I Am Beloved – For Becky
Dear Becky ~
Hang this art piece someplace you will easily see it every day. Stop and look at yourself in its mirror. Stay there until you’re done straightening your hair and checking your teeth and critiquing your skin. Go ahead. We all do it.
Then see the parts and pieces that make this creation – books, music, places and people you love. Read a line or two, look at the pictures, sing a verse. Whatever reaches out to you in the moment.
See Barry, your partner in life, who describes you as loving, beloved, a friend, accepting, strong, thoughtful and beautiful. See yourself as he sees you. As he loves you. “My sympathy – my better self – my good angel…I think you good, gifted, lovely: a fervent, a solemn passion is conceived in my heart; it leans to you, draws you to my centre and spring of life, wraps my existence about you, and, kindling in pure, powerful flame, fuses you and me in one.” (excerpt from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte)
See your mom, beloved Ruth – remember her strong wit and sharp brilliant mind, reading the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel plus many more newspapers daily. See her keen interest in so many things throughout her 96 years, but especially in her family. In you.
“Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made:
Our times are in His hand
Who saith “A whole I planned,
“Youth shows but half; trust God: see all nor be afraid!”
(excerpt from Rabbi Ben Ezra by Robert Browning)
See your father, beloved Walt, a gentle soul with “a little more wisdom than appears upon my outside” enamored with you, embedding his love of literature in you as well as his commitment to service and youth. (excerpt from Tristam Shandy by Laurence Stern)
See North Lake, your beloved family home, embracing you and you it, serving you and you it. Offering a drink of strong, black coffee in its warm kitchen and at its neverending dining table, on its pier and pontoon, its hammock and comfy chairs. Providing, Loving, Remembering, Honoring – you and you it.
See DebbieandDavid – one word, one entity plus MollieGlennRobinLeo. Dog people filled with loyal, unconditional love for you.
See your boys and your girls-in-law – your three turned ten in a blink of an eye – gathered around you for a rare, still, photo moment. See your Katya and her beloved clan expanding those who dearly love you to reach the other side of the world.
See your grandkids intently, excitedly signing their names to you for this piece, cherishing your undivided attention and loving you easily in return.
See your O’Connor sisters with their animal prints that never go out of style. Laughing and loving you. Committed. Forever family.
See Hershey, your beloved Mexican friend, both of you treasuring your 45 years of sisterhood.
See Gail and Jim, friends with whom you travel through Boundary Waters and Snowy Woods, with whom you share promises of living full creative lives with social justice at its core.
See the gifts you’ve made – the care packages you’ve sent to nieces and nephews, the cherished clothing and costumes for grandkids, the hats and scarves for the rest of us. Connecting all with patterns of love, thread and yarn. Offering pieces of yourself in the giving. Feel our love and gratitude in return.
See your students climbing into your lap first and now climbing into their adulthoods, forever seeing you looking from waist up as beloved Mrs. O’Connor, that someone who came along as both a true friend and a great teacher. Their Charlotte.
And “Oh for the love of God”, please see your colleagues in teaching, in drama, in book fair – laughing to survive while emboldening others to grow. Hi, Fives to all of you!!
See your church, those served and those walked with in faith. “Rejoice, rejoice, rejoice, give thanks and sing!” with the same gratitude you feel for their presence as they feel for yours.
See your love of traveling, your love of theater, your joyous love of music – your willingness to open to new cultures and see the beauty in the world. And be reminded that the amount of beauty we can witness and absorb is equal to what we know and carry within us.
See your love of literature. Its truths and tales that open you and ignite you to glow and be alive. “Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.” (excerpt from All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr)
Please listen to this. Quick! See! Don’t wait any longer!!
After you’ve read and admired and remembered all of these truths from all of your beloveds – when they’re solid in your heart and settled in your bones, when each cell swells and you feel full to the brim – look yourself straight in the eye and before you blink them closed even one more time, say,
“I. Am. Beloved.”
This is a mixed-media collage on plywood with paper, bead gel, acrylic paint, beads, found objects and a mirror. Completed July 2016.
Symbols and References used include:
Barry – quote from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Ruth – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel header and poem Rabbi Ben Ezra by Robert Browning
Walt – quote from The Life and Opinions of Tristam Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Stern
North Lake – photo courtesy of David Simpson (coffee stain courtesy of E. Sauer)
Debbie and David – dog charm on top of North Lake photo
Sons and daughters-in-law – family photo
Katerina – map pin in Kurgan
Grandkids – four signatures
O’Connor sisters – animal print paper scraps and sister charm
Hershey – map pin in Mexico City
Gail and Jim – poem Snowy Woods by Robert Frost
Gifts – sewing patterns
Students – last page of Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
Colleagues – handwritten “Oh for the love of God” and drawn hand with “Hi, Five”
Church – score of Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart from a 1940 Mennonite hymnal
Traveling – maps of Germany, Ireland, Croatia, the U.S. and Russia
Theater – flute score of Suddenly from Les Miserables
Music – score from Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen
Literature – handwritten quote – “Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever – from All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr