Story of a painting „Andrea’s Angel“

Story in which the artist first deals with an inexplicable inner sadness and then copes with a catastrophic life event. Or doesn’t cope.

Here is my painting that I started almost exactly a year ago:

Andrea’s Angel

Advent was coming and I wanted to spent the time painting a special painting, my door towards opening myself to the light. The coming of the light. I had a sadness in my heart that I could not suppress, but sensed with my whole body and was able to name „longing“. A longing for something that I longed for every christmas but was never able to give myself.

This time I would not go the easy way and blame others: my family for not being interested in mom’s spiritual practice related suggestions, the job for being extra stressful, people for being focused on the stress and gift buying, people looking down on me for having spiritual longings. And I would not go the hurtful way of blaming myself: for not being enough, for not doing enough, for not doing right what I do and for all those feelings that I should not feel.

I wanted to be intentional and creative and paint about my grief and started with the inquiry: Show me what I need to experience Transcendence, the Divine, God.

I painted. It helped with the grief. It helped with finding a direction: Go where the light and warmth is.

Until I liked what I saw and wondered how to proceed and life happened and I forgot about calm and silence and comfort in painting.

When I stop painting and realize that I just do not know how to go on (mostly because I am attached to what I see on the canvas) then I start another painting. I call it a companion canvas. Whenever it is painting time and I know I cannot go on I go on on that canvas. So I painted the three holy magi of Hünsborn. But when they were done, I still didn’t know how to go on. Christmas was over, the light hat returned. The promises of new year resolution were still lingering.

Then february came and my friend Andrea died from an aneurysm in her head.

When I received the message of her breakdown the Angel of Advent was standing in the dining room and witnessed my shock. She witnessed my prayers for Andrea’s healing, she witnessed my dreams and fantasies about recovery and how I could be of help then. And she witnessed me learning of Andrea’s condition getting worse and worse until she was braindead and the maschines were put out. And she died.

I think in the moment her husband told me that she had suffered several strokes and she was dead but could not be declared dead until some medication had been processed and was not measureable in her body anymore – then I shut down.

I saw she was dead. I was at her funeral. I visit the family. I see her empty office room. I witness how she is missed everywhere. And I see how everybody moves on and me too. Except, some of us maybe don’t.

Oh. This is when the tears come.

I have decided that this is Andrea’s Angel. And that the Angel probably is not really sad on her behalf but on us. And this is not a project of some weeks, or months, or one year. I will not paint on, until I am able to move on in regard to Andrea. I do not mean forget her, forget the sadness, or getting over it. I mean my faith.

I believe in seeing her again. After death. Beyond place and time. Or in a new place and time beyond what we earthbound creatures can imagine. Or maybe like we imagined. I want to believe. I feel my fear that it may not be so. Yes, there is a place of fear in my heart. I can paint on when I really enter that place of dark fear to fill it with the light. Too weak now. Working on strength and bravery.

But I realized what my christmas sadness is about: It is about not savouring life enough. Not celebrating darkness enough, neither light. Not nourishing myself with moments of complete stillness. Neither with sisterhood. It is about walking through the hours, days, weeks and much of my life without connection. To my soul, to sisters, to God.

This is this christmas’s theme: The light and warmth of the Red Thread of Connection.

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