Saturday, 9 June 2018

Book of Life

I believe every life is a story. It is a bit like a book, with each chapter a story within the story, woven together with all the other chapters in the book.

If I were to write an index for my personal story book, in chapter one I’d find a story about my early childhood. I might call that chapter Love and Discovery. Skipping a few chapters, I might come to the chapter called Hard Times; that’s the story of my teen years, a story of confusion and loneliness, punctuated with flashes of light. And the chapter on becoming a mother for the first time might be titled Oh Wow! and would read like a confusing tale of frustration, delight, anxiety and joy.

There’s one chapter, not a very long one, that’s titled Searching for God Knows What. It comes right after the one titled Grazing in a Safe but Boring Pasture. I really was looking for some big thing, my next calling, to be revealed, and I was counting on my Creator to reveal it to me.

And boy, did he/she ever deliver! I started my first blog with part of that story (June 30, 2013). It goes like this:

“Once upon a time, there was a woman of a certain age who wondered what she would do with the rest of her life. The call to her career was fading, and nothing was replacing it.

So, on a rainy camping holiday on the West coast, she set out on vision quest, deliberately keeping her heart and mind open. She journaled, she prayed, she read, she listened, she paid attention to her dreams, always hoping to catch a glimpse of the “big thing” that would grab hold of her and guide her into a fulfilling future.”

One of the things that happened on that trip was a visit to the Yaquina Bay Art Gallery in Newport, Oregon. That’s when I saw her: the mermaid with the red hat and big purple butt, her tail swinging out over the ocean.

Watercolour by Cheryl Ruehl

Her back is lumpy with a bit of extra padding and a slight roll around her waist. She is facing away, looking into the distance to see what might be coming next over the horizon. “Oh yes,” she whispers. “You know me!” She continues, "Something is out there for you. I know it. It will come.” I had to have her. So for $12, I got a steal of a deal: a mermaid who sat on a shelf in my studio, becoming my muse, perhaps even my guardian angel, a promise for my future.

More things happened on that trip. There was a hazy glimpse of what the future would look like: I would be writing and quilting about the lives of women of “a certain age”. How I could possibly do that wasn’t at all clear – what platform did I have to speak from, after all? An empty-nest mother and a free-lance writer whose specialty was writing Sunday School Curriculum? (“Do people actually get paid to do that?” asked an incredulous man. Yes, if you’re lucky! But the contracts were drying up.)

Nevertheless, I trusted the glimpse. It accompanied me through all kinds of adventures as we moved to the beautiful Comox Valley to begin a new life. Uprooting and getting repotted into a bigger container can sometimes stimulate new growth, and that’s what happened to me. I grew spiritually, and I learned about fibre art, both developments I would need before I could make my vision come true when Crow Day One was born.

And so it happens that for the past five years, I’ve been living in the chapter titled Looking out from the Crow’s Nest. That chapter started in a breathless voice of wonder: "Can this actually be happening to me? I feel as though I’m doing something that I’ve been waiting all my life to do." My alter ego, the crow, had been nudging me to squawk, and squawk I did.

I squawked through more than 180 posts, and it was a wonderful ride. As #45 would say, “Yuge! It was yuge! The best!”

Lately, though, I’ve noticed something. The crow is so much quieter. It’s almost as though she is saying, “Lots to squawk about, but that’s not your job right now. Time to listen.” And that message seems to be affirmed by the piece of art I came across this spring when once again we visited the same Yaquina Bay Art Gallery in Newport Oregon where my journey started.

silkscreen by Jane Hodgkins

There she is: another muse. She’s sitting quietly looking over her shoulder at me. She’s more of a suggestion of a crow than an in-your-face feathered squawker. What is she waiting for – another major revelation, another vision, another calling to the next big thing? Or maybe not. Maybe she’s telling me, Just BE!

Of course, I bought this crow, and I’m using her as inspiration for my self-portrait at 70. I begin by  thread sketching her on soluble background.

And what about a background? I love the reds and oranges, colours that symbolize creativity to me ...

but something tells me that blue hues may be appropriate for this time in my life: a time of waiting and listening as I look forward to what may come. And in the meantime, just BE!

 This is not going to be an easy thing for me, I must say. But I will trust that it is going to be good.

Who knows what that next chapter will be titled?

PS: I’ll still continue to blog when the crow within squirms and squawks. I’ll still continue to create art which I’d like to share with you. And I have a good idea for a project that will take up most of the coming year. It will all be revealed, bit by bit, in the next chapter, the Lord willing.

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