Each week it was a different medium, watercolors, acrylics, oils, pastels. Once we made masks. I remember when Leah brought out the oil paints I cried. The smell of the linseed oil brought back a flood of memories. I used to paint with oils when I was a kid. I painted the things I didn't know, like the giant panda bears that the United States received as gifts from China, Ling Ling and Hsing Hsing, straight out of the National Geographic, which is where I got most of my subject matter back then.
But now, at the table of the seven women, I painted from somewhere inside me a murky green landscape that looked like mud, and then I put a leaf on top and painted more mud over that. I hated it. I watched as one woman painted portraits in intense, chalky reds with bright blue auras, staring faces with other-worldly expressions that had an aboriginal feeling to them. Another woman painted a soft and lovely landscape with a luminous figure in it and then suddenly etched across the surface of her drawing in yellow pastel the words "take dominion." I was so enamored of her and her startling impulse, the action of marring a beautiful painting with force, that I asked her if I could have her painting. Sometimes we see in others the latent qualities that we need to develop in ourselves.
Later, I began to see Leah on a one on one basis. I had started my book but was too identified with my writing to allow myself to make mistakes with it. To be identified with something in psychology means that you can't separate yourself from it. You don't know where you end and the other begins. During one of our sessions I remember Leah asking me if I was shy and my feeling very upset by that. Shy was so far from who I knew I was but for some reason it was true. Completely. I felt desperate, as if I were at the bottom of a pool and couldn't make it to the surface.
The mystic Meister Eckhart wrote:
"When the soul wishes to experience something, she throws an image out before her and enters into it."
My book The Red Coat is an image that my soul threw out that I stepped into, like a bubble rising to the top.
Tonight, I went through my file from Leah's class (I have a file for everything!) looking for that murky green painting but couldn't find it. I must have carried it around for years and then finally threw it out. So I imagined a photograph I could take that would capture the feelings I had back then and I decided to snap a picture through the bottom of my water glass!
So tell me, what picture does your soul want you to enter?