Art Therapy

I show up at my friend’s door, anxious, running late, with minimal supplies in my canvas bag: paper, a collection of paints and brushes. We settle ourselves downstairs in her kitchen, sitting at her table with a black and gray granite top. Heavy, cool, forgiving if paint makes it’s way off the paper.

“I don’t know where to begin”, I say. I always say this. I know that half of the process is just showing up. She sighs and says, “Me neither.” We sit for a few moments, silent, in front of blank paper… trusting… waiting…

I finally pull out a small piece of paper and doodle tiny circle after tiny circle. I’d read somewhere that this was a good anxiety-reducing technique and a good place to start if you’re stuck creatively.

I doodle and think while we chat a bit. Then, I gradually doodle and feel. I feel sad, uncertain, lost, overwhelmed. I know what to do now.

I pull out a bigger piece of paper and look over at my friend. She’s decided on a project, too, and she’s drawing with a beautiful blue color that she says is the color of her soul. We sit mostly in silence, painting, drawing, shading. I wonder what color I would choose as the color of my soul… I smell the banana bread she baked, paper, waxy crayons, feeling more settled inside. Her home is quiet. I feel comfortable, safe, and focused.

lori pictureOnce my piece is done, I’m surprised. It wasn’t until I finished that I stepped back to look at it. I thought that I was moving toward darkness, uncertainty. But, the doorway/window actually looks rather inviting, leading out and away from the dark and the stress of the bright colors. “Huh. I must have more hope than I thought!”, I tell my friend. My heart feels lighter. She celebrates with me and too soon we’re packing up supplies. I take a deep breath and say, “Oh. my… thank. you.”

What a gift – an hour and half with a friend working out thoughts and feelings, mostly without words. Words can be difficult and feel rough in times of grief. I’m so thankful for the gentle way that my clumsy images can speak. Thanks be to God.

The Chair

chairThe chair. The *chair*! I couldn’t believe it when I saw the chair at my neighbor’s yard sale. Inviting, comfy, roomy. I knew that this would be *my* chair – an easy decision to spend $30. We quickly did some rearranging in our living room and carted in my chair.

I’d just found out the day before that my job was being eliminated. I was stunned. This chair was a little manna for the day – and coming days.

The summer of 2015 was rather rainy and hot in my area. I used that as an excuse to stay inside. Summers for me are usually full of walks, yard work, and outdoor projects. But this year, I had no heart for any of it. I sat in my chair. Just sat. I didn’t read, I didn’t pray, I didn’t really do anything. I sat. Stunned. Anxious. Sad. Depressed. Angry. I spent 80% of my days in that chair. Our cats would visit me, my guy would come and go, the sun would come and go. I sat. I watched a patch of sky above my neighbor’s house.

I met with my spiritual director and told her about my chair. I was surprised at how I just sat there. So unlike me. That’s all I could do. I was hunkering down, healing. My life was suddenly unpredictable and uncertain, but the world in my chair was known and safe. She asked, “While you’re sitting in your chair, do you have a sense of God with you?” I thought for a moment. I hadn’t felt an absence of God – I knew God was with me, even though I hadn’t prayed much more than, “Help” from time to time. Then, a word came to me: nest. My chair felt like a nest. And I clearly had a sense of God over me, like a protective Mother Hen. I felt safe, loved, accepted by God. No judgement, no shoulds. Just love.

I’m not sitting in my chair as much these days. A few weeks ago, I dragged a small wooden desk into our house that another neighbor was getting rid of… cleaned it up, put it in front of a sunny window, filled the drawers with papers and ideas, pens and folders. Deep breath. I’m ready to get to work. Ready to try to fly again.