If you have followed this blog for any time at all, you will notice a different look to it today. It was time for a change - in part, to remind myself that the year of re-birth continues to bring surprises. And, I found this great background, which reminds me of the colors of creativity and my own artistic endeavors. In recent years I have come to identify myself in many different ways... certainly I am pleased to be a mother, privileged to be a pastor, honored to be a sister to one of the greatest siblings ever, daughter to an incredibly strong mother, friend to many amazingly wise and wonderful women and men. Yet one of the identities which pleases (and amazes) me the most is that of the artist.
I remember being 8 or 9 years old when my teacher lifted up a finger painting I had created with extravagant praise. I remember carefully bringing this treasured masterpiece home. I remember learning for the first time the truth that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder", and the disappointment of eyes that beheld something different than mine when gazing upon my painting. That was when I decided the teacher had been mistaken and I moved away from any thoughts of artistic grandeur.
Until about 9 years ago, when I went to a workshop where I was guided in a meditation to discover an image of my own soul. When the meditation ended, I was given a blank canvas and access to acrylic paints in every imaginable color, with the instruction to paint the image I had seen in that contemplative state. There were only two rules for the game: First, I had to paint as closely as possible exactly what I had seen in the meditation; and secondly, I had to honor the painting by taking it home and hanging it in a place of honor.
Now my painting was quite abstract, reflective of my lingering doubts about myself as an artist. Yet it was a fairly decent description of the beauty I had encountered in those moments of meditation. On the last day of the workshop I dutifully carried my painting into the restaurant where the last luncheon was held, prepared as I was to bring it home and hang it in a place of honor. The waiter serving my table changed my life and gave me a new identity when he remarked, "Where did you get that beautiful painting? I'd like to buy one just like it!"
Maybe that second-grade teacher was onto something after all! Or maybe, beauty is not just in the eye of the beholder. It is also in the heart of the artist. I came home with my painting and began to paint some more. I started with several more abstract, colorful, undisciplined works as I let Spirit lead me into creativity. Eventually I branched out into landscapes, and still lifes. But it wasn't until several years later that I finally embraced this new part of my life.
I happened to be at a holiday art show when I chanced upon a booth full of lovely, whimsical acrylic paintings in bright colors and geometric shapes (horses with triangle bodies and circular heads, mountains of pyramids, rectangular buildings and trapezoidal trees). As I took in the light and the color and the humor, I remarked to myself "I could paint this!" Whereupon the artist replied, "yes, you could... why don't you?" In an instant I recognized the only thing stopping me was myself.
How many times have I decided NOT to be ... an artist ... a poet .... a guru ... or even just a friend? And how many times has that decision been the only thing that stood in my way? When I go into my garage to paint this summer, I will try my very best to bring my second grade teacher along in my heart. And I will try to let my eye behold the beauty she first saw. That would be a great way to practice re-birth, for sure!