I am excited these days. And happy. Transitioning into some new things that make me feel hopeful. Starting a new job next week, teaching a weekend art retreat next weekend, and looking forward to so much in the coming months with anticipation and joy.
Abraham Heschel, an old favourite of mine to read, has been popping up again lately and reminding me of his incredible insight and how much he still speaks to me. He wrote, “Genuine solitude is the prelude to a new community.” I first read that back in 2015, but now, for the first time four years later, feel that I understand it and it is true.
You have to get to genuine solitude, the kind that is productive, fulfilling, and you can find real happiness in, before loneliness will finally leave you alone, and being alone is no longer the horror you thought it was. I am grateful, and smiling, and occasionally laugh to myself. And this kind of solitude brings peace at last.
Solitude has taught so much. How to be vulnerable, to be truly oneself, and to be ready for what comes next because I know I am ready within myself. I trust her. And it feels like new community is coming, at work, in art and teaching, and in private things as well. It’s a great feeling to get up in the morning and look forward to the day. To anticipate what might come my way.
Another thought from Heschel: “Nothing, therefore, is accidental. Even an intruding thought does not come at random. A thought is like a person. It arrives because it needs to be restored. A thought severed, abused, seeks to be reunited with its root. Furthermore, it may be a message sent to remind someone of a task, a task they were born to carry out."
It's true that nothing is accidental, and there are no mistakes, as I’d learned earlier. Even random thoughts, or seemingly random, have life and purpose to them. They are part of me, and embracing them and following where they lead means being able to be much truer to self, to be the real me, and to not be afraid to be the person I was meant to be. To be there for those I am meant to be there for and carry out the tasks I am designed for.
I think that’s why I look forward to this painting retreat so much. My biggest hope is that those attending will not learn to paint like I do, but discover what it means to paint like themselves. To actually recover a part of the true self through the process of painting and know the joy of expressing that. I hope it can be, as art expression has so often been for me, a springboard to deeper meaning, greater discovery, and simple rest.
We’re going to have fun too! Good fun brings out the best in us when we let go and be ourselves. In a very real way, fun heightens vulnerability, and that of course is where the real gold is…. To not just be our true selves in solitude but to be this in community too. And I know without even having experienced it that often, that is the place we’d all like to be!
I have something to offer. In small ways and in big. In thoughtful, quiet ways and in big, huggy, happy ways (honestly, my preferred method)! And I am excited to share it in all the places the doors are opening. And so glad that a few have decided to come along….