The challenge of this pandemic has opened surprising new doors for many who are searching for comfort and inspiration. One survey by BookNet Canada showed that slightly more Canadians read during the pandemic than before. In the absence of other activities with neighbours and friends, I have rediscovered poetry, subscribed to magazines, and played new card games; each helping our family survive the cold and the isolation.
One surprise has been the discovery of art and artists that give me some new sense of clarity and hope. Artist Carol Aust creates beautiful paintings from her studio in Oakland, California. Her art caught my attention early on in this pandemic because it evokes a love for community, for neighbours, and gives shape to hard-to-explain emotions.
Some of her paintings show communities of people gathering in the woods, around tables, and embracing. There is this sense of longing, lament, and hope all wrapped together. It’s comforting.
One painting that strikes me is ‘Trio in Boat.’ It depicts three people in a little wooden boat floating above the dark and watery abyss. Instead of looking fearful, they are playing music. One on the guitar, another with a flute, and the third singing along. I feel this sense of connection because I wonder if we are a lot like these people. My family, my church community, my neighbours, and my city are all finding ways of staying afloat in chaotic times, while still trusting our little raft, the water to carry us, the company we keep, and the music that we create together. We are a little boat in a big sea, but we’re together and we can stay afloat.
I hope in this season that you will find images, stories, words, and community that carry you in this season. You are not alone.