Blooming No Matter Where We Grow

During a trip to Nova Scotia, I spent some time wandering around Halifax savoring the food and the sights. It was early spring and the tulips, narcissus and daffodils had burst forth in glorious colors, yet the most overwhelming experience came in the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. It was there I discovered folk artist Maud Lewis.

To tell the truth, I saw a photo of her holding one of her paintings and I was floored by the joy I saw streaming from her. I stuck my head into the tiny cabin that she lived in for many years that the Gallery had dismantled, restored, and installed. Everywhere I looked I saw her artistry. Landscapes had been painted on the riser of each stair. Flowers adorned pots, pans and a teakettle. There were paintings hanging and some were painted directly on walls. The space in which she lived was a shrine of its kind, not to the artist, rather to the expression.

Tears crept into my eyes; I felt her presence. Whatever one might say about her, the passion she felt could clearly not be contained.

It was this lens through which I saw Maud Lewis. She was born with rather significant physical limitations into a rural setting without access to art or instruction. She had to teach herself to paint…and to do so with the most rudimentary materials and supplies. If ever there were a story of apparent limitation, hers would seem to be that.

The urge within her could not be contained, and the joy it so clearly generated could likewise not be restrained.

Granted, we will never know the state of her inner self. No doubt she had all the psychological and emotional challenges common to humanness in addition to a host of external constraints. She probably suffered as we all do too.

Regardless, her life is a testimony to fertility and abundance. And more importantly, to the ability to manifest no matter one’s circumstances.

Seeing True

Phyllis Old Dog Cross, a member of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation and a friend who is now gone from the earth, helped me to see what is now so blatantly apparent with Maud Lewis. Our greatest challenge is to find a way to bloom no matter where or how we are planted. In the end, this is our memorial, which can only be created by living richly and fully…no matter our circumstances.

Seeing True in Action

In the spirit of unflinching self-examination:

  • Are you blossoming in the circumstances in which you find yourself?

  • What stands in the way of thriving?

  • What are you willing to do to be fulfilled?

Updated May, 2019