There was something about this woman that captivated me. Just outside the Chicago Institute of Art, she was spending her afternoon wrapping yarn around a tree. Installation art, I suppose she’d call it. For no other reason than that it looks pretty and engages the eye. Or perhaps it’s a form of meditation, those steps round and round a tree. Whatever her motivation, it holds meaning for her.
Much has happened since that moment when I stood there with my camera. The world has shaken; deep emotions have been felt; many tears have been shed; guilt, anger, and fear have all been wrestled with; and seemingly insurmountable boulders have been thrown into the paths of myself and the people I love most in the world. The world looks darker and colder than it did that lovely afternoon when I wandered around Chicago in the sunshine.
And yet I find myself glancing at this photo, and something stops me. Partly, it’s a longing to be her – that carefree woman spending hours wrapping yarn around a tree. I don’t know her stories – perhaps they’re even more insurmountable than mine – and yet when I look at the photo, my mind molds her into the ideal story I long to embrace. A whimsical, carefree woman interacting with art and creation, with no other reason (no guilt hanging over her head, no fears, no obligations) to be any place than where she is, wandering around a tree.
But beyond just coveting her carefree-ness, the picture holds a reminder that I need to look for my own way to wrap yarn around a tree – be it literal or metaphorical. I need to find colour, to make art, to touch nature, to meditate, to seek the presence of the Spirit, and to wander until my heart finds peace. In the wise words of Ann Lamott, “… the good news is that creative expression, whether that means writing, dancing, bird-watching, or cooking, can give a person almost everything that he or she has been searching for: enlivenment, peace, meaning, and the incalculable wealth of time spent quietly in beauty.”
Starting with this post and the quiet moments it took to create it, I promise myself I will at least try. Because even if I can’t fix things for the people I care about, I can at least seek healing for the deep wounds and disappointments in my own soul.