There is this painting that my mom did when she was in her twenties. It used to hang in the master bedroom, but when my parents decided to repaint everything, they took it down and never put it back up. It is currently sitting on a dresser in the room I am staying in. It’s one of my favorite pieces of artwork. It is obscure and geometrically based. When I was younger I always used to ask her what it was, and she would turn the question around and ask what I thought it was. I would stare at the red and orange blocks, the white light, the ominous looking blues and greens, the arch of color tying everything together. I have come to two conclusions throughout the years about what image I see. At first glance I see a cross. It is a symbol of faith. At the base of the geometric shapes that make up the cross, there are strokes of white paint. Almost like a reverse halo. Upon further observation, I see a door that the cross is blocking. Now, depending on who you are, you can either see that as faith holding you back, or faith helping to close a door to the past. In the many years that I have looked at this painting I have vacillated between those two interpretations.
When I was in high school I had a strong belief system in Christianity. But there were experiences that began a chain of events that ultimately led to me not having belief in religion. Notice I said religion, not faith or spirituality. I am spiritual. I acknowledge an otherness. I just have no confidence in a single religion, and their rules and regulations, as the right thing. There is a quote from the movie Stigmata that really helped solidify my thoughts. It spoke to me because it eloquently said everything I wanted: “Jesus said, ‘The Kingdom of God is inside you, and all around you, not in mansions of wood and stone. Split a piece of wood, and I am there, lift a stone, and you will find me.‘” Aside from not believing in Jesus (that’s right, I am not a Christian, because I do not actually believe Jesus was the son of God, just a prophetic man) the quote hits upon a basic pillar of my belief system. The miraculous is all around us. It is in the grass, the way the wind blows, how the some people’s eyes are green and how some are brown. People can call it ecology, evolution, genetics, whatever, but there was something instrumental in originating it all, and that is the miracle. And there is something grand in how these things come together in chemical and molecular compounds. Ironically, science is faiths best friend. You may disprove the notions of Creationism, or science may act to disprove biblical stories, but there is something otherworldly in how this all came about.
After the experiences of the past year, when I look at the painting I see faith helping close a door. I am not praying to God to guide me through this. I cannot fathom a single entity that is responsible for everything. Rather, I base my faith in positive thought. There is something outside the human experience, and it’s all around us and in us, but because we ask for help does not necessarily mean it is going to come in a neat package. I see help in the friends who have reached out to me. I see help in my parents and their willingness to house me through this. I see the miraculous in the opportunities that are now before me. I know when my mom painted it she was going through a rather difficult time in her life. It is a comfort seeing it sit next to my bed. Building blocks converging to make a symbol of faith. One that is helping shut a door to an uncomfortable and traumatic past.