“The handcrafted life is very much like this. It takes a lifetime to accomplish. It emerges from a small and infinitely exquisite piecing together of one’s inner and outer lives, these being crafted, played, woven together every day, every week, every month, come summer, come winter, the same. So, when there is a hunger in the psyche because not enough love or nourishment is forthcoming from the outer world, then there is temptation to seize at things that might relieve some of the suffering. But the shortcut, the easy way, always falls apart. Then one returns to the handmade life. One has to pick it up painfully, and piece it back together, holding the overall pattern in one’s mind, but working patiently, piece by piece.”
These words from Clarissa Pinkola Estés’ The Red Shoes jumped off the page to me yesterday — because this year has been a year of making. I’m trying to figure out how to make without the inner critic jumping out of my skin and saying it sucks. I’m trying not to think about the composition or the quality of the line that I’m making or what the image looks like. It’s why this prayer practice works for me. I’m trained in the arts. I studied it in college. I’m even pretty good — though I felt that confident in the studios of my college. I always felt that I didn’t have something to say. My classmates all seemed to have this tremendous visual commentary on the world that gushed out of them. I knew how to make a pretty picture. I knew how to manipulate watercolor. Much to the chagrin of my professors, I made oil paints look like watercolor. I was lost in glazes — but I didn’t know what it was that I needed to say. I didn’t know what my perspective was. I didn’t know what my truth was.
Yesterday, I tried to play with something unfamiliar in order to capture this gnawing awareness that hasn’t yet gone away. It’s ten years later. I know that there’s a sermon that I preach over and over again. I know how to mold words to say that one thing that matters most to me. There are two things actually. I say them over and over again. I know this. Yesterday, I tried to recapture that visual language in these two collages using the inspiration from SoulCollage with the encouragement of my online journey this Advent season. (The quote was also found in this online journey.)
I realized a few things in this process. First, I don’t really like collage. I want to draw things into the images I cut out. I’m really not interested in being limited to these images. Second, the magazines I have at home are all text based. There are very, very, very few photos. It limits the sources of inspiration and reminds me that I’ve found my calling in words — not images. Third, I’m not really sure what these say. I was thinking about wilderness. I was thinking about the wildness of God. I was considering this poem entitled The Journey by David Whyte. But, these images don’t seem to articulate all that I want to say. I want there to be more.
Maybe I just need to pick up my pen and my color pencils and draw the images myself. Perhaps the risk to “make” as is the prompt for today’s #Reverb10 is truly to find that one line that is already written inside me. It might be in words. It might take me a lifetime to translate it into an image — but I like the adventure. I like the risk. I hope I never give up.