When I began this piece my heart was beating faster and trembling with excitement. It is the biggest piece I have ever worked on this current point in time. It broke me through to the other side of a world I kept wanting to visit but never had the courage to go because I was afraid to fly.
I'm not afraid anymore.
There are so many places this piece of love stems from. I didn't know what it would be until I got to the edge of the blues and greens and could suddenly see that this was all stemming from my resilience. My journey. My wins and losses, great and small. The brilliance of going the distance and sticking to your truth no matter the cost and the struggle.
And there I was brought back to an image that I clung to early on in my fight and battle in this journey of truth, vulnerability and healing. The thought originated for me through the reading of one of my favorite novels. Jane Eyre. I began reading this book when I was 4 or 5 months into my first pregnancy, a major transition in my life... and I couldn't put it down. I identified with Jane and her struggles and desires for love and belonging. This moment here in chapter five and a later passage began my visual image for what I had been through:
"I faced the wreck of the chestnut-tree; it stood up black and riven: the trunk, split down the centre, gasped ghastly. The cloven halves were not broken from each other, for the firm base and strong roots kept them unsundered below; though community of vitality was destroyed — the sap could flow no more: their great boughs on each side were dead, and next winter's tempests would be sure to fell one or both to earth: as yet, however, they might be said to form one tree — a ruin, but an entire ruin.
"You did right to hold fast to each other," I said: as if the monster- splinters were living things, and could hear me. "I think, scathed as you look, and charred and scorched, there must be a little sense of life in you yet, rising out of that adhesion at the faithful, honest roots: you will never have green leaves more — never more see birds making nests and singing idyls in your boughs; the time of pleasure and love is over with you: but you are not desolate: each of you has a comrade to sympathize with him in his decay."
This image of a damaged tree carried me. I had seen many trees damaged by storms in my days. They were of great interest to me now. How did they recover from the damages sustained? How did a tree change its growth pattern to accommodate its desire to live and grow? How did it heal so beautifully? How did it continue to do what it was meant to do?
Then the thought of how the damage sustained, while gaping and horrendous at the beginning, could be transformed with time into something amazing and whole, complete and beautiful. Really something that stands out as different from all of the other trees in the forest. Strong with character and interest because of the damage it had sustained. The roots of that tree can adapt, change and find the sustaining waters to keep the tree alive.
I also learned that it all takes time and patience. While some parts visibly change quickly the scars run deep and some of them never fully go away but are there as a marker for all time of the resilience , strength and love for life the tree has.
Time would be needed to become the full realization of what that life was meant to be.
And it is here that I find myself sharing this painting with you. This mighty tree that was so broken at the beginning. So lost and unsure. So afraid of the coming storms. So worried that a complete recovery, in the worlds sense, would never be granted.
I realized that time and patience with my heart, mind, and body were a necessity. That healing is done on my own terms and not what others thought it should look like. That I could take as long as needed to regrow parts of my heart and no one could rush that. That there would be people well meaning or otherwise who would think I should be at a different place by now or should just pick up and carry on. That I should be able to keep things as they always were and be who they thought I should be.
I also learned how to treat others on this vast journey. With care, respect, and pride for their individual process. It is different for every person to heal how they need to. So long as they do it. For if we choose to disregard our need to heal we die. We lose our hearts and become one of the fallen and follow a cycle of history.
I now feel like a mighty tree, with much beauty, strength, and life. No longer completely broken and lost. A direction has been found and a pattern of new growth established. I reach and grow for the light. The warm horizon of light, warmth and healing is ever present.
I have walked through the fire. I carry the scars of battle with pride and hold my head high, my eyes brighter than before. I look forward. Even in those moments of memory, I find the horizon of light and leave the grips of the storms behind.
The fear of coming storms is now gone because I now know what I am able to do..who I really am. That I am strong and capable of growing, healing the broken things and discarding the junk that tries to get twisted up in my branches. I am rooted well in the healing waters and the nourishment and support I need to stay strong and grow. I am rooted in and living my truth.