Be not afraid.
I called her Scout.
Because, I knew I was going to be spending
a lot of intimate hours with this sheep
and she needed a name.
Because, on the day I started this painting,
the news came across the airwaves
that Harper Lee had died.
And because I wanted to be just like
Atticus’ curious, strong,
loyal and fiercely brave
It was late in February
when I began this painting.
We were deep into a very rough winter
of care-giving and hospice nursing
for Pat’s elderly aunt and uncle.
His death in November
left a wife of 72 years to grieve
through the cobwebs of Alzheimers.
Two days after I began this painting,
Aunt Mary died, in the dark hours
between dusk and dawn,
while Pat slept
on the floor beside her bed.
The afternoon before,
out of a deep state of rest,
Mary sat up in bed and cried,
Pat, help me, I’m so afraid.
Taking her hand Pat comforted Mary
with the words that her room was full of angels,
and all of them were there to take her to Bob.
Pat’s art is her compassion.
She was born to be a hospice nurse.
It is hard, meaningful work,
that only someone strong,
and fiercely brave can do.
Her courage runs fathoms deep.
The grief that followed Mary’s death,
was interrupted by waves of peace.
In the wake of that chapter in our lives,
I was drawn into a profound intensity of focus,
as I tried to shine some light on the emotions
that were trying their best to hide.
Scout and I spent those weeks together,
weaving our way through her pasture of grasses,
and catching the sunset in the fibers of her fleece.
I had been listening to Louis Penny’s wonderful
Three Pines Mystery series, and was so happy to be
among the old friends her characters have become.
They are real, and honest, loyal and brave.
Spiked with just enough wit and humor to keep my pencils sharp.
At some point,
most likely when I was struggling with
refracting the rainbow of light
through one of those four hundred million locks,
I caught a new word, and paused the book
to go back and listen again.
She was describing the words that Seamus Heaney
had written to his wife, on his deathbed…
I put down the brushes.
As I am writing this now,
in this troubled world,
with so much to fear,
I am sitting next to Scout,
framed in her quiet island pasture,
searching my soul
for the courage… to listen.