I just beat the elephant in being the land animal with the longest time of being pregos. Yup, my three years (plus) of gestation out does their wimpy 22 months hands down, and yesterday my colorful 14 p. 3 hr. cuddly baby finally saw the light of day. We’ve had a name for a few weeks now, and if you’ve kept up, you’ve gotten the “birth announcements” in advance of the big day and know that we our calling our latest offspring “Brunch-n-More, for body and soul."
Fourteen of us ages three to 43 gathered in rooms we are renting from the CVJM at 10 am yesterday for a continental breakfast, good conversation and a messy adaptation of musical chairs. Everyone got to mix his/her own unique color of choice (no two people could have the same color) and choose a painting utensil (bottle brush, paint brushes, basting brushes etc.). We each started off at a blank Din A3 page and after putting our name on it, had about 5 minutes to begin a picture while music was playing in the background. Each time the music stopped, we rotated to the next picture and painted for a couple of minutes. We did this until we each made our way around to all of the pictures.
As you can see, the pictures are bright, colorful and unique. What one might not see at first glance, however, is what the pictures and indeed the process tells us about our social interactions, the fact of life that we are not an island, not solely responsible or “in-charge” of what ends up on the canvas of our life, and that, whether we want to be or not, we are sometimes major, sometimes minor contributing artists on the canvas of other people’s lives. This was frustrating for Charis, soon to be 12 yrs, who started off with a pretty concrete idea of what she wanted her painting to look like. When little Constantine came and painted a big blue blob on top of her little pop art people, she felt that her picture was ruined. For me it was no new revelation that Charis would have the hardest time of everyone “letting go” of control and finding beauty in something outside of her own narrowly defined objectives.
It was interesting to see that some chose loud colors which they used plenty of, some quieter, warmer colors, which they used more sparingly. Some responded more to what they were presented with in the painting already, choosing to “fix,” enhance, react to, continue something that was already going on, while other’s contribution was an object or pattern carried out through each painting. I believe this says a lot about who we are and how we interact with others.
It was also no surprise to see that the smaller/younger the children were, the less concrete their contributions were and the more “space” they took up on the page, the more likely they were to ignore whatever else was going on, and seemed intent on just getting as much of their color out there as possible. And I have had my years of my “painting” being dominated by the blue blobs!! It takes a real artist to work with those, find the balance of letting the blue blobs fill up space, and helping them to notice the beauty of the other colors and that those other colors need some space too without suffocating the artistic exuberance of the blue blobbers. That takes a lot of creativity and Grace, a lot of grace.
I just finished Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott, which I was in the thick of Sunday afternoon after we got home from Brunch-n-More. I have to quote one of the many cool things she says in trying to describe her understanding of Grace. She writes, “Grace is the light or electricity or juice or breeze that takes you from that isolated place and puts you with others who are as startled and embarrassed and eventually grateful as you are to be there.” Thank you Ms. Lamott for that bit of color, that brush stroke which describes so well what I’m hoping Brunch-n-More might be. People coming out of isolation, learning to “paint” with each other, give each other enough space to be, but not too much space to monopolize and become mono-color. I guess we do the best we can and hope that when the music stops, we will all get to take a very bright, colorful and unique painting home with us.