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.
Once 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.