Brushstrokes and Questions

There were Christmas decorations to put away, and a few lunch dishes to wash. But I climbed into my car, and I parked on a snowy street, and I jay walked my way into the National Art Gallery.

I always forget how much I love art until I stand in front of paintings that envelope me. I feel fully alive as I make my way through echoing hallways and stand close to brushstrokes and canvases. I wandered the gallery, getting lost in thoughts and in emotions until I found myself in the middle of the building, a snow covered glass roof above me and an opening to an indoor garden below. I pulled out my new purple Moleskin, fresh and beautiful in its emptiness, and sat down to put pen to paper.

Because today I stared at paintings but I didn’t really see them. Maybe I saw a few – I got lost in Van Gogh’s mesmerizing, thick brushstrokes, so layered I could almost feel his hands moving across the canvas. I stood for what seemed like hours in front of Monet’s representation of London’s fog, bare outlines of whatever lay behind it.

But mostly I was more aware of myself as I moved through the gallery. I saw myself in the way artists sought for their answers in each canvases, as they struggled to make sense of the way they saw and understood life. I felt their questions more than I felt any answers and as I moved from one room to the next, I figured maybe having no answers was okay. Maybe the point is not always to know where you’re going, but just to keep moving. Keep asking. Keep looking.

All my life I have been told to guard your heart. Protect it, they say. Don’t wear your emotions on your sleeve and just stop falling so hard. But I am just not so sure, you see, if what they have told me is true. I don’t know if protecting your heart means running from the hard paces. I think protecting your heart might look a little more like whispering, “You’ll be okay. You’ll be a little broken, maybe even a lot. You won’t be sure of some things, and others you’ll figure out along the way. But those broken pieces? those will create scars that tell the beautiful story, the one that tells of risks and loss and being broken to be put back together again.”

I think that might be what protecting your heart might be like. I think we’ve been told all our lives to avoid the hard places, to treat slowly. But I just don’t know. I just think that we are brave, us humans. I think we need to break and hurt and heal. I think God’s got us, and He’d be the first one to stand next to us on the ledge and tell us that when we jump, it’ll be scary. When our feet hit the water and our body glides into it, it’ll feel strange and our bodies will tingle and our hair will be wet and our skin wrinkly. But that water will remind us of who we are – we’ll get to the shore again, and when we do, our bodies will be changed and altered and we will remember what it’s like to come alive.

Because we’ll have jumped,

we’ll have risked,

and we’ll be okay. And maybe, always, we will be better for it.