Hear me read this post.
My grandfather was a part-time orchardist and a part-time painter. This was at a time, close to the Great Depression, when being a good water colorist still meant a chance to paint for the covers of well-known magazines. One family legend is that he would sell on the street the brown bag lunch made for him by my grandmother so that he might buy more paints.
He said this: If you want to know what colors go together, you only need to look as far as nature, for there all colors combine gracefully. At their edges, for example, the blues of the sky and the greens of the river make together a fine turquoise that reminds me of the hundred year-old Navajo bracelet I often wear.
There is special power in us, power we do not understand. If you go to the Grand Canyon and look into the walls of stone you see formations that evoke ancient storehouses of wisdom left for us, but not yet tapped. It is a holy place, where what you send out into the air above the canyon feels likely to come back ten-fold. Light begetting light; darkness and emptiness begetting a foretold dawn. One day I watched as a flock of mountain blue birds flew not parallel to the canyon floor but straight up out of the canyon against its walls, just tilting my mind enough to recognize the presence of magic.
When you grab hold of your own life-force, your inner Desire to live — and transmute it, transfigure it, release it — into something that is in service to the world, to humanity and to what is divine — then surely the right flow will find you and you will join that flock of birds. When you reshape your own suffering into contribution, learning to love unselfishly; when you welcome the hand of the sculptor to make of you who and what you are meant to be, there comes a point when you know that there is really only one Vocation, which is to love the world and to offer it in whatever way you can your own caress. That is your gift, your genuine power. Don’t let this wisdom stay locked away in stone.
Caress is a simple word meaning a gentle, loving touch. Perhaps this is the only thing required of us in order to save ourselves and the world. Caress comes from Latin for “dear,” a feeling, yes, but better said, an energy that may be central to the very flow of nature, holding us and the other right colors together, just as we are meant to be.