Ok, I’ll admit it. I’m enamored with a single dying weed. So far, it has inspired five paintings in as many months!
There’s something about it – the pathos as it lays down its life at the feet of Autumn, yet reaches for the sun with fragile tendrils. It seems to be falling asleep, yet clings to lingering fragments of light.
I stumbled, grieving and broken-hearted, upon this dried out wildflower in a foothill field during the fall of 2011. All around me quiet meadows yielded green to gold and russet. Nature echoed the cry of my own heart – falling, dying, surrender.
A photo of this weed wanders around my laundry room/art studio, surfacing here and there when I shift stacks of books, piles of folded clothes, or boxes of jewelry supplies. I’ve drawn it again and again, first just a sketch in my art journal that fingered something essential at my core. Then it began to emerge in other drawings, paintings, collages.
I found myself painting my weed yet again this week. I’ve learned in the last six months to fight the urge to shred a failed piece, and instead to wait and see if it can be re-formed into something new. And so fragments of a piece that died a couple weeks ago, like tender soil, wrapped around my weed.
Before I knew it, the entire piece exploded into a riot of color, into a surge of flaming blooms.
I think about the journey since I first caught sight of that single dying weed. While grief still flays a place so raw that I can’t believe he is truly gone, at the same time, if he had not left so suddenly, so shockingly, I would not have heeded a whispered call to paint. Thrust into dank black soil, with paint I twist deep like roots, grope for the surface, stretch high into healing, life, gratitude, presence.
So this is what I think my weed is telling me, and maybe you. Just when you think it is over and the soil has surely smothered the seed, take heart. God encodes His promise of resurrection into the very life cycle of wildflowers, the flow of seasons. When your broken heart bleeds its seeds into the ground, watch and wait. For surely in due season, the flamboyant colors of summer will sprout.