Written by and photos and art work by Corrine Lund —
When it was time for me to consider college, my farmer father strongly encouraged me to do what he was not able to do…work in the medical field. The first semester was painful. No soul-filling in biology for this lady! No passion in science labs! Second semester finally arrived. An elective! I chose a drawing class in the art department. I had never even visited an art gallery before this. One class. Then another. No more biology. My journey had taken a significant turn in the road and my heart and soul were filled!
How did I ever manage to find myself on such a path!? Could that be the guidance of the Holy Spirit? Really? Is that how it works? I drew and painted and created in all manners of form and technique.
How does one take a step off the familiar (not necessarily comfortable) path, brave enough to begin seeing the world and all the possibilities with different eyes? Seeing life differently. This was a journey that was beginning to fill my heart and soul. And then…
In 1996 I was diagnosed with cancer. It was the real thing…surgery, chemotherapy and radiation…and then slowly, recovery. Ask me if I was seeing life a bit differently now! I do not think God puts frightening challenges on our path just to make us stronger and wiser. I believe that God ‘helps and guides’ us through these challenges so that we are able to find the strength to walk the path of this new journey. God is not stealing away my joy to prove a point. But…interestingly, somehow the challenge I was facing and my creativity were coming together. Even with my tired body, I was growing stronger within. Could something that so filled my soul guide me through this life challenge?
I began to manage the fear, learning about and planning for the experience ahead. The fear began to settle down so that I could explore just what this challenge meant in my life. As an art educator, I had always shared with my students that their creativity was always available to them as they faced the unexpected in life. It was not just about drawing and painting. It was about how to express, deal with, explore, and even face significant life issues. Art was also about healing and I was about to experience this for myself. I began to see cancer through different eyes – creative eyes.
I created unique baskets that represented ‘containers’ for all the feelings I had, always using color to keep up my spirits. God probably smiled as I joined these two experiences for my new journey. When a day was difficult, I would create. I created from fabric and wrote in journals, made collages and worked on paintings. Each time I faced a new fear I would fall back on words or images or just color to deal with what was churning inside of me. Whatever spoke to my heart and soul! I even began to reach out to share with other cancer patients who were learning to manage their own fear, anger and overwhelming confusion. I encouraged others to become involved in creative adventures they might never have considered…gardening, cooking, photography – whatever their physical situation could manage and enjoy.
What a gift the Holy Spirit had put into my heart those many years ago. By now, I knew it was not my own doing that lead me to that unfamiliar elective in the Art department. In the months that followed I put all my thoughts, prayers, meditations, creative ideas into a book that was published called, God Blessed Them for the Journey. That was my celebration finale.
Being focused, feeling at peace, letting go of fear meant looking at life differently after receiving that diagnosis of cancer. Continuing to function in a reasonably normal fashion meant looking at life differently…very differently. Looking at life differently in the midst of life’s challenges can, indeed be a challenge in and of itself. You might have to learn to see life a bit differently but…do you know what? You aren’t traveling alone. I have paraphrased the words of Jesus just a bit:
“You are never traveling alone. If you are willing, you can follow me. I am the Way. When you open yourself to seeking life in a different way, seeing through my eyes, following my path…do you know what… I am going to be there with you!”
So many stages of life we all experience, each one different from the other. Excitement and challenges, feeling blessed and experiencing fears. We learn through each passage, each turn on the path
(Hmmm, the Holy Spirit had a pretty wise plan all those many years ago!) AND I’M STILL DANCING!