I am so excited to be chosen as one of Artlifting's artists. Now my paintings are available in print format for purchase. Here is a link to my page. There are seven paintings available. I really appreciate everyone's response to my work in alcohol inks. It kept me painting!
A ninety-something friend called this morning to let me know about an upcoming luncheon. I am part of a sorority, PEO, that was started in the 1800's by a woman who didn't get into a sorority in college. Anti-establishment, wouldn't you say? My grandmother and aunts were members of PEO in the Midwest. The friends my grandmother made sustained her through many trials, including losing a daughter, pregnant with her third child, to polio. "God really forsook me then," she used to say.
A few years ago, I took a plunge that I never took in college, and joined a sorority. I affectionately call it 'my secret society.' I met a woman through a mutual friend and when she mentioned "PEO" I became very nostalgic, recollecting my father's mother who was so involved. "PEO raises money for women to go to college," the woman explained when I was contemplating joining, "but mostly we go to lunch." Yet another affirmation that this is my kind of group.
Don't ask me what PEO stands for because I pledged I wouldn't tell anyone. My grandfather used to say it means "pop eats out" since my grandmother wouldn't be home to cook on meeting days. Later, it was suspected to mean "phone each other," since they did, which brings me to my friend's phone call this morning to let me know what restaurant we would descend upon for this month's luncheon.
I have a literal phobia of the telephone, so much so that I rarely answer my phone and have to muster up the courage to make even the simplest calls. But when my caller ID flashed "Retha" I fumbled for the remote to mute the television (It was under the Dalmatian), grabbed my smartphone, and successfully slid the awkward green button on the screen without accidentally hanging up on the caller. Technology exacerbates phobia.
Chatting does not come naturally to me. I have to remind myself, "Ask them how they are doing..." when I interact with people. I have a weird pragmatism that demands 'getting to the point,' perhaps stemming from my military upbringing, ('Answer the question!' my father demanded), but its root cause is most likely social anxiety that causes me to live with an invisible barrier that hovers about 8 inches from my face. Like the layer of athmosphere that envelops the earth, I have an 8 inch thick miasma that I look through when I interact with people. But I like to talk with Retha.
When you reach your nineties, you must feel free to say or do just about anything you want. When I was turning forty, older friends coached me that they felt that entitlement at forty. Ninety being more than twice as old as forty, and with time running out along with the energy it takes to be reserved, I imagine any remaining filters are just about gone. Maybe that's why I love older people. I'm guessing the bumper sticker "I tried to contain myself, but I escaped" describes them too.
Retha asked how I was doing, and after I gave my report, (get to the point, answer the question), I remembered to ask how she was doing. She always says "I'm GREAT!" She will soon be travelling to her family reunion where she is the matriarch. She told me about a little health scare but the biopsy was negative, and she asked the doctor why he didn't "put back the fatty tumor and spread it around" since she needs all the weight she can put on. She is soon to be a great-grandmother.
As we were saying good bye, she said "Now you go and be the smart artist that you are" and continued, "Over the years I developed a philosophy. I don't know when I thought of this... Maybe I've always seen life this way. I tell myself 'I love everybody, and I know everybody loves me, so everything is going to be alright! '" Maybe once all our reserve has been worn away by the years, all that is left is love. I hope so.
I feel terrible. I often awaken with a dull headache and my body feeling like it is weighted down with bricks. Aside from the constant pain from my 2nd try at a hip replacement, i suffer from a crushing fatigue that has come and gone for years. In an effort to shake this feeling, I watered my garden first thing in the morning. There is always some suprise. Like a light in a dark room, or a joke to break the tension, no matter how small it is, it lightens my spirit. This morning, I noticed a tiny two-leafed coleus peeking out from under a pot. I didn't plant it there, it either grew from a stray seed or a dropped leaf.
Still feeling dull headed and flat hearted, I turned to a daily podcast meditation created by Jesuit monks called 'Pray as you go.' This morning, the reading was from Matthew 9:1-8. Jesus is moved by the faith of a group of friends carrying a parallized man toward him. He tells the man on his bed, "Take heart, son, your sins are forgiven." The ultimate reality, is that the man is made well. I confess, I often think cynically that a reliance on 'ultimate reality' is the consolation prize of faith. I have also accused Jesus of being an imaginary friend.
Speaking of blasphemy, that is what the scribes mutter about Jesus' words of forgiveness, and Jesus sees right through it. "Why do you think evil in your hearts?" He asks, then challenges them, "What is greater, to forgive sins or make a sick man well?" In their minds, they may have considered it the former, but in their hearts they needed Jesus to do the later, and He does. He tells the paralized man to roll up his bed and go home, and he does. I envision his bed as Persian rug, outdoors on the ground and I want to paint it.
The crowd was wowed, and so are we, much more impressed with physical healing than with spiritual healing, Which is greater, healing or forgiveness? Rising from the dead or promises? They seem to be connnected. Not that the man's sin caused his illness, but that a broken planet results in legs that don't work, eyes that don't see, and ears that can't or won't hear. Jesus humbles himself to accomodate the doubts of his enemies ,and as a result, a man of faith walks home. Jesus fixes what sin broke.
Groups of faithful friends that have carried John and I in prayer to where Jesus is. Though I live convinced that God is mad at me and ready to torch me with His breath, it comforts me that Jesus is moved by faith, even if it's not my own. The podcast meditation called on the listener to imagine being in the presence of the love of Christ. Confess to Him or just rest in His love, it instructs. I confessed my lack of faith, my anger, my quitting. I tried to imagine being on the side of a dusty path waiting for Jesus to heal me. I felt like I wasn't sick enough or good enough to warrant attention. I cried.
Recently, John had a bladder cancer scare. I had already thrown my hands up at God and asked "Are you really good or are you just waiting for me to let my defenses down so you can drop a bomb on me?" Annie Dillard has an image of God as a beautiful cloud. A hand comes from inside the cloud and pulls it back like a curtain to reveal a monster. Is that who God is? I was mad. I had given God the credit for being on my side and maybe I was mistaken.
Waiting for shoes to drop is a practice of bad dot connecting. I try to remember to connect the good dots instead. Like a two-year-old in a temper tantrum, I tested God with my 'are you really good' question. I know the answer, and like a toddler, fall asleep, sweaty brow on God's shoulder, body gone limp, resting in the One I know I can trust. The One who is beside me no matter what I face. The one who heals. The one who forgives sins.