One of the questions I ask myself when I’m feeling stuck or undecided about what to do next is, “What makes my heart want to dance?”
And then, I close my eyes, take a couple of deep slow breaths. In. Out. And listen.
I listen to my body, my heart, my skin, my heart.
I imagine myself sinking from my head down, down, down into my heart. Further still, I imagine my consciousness sinking down, down, down into my belly.
And I listen.
I listen to the sound my body makes as I breathe. In. Out. I listen to the sounds around me. The quiet hiss of my computer. The piano playing softly in the background. The leaves rustling outside my window. The hiss of traffic crossing the bridge. The birds cawing. The hum of the refrigerator. The purr of the furnace fan. The river flowing.
And I feel.
I feel the sensation of the air entering my body, up through my nose, down into my lungs. I listen to the sound my body makes as I breathe. In. Out. The feeling of my thoughts floating down, down, down, from my head into my body. The stillness within as I sit and embody all that I am. All that is here. All that is in this moment.
And then, when I feel myself settled deep within my body, when I feel my entire being held in silence and grace within the moment, I repeat the question, “What makes my heart want to dance?”
Yesterday, the answer surprised me. Not because it wasn’t about painting or creating. It was.
What surprised me was the image that rose up from my belly and made my heart want to dance.
My eldest sister found a couple of prayer cards from my mother in the room where she used to stay in when she was strong enough to go for weekend visits. One of the cards was of Saint Thérèse de Lisieux, also known as, Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face.
When my mother left India in 1946, her father gave her a statue of St. Thérèse. It was standing by her bedside when she took her last breath.
St. Thérèse was named my patron saint when I took my confirmation when I was about 9 years old. “Pray to St. Thérèse” my mother would tell me in those moments when I was struggling or being a ‘bad girl’. “She is your heavenly advocate. She will help you.”
I didn’t like being called a bad girl and didn’t think a saint would actually call me that. I also wasn’t much into praying so I let my mother do the heavy lifting.
In later years, I left Catholicism behind but held onto the mystical, spiritual nature of life. Angels felt ‘real’ to me. I would call upon them to guide and support me, though I wasn’t too enamoured with the saints. I could not relate to their piety and as a consequence, seldom named St. Thérèse as my advocate.
And then, I fell into a pit of darkness of a relationship that almost killed me. I remember thinking in the really dark moments towards the end, that even death was too busy to bother with me. Why would the angels answer my pleas?
Of all the things I lost during that relationship, one of the one’s that has been the hardest to reclaim is my belief in the spiritual nature of life.
Creating this altered book art journal of my mother’s prayer cards is leading me back. It is connecting me to the spiritual essence of this journey called ‘my life’.
Yesterday, as I held the St. Thérèse prayer card in my hands, a tiny voice whispered in my mind, “And the angels heard her prayers and carried them to the wind who blew them all around the world in a song of love for humanity.”
And my heart danced and I began to create.
This morning, as I checked to ensure I spelled her name correctly and had the accents properly placed, I read the expanded quote written on the card. Words spoken by St. Thérèse de Lisieux before she died at the age of 24. Words I hadn’t read before I started painting…
“When I die, I will send down a shower of roses from the heavens, I will spend my heaven by doing good on earth.”