The big cauldron that Granny had hanging from a wooden beam, always filled with beautiful flowers. My Granny’s old place, much like my great aunt’s house and Blackberry Flats (my parent’s place), speaks to my soul and grounds me. The memories soothe me and remind me of a carefree time of chasing fireflies and late night Monopoly sessions, holding snoozing puppies on my chest as we sat quietly in the swing, sleeping on pallets of old quilts, going fishing, and sopping up syrup with Granny’s delicious biscuits.
The tiny, delicate purple flowers in the grass remind me of a quote from The Color Purple that my friend and pastor shared one night at Evening Prayer: “I think it [ticks] God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.” Ever since she shared that I try to notice and celebrate the colors in a field, the beauty of the cardinal, the multitude of colors in a sunset. When my oldest was little, she had a friend who was known to call out, upon seeing a beautiful sunset or something equally as striking, “Good job, God!” I never want to forget to appreciate and admire.
The birds in the sky remind me of the old hymn written in 1905 by Civilla D. Martin and Charles H. Gabriel, “His Eye is on the Sparrow.” It was inspired by a couple Mrs. Martin and her husband had met on their travels. The wife was bedridden and the husband went to and from work in his wheelchair. Their bright hopefulness despite all of this touched the Martins, and they asked the couple their secret. The husband answered: “His eye is on the sparrow, and I know he watches me.” From there a beautiful hymn was born. The first time I heard it, our college choral group, the Wesleyannes, performed it. The lyrics floated through the air and landed in my heart and soul, only to be revived recently as words of comfort.
I sing because I’m happy
I sing because I’m free
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know he watches me
The bougainvillea reminds me of beauty and strength. It is a beautiful yet hardy plant. Strong. I like it. And it reminds me of sitting with an elderly woman in England who told me once, “Oh dearie, someday you will sit around with your friends and talk about plants and flowers and such. I suppose it sounds silly to you now, but one day…..” And she was absolutely right. I never could have imagined, but now I’m there. Talking about what herbs to plant to last year round, planting butterfly bushes and lantana and roses and the like. Such joy that brings me! What a wise and sweet woman.
The little bees remind me of the fragility of our world, and that I must work to protect it and to be a good steward of what we have around us. The bees also remind me of the intricate workings of nature, how it’s all inter-dependent, just like we are. And what an amazing creature the bee is, flying against all the odds…..do you suppose anyone has ever told a bee he couldn’t fly, that it’s actually pretty much not possible? I would love to hear a bee laugh with glee. Much like I did as I was finishing the painting I told myself couldn’t be done. It was too hard. And yet…..laughter. Joy. Worship. Remembrance. Grace.
Tonight I am thankful for finally having my picture of Open. It is all the more dear to me because of the journey, the path to get there. To that completed picture. I am grateful for the gift of time to do this, given to me by my sister, Mess Cat. I give thanks for the laughter and stories and encouragement that floated around the room as we sat and created together. And I appreciate the peace that has settled in my heart and soul tonight. My heart and spirit and faith has taken a beating over the past couple of years. I find myself seeking, searching for a way to worship that makes sense and resonates within me. Today brought together my thoughts, what was on my heart and mind, and my appreciation for what is in the world around me. Holy ground. And for that, I am most thankful. Amen.