Rich Harvest
01 June 1989

I am an artist, but you do not necessarily have to have a brush or a pen to express something which can make another person feel great and hopeful. And this natural artistry can grow.

Every woman is born a creator. Our gifts may not always be apparent, but in everything we do we either create or destroy. In conversation we create confidence or envy, love or hate, friendship or suspicion, inclusiveness or separation. In our work, at home or outside it, we create beauty or disorder, peace or unrest. In relationships we create caring or competition, generosity or envy.

I am an artist, but you do not necessarily have to have a brush or a pen to express something which can make another person feel great and hopeful. And this natural artistry can grow.

Life develops in stages, each quite different from the other and each of them a surprise. A teenager cannot imagine being anything but herself. A young woman occupied with a career, rearing children and looking after a home, feels as if this is the whole of existence. Then other concerns begin to make themselves felt. Horizons widen, and the needs of the world and of humanity call on her attention and her will to live beyond herself. Time is used differently. Creativity of a new kind is brought into use, and a new kind of satisfaction marks a change in values.

The middle years also mark the stage when children have grown up, a woman's reproductive life stops and she is at a loss unless she realizes that there is another stage coming, one of greater discernment, of inner mobilization of experiences and insights. This is a time when it is destructive to look back in negative regret. Great creativity is released if the expectation is there.

Blind date
At the age of 25 I was fretting about how best to use my gifts. I had had a good artistic education and had every right to expect an outlet for it. I hoped especially to use my gifts in the larger context of life. But one day as I was dusting the house where I lived, looking after someone else's children, I 'heard' a voice quite clearly saying, `You must stop fretting about your art and become an artist with people.' It was quite undramatic. And I knew instantly that it was the truth. I was a loner and had always withdrawn from people, fearing that I would not be able to cope with the emotional stress of differences of opinion, irritation, responsibility.

What I had wanted most up to that point, and had shed tears over, seemed suddenly to loge its grip on me, and I knew that the voice that 'spoke' was to be obeyed, and, what is more, to be trusted. The immediate feeling was not of loss but of relief. Accepting this voice as a true guide to my own best interests was like going on a blind date. I did not have to, but I knew I must. What is more, I did it as a life contract, and did not expect any `reward' in the shape of a return to my art.

Then came 20 years of varied experiences and very hard work. My ability to paint vanished. I seemed not to be able to draw as I used to. My work took me travelling and I met hundreds of people. I got married, had a child and was assailed by severe illness.

One day that voice came again: `Now you must start painting, and start with a portrait.' At the age of 50 I had my first exhibition. My talents had returned and my experience of life had provided insights that enhanced them. The years of lying fallow had been a bonus, not a hindrance. I was utterly amazed. Now at the ages of 80 and 73, my photographer husband and I have recently held a joint exhibition.

All you are and all you wish for, and more, is in the process of development through life. By grabbing for the fruit before it is formed and ripe, you can spoil what was intended to be a rich harvest. There are stages in the development of each one of our gifts. We may have to get acquainted with them as we get to know ourselves. The one great source of talent is inner listening for truth and guidance - and it is this which leads us on.

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