Lesson #3: Peer Behind the Veil
OK. Let’s face it. Life does not always feel like a Feast. Sometimes it feels positively the opposite: a famine. We look in our food pantry and it’s pretty bare, a loved one is sick, health issues are multiplying, someone close to you has died, bills are mounting, a relationship is strained. Even just the monotony and busyness of day-to-day living can be oppressive. In these times, it’s as if a coat of dust has settled over everything around us, keeping us from seeing its real beauty. This veil comes between us and the vibrancy of what we’ve actually been given lacks any sparkle or glimmer. We just can’t see it. Our eyesight is dimmed.
I tell you, DRAWING, PAINTING, CREATING has the power to open your eyes to see through the dust. It’s as if, with each swipe of your pen, crayon, or paintbrush, you are smearing away the dust. Somehow (and I don’t know that I can really articulate how) drawing in and through these times can bring a sense that THERE’S MORE to your life than the presenting situation. That, in some strange sense, there actually is a Feast behind the veil of the current famine.
There’s a scene in one of my favorite movies that illustrates this well. In the movie Hook, Robin Williams superbly plays the role of Peter Pan. In this scene, Peter is still not the Peter Pan they remember of old…he has lost his ability to crow (use his imagination). Peter and the Lost Boys sit down to have their evening meal and there’s nothing on the table but empty bowls and plates. As Peter finds his voice and learns to crow (albeit in boyish verbal daggers), a feast appears before them, sumptuous and in full color! This is what happens when we find our voice in our sketchbooks. We just have to show up to the table (the page) and begin to crow (draw/paint/collage/write)!
It may sound really silly to you, in the midst of what you’re experiencing, for me to tell you that if you draw, and draw, and draw…the Feast will appear. I’m not promising riches, nor healing for your loved ones. But I am saying that in drawing, just the act of drawing (and not the final results), the saddened heart is lifted a bit, the impoverished soul is fed, a thirsty heart is closer to being quenched, and an anxious mind is eased. Somehow, when we draw/paint/etc., a sense of abundance returns to us…a feeling that somehow everything’s going to be alright. We may even find renewed strength to move through the current difficult situation.
I’m not holding out a pollyanna view of things, as in, just be positive and it will all turn out ok. I know this lesson in my own life and have experienced it time and time again throughout the years I’ve been drawing and painting. It was my mainstay when Maddie was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. You can read posts about that time here and here. I have drawn and painted when loved ones and friends were going through tremendous difficulties… here is just one example. These are only a few places in my life where Peering Beyond the Veil has upheld me. I know this is true for other artists as well. Such as Laura Frankstone of Laurelines‘ drawings of her mom in her final days. Veronica Lawlor talks about her experience of drawing the Towers, on site, as they fell on 9/11. Watch this video interview with her describing what that was like. Cathy Johnson writes (and illustrates) beautifully of this subject. And our Everyday Matters leader, Danny Gregory, speaks to this so wonderfully in his book by the same title, Everyday Matters. I know there are many, many more who can attest to this mini-miracle that happens when we draw. It isn’t that our difficult circumstances are changed by drawing…but rather that we are enabled to SEE our circumstances in a new way. Drawing can transform a drowning despair into a joy-threaded ache.
Some suggestions and ideas for Peering Behind the Veil this week:
*Draw/Paint/Collage/Write the “famine” places in your life. Paint what they feel like. Draw the actual circumstances, either in the midst of them, or at a later time from memory.
*Create abstract images with color, line, papers that speak to what’s happening inside you and around you. Choose colors that convey your heartfelt grapplings with this part of your life.
*Draw/Paint/Collage any and all positive aspects of what your are going through. Look for them, draw them, write them. Even if it’s only that the sun is shining…draw it!
*Write out, in decorative lettering, quotes that are helpful to you in the midst of your circumstances.
*Create an image of the positive outcome you desire to happen in these difficult events, even if that seems unlikely.
*If someone you know is going through a rough time, and you are also saddened by it, why not make a little painting or drawing to give to them? The act of doing this will help you AND them.
A Blessing: May you have the strength and bravery to pick up your sketchbook and swipe at the dust. May your drawing practice allow you to see beyond the veil and experience your life and its difficult circumstances in a new light. May you lift up your Voice (pen, paper, paint, etc.) and Crow and Crow (paint, draw, write…)!
“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” –Pablo Picasso
***Access all Mini Lessons for Drawing Your Life at the top of the home page on my blog! (OR just click the highlighted words in blue!)