“The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” ― Maya Angelou
The “Fasten Seatbelt” sign illuminates softly with that ominous “bing.” In a few moments the first jolt ripples through my tiny cup of water, then is quickly accompanied by another. The whole cabin dips and the lights flicker. This is just typical turbulence; no one even glances up from the glow of their in flight entertainment. (Fools.) But I, clipped and hobbled from a former misadventure, sit with thighs and jaw clenched in terror, sucking the plane’s stale air in through my nostrils. Remembering what a wise friend had taught me in therapy before we departed, I close my eyes, and awkwardly enter my safe space. I am at home. I am in my bed. The weight of the sheets creates warmth and security throughout my body. I smell lavender. I hear my husbands breathing. I am safe. I am safe. I am safe...
As a general rule of thumb, I really try not to pray for safety. I get this kind of guilty twang while appealing for safe passage on trips, safety for doctor’s visits, safety at the Nordstrom Half Yearly Sale…I have an overwhelming suspicion that “safe” is not the prize. It’s not the goal or the perfect ending. We are born babies desperate for movement, and life is filled with scrapes and stumbles that teach us to walk, and sore muscles and painful breaths that will eventually inform our running. If I were able to pray away every bad experience from my children; take away every heart broken by love, every injury obtained by climbing, every popsicle dropped; if I could keep every pet alive forever, and make every class an easy A…I would be not only creating more Millenials (I kid), but, even more dreadfully, preventing life from happening to them. Big, beautiful, magical, terrifying, colorful, stinky, painful, orgasmic, boring and, sometimes, perfect life. And they would not become who they were meant to be. So, I don’t usually pray for safety, but for endurance, wisdom, and for someone to walk beside me...to hold my hand.
Feeling safe is an essential component of growing and moving confidently through the world. Our heart’s desire is to be known and loved and secure. In that we find rest. And rest, I guess, is different than safety. It’s the secure foothold on a steep and lengthy scramble and the lit inn along a dark dangerous road. It’s that glass of wine. It’s a friend who comes alongside you for 45 minutes at the park and reminds you that you are a Real Life Human Person, Dammit. It’s the painting that inexplicably comes alive in front of you, suddenly, after hours of frustration.
This painting of a mother and child is meant to invite you into a moment of rest. I don’t need to remind you that days are hard and there are stains on the sheets and laundry to fold and shit somewhere in the garage that smells and cancer and fear and…turbulence. But there is also this, dearest. There is the space between. There are moments that are worship, hope, and heaven now. I fashion all of these paintings for you, with the audacious hope that while standing in front of them, you might find refreshment on a that dusty road. I pray that they are massage for your weary feet; that they are hospitality and a warm meal. Perhaps they are lavender on a bumpy flight. I want you to know that even in a world that is smoky with sorrow, God is good. Come and see, come and rest.