Abundantly so.

By August 18, 2017 Art

I’m sitting on my back steps. It’s early…

The air is not refreshing. It’s heavy and humid. The garden is a tangle of vines that make me think mother nature is letting her hair go wild for the summer. I’m drinking my coffee and thinking of a line from Barbara Ras’s poem, You Can’t Have It All, that’s been repeating in my mind since I woke up.

“when it is August, you can have it August and abundantly so.”

For as long as I can remember, August is the month of my godmother’s annual visit from South Dakota. The visit was a big deal in my family. She joined the convent when she was 17, and had a sort of celebrity status in my very Catholic family.

She would arrive from the airport, sometimes in jeans or patterned skirts, but always with a crazy hat over her wild Irish hair. It was her signature style.

Once, while looking at photographs of her early convent days, I asked her if she missed wearing her old black and white habit.

She told me, in her formerly Brooklyn now midwestern accent, “Oh no, no. Dressing like a civilian frees me up to help people.” She thought the formal habit got in the way for people. They didn’t really tell her what was going on in their lives. And, she couldn’t help unless she knew what was going on. All she really wanted out of life was to help. To help all people, from Native Americans to immigrants to prisoners to her six nieces and nephews.

I sent this painting, Infinite Replication, to her for her 50th anniversary in the convent.

(Sorry the photo is so bad. This was before digital cameras were a thing, so it’s a photo…of a not very good photo.)

When I made it,  I was thinking about how cells replicate themselves and how energy moves through the material world. But when she saw it, she squeezed me so tight and said “Yes. Yes. Infinite Replication! The way love goes out into the world!”

She doesn’t visit in August anymore. She passed away unexpectedly just a few years ago.

She was also my Aunt. So the nuns she lived with boxed up her personal belongings and sent them to my mother. In the box was her hat. My mother gave it to me. This one isn’t that crazy. It’s a simple black one with a tag that says “Made in Korea”.

I keep it in my studio. Occasionally, I put it on. It hangs over my eyes. Apparently, my Aunt had an enormous head! I just never noticed, because her heart was so big.

This past week, my eyes have been burning with how easy it is for dark hearts to hurt others, and then for that darkness to spread like a digital virus poisoning us against each other.

It’s the reason I’ve become reluctant to flip through Facebook. But… This morning, before I sat on the steps noticing the wild garden, I saw a notification that a friend had shared a post with me.

So I clicked.

I saw this video about a nurse who made art out of tons of tiny things left over from tiny moments of trying to help people. She’d gathered them all together into a beautiful mosaic as a reminder.

It reminded me that what we replicate goes out into the world…abundantly so.


Author Siobhan


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