Recently, I wrote about Mary Oliver’s The Journey and thought her poem would inspire my next creation. Her expression about breaking free from the needy demands of others, spoke my childhood...but my artwork did not want to go there.
Instead I found myself creating a piece that was lighter, yet strangely hidden? A woman holding a dove, yet her mouth was partially masked by a scarf. For me, lover of full lips, it was a confusing choice.
I laid down my scissors for a few days waiting for direction. And it came to me early one morning when I couldn’t sleep. The stream of consciousness talk with my husband pin balled. When I started talking about my newest art, tears flowed.
Where did that come from?
And then it tumbled out: I was painting my own motherhood. My art was expressing the dilemma of having young adult children who need me in some ways more than ever and in other ways, not at all. The yin and yang stared back at me from my paper and there was no avoiding what it stirred.
My pain wasn’t about being needed less, the struggle for me-- the part that brought my tears--was the trust required of me. Of needing to silence my loud voice (cover those full lips) and believe that without it, my girls’ own strength will help them take flight—navigate the rawness that the world sometimes offers-- and still live with an open heart.
And the truth: a dove can not fly if it is being held.
My unconscious process of creating art laid out this message--this gift-- inescapably in front of me.
And it led me to Emily Dickinson’s verse: Hope is a thing with feathers that perches in the soul
Yes, this says it all. The hope, the vulnerable, the soft parts all there for the ready—the journey that begins with flight and the hope that allows us to take the risk.
Whether you are a mom or dad. Whether your child is one or 21—the hopes, the fears, the quiet observation and the push pull of holding on while letting go are all there. For their first steps and their first apartments. We give our children all the best and nourish their strength. And somewhere in it all, we t nourish ourselves.
So there is my clarity. I know where this art is going—and maybe life will imitate art and offer me a boost of hope—or at least point me in the right direction. For all of us that have parented, with our own or our extended children, hope, trust, and growth require a loving silence--Sometimes the greatest love is in the unsaid.
I will now fill myself with art and exploration as I marinate on this newfound understanding—the emerging art –and all the emerging spirits in my family. May you be filled with hope, wisdom and all the gentleness you need to take flight.