The big painting is coming along, slowly, but still something visible emerging. I am in a seriously contemplative place these days, and everything is tied to everything else. It all speaks and it all sends the same message....
When I started the background for this painting I had in mind something of the colours of fire and of the sense that the colour was rising, flowing upward. I was going to do more on it but decided there was enough there. So I've begun the lines of the family portrait that is coming out of this fire. So much thought goes into this before I pick up a paint brush. It can be days at a time before I put down the next marks.
It's a small thing but I found a water-soluble India ink at the art supply store today. I wanted something that will make a strong line like India ink does, but allow it to bleed when I want it to. Thankfully there is such a thing. An insignificant detail to most I imagine, but a small victory in this process of expression.
Solitude has been on my mind a lot too and not because I love it so much. It can be so long, tedious and silent. And it is not as subtle or as spiritual as it sounds. It's so in my face much of the time. But I realized today that some of the things I'm working on require it. It wouldn't be possible to make this art without all the sifting and attention that it needs. Turns out the gift can be demanding.
At Kabbalah class the other night the Rabbi was talking about the human soul and how the soul of humanity is like a flame, always striving upward. And like the wick and candle, what keeps it anchored to the ground is the human body. It reminded me of what I was doing in this painting and I loved how it all fit together. I think when I really listen, more and more things fall into place, and each part of life speaks to the other parts. There is less confusion, when I am open to listening, and it's easier to see the whole.
The Rabbi went on to say that the seven candles of the menorah correspond to seven types of souls and the different things each flame is inspired by. As he made his way through the seven he said each of us are given one type of soul, one flame, each with its own mission in this life which we are meant to fulfill. And each flame is inspired by a different emotion. As he made his way through the seven, there were two that resonated with me. The first was the intellect or learning, and the second, bonding or connection. I asked him how we know what is primary if we find ourselves connecting with more than one flame. He said the primary flame, the one we are to fulfill, is the one that first attracts us or pulls us in. It is the means through which we reach the secondary flame. It made so much sense to me. The intellect and learning has always been such a big draw for me, in myself and in others. And it has always been the way to connecting and bonding with friends and loved ones. To me, a challenging conversation about ideas is often the same thing as forming a connection. (Knowing they are distinct though, means being careful not to confuse the two either.)
When I went back to this painting today, I realized that I am fulfilling important work. I am working out step by step what I am learning. I am putting down in a visual image what I have learned about myself through family history, through hours of thought, through conversations with others, through teachers, through Torah, Kabbalah, Tanya and G-d.
I know I don't always want to live this way, solitude is valuable to the fulfillment of my work and I will always need it in some measure, but bonding and connection are still too important for me to let it slip away. But if the flame of learning is my way there, then I am already on the path. The rest will happen when it is meant to. In my relationships and in my art.
And there is incredible peace this way. Everything fits together. Nothing is outside of the wholeness, and again I am reminded, everything is One. The soul reaches for G-d, the body moves as it fulfills its purpose in this world, the paint brush glides across the canvas, and suddenly it is clear. Everything is prayer. Everything is reaching higher. You are doing what you are supposed to do. You will go where you are meant to go.