Behold: I Set Before Thee an Open Door” is the biblical quote written on the seal of my alma mater, Germantown Friends School. I have always loved this quote and it reminds me of the beautiful words spoken by author Joseph Campbell, which you’ll find at the end of this blog.
I keenly remember when doors started opening for me. They already had, truth be told, but the whole process cranked up so dramatically at one point that I had to really pay attention. Getting to do a solo show and be Artist-in-Residence at Omega for two summers (1999, 2000) was life-changing. I fell in love with my students, many of whom had never picked up a brush, and were now finding the courage to express themselves. I taught “Visionary Art” and “Creating Sacred Space,” (in other words, individual prayer, meditation, and self-motivational environments).The absence of judgement was key in creating comfort and safety to engage, as was the establishment of a sense of appreciation and reverence for the Source of all creativity. The first thing we did in class was a short affirmative prayer and guided imagery. Then, all Heaven broke loose. Everyone got to be themselves and to make art that was not imitative or derivative, but which came from within. The joy was palpable.
During that first summer, opportunities started opening up to do art events and workshops at the A.R.E., Unity Churches, UNCW, and all over the place. Magazine publications, interviews. It was nuts, in a good way. It was exciting to experience the demonstration that when you keep saying “no, thanks” to things that don’t feel right for you, and “yes” to things that do, doors open. As Campbell said,
“Follow your bliss.
If you do follow your bliss,
you put yourself on a kind of track
that has been there all the while waiting for you,
and the life you ought to be living
is the one you are living.
When you can see that,
you begin to meet people
who are in the field of your bliss,
and they open the doors to you.
I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid,
and doors will open
where you didn’t know they were going to be.
If you follow your bliss,
doors will open for you that wouldn’t have opened for anyone else.”