Beyond the Muffin
For sometime now, I've attempted to organize my thoughts an feelings since i choked to death on that muffin. So many thoughts, sensations, hopes. It's as if the floodgates of my most hidden and secret desires have burst forth and i am confronted with how much i want things of God, how hungry i am for Him and only Him and was too afraid to really allow myself to feel it,.
On the one had life has taken some exciting turns since the Day of the Muffin. OTOH, life has also been very introspective.
First the exciting bits, Fr. Mike said in front of witness that I clearly have a gift for writing icons and in his opinion, it is well worth the church investing in it. He lived up to this opinion when he present the Vestry with the opportunity to spend $2500 or so to send me to the Pecos School of Iconography which I mentioned in the previous entry. The vestry unanimously actually approved this expenditure. My flight is booked, the course is paid for and on May 23 I leave San Diego for three weeks in Pecos, NM. I have never in my life had anyone willing to invest thousands of dollars in me. I realize that they are really investing in God but it sure still feels like a overwhelming gift to me personally.
As if this were not enough, Fr. Mike also gave me an empty office at the church to use as a studio. It has the best light in the whole building. I have a place to work in solitude which is so very in keeping with my Rule.
As if this were not enough, people at church keep asking over and over to see my icons. They can't seem to get enough of them. I thank them for their compliments. Then I tell them how I have messed about with paints for decades (messed being the operative word) and never produced anything lovely. So it is my deep conviction that God is painting the icon through me and I am but an instrument in His hand as the paintbrush is in mine.
Now for the introspective bits....
All this support has hit me hard. To the point of tears. I've never had such support. To tell the truth, I've not had any. And certainly not to the point of anyone being willing to invest thousands of dollars in me. When I say there is something I want to do the response is "if that's what you want, dear." Or "You want to do WHAT?" The most common is "You can't. Not you." I don't know where to find the words to communicate how deep an impact the support of my parish has been. Not a vague " whatever seems best to you," but a whole hearted enthusiasm from everyone in the parish and a huge chunk of money.
Choking on the muffin and being being revived so that I could continue to care for my mother and write icons was, I think, the Holy Spirit's equivalent of knocking me upside the head with a two by four as a means of gaining my attention. She means business. She means for me to write icons. All this parish support has been the two by four continuing its litany upside my head.
The thing is, my life has a purpose that has grown out of the Solitary vocation, a meaning that gives new depth to the vocation to which God has called me. To write an icon is to pray contemplatively. There is no other way to describe it. To write an icon for any other purpose is sacrilegious.
I am no good at writing this. Although I've lived 6 years now under vows and although my life has been structured around prayer and good works, I feel as if my life has been shot full of meaning and purpose I never had before. Oh it had meaning, it had purpose. But in many ways I was making the best of a bad job. After all I am disabled for major depressive Disorder and every day I have had to gauge where I was on the continuum of depression and adjust my plans accordingly. For the first time in my conscious life, I don't have to do that any more. I am free, liberated. It's as is I've never struggled with depression in my life. I wake up every dear eager to embrace it and to get to my studio to work.
I've never had that sense either. My wildest dreams have come true. I am free of depression. I never in my life thought that would be. I accepted depression as part of the had I was dealt, as part of sin being visited on the children and the children's children ad infinitum. Ad nasuem, as a matter of fact. I was cowardly and never asked God to take away the depression , only to make me endure it. But I wanted it gone and He took it away. Just like that,
The Holy Spirit guides my hand as I hold the brush and mix the paint then apply it to the board. I am doing another Good Shepherd. My prayers are constant as I work. "Here I am, Jesus, with Your beautiful face. Guide my hand, take over my hand and mind and body, You be the artist. You make the icon a fit receptacle for the image of Yourself. You make it lovely. To you the glory forever and ever." Such are my thoughts.
Oh, I'm not living in a halcyon utopia where everything is perfect. Years of living with depression have adversely affected my abilities with personal relationships and that is just as true as ever. But for the first time I feel as if it is possible for that to change. After all, if God took away my depression, maybe He will also turn me into a gracious person. I am willing to take the risks, now.