In her book, A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live Emily Freeman writes,
You have the capacity to perform the human act of making art, of doing work that comes from deep within you and touches something deep within me.
We make art with our lives.
My friend, Carolyn, makes art with her life.
She shows up daily as a poem and creates beauty where she’s planted, even as she cares for seven grandchildren 24/7.
A couple years ago, Carolyn participated in Dressember. She wore a dress every day throughout the month and shared photographs on Facebook. She paired these with touching posts in order to call attention to the issue of human trafficking. She changed her cover and profile photos to graphically depict herself as a battered and bound human slave.
Carolyn learned to make wire trees at a Laity Lodge retreat.
“I can’t stop making wire trees,” she said.
“I want a tree,” I told her. “Would you make me a tree?”
So she made me a tree, boxed it up and shipped it from Texas to Michigan.
But she did not just make me a tree.
She made art that came from deep within her.
This tree blooms with symbolism.
The eight branches represent my family members.
The beads on the branches are just some extra “pretties.”
I’d asked for one red bead to symbolize “hope.” That’s the red heart bead that “shoots out” of the top of the tree.
The tiny bird hanging from the tree matches a bird on our Prayer Warrior necklaces.
The stones on the roots are tourmaline, Carolyn’s favorite gemstone, and she just wanted to share it with me.
The berry bush started as a “messing around to see what I could put together.” The finished product “tripped a memory” for her from the movie Girl, Interrupted. “In one scene,” she wrote, “an instructor is leading the girls through a movement exercise where they are stretching upwards to be like a tree. One of the girls sits on the floor and declares that she is a shrub. That memory made me giggle, and so I decided to add the bush to your piece just because it made me laugh.”
Since Carolyn made this, we’ve gained two new grandchildren. Well, one and a berry still in the bush that’s scheduled to ripen in October, so I’ve decided the two berries represent them.
She painted the base dark green, but then thought the color overpowered the tree. So she added and sealed a layer of sand collected from North Padre Island where she grew up to lighten it up. “I would not share my sand with just anyone,” she wrote.
Carolyn scattered 13 pebbles on the sand. She collected them from the banks of the Frio River on a very cold, very wet November day. They represent the 13 members of our prayer group who met each other in person at Laity Lodge.
The flowers that trail from the side of the base are just for fun, some “pretty” to fill the empty holes.
She covered the underside with felt so the wires don’t show, but first she wrote a blessing and and tucked it inside.
Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither–whatever they do prospers. (Psalm 1:1-3)
Carolyn is like that tree. I’m pretty sure God clapped His hands when His creation stood back to admire her creation. This gift uncovers all kinds of memories, and I see even more symbolism besides what Carolyn shared. It touches deep things in me and makes me smile.
How are you making art with your life?
In the stillness,
Edited and reposted to link with The High Calling’s theme, “Art Matters.“