Learning how to listen to – and more importantly, to trust – my true Self, that which I call God.
Spring vacation that last year of teaching was stormy and cold but I really wanted to dive into painting so I made my way to my unheated studio space in the woods. My Hero’s Journey homework assignment was to “do a painting you don’t understand.” The group was feeling I was too pat with my stories and my symbols. I was meant to be exploring Mystery but I had answers all worked out before I even began. I needed to let go of my head!
It took me years before I really understood how much this painting launched me into a whole deeper level of my Self.
At the time, I only knew that swoopy lines became legs to me and then a belly emerged with a green egg in it cradled by a crescent moon. At first I thought the egg was in the uterus but then I realized, feeling very weepy, that it was still in the fallopian tubes – not yet even fertilized. And what were the two mysterious blue feathers? And the little fingerprints so tenderly placed on the “knee”?
I liked the fact that she had no head or upper torso, but, “She doesn’t have anything to stand on,” I kept thinking. So I gave her footprints with my high arch. The most self-conscious part of the painting, it made me think of an old story first read in my sister-in-law’s bathroom – an odd place to have a spiritual breakthrough. A man complains to Jesus that he has not stayed beside him all the way through life as promised. “When I look back there are many places where there is only one set of footprints.” And Jesus replies, “Yes, that is where I was carrying you.”
I had the painting up in the living room for a long time. At first it made me cry every time I looked at it, though I really didn’t know why. It was a sadness from some deeper place than I consciously knew. Another good lesson. I later moved it down to my studio. It is one I have never been able to put away.
The egg theme was to repeat itself for a long time, both consciously and unconsciously. I worked the next few paintings with the sense that it was me waiting to be born – or rather a piece of me – the wild, creative part that was beginning to come into being. It turned out there was a lot of groundwork I needed to do before it was safe to be born.
The mystery of the blue feather was also to nag at me, but it wasn’t until 2006 that I could even figure out what it stood for in a great ah ha moment. Duh! It was telling me to be writing as well as painting. Luckily, I hadn’t needed to consciously understand. I had gotten the message instinctively. I kept a journal from the beginning of the painting process and, despite trepidation & some disapproval from others, took what felt like an unusual step of including writings in my painting shows.
So here is a precious little ova waiting to begin it’s own Hero’s Journey – to be conceived and fertilized. As other paintings were to show there are guardians and allies to help carry her on her journey.
Written Fall 2006