Leap (step) of Faith.

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“Leap of Faith” 30×40, oil on canvas

I named “Leap of Faith” before I painted it, and I realize now that the figure is less leaping and more just walking. Strolling even. But one foot in front of the other down some uncertain path, how often does that feel like nose diving into the abyss? 

I used to think of faith as some kind of magical protection against calamity and misfortune, but I have come to think of it less as believing that what I hope for will transpire and more that no matter what happens, no matter what is erased or bruised, battered or destroyed, that love remains, is immutable. We will be okay even if, even when, we aren’t. 

I’m figuring out some things, and looking to leave some of the more comfortable paths that I’ve painstakingly cleared for those less certain. I see so much opportunity for growth in change and so many cliffs to fall right off of.

I’m not a fan of posts that are intentionally vague, and yet my impulse here is to be just that. But I’ll take a leap, resist that urge, and share with you one of the walks I’m taking that feels very much like a leap. 

For a while now, I’ve been thinking about significantly cutting back on the live wedding paintings I take on so that I can continue to develop the work that matters most to me and give more of my energy to the gallery. When I write it down, it doesn’t seem all that scary or earth-shattering, but when I think about it, my stomach does somersaults for reasons that warrant their own blog post.

A couple days ago, I came across a 1986 interview with Oprah Winfrey in which Mike Wallace asks her about her show which is just getting started nationally. She says, “It will do well” to which he responds, “And if it doesn’t?” She doesn’t skip a beat: “If it doesn’t, I will still do well. I will do well because I am not defined by a show. I think we are defined by the way we treat ourselves and the way we treat other people. It would be wonderful to be acclaimed as this talk show host who made it. But if it doesn’t happen, there are other important things in my life.”

We know how that story ends, and, in comparison, I can’t help but hear the lines from T.S. Eliot’s “Prufrock” ringing in my ears– I am no prophet — and here’s no great matter…” but still, here I am wondering if I can adopt her attitude. If it doesn’t do well, I will still do well– a mantra of faith not in outcomes but in identity. 

If you’ve ever taken a leap (or stroll) of faith or are contemplating one, I’d be honored to know about it.

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Denise Hopkins

September 15, 2022

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