|"My One and Only"|
Elasta Woman wasn't going to take "no" for an answer easily and so I agreed to be there, even though I was already plotting my head how I could get out of actually painting. The fantasy went something like this : I would stand there in front of a blank canvas. Craftily, I would excuse myself to the bathroom, along with my canvas, paints, brush, easel and other assorted art type stuff. Art Dog, my son, would meet me in the bathroom, where he would secretly and hurriedly paint a master piece. Art Dog wasn't nick named "art dog" for nothing. He's a serious artist. Then I would yawn as I put a few finishing touches on my new painting. The girls would "oooh" and "ahhhh" a bit. Elasta Woman, clever as she is, might think something was fishy, but she could not prove a thing. The ramifications of moving all that crap unnoticed into the bathroom left some room for imagination, but I will spare you of my ideas, because that's just not how it ended up happening................
As usual, we were late. My popcorn popper broke midpop leaving me with a mess of sauces and no corn. I felt anxious and flustered as I noticed easels were already up and dinner was for all practical purposes over. A shocking array of gourmet Mexican was spread across the garage. People were greeting one another and laughing. Children were running around outdoors playing. Music made the whole thing feel festive. One of our girlfriends, who has been through more than any woman should go through, busted out dancing. Here was something I could relate to. I busted out dancing too. I started relaxing, maybe just a little.
I moved stealthily from woman to woman examining the pieces of art carefully. Every painting was starting out fantastic. After about my 3rd round, the women became suspicious. "Go get a canvas" they kept encouraging me. I avoided the subject until it could be avoided no longer. I told one of them I was going to go pop popcorn. She rolled her eyes and told me to go get a canvas. Fear struck. I knew it was now or never. Art Dog had refused to participate in my cockamamie plan. I was on my own. I considered going off and playing with the kids. I considered popping popcorn. I considered hiding in the bathroom or holding a lively conversation with the men. Then, just as a gazillion thoughts merged through my mind, the still small voice suggested I go get a canvas.......
Gingerly, I took a canvas from the pile. My girlfriends eagerly shared beautiful colors of paints, sizes of brushes and accepting smiles. The music played and even though I'd have rather been dancing, something strange captured my heart. The creator reminded me that He was my artist and that I was His canvas. He reminded me, as with the proverbial potter and clay that I was what He created. As girls laughed, painted and danced, I picked up the brush shakily and started to feel the life giver quietly guiding my imagination. Before long, I was mixing colors, even though I didn't know how. Slowly, a flower emerged and then a sun and then water. The flower was me, growing. The sun was God. The more time I sat in the sun, the more that I reflected God's image. The Holy Spirit was the water. Bari gave me some coppery brown that seemed very earthy. Soon the sun looked like it was sending fiery rays right into the flower. The flower, vibrant reflected the sun. I realized the art was kind of prophetic.
That's when, amidst the laughing and wine and crazy music that God really spoke to my heart and said He was going to heal me. It was clear and distinct. It was just like 9 years ago when God told me he would give me a baby when the flowers bloomed again, the promise of my littlest, Miss Moonbeam. Something in me changed. I knew it was true, that He really was going to heal me. I was tired of waking up grieving and afraid. I was tired of loss altogether. I was ready to be well again and up until then never knew if I ever would be. Too many things had been stolen from me and I'd spent too much time feeling broken. The more I painted, the more I knew that the painting really wasn't of my own talent. Several friends came up and complimented me on my work. Each time I told them about the prophetic meaning in it. They all liked it.
As the party wore on, people got a bit rowdier..... One of my most favorite friends ever, came up, too silly to realize what she was doing and dipped my brush in the blackest paint. I watched with horror as she spread the black directly across the blazing sunbeams, right through the middle of the flower. I gasped and collected my thoughts. I grabbed the painting and traded her for a pad of paper. I started washing off the black, but it created a permanent, eerie shadow. I knew the painting still spoke. The black shadow was a kind of "unpredictable" thing that happened. Sometimes things out of our control, bad things happen. The black shadow was like sin and evil. Its there and sometimes we can't stop its presence from messing up things in our lives. We are hurt by the choices and actions of others. Deep down, though, God still continues to do his work in us. We still reflect His image. He is still causing us to bloom despite the death in our lives. I kept trying to fix the shadow and the more I tried to fix it, the more distorted it appeared.
I hid back behind the table and painted on it until Matthew decided to start breaking his old dining room chairs on the cement floor. He had never liked his chairs and decided that tonight was the night to express yourself by smashing them. Soon everyone was busting up chairs on the concrete. Matthew can and does usually make a crazy game out of everything. He has the unique ability to get people on board with his crazy antics. Pieces of wood hit my painting and I knew that I'd better stop. I looked at it again. I also realized that in every death I died, new life and new fields would grow. Its just how God created it. Deep in the swirls of the dark shadow new life multiplied and rose up. And so, we can laugh, when our giddy friend does something a bit unpredictable. We can laugh because in it God is working all along. All along, He intends to heal us and bring forth more life. All along, He's there in the midst of our suffering and torment. He is the great painter, the great potter, the great Creator of our very souls......
I laid down my brush for the last time, and still loved my painting. Despite the good and the bad, the life and the death, God would make me bloom and he would heal me. My husband was now smashing a chair and looked rather proud of himself. We started dancing with pieces of broken chair. The party seemed to be taking a new turn. Elastawoman was moving art supplies and paintings to safer locations. I was dancing with my husband like there was no tomorrow. I ignored the fear and told myself to enjoy the moment and I did.......
A couple of weeks later, Belle and I signed up run "Bloomsday". I would be starting a new job soon. Spring was here. There was no telling what adventures might be ahead. The past lies behind, but not very far, beckoning from a watery grave. Its the dark shadow across the painting of my life, but its just a shadow. Its not the whole picture. No black can ever darken the Sun's reflection in our lives.