Begin Again

Today, like every other day, we wake up empty and afraid. Don’t open the door to the study and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument. 

Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are a hundred ways to kneel and kiss the ground.


“I can’t do this!”
It’s early morning, and, yet again I am trying to move ahead with some of the work which matters to me. But right now I can only stare at the inadequate mess of lines I have sketched onto stretched linen, looking for answers I just can’t find. Let the beauty we love be what we do, I am challenged. But this morning I simply don’t think this is possible.

As it so often does, my harsh inner voice screeches me to a halt. I am convulsed by an ugly, ineffectual kind of humility. Worse, I am hollowed out. I have nothing left to give.

In fact, beginning again still gnaws at me every time I attempt to walk on into this strange new life without my husband. Inwardly I take up the old, too familiar arguments: I am too hurt, too lost, too confused. On those days when yet again I am congratulating myself on reshaping my life, this nagging sense of inadequacy returns to tug at me, nipping at my heels.

I do yearn for the comfort of making writing, or, in this case, art. In fact I urgently need to sustain this honoring of life.
But, what if, as seems only too likely, I can’t? A cruel, yellow fog creeps into my head. Wouldn’t I be safer just to settle by my fire, and take up the delicious new book on Wordsworth and Coleridge?

Nevertheless, fiercely resistant to giving up as I am, I glance at those rough lines again. I can’t. It’s too hard. I just can’t!

So, here’s what the original plan was: Some years ago, I discovered that I could do sketches with wool on linen, tapestries of a sort, an unexpected kind of art which pleased me. Although admittedly bringing these images to something close to my vision, was never less than very hard work, it also gave me joy.
This time, I wanted to express my anguish about the destruction of my world, but in my own way. So many of the cherished birds who called Singing Meadow home are gone now—the marsh hawk pair who skimmed low to the ground, the bobolinks who skipped over the wildflowers, the snipe whirring at dusk, the shrike standing guard by his hawthorn bushes… And, yes, the bittern who stalked the wetlands just below our home here, crying out with his booming. All of these gave enriched my life, and now they all are gone. I was raging over the death of nature; I was despairing.
But eventually, I decided on a small offering. As tributes I would make sketchy tapestry portraits of some of these lost birds. I found a couple of pictures of bitterns which I liked and decided to start with these.
I am not a confident artist. In fact, as the daughter of accomplished professional artists, I can barely see my own drawings without wincing. I know just enough to be aware of exactly what their shortcomings are. And yet, when I get over myself, when I marry myself to what I see, I sometimes do get to a place of delight. That was what I was hoping for that morning, before I stumbled over the all too familiar “not good enough”.

                                  Keep going. Never stop.

And so I rummage through the vocabulary of brown yarns I have hoarded, consider the exact green to bring the bird’s throat alive. And once again I am on my way. I am lost in the joy of color.

Begin again. Yet again. Knowing as Rumi did that there are a hundred ways to kneel and kiss the ground. But also understanding that all I have to do is Let the beauty I love be what I do. This is my commitment and also my privilege.

For as long as I am able.

Small with Great Love

Subscribe to my blog and receive the latest post in your mailbox.

We don’t spam!

Scroll to Top