I looked at the mirror to draw the mirror, tracing the curly-cew lines around its edges on a white expanse of paper. I was concentrating hard, having difficulty keeping up with the circuitous dancing lines arcing here, swirling there, blossoming in places, leafing in others. It wasn’t until my focus turned to the reflective oval itself that I began to see beyond and through.
There, in this spare bedroom mirror, I saw, aside from my own reflection, another mirror. My childhood dresser holds atop of it another oval mirror in which I could see, once again, or twice over, the robin’s egg blue mirror on the wall that I was drawing. Had I keener eyes, I suppose I could’ve gone on seeing from one mirror into another forever.
Is everything we draw this way? Is every object, place, or person a mirror into which we can see so much more? I’m of the persuasion that it is so! Yet sometimes a mirror can simply be a mirror. We don’t always have to see beyond and through something, forcing the metaphor or squeezing meaning out of it just for its own sake. But I am finding through Lent that so much of what is ordinary, even overlooked, in my life, becomes a looking glass as I draw, through which I can get a glimpse of the beautiful, true, and even divine.
In my favorite movie, The Way, Jack from Ireland, a blocked writer, is walking the Camino to make sense of the “metaphor bonanza”. A fellow pilgrim suggests to him that “a dog fight near a cheese farm” might simply be a dog fight near a cheese farm. True. Very true.
Tish Harrison Warren, in her book Liturgy of the Ordinary, says this –
“As busy, practical, hurried, and distracted people, we develop habits of inattention and miss these tiny theophanies in our day. But if we were fully alive and whole, no pleasure would be too ordinary or commonplace to stir up adoration.” pg. 135.
And then on page 139 –
“These tiny moments of beauty in our days train us in the habits of adoration and discernment. And the pleasure and sensuousness of our gathered worship teach us to look for and receive these small moments in our days. Together, they train us in the art of noticing and of reveling in God’s goodness and artistry.”
If there was something to which I could pin the entire scope of my life, a trajectory or daily vision or goal, it would be exactly this:
To look for, recognize, see, and exonerate these tiny moments of beauty, noticing and reveling in God’s goodness and artistry in and through every moment.
The sketchbook is my training ground, my path on the Camino. A pen or a brush is my walking stick, penning each step, each moment, in such a way as to see through it and beyond to where all moments point – the Beautiful One and His heaven.
I want to see in every “dog fight near a cheese farm”, in every mirror, meal, wall plug and mess, the hint of heaven…”the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited”, as C.S. Lewis describes. (Read the entire quote HERE.)
It requires strength to do this. Commitment and discipline. God had to make me an artist so that I could see. I draw to uncover this beauty, and I have to do so daily, as an ongoing practice. Tish Warren says it so very well –
“But it takes strength to enjoy the world, and we must exercise a kind of muscle to revel and delight. If we neglect exercising that muscle – if we never savor a lazy afternoon, if we must always be cleaning out the fridge or volunteering at church or clocking more hours – we’ll forget how to notice beauty and we’ll miss the unmistakeable reality of goodness that pleasure trains us to see. We must take up the practice – the privilege and responsibility – of noticing, savoring, reveling, so that, to use Annie Dillard’s phrase, “creation need not play to an empty house.”
-pg. 136. (Annie Dillard reference is from “The Meaning of Life, The Big Picture”, Life Magazine, Dec. 1988.)
Buen Camino dear friends!
*Just finding this now? It is never too late to jump in on drawing your way through Lent, sketching ordinary stuff from your daily life! Drawing prompts and overview HERE.
**Want to develop a practice of drawing your life? Check out my ebook & video course designed to help you do just that.:)