My father was a curious man. He read voraciously and always replied to questions such as, ‘How do you spell ___________?” or “What’s does _________mean?” with the response, “Go look it up in the dictionary.”
Of course, I’d try to find a ‘smart alecky’ answer like, “If I don’t know how to spell it how can I look it up?
It never phased him. He’d make me think about the spelling, what I thought it was, and work from there.
Question about the meaning of life, or things or processes were always answered with, “Go look it up in the Encyclopedia Britannica.”
The EB was the fount of all knowledge when I was growing up. If it wasn’t in the Encyclopedia, it wasn’t worth knowing.
Because French was my mother’s native tongue, I seldom asked her those kinds of questions. For her, I reserved my curiosity about God.
“Why would God place a sin on an unborn child? Aren’t we born perfect and whole in God’s image?”
“Why do dead people have to wait it out in Purgatory for prayers of the living to release them? Doesn’t God forgive all sin? Isn’t that why Jesus died?”
To my mother, my constant questioning of God was an assault on her faith and her being.
I didn’t intend it to be but, because so much of what I learned about God as a child was fear-based, I wanted answers so I wouldn’t feel so afraid.
I didn’t like feeling afraid, especially if the adults around me didn’t have ways to assuage my fear.
And I definitely didn’t like the anxiety of waiting for ‘the Hand of God’ to come crashing down from the heaven’s above and knock some sense into me. Which is something my mother often wished for, at least that’s how I translated her entreaties that I ‘be like the others’ (my 3 older siblings) and stop disobeying her constantly.
“God knows everything,” my mother would say. “He sees you and hears you and he is angry at you for being so bad.”
And she would cry and wonder out loud what she had done to deserve such a difficult child as me.
After years of therapy and inner child work and personal development courses and journalling and a host of other practices to make sense of the mess I felt was ‘me’ inside, I understand how my mother and I walked on such unsteady ground.
How could she keep me safe from the world if I was constantly putting my eternal soul in danger by questioning God’s will?
How could she have peace if I was constantly searching for answers to the things she did not want to speak of?
One of the gifts of art journalling is its invitation to experiment. With products, process, perspective…
Awhile ago, I watched a video on using Vaseline with alcohol inks. I wasn’t using Alcohol Inks on this page but was curious what would happen if I used it with acrylic inks.
The vaseline acts as a resist so that when I spray onto the page, where ever I’ve applied the vaseline, the ink doesn’t adhere. When the ink is dry, wipe it off and voilá! (Ok. The wiping off takes patience but it’s well worth it!)
The lighter spaces, including within the dark image on the left which was the photo on the page I was working on, remain untouched by the ink.
For me, this page speaks to the mystery of my mother’s faith, of life, of relationships, of the universe.
I see the scrolly piece at the bottom as the filigree frame that separated the penitent from the priest in the confessional.
The lone figure walking towards the lit area of the image on the left is me, searching for answers while staying true to myself — which was not always easy when my path took me far from the Catholicism of my mother’s way.
And the entreaty to, “Be. Here. Now.” is the reminder that the past is not alive in this moment, nor is the future.
Life lives in the now. It is here where the mystery flows with grace into the mystical nature of life, creating magic and wonder in my life today.
Now is where Life happens.
Celebrate it. Cherish it. Create beauty within it.