I can’t keep up with the piles and stacks of her art that find their way to my night stand when I’m in the shower, or the ones she sets on the kitchen counter top in the middle of the mad-rush to get dinner on the table. She’s always creating something, and always quick to give her art away.
We tell her repeatedly that she has a bent for it–that God made her two hands for sculpting and painting and drawing. This revelation always brings a smile. Art isn’t just a pastime for her. Sure, she draws when she’s bored, but most of the time, she draws because she can’t help it. Because she must. We here in this home, and a few fortunate outsiders, are the steady recipients of her gifts. This is how she loves us. This is how she shares what she sees with us. She is more amazing than she could even begin to grasp. Her generosity comes by way of crayons, paper and when she’s feeling extra inspired, scissors and glue play a roll in the finished masterpiece.
Most of the time, her sketches bear the child-like giant capital letter “I” followed by a heart and a large “U”. I’ve been half-tempted to ask her to put her inscriptions on the back of her drawings, because sometimes I think it distracts from the picture. But I don’t say that to her, because she’s not working on something for the walls of the Louvre. She’s drawing love letters for this place. For the walls of my heart.
This weekend out little pet parakeet died. Her untimely death came as a shock, she had seemed fine just hours earlier. The surprise of it carried a particular sting. Though I cleaned the area beneath her now-empty cage, a stray, light blue feather has surfaced a time or two since I wrapped up the cord to the vacuum, a wispy reminder of her presence, and now, her absence.
To no surprise, my daughter made a piece of art to commemorate the sad occasion. She gave it to me late that same afternoon, she told me that it will help me remember.
Sometimes I foolishly think hospitality is just for adults. Of course, I am wrong to think this. Children have their own ways of making room for others that rarely includes a meal, but fills the body in unexpected, delightful, genuine ways. For the artist, creating a custom piece of work to commemorate an occasion, to bring a smile, to remind, to encourage–to say I SEE you, is a powerful act of generous hospitality.
Sometimes, when I look at the tilting stacks of art that accumulate faster than I can find room for it, I’m tempted to ask her to slow down. In my own overwhelm, I think, slow down–I can’t receive one more piece. But I see now that to ask her to stop would be to refuse her hospitality.
These drawings are her gift. This is her way of saying, I love you. I see you.