The only statement you really need to make is the sound of Your Name pressed against the never-ending skin of the universe.
When someone is striving to be more spiritual or more religious, all too often they end up despising their physical existence in the hunt for the metaphysical. I have been guilty of this. I understand the impulse. I want to rub up against something divine, to grant Meaning and Purpose to my mundane existence. I want to believe things happen for a Reason, that the monotony and heartbreak of everyday life isn’t all that there is.
I’m not supposed to talk about these things. It’s not polite. But, during tragedies, or in the quiet, lonely moments of the night, these feelings slink about in my heart, like never-ending questions. What is the meaning? Who am I? What is my purpose?
I don’t have answers, but I find comfort in words.
In the Hebrew of the Bible, the “soul” was not something separate that is imbued into your being; that schism between the physical and the metaphysical is a Classical idea. The ancient Hebrew word for “soul” is “nephesh.” From my understanding, “nephesh” encompasses all of your being: your mind, your body, your strength, your spirit…your WHOLE.
I love this idea, that our everyday forms are saturated with The Extraordinary, that everything is extraordinary, in its own way.
I will not provide an exegesis in this blog post. I will not deconstruct and reconstruct scripture in the hope of finding truths lurking within the verses. But I will talk about the poetry of these ideas.
Sometimes God makes a lot more sense when you think of him less as The Answer, and more as the beginning of a lifetime of questions. Sometimes the greatest truth about the Divine is that it is a mystery, that life is supposed to be full of mystery, and that faith jumps between the synapses of our everyday feelings and stories.
One of the holiest names for God is “Yahweh,” which means, the “I am.” Being. Pure existence. Presence. These things are sacred.
I am, inescapably, exactly who I am. I am flustered, finite, flawed and frustrated. And I am marked by the Creator. I bear his image. His signature is woven into the fabric of my being.
To be a created being: what does it mean? What does it mean to spin inescapably between somethingness and nothingness, caught up in the eternal drama of the universe? What does it mean to be alive, to lean into the vibrant dance of life, to be woven into the stories and strivings of others on this Earth?
And you, my tangible friend. What of your own existence? What of your own sacred skin? What of the sound of your own little name pressed against the fabric of the universe? What is the shape of your mysterious and eternal soul?
The four paintings featured above are all my original works. The first is a commission for Iman Aldabbagh. The next three are part of a “pregnancy synesthesia” series that I started last year, featuring myself (when I was pregnant with Miss Phoebe), Amberly Dewes, and Donielle Baker. Final paintings measure 9 x 12 inches. Watercolor and ink on watercolor paper.