waiting for painted flowers

After Winnie died, I wanted flowers painted everywhere. I made hundreds of ornaments with her tiny photo surrounded by wildflowers. I hung up artwork with flowers, and I started painting flowers on a huge embroidery hoop stretched with burlap.

And then one day I didn’t want to create flowers. I hung the painting—incomplete—and it remained in our stairway for over three years. I’m not sure why I hung it. Perhaps just to save the spot with the art surrounding it. I’m sure I expected to finish it much sooner. 

As time passed, I simply didn’t want to paint the flowers.  They were happy and I wasn’t; they were full and I lacked; they were blooming and I was stuck in winter snow. 

Last week I picked up my paintbrush and painted—simple little flowers on a bag, on a canvas, and on that burlap covered hoop. I’m not sure why I was ready. I don’t feel like I’m in a happy and blooming state, but perhaps I’m in a state of expectant beauty.

What struck me the most, though, wasn’t that I was ready for the flowers. It was that I allowed for that half-finished art to hang for three full years.  I passed it dozens of times a day, and I noticed it often. Yet, I didn’t push it or rush it or tear it away.  I didn’t replace it or cover it.  I wasn’t even embarrassed by it. I just knew that it wasn’t time, and that someday the right time would come. 

Maybe you, too, have something unfinished—whether literal or figurative—and I just want to tell you that it’s okay to let it rest. It’s okay to pass it daily without guilt or annoyance. It’s okay to just let it be.

I’m reminding myself of that same truth, as I’ve learned it the hard way many times over.

Sam recently read some of my final edits as I wrap up my book (coming January 2020!). He was struck with the fact that I don’t pretend to spell it all out for people. I don’t come with tons of answers, tidied and prettied up.  I let the questions and the mystery sit as I guide you through my own process and thoughts, and as I suggest tools for you to process your own pain. I hope to be the person who gives that space and permission—pressing forward, but not straining; searching but not striving; reaching and resting, reaching and resting. 

Also — bless Sam’s heart — he never noticed the flowers weren’t finished for three years.

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