Today I cleaned out my attic. Well, ok, that's an exaggeration - I cleaned out a small part of my attic. Why have I carried an old curling iron through three moves? Do I really believe that it will be handed down through the years, an heirloom for my kids to boast about? Hmmmmm....
While I worked, I pondered a bit on my friend. My friend who is watching my kids while I clean out my attic. She has an attic of sorts. It's really a third floor, a floor that I did not realize was even there until she showed it to me. My friend is an artist. I am too. I think all artists look at life through tinted glasses. Do you remember the special artwork on cereal boxes, the ones that came with red or green glasses? You could only see the picture through the colored plastic. That's a bit like artists, I think. They all see special pictures through their own special glasses. Or goggles - I think mine are like those old driving goggles, maybe.
Anyway, I thought of my friend up in her workroom. She is a singer, a wordsmith. I like to imagine her up there, with all sorts of butterflies fluttering around her. You see, she has a gift. She takes all those butterflies - the grand big orange ones, the fast shiny blue ones, the pale translucent ones that you're not sure you really see, the sweet delicate yellow ones, the tiny fluttery pink ones that are probably the pets of fairies.... she uses her pen, her pencil, her computer and transforms them. She can capture them, change them to words, to words that float and flutter, that inspire and delight. She sees a certain order to them, one that most of us would miss. And they fly to her gladly - they know that she knows them, that she can make them change into their true form. What is their true form? Ahhhhhh. That is the most glorious thing. You only see them when she sings. When her music plays and the words fly and flutter from her mouth, they become the stars in the eyes of her audience. A hope, an inspiration, a promise. Something that can stay with you forever. That is truly a gift.
Yet there is something more about this friend of mine. It took me a while to learn what it was. I'll see if I can explain..... hmm... ok. This may baffle those who do not love animals, but nevertheless, it is what comes to mind. Imagine for a moment that you are a dog (I'll leave the breed up to you). You have a warm house, full of those who love you, feed you, keep you safe. Then something terrible happens - you are lost, perhaps hurt, starving, cold. Other animals attack you, people throw things at you. You cower, shivering. Then another dog walks by - and wait. What is that? The smell of your old home! Where is it coming from? The other dog! Somehow, somewhere, they were at your old home! You creep along behind, because you hope against hope that they will go back, that they will lead you home.
I'm realizing that I must clear up something here. My friend is not smelly. And I do not creep around behind her. That would be.. well.... creepy! But when I am around her, I somehow feel like she has been somewhere... somewhere that I think may be home. Or something. Something that I wanted more than anything. Anything. What was it? Not her marriage - her husband is a dear, but I managed to marry my very very best friend in the world. Not her house - it's bigger than mine, and I can barely manage to take care of what I have! Plus, I just love my kitchen. Not her kids - they are splendid, but I just adore mine. What in the world?
I came to know what it was by a different path. I won't go into that right now - that's a long story, or a short one, depending on your point of view. But I developed a relationship, one that filled a long-empty void. One that brought me home. And then I knew what I saw in my friend. Christ. (No, that was not an expletive. ) She never really talks about God, unless you ask. And her songs are not the "God how I love you let me count the ways" type that drive me batty. But I can see Christ in her, in her songs, in her love for her family, her friends. She is not perfect, thankfully. She has paint on the floor, tape on the stairs, kids in tutus dancing in the grass in 30 degree weather (with my kids out there too in flip-flops, granted). She has her own frustrations, her own worries. But behind that, quietly, Christ shines out. That is her truest gift. She has learned the gift of stepping back so that others see something that can fill that God-shaped hole in each of us. Thank God for people like her.
And, if you want to hear the butterflies, here is her website: http://www.christawells.net/. Her album "Frame the Clouds" is.... awesome. I love to listen to it while I'm painting - it is absolutely inspiring.