Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Leaf Metaphor Won't Leaf Me Alone!

Monday night I went to my book club meeting where we discussed The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.  Great book, by the way.  One of the themes we discussed was how Harold's journey was a metaphor for life.  I am always enriched by the other group members thoughts and comments.  One of the side topics turned to pain and suffering in this life.  And again, my little leaf metaphor wouldn't leaf me alone!  I had hoped to spare you, but it was too persistent! 

This fall instead of the landscape, individual leaves called me to paint them.  Right now I'm having a hard time finding the time or desire to even pick up a paint brush.  But I've learned from my journal that small paintings are not demanding and can be just what the doctor ordered.  So as I painted tiny paintings of individual leaves and found that each one had a story.

How amazing were these little drawings and paintings of single fallen leaves!  Each leaf different. Some withered and curled. Some ravaged by the elements or bugs.  While painting the leaves I found the imperfections to be my favorite part.  They gave the leaf individuality and a fragile beauty.   The scars, gals, bug bites and tears all added character to the leaves and then to the drawings.  As I drew each leaf I hated covering the drawings with paint at times.  The color, so bright and bold, became secondary. And I didn't paint a few, so graceful and beautiful was the line of the drawing. And have you ever seen a leaf decomposed with nothing left but a web of veins?  Truly a wonder.

 Not one leaf I brought home was untouched by the elements in some way.  If nothing else it's life was ended by a gradual change in daylight.  Even those that looked perfect had still weathered the same storms and weather that those less fortunate had, they just managed to escape personal injury!  That is true of people too.  Just because they bear no discernible scars we shouldn't assume they have not had pain. 
But the leaves that were the most beautiful to me, those with the most character, were the twisted, dried leaves.  Those ravaged by the elements.  They were fragile and their lines were graceful.  And here comes the metaphor!  None of us gets through this life without scars, whether others can see them or not. It's the things we go through that give us character and strength.  It's age that brings wisdom through living. 


So while this fall was ablaze with stunning vistas of grand color, the muse I found was on the path (literally) right under my feet.  One at a time I painted single leaves.  And I realized I'm right where I need to be, focusing not on what is further down the path, but instead on the beauty right where I walk today.  In the single thing and not the grand expanse.  And that in the imperfect is where we find the story.