Blessing for when things don’t go as planned

 

Tell me about that person, again? The one whose life unfolded exactly as they’d hoped and planned it would? The one who by doing all the right and warranted and acceptable things, got exactly what she’d expected? No really, if she exists, please tell me about her.

My youngest didn’t make a sports team he wanted to recently, and I could feel his disappointment jabbing at every lost expectation I’ve ever had– from the similar experience of not making a team to the searing pain of pregnancy loss, to the countless pieces of art rejected by shows and juries. 

I resisted every urge in me that wanted to jump right over the pain and directly into the fanciful but empty silver lining. I wanted to tell him that maybe this was a good thing; that maybe he would work hard and make it next year. Instead I held onto him for too long and let him tell me how unfair it was, how much he wanted it, how important it was. “That sounds terrible,” was all I could offer, and a humble offering it was, indeed. Everything else I almost said was me wanting to fix what wasn’t fixable. I have more often than not tried to meet pain with control– they do not get along.

Disappointment feels so helpless. 

I wrote the blessing below because I wanted to comfort my child without dismissing him. I wanted to witness and hold his hurt, and I really wanted to say I have great hopes for you still even though this particular and precious one has turned to dust. 

The painting that starts this post is a little wrapped up in all of this, too. It’s called “Holding on, Letting Go”. I didn’t cover the subject’s eyes this time because there was a longing there I wanted to honor. And, appropriately, this painting started off quite differently but didn’t work out. It hung in the gallery as a mostly abstract piece before I took it from the wall and started again waiting for newness, which always seems to arrive but never seems to be in much of a hurry. 

 

Blessing for When Things Don’t go as Planned

How disappointing–

Your feet never touched the ground of your vision

Your ears never heard the music of your hope

Despite that chorus of well- meaning voices

Certain of 

Second, third, and fourth chances

Or, God forbid (yes, please, God, forbid it)

“Everything happens for a reason”

 

That path with those blades of grass

That song with those notes in that order

 

Is irrevocably lost

 

Blessed are you who longed for what never came

Blessed are those bold enough to seek glory 

 

May you know it

 

out of

not because of

heart

break

 

May unimaginable newness be ever available to you

And may it be perpetually patient

As you mourn what mattered

What won’t be. 

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On the seven hundredth day…

 I do a painting a day every January to set the tone for my year, establish strong creative habits, and to make sure I prioritize my art which, over the years, has become synonymous with prioritizing myself. But when February (finally) came, as it always does, life hit like a tornado of weird schedules and unforeseen obligations, and I went two whole weeks without ever opening up a tube of paint or holding a palette knife. I thought I might drift off into the ether where no art is ever made, no motivation ever found. I thought having been untethered from my daily ritual, I’d be lost forever. 

And maybe I am, just a little.

But during the second half of the month, I found my way, almost sheepishly, back into the studio and slowly tried to get back to it even amid what still felt like chaos. And then a totally unencumbered afternoon approached me just when I’d started to think they no longer existed. I thought about it. I agonized a little. And then I met the afternoon not with a paintbrush but with a long and quite unnecessary nap. 

During that nap, I dreamed of my paintings and saw exactly what they needed. Where I needed to go with them. I saw the lines and textures. I saw the way the colors needed to interact with one another.

Just like that my nap became some of my most important work. 

Can I say that again maybe a little differently? My nap became some of the best work I’d ever done. 

I know not all my decisions to rest instead of produce will be so on the nose. But the message was clearly received: Rest is not just some unfortunate part of the creative process but absolutely vital to its efficacy. 

My oldest stepson is a brilliant musician– the kind of person who seems to be made from and of rhythm and sound, for whom it comes so naturally– he’s the unencumbered fish and the rest of us have tanks and gear just to last a few minutes underwater. 

But he got injured, nerve damage likely from such a rigorous practice routine. And he put away his trombone for a while. A long while. 

Yesterday, I heard him, via video, play again after such a long hiatus. And what can I tell you except that, even on my phone, it was deeply moving, beautiful, stirring? There’s no way I can be certain, but I do wonder if his long and no doubt frustrating, maybe agonizing, break added something ineffable to the music. Did it pour forth from a deeper well or was it like a delicate wine, aged and ready?

If music is an ocean, this land dwelling/non-swimmer can’t really answer one way or the other.  But I have great hope that rest matters for all of us. That to fill every silence is to cease to have music, to paint every corner is to eradicate art. 

I wrote the blessing below back in November, but it means more to me now as I’m learning from my dreams as much as my actions, my silence as much as my voice. 

I’ll be the first to admit this is tricky, delicate. Where’s the line and what’s the balance? I’d love to know how and if you find both time to rest and time to hustle and how you know when each is called for? Do you feel guilt or shame for resting? What are we supposed to do with that? Looking forward, as always to your wisdom. If you’ve got a second or two let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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Day 31. Blessing for the Seeker

“Seeking, Striving, in it with all my Heart” 48x48in oil on canvas

“I am seeking, I am striving, I am in it with all my heart.”

-Vincent Van Gogh

This is the part where I stare at the blinking cursor on my screen. Because there’s a jumble of thoughts, of what I could or should or want to say to bring the whole thing full circle, to express my gratitude, my pervasive hope that creating matters– to our spirit, to our homes, to our world. What a wild thought.

Today’s painting is large. I’ve been working on it on and off all month long, and this morning I put the final touches on it, stood back to look at it, and was overcome by how hard this month was, how much joy it produced. 

My dear community of fellow 31ers, I have many times this month been awed by you, your work, your vulnerability. You’ve made me laugh and cry. You’ve made me hopeful. I’ve been impressed, jealous (not super proud of that one), moved, curious, excited. But most of all, I’ve felt supported and held by a precious community. I hope you have felt the same.

I wrote a blessing as a companion to today’s painting. It’s for the seeker, the 31er. It’s for you. 

 

For the Seeker, A Blessing

May you uncover not only what you seek

But what the soil of your search makes bloom

Not only what you are certain of

But mysteries holding together that which fades

 

May the light that is already yours

(and always has been)

Find new cracks and crevices

Into which to pour and reveal itself

 

And when petals turn brown and crisp

Clinging, absurdly to what is disappearing

May their memory guide you

To your next discovery

 

But until it beckons, 

May you stand still, awed, 

long enough to know

The joy of flight

The blessing of travel

The gift of the season that was

And will be

Again.

All 31 coming exclusively to my subscribers list tomorrow Feb. 1 at 8pm. Make sure you’re on it here.

 

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