Those of you who know me well are aware of how important it is for me to be of service and to use my gifts. I have been perplexed by this since I retired from work in health care in which the issue of being of service was easily apparent to me. I haven’t been sure about how I have been using my talents and this has been unsettling to me. I picture being asked at the Pearly Gates to account for how well I served those two requirements in my precious life! And, I wasn’t really sure how I would answer that question now.
I had an epiphany about this while I was in Santa Fe. My first ‘eye opener’ was when I was walking around the inspiring Georgia O’Keefe Museum. I felt so infused with joy and awe as I looked at the paintings. O’Keefe captured the light and form of the New Mexico landscape that I love so much. So, this individualistic, determined artist was compelled to give form to the energy of those works of art. Then they slipped through time and place and landed smack dab in my heart and my head and my gut. It struck me that the act of creating is an ongoing phenomena that emboldens the artist in the moment and this energy also expands outward and onward to be received by others – even in remotely different places and times. I saw how incredibly generous the act of creativity is. This using of our gifts is the ultimate creative force, generous force, loving force. And paradoxically, this expression can look like a selfish retreat to a studio.
I was also struck by the inherent generosity of creative efforts when working with the images from Three Rivers Petroglyph Site These drawings were made between 900 and 1400 AD by the Jornada Mogollon people and yet they still seem so alive. Every morning when I painted my version of the petroglyphs, I felt as though I was having a live conversation with the original artists. It seemed like they were thrilled to have their creations enjoyed through the passage of time and the divides of culture and experience.
My paintings barely give justice to the original works, as you can see. But, it was the process of actually looking deeply at the photos of the petroglyphs and of being very attentive and open to the images, that opened a portal of joy and contentment in me. I had to keep focusing on the images and keep my mind out of the nasty chatter of self doubt and criticism – the killer of creative efforts.
So, the lesson learned is that using my gifts is inherently generous and expansive and is one of the many ways that love is expressed. And, there’s no telling where your gifts will land and who they will help as others struggle on this earthly plain. Many thanks to Georgia O’Keefe and to the Jornada Mogollon artists for their gifts to me. I will be sure to pass the favor on! How are YOU passing the favor on?