Soften

Mood-Paint-Brush-1024x640A few months ago, I began taking monthly painting classes. In all my 40 years, I’d never learned to paint, so I was half-terrified going in to our local wine-and-canvas operation. I’ll never forget having to make that first brushstroke across the perfect, white canvas. I was paralysed for a few moments – only the fear of being left behind altogether put an end to my inertia.

So paint I did, and I surprised myself with the results. I went again, and again, and a couple of weeks ago, I took my fifth class. Though it was my most challenging so far, for the first time ever in my painting journey, I felt myself let go and relax as I approached my painting. I softened. Perhaps it was because I had learned by then that no brush stroke was truly fatal, or that creating something new required taking risks. Perhaps it was because by then I had observed that my painting did not have to be exactly like my instructor’s to be beautiful. I’m not sure.

But something magical happened as I softened. A warmth flowed through me (and no, it wasn’t the wine as I had declined that night to drink anything). I lost my dread of my first brushstroke. I stopped trying so hard to get it exactly right, trusting that in the end, it would come together just right. I lost my need to compare my work with that of others around me.

In so doing, my enjoyment of the whole process increased exponentially. And I realised, life should be like this.

So when I was challenged to select my intention for 2016, I knew immediately what it would be.

Soften.

I want to approach my life this year as I did that painting – without tension, without striving for perfection, without comparison, with freedom and with joy.

Someone told me recently that our thinking changes from decade to decade. We think differently in our 30s than we did in our 20s, in our 40s than in our 30s, in our 50s than in our 40s and so on. She also observed that the 30s are the decade we all endeavour to “do life” better than our parents did. We select and cling to a philosophy or set of principles, sure that it is the one right philosophy that will produce the superior results we so desperately want to see – in ourselves, our children, our spouses.

Guilty. A year into my 40s, I am beginning to see how pointless that was.

But the beautiful thing is, it wasn’t pointless. I couldn’t have skipped that stage if I’d tried. I needed to live my 30s to grow into who I am in my 40s. A decade from now, no doubt I will be saying the same thing about this decade.

I am sure it is this way by design.

God comes to you disguised as your life. ~ Paula D’Arcy.

Fr. Richard Rohr calls it the Second Half of Life. Dr Wayne Dyer called it The Shift. We all have the opportunity to proceed into that stage of life where we are no longer driven by our egos, and no longer assess our own self-worth by comparing ourselves with others. The stage of life where, as Fr. Richard Rohr puts it, having created our bowl, we become concerned with what, spiritually speaking, is going to fill it.

God seems to be about the refinement of souls. Clearly, he could perfect us all at the flick of a finger, but he seems to be after something more authentic in us than that.

By softening, we welcome an inevitable process and we show compassion and understanding for those who inhabit the stages of life we once did. And we can take joy in knowing that we are at a certain stage for a reason – that we have grown from a previous stage and that we will grow and deepen as individuals again.

~ by Jeannine Buntrock

 

 

1 comment so far

  1. Joy Copeland on

    I am there at the stage in the bowl. I think differently… I am more sober and intentional. I will rejoice and be glad in 2016.


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