In January and February, an artist named Manda Severin helped some of the girls who come to our center paint a beautiful mural. This, like all creative processes, began with a few simple things: paint, a canvas, brushes, ideas and thoughts, and a few questions.
What type of adventure would you like to take? What kind of journey are you on? What journey are we all on?
What flowed from these general ideas was a painting with literal images of flowing water, of ocean waves and birds. I got a glimpse of the mural before it was finished. The top half of the mural is bright with colors from the sea shore – blues and greens and a brilliant red-orange-yellow sailboat floating in the middle. The puffy clouds and bright stars in the sky mirror the white foam bubbling at the shore.
But my eye is drawn to the image on the bottom half of the mural. This section is an earthy brown, a grounding color that compliments the bright movement of the ocean above it. A bright red dotted path starts at an island and travels down, in a curving pattern, around outlines of a turtle and mermaids, ending someplace in the middle of the space.
The mural is not quite finished, so I will have to wait to see what treasure is found there, but it has me thinking. Will the path end here? Will the treasure be something expected, or something surprising? Will we get to see the treasure, or will we be left guessing about what type of treasure can be found in this magical place? Will each viewer of the mural get to decide on their own “treasure”, or will we all enjoy the same treasure?
I love this piece because it is so similar to life, with all of its twists and turns and surprises, the moments when we get to frolic with the sea turtles and the days when we feel lost on a path that doesn’t seem to have an end. The mural is both playful and a bit mysterious, and it invites me to look at my life with a bit more playfulness and lightheartedness.
The journey we are all on can be pretty hard sometimes, and the journey of healing from painful things can feel unbearable at times. But if we keep going – “just keep swimming” as Dori says in a famous sea-based movie – we can know that there is always treasure to be found and unknown adventures just around the corner. Just like life, this mural in its unfinished state invites me to keep going … to follow the dots and explore just a bit more.