There’s a little garden in the middle of the school where I teach, and there resides my three potted pals. I’m starting to think their presence is a must in any garden.
I’ve walked past them about a hundred times now, yet they never fail to put a smile on my face. While they may look rather spacey, those vacuous eyes belie great spiritual wisdom. “Why are you frowning? Be silly, be kooky. It’s a lot of fun!”
They jolt me out of any sense of self-importance that creeps in as the day goes by. I’ve learned that when we stop taking ourselves too seriously, it frees us up to take other people more seriously. Which is important in many vocations, and so good for the health of our souls.
I haven’t written anything new over the last few days (though there are many thoughts I’m itching to get on paper), because I’ve been…doodling. A lot.
Apparently, this type of detail-oriented (or should I say “obsessed”?) and geometric doodling has a name — it’s called a “zentangle”. I would not have known this if my colleague hadn’t passed me a Zentangle workbook to pass to Omari, my student who’s currently in the hospital.
I am hooked, and think I may have figured out the appeal of zengtangling. It’s a lot like life — you can’t erase any of the strokes you’ve made, but you can adapt and build off from those accidents, misfortunes, and mistakes. In the moment, every detail seems random and incongruous with everything else, but at the end of the day you find yourself with a final tapestry much more complex and beautiful than what you could have dreamed up at the beginning.
And it reminds me very much of God’s continuing work in my life and yours. In the words of a very wise priest, God is a skillful impressionist painter — his work can make little to no sense up close, but when you step back you see a masterpiece.
This has been fun and therapeutic for me, but I also connect deeply to the idea of characters who are so fixated with a certain trait that they forget there’s so much more beauty and complexity to them. I’ve seen it in myself, in people struggling with mental illnesses, in my students, and in how people view those who have special needs.
I’m now thinking of putting them on sale as prints/T-shirts/tote bags/iPhone skins on Society6. What do you think?