Along the way, you had to:
• find a few new friends
• locate some markers of your trip so you could share them with others who might want to follow you
• weather a storm or two
• discover something magical; and
• leave a mark on the spot of your treasure so others could find it too.
Oh yeah – and then you need to create a piece of art that shows your journey.
The mural created by some of the girls in our mentoring programs, led by artist Manda Severin, represents something very similar to this make-believe journey. They didn’t go on an actual boat, but the mural makes me think about the journeys we take at each phase of our lives and all the symbolism that can be found in a painting of an ocean.
Think about it: an ocean is a deep and mysterious place under the surface, but when you look at it from above, it is just a beautiful expanse of blue water and sparkly splashes and rolling waves. Looking at it from that viewpoint, it seems like an ocean is just water – miles and miles of water.
But we know that under the surface you can find all sorts of life. You might find turtles or fish or living coral. If you are lucky, maybe you’ll meet a mermaid or merman. If you travel close to shore you might see a lighthouse and cliffs and rocky shoreline. If you dive very deep, you might find larger sea creatures, both gentle and fierce, moving through the deep, dark depths.
It’s kind of like stretches of our lives. If we just look at what things appear to be on the surface, it can seem like lots of sameness – like the stretches of blue water of the ocean. If we look below, though, we find all sorts of things going on. On my particular journeys at various times of my life, I have met lots of interesting friends and companions (like the turtles and mermaids and jelly fish in the mural), weathered a few horrible storms, and been very grateful for the markers along the way that helped me avoid wrecks and disasters (like the lighthouse and the compass).
In the mural, the X marks the spot of the treasure, but the box is unopened. I like this image, because even though we might all venture through journeys similar to the one in this painting, we each need and hopefully find different “treasures”.
The journey of healing from anything painful has all of these elements: uncertain pathways, companions and friends, stormy periods, and resting spots when we need them. What I love about this mural is that it leaves a path of this journey so that others can follow and hopefully have an easier time of it. The fact that this was created by girls healing from abuse makes that part of the painting even more touching to me. I like the idea that they have created something that is both playful and significant, meaningful to their own journeys and to the journeys we all take, whether we have experienced abuse or not. We all journey through challenges and times of joy in our lives and this mural speaks to all of us in that way.
Have you decided yet what your journey might look like? Who your companions might be? What treasure you might find at the end?
One last thing. At the top of the mural the purple sky is lit up with glowing stars in the shape of expanding circles and they seem to cast a blessing over the whole thing. I’d like to think those stars represent all those who watch over us and help us, over the girls who painted the mural, over all kids and teens healing from abuse. When I look up at the stars tonight, that thought will bring peace to my thoughts.
Thank you, artists of this mural, for sharing a little bit of your journeys with us and for leaving something beautiful behind at our center. May the stars watch over your journeys, tonight and every night, and may you always have companions to help you along your way.
This mural was painted by artist Manda Severin, with participation by five girls who are in treatment at the Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC). The girls helped choose the theme and picked the design, as well as being full participants in the painting process.
The artist: Manda Severin is a true renaissance woman. She has a Master’s degree in Psychology and she has been an instructor at SOU for many years. She is also a very talented artist and musician. She is available to paint murals for individuals or businesses and she can be reached at email@example.com