During the summer before third grade a large manila envelope came in the mail with my name on it. Inside was a letter T on tag board paper, and instructions to decorate the T however I pleased, then bring it to class with me on the first day of school. I immediately got to work. My mom had shiny gold ribbon she used for Christmas presents and I cut it up into tiny little pieces and glued them onto the T. It was a shiny, glowing, homemade glittery thing. I proudly brought it to school the first day, took it out with a beaming grin, and then noticed that all the other children had drawn with crayon on their letters. I shriveled up into a cocoon inside my heart and reluctantly turned my T into the teacher. She tacked the letters up onto the wall, one by one, and there for all to see was the word:
C R E A T I V I T Y
My T stood out in the very middle, bright as a butterfly and a little ridiculous. It embarrassed me then, with all the sniggers and pointing around the room, but now the memory and irony makes me smile.
I believe I was created to create. Whether by the process of natural selection from primordial ooze or crafted in seconds by ethereal hands, I know I am a finite being with infinite desires. Being created in the image of a creator has given me an innate desire to create; to drive forward the force that made me, to challenge empty space, to breathe light into dark places, and life into death. These desires point me toward God. And the things I create are an offering of sorts.
“The artist is a servant who is willing to be a birthgiver. In a very real sense the artist (male or female) should be like Mary who, when the angel told her that she was to bear the Messiah, was obedient to the command.
…I believe that each work of art, whether it is a work of great genius, or something very small, comes to the artist and says, “Here I am. Enflesh me. Give birth to me.” And the artist either says, “My soul doth magnify the Lord,” and willingly becomes the bearer of the work, or refuses; but the obedient response is not necessarily a conscious one, and not everyone has the humble, courageous obedience of Mary.
As for Mary, she was little more than a child when the angel came to her; she had not lost her child’s creative acceptance of the realities moving on the other side of the everyday world. We lose our ability to see angels as we grow older, and that is a tragic loss.” ~Madeleine L’Engle
I admit it is hard to see sometimes. Having faith in something invisible, shrouded in so much myth and translation, wanting to accept all and define my life by beauty and love, and being discouraged by the ugliness that comes attached to religion …it’s hard to put a name on my beliefs sometimes. But the power of life and creation is clear to me. The literal back splitting desire of a caterpillar to grow wings…dusty, colorful, flight-giving wings…that desire is in me too. From dust we came and to dust we shall return, I’ve been told. I like to imagine it being like the dust on butterfly and moth wings. And the moth’s ever persistent search for the light…that’s me too. What better metaphor do I have for my creator? Arising from death and leading others to light.
Perhaps Lepidoptera are my own form of angels. Image: The scales (dust) of a Luna Moth wing.
So here I am, in a constant haze of petals and pollen, paint on my fingers, words on my heart..prayers in the form of paintings and creation showcased on white space.
I have a fire lit beneath me, like a moth to a flame, to burn the whole universe with the visions that simmer within. But I am finite, and unable to get the right phrase. It’s there on the tip of my tongue, but challenged by my weak flesh; this vessel made of dust and crumpled papery wings. And I am still a little embarrassed and cocooned, but with the grace of the infinite a little bit may shine on this present world, and I may spread my wings and find the light.
is the artist behind Flora Forager, the mother of three wild boys, and a believer in everyday magic.