Last week, we–as a family–headed down to Cincinnati for an evening of fun. First stop was a run-around through Ikea (that place is like a corn maze!) with the intent of finding a reading chair for my room. The hunt turned out quite successful as we left with a small recliner-style chair loaded in the back of the suburban. It is a simple, but lovely black chair and it has already been well used! We also went to Jungle Jim’s–the coolest international market around! We all ventured to our favorite places around the world in search of goodies. My focus was the variety of teas: Papaya and Passion Fruit black tea from the Asian section and herbal teas from the England section–Raspberry Cream Caramel and Tangerine Almond.
We then headed out to the Clifton Cultural Arts Center for the art show in which I was a participant, with collaborating artwork and two of my own paintings. Although I barely missed meeting with the three girls that I had been in Skype contact with over the previous months, I did have a chance to meet the two professors–Jenny and Sarah–and one other student from their class. The collaborating watercolor cards (that I started) were not yet complete, so I look forward to seeing the outcome when the girls send them to me in the mail; the painting canvas, however, was finished and on display. Because I had only started the canvases, seeing the outcome didn’t feel like I had any part in the project, though I did. A very strange and new experience, because I still feel as though I make art thinking inside the box…a very traditional view of art I guess.
As I ended viewing the art exhibits around the room, I had a chance to talk more with Jenny about the class, art experience and purpose of this particular show. I had noticed a theme: much of the art descriptions discussed around the area of cancer or other life-threatening traumas–the pain, emotions, questions, fears, doubts, hopes and dreams, survival. Jenny mentioned that she had encouraged the students to think deeply of these things and portray them–because we are all affected, whether you are the one facing the trials or it is someone else you know. Art is a medium to express these different side-effects of disease.
One art set was a participant project where cards and pens had been placed on a table. You were invited to write an encouraging letter to an anonymous adult cancer survivor or patient. (Read about full project here: The Mandala Project.) I locked my walker so I could sit at the table and picked up a blank card. At first I didn’t know what to say…I get a lot of encouraging letters, sometimes even from strangers, but here I sat speechless for a few minutes. I finally started just by saying my name and that I didn’t have cancer, but a rare disease with tumors. After my first introduction sentence, thoughts just started to come…
I concluded my note by mentioning strength, because, let’s be honest…whether it’s cancer, NF2 or another disease, any can initially wipe out your strength–physically, mentally and emotionally. I have been there. I still am there. And it is when you cry out in your uttermost weaknesses, that God answers in His fullness of strength…in ways you never anticipated, hoped or dreamed.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
Romans 8:26, ESV