SURRENDER. SILENCE. BALANCE.
Surrender is a powerful lesson taught by the wilderness.
After returning from New York City to see both my parents through their Arkansas end times, I move to the wilderness to paint in solitude and silence while I grieve their passing. Living off a dirt road, beside a gentle river in the way back of the Ozark Highlands, my intended one year sojourn somehow morphs into four.
I paint. I garden. I walk. I read. I allow the flow of my feelings, trusting they will lead me to peace and healing.
One morning, stomping over the rocky bottom of the drought-dry river bed, I come across a small sandstone, mineral-etched with a dark “R”. In the ancient script of Runes, “R” signifies surrender. With uncanny precision, Nature is graciously handing me the guidance I need. Surrender!
Surrounded by forested mountains domed by a cobalt sky, I cradle this sacred stone in my palm, knowing I must surrender the self-righteous anger I’m pleasurably harboring toward someone I adore.
There is great energy in anger. Anger gets the adrenalin going. Anger can feel like an emotional high. Anger can feel like power. Anger is hard to release. Eventually, anger becomes unsustainable, physically self-harmful. Wears me out. Wears me down. Leaves me depleted, lost and sad. Sad because I don’t know how to quit.
In the wilderness, relieved to receive a message given so explicitly, I follow Nature’s instructions and trade the debilitating burden of my anger for an “R”-etched river rock. Placing the stone in my backpack, I turn toward home, my boots walking me briskly back to my studio to paint the “R” and the rock and the river, blessed reminders of one wilderness lesson learned: I must surrender whatever burdens my journey.
What lesson will I paint next? When? I’ve been months away from my easel. I miss the solitude. I miss the silence. These absences burden me. Throw me out of balance.
A Facebook post, attributed to Gabrielle Roth and put up by Christine Bentley, head of the MSSU Art Department, reads, In many shamanic societies, if you came to a medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited or depressed, they would ask one of four questions: "When did you stop dancing? When did you stop singing? When did you stop being enchanted by stories? When did you stop being comforted by the sweet territory of silence?"
The sweet territory of silence is a comfort to me. Amen. Perhaps I will paint silence. Or balance. Or both.
Silence and balance—lessons artCentral is teaching me. Are there Runes for these?