Yesterday, I went to see my friend Crystal, who owns her own salon in our town. She's been taking care of the hair on my whole family's heads for more than fifteen years now and we love her very much. When she opened her own salon, three years ago, she asked me to provide the artwork for her walls and has graciously sold that artwork countless times during that entire three years, asking for nothing in return. It's our connection that matters.
Recently we moved into a new home and I found myself suddenly faced with what felt like acres and acres of blank wall space. Just before that move, I had all but decided to quietly close down my business and fade gently into the sunset. I sold my professional camera equipment without telling anyone but those closest to me, and I replaced it with a hobby level camera that was light and felt like a toy to me. I made my peace with moving on to whatever the next adventure was but it was a loooong process during which I made a ton of excuses for why I was making that choice. I didn't want anyone talking me out of it...so I simply didn't talk about it. I had already made up my mind. I was ready to do something else entirely, but I had no idea what. I had a customer for the final 10 pieces I had created and when those images were gone, I planned to clap the dust off my hands and call it the end of my photographic era. I didn't think I'd left any embers at all glowing. The fire was out and the ashes were cold. I was happy with my decision. Mhmm.
Then a funny thing happened. I met a woman; a pastor of a church I had never even heard of, who had been buying my greeting cards for some time and using them to encourage members of her congregation, as she felt led. Crystal had hired a woman named Sherri, and Faith had followed Sherri to Crystal's Salon. Seriously...her name is FAITH. How awesome is that? But I still didn't have any. And I still wasn't talking about it.
I thought, perfect! I have a home for all these cards that are just sitting in a storage box in my basement and they will be put to good use, instead of collecting dust and sticky spider webs. She came to my home as we were packing to move and spent a very quick hour in my gallery with me. She told me how much the cards meant to her, and to those with whom she had shared them. I smiled, nodded, and handed the boxes to her, finished my cup of coffee, watched from my window as she packed the boxes into the back of her car and drove away. We made a promise to get together when I was settled into the new house, so we could get to know each other better, but I wasn't sure we'd ever keep it. (Oh ye of little faith, Roni). There was "connection" there. It was facilitated by a box of greeting cards. But I still wasn't getting it.
Connections... Roni, Crystal, Sherri, Faith. Lives that touch, even briefly and cause things to shift like they do when the wind makes one of the little glass prisms hanging on my deck chime against another one and make a sound. Like the endless ripples made, when you toss a pebble into the water and it reaches from the center all the way to the shore.
Yesterday, I saw Crystal again and another prism, another pebble, another leap of Faith was added to our soundtrack. It came on the voice of a woman named Elaine. Her connection to me will warrant its very own story someday. I will tell you this now though. Elaine said to me that connecting the artist with her work, face to face... made all the difference in the world to her and it changed everything. Wow. Crystal was so busy, she hardly heard it and I am so stubborn sometimes, I almost slammed the door of my heart. Before I left, Crystal asked me if meeting Elaine lit a fire under my butt and I said no. I meant it at the time, but when I woke up this morning, that still, small voice said... not yet. Don't give it up yet. You're not done connecting... it changes everything.
Last week I bought an old rocking chair. It's funny, you know. This house is so beautiful, and everything seems new and gleaming because it was so well cared for. I love that... with all my heart, I do. But when I sat down in this worn little rocker, I heard a beloved song in my heart. It goes like this...
Well it was battered and scarred
And the auctioner felt
It was hardly worth his while
To waste much time
On that old violin
But he held it up with a smile
Well, it sure ain't much
But it's all we got left
I guess we ought to sell it too
Now who'll start the bid on this old violin
Just one more and we'll be through...
- Wayne Watson