This little acorn makes me quiver.
I can speak in front of an audience, write my soul bare, or host intimate gatherings of friends and strangers. True, my heart may beat a bit faster as I take the microphone or crack wide the front door, but always experience and hope remind me that I can.
It is these small paintings – the offering of my art, that leave me feeling exposed, a bit vulnerable.
If you scan through thumbnails on my Etsy shop, you may see a nest, a bird. And you may think they’re lovely, or you may find them trite (“Put a bird on it!”): this is the way art works. But I see two year’s worth of tension bleeding onto cold-press paper: the deep ache for true home, for Eden and eternity, all juxtaposed to my transition back home, to the town whose dust I’d shaken from my feet. It’s back here that I’m fumbling to relearn this thing of home, belonging. And these words, dwell and abide, have hung in this house two years, more. They’ve become an anthem, calling me back to the center, to life in the vine.
You may see an acorn, and the words Be Small, but I see a heart-cry for meekness in the midst of all my striving and ugly arrogance. I see a three year old, happy to believe she is loved and valued in all her smallness. She doesn’t give it an ounce of thought, but, oh, she lives like she’s loved. I see the way she marvels at the moon like it’s a brand-spanking-new. I see the way her heart quiets right down when I hold her close and sing my off-key lullabies. So I capture my soul’s longing for that kind of pure, meek living in the shape of an acorn. And I am comforted.
And I confess, the meaning dies a bit when I let the image loose. It becomes less mine as your story intersects with it. Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground — perhaps all art is acorn, seed. I am learning there is a resurrection of sorts when your story informs the art, too.
I have filled my home with little works of art, but sharing them here is still awkward. Pointing you towards my Etsy shop feels more like a Tupperware party than the artisan life. I feel the paradox of making art for an audience of One and then sharing it for anyone and their brother. I am pressing in to that awkward place like an adolescent artist. I read and re-read Makoto Fujimara’s Letter to a Young Artist, and remember that love drives out fear.
I recite Madeleine L’Engle’s words: “The journey homewards. Coming home. That’s what it’s all about. The journey to the coming of the Kingdom. […] -the purpose of the work, be it story or music or painting, is to further the coming of the kingdom, to make us aware of our status as children of God, and to turn our feet toward home.”
So I sing the anthem of abiding the best I know how: in little sketches and hand-lettered words: Welcome home.
I print the acorns I painted to turn my feet towards home, hope you’ll walk alongside, share your story on the way.