Yesterday, she drew. Unprompted. Without encouragement. Instead of playing video games, she chose to draw.
On one long wall of our homeschool room – the longest one without a window – sit three large black, carved bookcases almost overflowing with books. On the third shelf of the first bookcase, sits all our art books. Art review, coffee table art books, how to draw books, coloring books and storybooks of famous artists. Beautiful books which give my heart a little jump every time I turn the corner and catch sight of them.
I’ve come to accept that no one else in my family has quite the same reaction. My impish excitement over just the sight of such literary fortunes and the art that fills them, seems my sole possession. Even my artistically bent son who loves drawing and creating and inventing, seems blind to the artistic treasure-trove resting expectantly on the third shelf of that first bookcase.
I would have thought I’d died and gone to heaven had there been a room in my childhood home so filled to the brim with books. As it was – given the limitations of finances, the decades and place in which I was raised – I look back with a deep sense of welling pride at my mother’s efforts to provide excellent literature for my brother, sister and me to enjoy. I remember hours spent pouring over the Childcraft Encyclopedia collection, the National Geographic children’s book collection or my latest Scholastic Book Club order.
Once every couple weeks, my brother and I would ride our bicycles the two and a half miles into town, making our rounds: first to the library and then to Aunt Evelyn’s for cookies, popcorn and milk. Both stops were a feasting of sorts; rare moments of unabashed gorging. At Aunt Evelyn’s, we ate microwaved popcorn, generic Oreos and Nutter Butters to near vomit levels. At the library, I stopped checking out books only when my pack was full and hard to keep steady while riding back home.
I also cherished drawing. I don’t remember owning drawing books, but what I loved was trying to re-create Precious Moments coloring pages or pictures from the Precious Moments Bible my baby sister was given as a baptism gift. I could spend hours working my pencil; trying to capture the awkward, but endearing, dimensions of those children’s oversized heads and eyes as they innocently depicted some Bible passage or Christian theme.
Eventually, I graduated – but never fully abandoned – from copying coloring pages to actual landscapes; both illustrated through photography and in real life. On a not too windy spring day, I could often be found sitting on my front porch, gently rocking in the brick-red painted porch swing, studying one of my mother’s flowering bushes; working to capture each petal’s depth and how sunlight both absorbed into and reflected the bushes’ beauty. The hardest part, I thought, was this capturing; trying to draw what you know is there, but by way of sunlight’s gleam appears to fade or go white into it’s background. It’s a problem I still struggle against, even in my simple nature journal drawings.
But, to stumble upon this child of mine – not of my womb, but of my desiring heart and subsequent aching, struggling, mourning and rebirthing soul – sitting in contemplative focus, moving pencil across paper, creating lines into images without needing my help, approval, suggestions or otherwise…it melted me.
And the space between us shrunk.