Moments of my life, at times, feel dreamlike, strange, and unreal. It’s almost as if I’m stuck in thick molasses, moving in slow motion all my senses heightened: sound, sight, smell, my mind feels frozen in time.
Last Saturday was surreal as I walked into the C.H.A.P. (Children’s Healing Art Program) studio in the Pearl District of Portland. A large warehouse like room with floor to ceiling windows allowing sunlight to invade every inch of multiple colors and textures, crafting supplies, painted couches, a sequined coffee table and rows and rows of fabric. Even the volunteers had bright colors splashed all over their jeans, shoes and shirts. Their smiles were warm and genuine.
It was Aly’s “I’m done!” party and Josh and I had been invited. Though we’d never met her or her mother in person, we’d sent numerous encouraging emails, as we followed her journey on her website. Aly’s blue eyes were much larger than her picture’s revealed. A giant smile spread across her face as she was introduced to Josh and me. Quiet and calm, her bald head sported a heart tattoo and her eye lashes had grown back, long and thick. Aly’s sisters were there to join in the celebration along with another family.
The children threw themselves into the painting, stenciling, and beading while the volunteers encircled them with their vibrant love and supportive words. At one point the kids joined together covering large canvasses with pinks, blues, oranges and reds. I stood back soaking in the sunny warmth of peace and joy in my molasses atmosphere wanting to embed each moment in my mind forever. Their creations were spectacular.
The highlight was stepping our bare feet into squishy multi-colored paints and jumping enthusiastically on a mattress creating a masterpiece. The elation of that moment was surreal as I watched Aly jump holding tightly to her mommy’s hand her sisters at her side. How much suffering had she endured? How much pain and heartache had filled this young mother’s life? In that split second I understood her deep aching heart and the engulfing bliss of that moment.
Afterward I noticed the buckets of water set aside to wash painted hands. But this time the children were sitting on chairs while the volunteers knelt before them washing their precious small feet, tenderly cleansing and drying them. My heart was about to burst as I looked on thinking of Jesus washing His disciple’s feet. I had to walk away, because it hurt so much, but I found myself returning again and again to get another glimpse of this simple act.
How does something so simple have such an impact?
How does the process of art help heal broken hearts?