Note: A special thank you to Nic Askew for sharing his short film "One True Voice / Jonas Gerard."
When artist, Jonas Gerard heard these words reflected back to him by a caregiver, “Jonas, you lost your voice” it awakened him to the deepest truth of his life. Listening to Jonas tell his story, stirred my own desire for truth, as well as experiencing a few ah-ha moments.
Perhaps, the era I grew up in was one that often admonished, “Children are to be seen and not heard.” Then again, maybe it was my father’s attempt at constructing order with in a household of eight people living together. Regardless, like Jonas, I grew up with a sense of not having a voice. For me to speak up in a group created an anxiety that caused a trembling of hand and voice, it was as if I were breaking a cardinal rule. Throughout my childhood and into early adulthood I was frequently sick with bouts of tonsillitis that progressed into debilitating strep throat illnesses. Over time, I found safety in expressing my thoughts on paper with words or with colors.
What surfaces for me, are the fine Journal essays offered this past week by Erie Chapman and Candace Nagle. Both writers touched upon intriguing questions related to mind, body, spirit and the connection of illness and healing, whether or not the universe is a friendly place, and honoring the creative mystery that guides our lives. Jonas’s personal experience also connects intuitively with our soul’s quest to seek authentic expression.
When we are knee deep in the muddy waters of our lives, our first inclination may be to revert to a longing to ‘be’ elsewhere; anywhere, ‘but here’ as we unwittingly try to escape the intimacy we want most. We mistakenly think that elsewhere must be ‘it’, that better place.
Yet, ever hopeful to me is the idea that mud is the artist’s true palate. Even in the brokenness and limitations of my life there are worthwhile territories to explore fearlessly rather than to abandon them. Or as Journal frequenter Maria Doglio so aptly quoted from Rumi, "The wound is the place where the light enters you". Jonas became aware of the blessings in life that come in disguise and once aware, how it changes everything we see.
A reversal of thought cultivates an open friendliness to the invitation of creation. Surprisingly, as we work with the mud in our lives, the artist's hand finds the clay receptive. As small cracks open to let Light in, we receive affirmation and a resounding 'yes' from our universe. When we value not only gorgeous colors but even mud as our medium, perhaps we too, unknowingly become the instrument.
~liz Sorensen Wessel