I think I've said this before: most days my heart is broken open in several ways at once. I move from joy to grief hour to hour-- tugged by both the impossible and the miraculous. I still don't know how to integrate pain and hope at the level I feel them both these days. Life keeps coming toward me and all of us, so fast, and in such a tangle! So it's not surprising that this Regrow artwork turned out to be a wild jumble of ideas and images. As my wife, Hollin, said about it, "So much beauty and so much potential, and then those hard edges..."
Right in this generative mess sit two foxes. They speak to me about practicing a choice. I can either look back in worry or fear, seeing only "dead ends" in the pain, or look forward with faith, seeing the seeds of compassion and justice growing into a new world. It's so incredibly painful and hard be alive as the systems of power and greed are falling apart. And yet possibility is breaking through! Sometimes I am too stressed out by crisis and change to stop, take a breath, listen for truth or guidance, and rest for a moment. I need so much to practice to return to the trust that something real is flowing up from the Earth/ Love/ God/ Spirit/ Creation to outgrow the barriers and walls.
Part of my trust practice as an artist is to feel, pray, listen, and create. I made this art as the Russian invasion brought war in Ukraine, and it was a discipline to stay open and curious. I learned that the sunflower was a symbol of hope and nonviolent resistance for the Ukranian people. I stopped, took a breath, and felt that deeply. As I listened for truth and art imagery, I began to wonder what flowers would represent the homelands of other displaced and refugee people around the world too. I researched a bit... I got really, really overwhelmed by all the suffering. Then I tried to calm myself and stay with that pain and continue to listen for healing and guidance right there in its midst.
Eventually, as the art image came together, I saw the jumble of migration become a jungle of community and care, spilling out from a too-small version of the world as a divided, walled-in place. Wisdom reminded me that we have absolutely DO have the strength-- together-- to turn away from our dead-end fear. We can turn and move toward the intention to purposefully outgrow the ways of destruction or despair. As a people, we really can regrow what is life-giving and unstoppably abundant, personally and globally. I keep repeating two fabulous questions I heard in a podcast from Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, author of All We Can Save, who says: "How much possibility remains?" and "What if we get this right?"
To outgrow and regrow, the Sacred Presence invites me to welcome the jangly jungle and to love both foxes in myself. On the one hand, as I engage refugee crises, climate catastrophe, death of loved ones, and a thousand other ways life is as it is, I need to be compassionate about my overwhelm. On the other hand, I choose to calm myself and stay aware and present, trusting that my next, faithful step makes a difference. I listen and grow toward that fresh garden of community, toward a world of mutual flourishing.
How have you experienced outgrowing a dead-end path?
What Life flowed out of that process of change?
Blessings as we grow our love and resilience, dear friends. --Melanie
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See several other Fox paintings in the Fox Series art gallery
Thanks once again to the Brave Joy Collective for supporting the creation of this image.