The Wall

June 10, 2014

You are the Hero of your own story
Joseph Campbell

The wall was huge. I wondered if this was my payback for skipping out on the last painting blitz with Arts in the Alley to go on the church Beach Retreat last October. I know I was supposed to go, it was a moment everything inside began to churn and change. The job we desperately needed came, the church we were just beginning to love went. But seriously. Huge wall, and far from ideal. Bubbling, peeling paint that had ben painted and repainted without proper priming. Rough spots of cracking in the cinderblocks and asphalt base. It edged an open area of the parking deck that formed a sort of neglected courtyard over which rose five levels of patient rooms for transplant patients and guest rooms for families needing a place to stay while their precious children, husbands, parents underwent weeks,months of treatment at MCV. This terrible, peeling wall had been their only view. It was time. First we scraped and scrubbed the obvious loose, peeling paint, and the more we took off the worse it seemed to get. Finally, down to the bare, scratched, ugly but smooth surface and we could have kept going all day. Pulling off the paint, scraping, digging, trying for perfect, but the sun was climbing high and this is a two day project so we just called it. It would never be done. But it was enough. My right index finger is still scrapped raw with the effort. Under the bright colors, there would remain layers, layers of neglect, mistakes. Broken bricks, one upon another. But we primed, we painted, we marked out the grid and trusted the design. And something beautiful emerged.

I think God gave me this wall for a reason.
Making art out of things written off. Redemption to least likely spaces. We haven't been to church since Easter and I spent Pentecost weekend covered in plaster scrapings, and paint and parking garage grime and yet felt old embers stir as I created something in community bigger than myself for the first time in what felt like forever. An eyesore became art with many hands, some highly skilled some swearing they hadn't painted since preschool. That early morning, standing there, wishing I had remembered to drink coffee, looking at that huge wall with so much to do and so little time I knew it would work. I who feel overwhelmed by laundry and still need to organize five years of family photos. I who feel ill-quipped and unqualified 99% of the time. Standing there in front of that 50 ft wall was standing on the shore of that October ocean. Waves coming in, going out. Exactly where I was born to be. Creating something bigger than myself, for people I might never meet, simply so when they look down in the midst of their own overwhelming feelings of lostness and inadequacy for the journey ahead their view might be just a little brighter. So one person might see the words "You are the Hero of your own story" and remember how incredibly brave they are.  Might think of Healing. Remember Hope was still possible. Realize Help was indeed available.  I could not possibly do it alone, so I knew it would be done. And it would be beautiful.
Preaching the Gospel to myself. Words on a wall. Nine feet tall. Fifty feet wide.  Not so subtle, God.  In the end the wall resembled the ocean even if that wasn't the intent of my design.  
Yes, this wall I hit has indeed been scraped down to the stone and flesh and bone and it is time to paint again. All day long, the people leaving their rooms called down to us. "It's beautiful. Thank you." Thank you that someone had noticed the horrible, peeling cinderblock wall and seen the possibilities and potential a little paint and vision and hard work and hope could bring.  Someone always sees. Not so subtle, God. Not so subtle.
So. Thank you.

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 I'm a designer, wife and mother of two.  I post my work and on the places where creativity and life’s clutter intersect. Looking for inspiration and finding balance.  Join me on the journey.

A little about me

TwitterRachel4My name is Rachel. Good to meet you. I like caramel coffee, the way patterns of light or color or ideas fit together, and mornings at the ocean. Dislikes include: political ads, conspicuous wealth and mornings in general. Together, my husband Buddy and I are daily challenged and blessed as we raise two children and run one business: By His Designs.

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