by Debbie Schroder
The front door was already open and as I opened the sliding glass door to my patio, a fierce gust of wind blew through my house, lifting an antique plate and a figurine right off of the shelf they were on. They crashed to the floor in jagged pieces as I quickly shut the door.
I don’t know a lot about antiques, I just like old things, and I like to save pieces of old things to make mosaics out of. A former student taught me the techniques of mosaic work and I have a huge butterfly mosaic on my patio wall. When I look at it I can spot evidence of dishes broken during moves and other tiny pieces of memories. Ask almost any art therapist and you will certainly hear about boxes of stuff that can’t be thrown out because “I might make art with this someday.”
My pieces of broken plate and figurine haven’t landed in a box or become incorporated into something new. I’ve left them out because my art process and my life process aren’t ready to “put away” or “incorporate” right now.
I think that sometimes when we move through difficult experiences we want to quickly box the experience up and label it for perhaps opening in the future, or we quickly need to find meaning, any meaning, and incorporate it into our way of making sense of things.
Recent struggles deserve more. They deserve to sit there on the sideboard where I see them. I can sit with these fragments.
My inner liturgy doesn’t leave space for giving much time to mourning the loss of a plate. Not when people don’t have food to put on plates. But I do have enough inner spaciousness to hold onto recent struggles and let them rest. Until they can be boxed up or until they can be part of a new creation. One of the things we do best, as art therapists, is to hold gently and wait.