A bizarre thing happened last week. And the tingles I get when I think about it tell me, it was very important.
One evening after dinner, the 5 of us went for a walk through our neighbourhood to enjoy the heat that was lingering after the gorgeous day. We let the kids decide where we were going, having them make decisions on whether to turn left or right or go straight whenever we got to the end of a block – so we ended up going totally off our usual path. In front of a few homes, scattered over a couple of streets were chalk drawings. Many happy faces, a rainbow.
And then in front of this one house: several coloured circles and the words We Are All Connected.
I paused. What an interesting message. I’ve seen have a nice day and you are awesome, but never something that felt so…significant. I reached for my phone to snap a pic, but of course, in my effort to JOMO as much as possible, I didn’t have my phone on me. The kids and my husband were already half a street up so I slowly turned to make my way toward them. That picture has not left my mind.
Bodies stuffed full of fresh air and with a gentle tiredness in our bones from a day well spent, we headed home to get ready for bed. I was with my oldest daughter in her room as she busied herself with nighttime rituals. Drawn to the wall calendar she had received as a Christmas gift, I flipped through the months, admiring the art and the inspirational words that dressed up each page. And when I came to November, my mouth fell open.
What are the chances I’d see this same message in two different ways in one evening? Like literally within the span of an hour and a half?
And what are the chances that this is something I had already been thinking about over the past few weeks?
When a little girl named Florence Marigold passed away from Spinal Muscular Atrophy earlier this month, I was hit hard; the grief was real. I had been following her journey on Facebook and through her mom’s blog for the past year and a half and had come to love this girl. I cherished her smiles and cheered on her victories of a peaceful night, or pleasant moment. I kept asking myself in the days after she died, how is it that I am so deeply affected by her passing? Yes, I’m empathetic but this was a bit more personal than simply imagining what her family was going through. It was like I knew her and was a special witness to her precious life.
How was I so connected to her?
The answer is simple: through art.
Her mom’s brilliant storytelling and the photography she posted that wordlessly ‘said it all’, all reached into me, and pulled out everything I knew about joy, grief, faith, hope, love, sadness, uncertainty. Through art, I also learned new perspectives of those same concepts: what they were like through Michaela’s heart. And it’s not just me who connected. There are thousands of people across the world who travelled Flo’s life with her. Through art.
Isn’t it amazing how art can do that?
Last night, I painted this for Florence. I wanted to honour her in some way and add my marigold to the Instagram garden that is growing through #florencemarigoldinbloom. Watercolours were perfect: magical and surreal. Water was symbolic of the tears that have been shed over her.
This is not the first time I have come to this awe-some realization that we are all connected, but the message certainly came across clearly and repeatedly, during and after that family walk. It must be vital I pay attention to it.
I now also understand better why I love artist events like Word Whips in the Gallery. A few times a year, Pandora’s Collective hosts at the Sydney and Gertrude Zack art gallery at the Jewish Community Centre in Vancouver. Poets write to the visual art exhibit and then share these poems with an audience. During an intermission, audience members are also invited to walk around, observe the art and write their own words to share, if they would like. Word Whips in the Gallery are some of my favourite nights of the year. They are the nights when one person’s art becomes inspiration for more art and the results are breathtaking and beautiful. It really is like a melding of souls.
I often leave those events feeling like something magical just took place; it’s almost strange driving home, doing something so mundane, when something glorious had just touched the earth.
While we don’t need to be artistic to be creative, art is a way of creatively expressing ideas, thoughts, emotions. Art is a way of connecting, inspiring and healing. It’s entertaining and communicative.
[Tweet “Art is our spiritual essence crossing a realm and existing in a physical space. “]
Art is a reminder that we are all connected.