Saturday my friend M. was sitting crosslegged on the bench when I arrived. We sat listening to the birds whistling and tweeting from a nearby tree. Conversation overflowed every which way in typical artist fashion. M. asked me how my art is going. I told her I’m “maintaining.” I’ve reached a point where I need to take a break from painting to create a working studio space instead. “Like sharpening a knife,” she said. You can chop for a long time with a dull knife while getting diminishing returns, or you can take a break, sharpen your knife, and resume chopping with much more efficiency. She told me about a collage that she made of a road that turns into a tree. Way to life, I thought. She wants to make a holy card of me knitting at the bench. Patron saint of bus stops and benches. I found this very amusing. She was worried that it might come off as irreverent, but I love the idea of picking local personalities and ascribing random things to them…and besides everything that exists is holy. I asked her about her connection to Catholicism because she is always making references to it in her art, assuming she grew up Catholic and had abandoned it in her adulthood but no, she is just intrigued by it…One rainy day when she couldn’t get her car to start, she said a hail Mary, and promised to become a Catholic if the car started running. It did. She hasn’t become Catholic, and it’s troubled her conscience ever since. Her husband told her it would have been a lot easier to call a tow truck! Such an odd thing to promise…Talking to M. is like an unobstructed view–present, transparent, real.
A mom with two boys, one about 4, the other 2, approached with their black dog. She told her boys to feel the knit rope, and they touched it, and agreed that it was soft. The little boy had a green dinosaur sticker plastered on his arm. The older boy was wearing a worn Rocket Donut shirt. Wyatt and Jasper.
“What possessed you to do it?” a woman asked me about my knitting project. “It was definitely the Muse,” I said.
Both Sunglasses and R. gave me a cheery good morning within seconds of each other. I thought to myself, this is what neighborhood feels like. It feels great to be a safe person for people to yell good morning to. C. came out and sat with me on the bench. She was displaying her three eagle pins on her hot pink fleece, one for each of her sons who had completed Eagle Scouts…”It’s practically unheard of,” she told me a few weeks back. I noticed a faint scar running across the top of her forehead and made a mental note to ask her about it some day. We hugged goodbye, and she crossed the street to help out the sick neighbor, entering the front door without knocking.
I rode my bicycle along the boardwalk, heart soaring, light glancing off the surface of the water that rippled like electricity over neon eel grass like hair all over the body.
I’ve been thinking about Time again…my habit of projecting worries into the future, and spoiling the present. (The flip side of fantasy…) I found this delightful meditation aimed like a scalpel at my mind:
You are quite wrong to think of sorrows that the future may bring; it is, as it were, intermeddling with Divine Providence. We who run in the Way of Love must never torment ourselves about anything. If I did not suffer minute by minute, it would be impossible for me to be patient; but I see only the present moment, I forget the past and I take good care not to anticipate the future. If we grow disheartened, if we sometimes despair, it is because we have been dwelling on the past or the future…
-Therese of Lisieux