I Am So Blessed

December 25, 2005

Yesterday I handed over one of the last of my commissioned animal portraits for this holiday season. The couple who came to pick it up was dressed in Steeler sweatshirts and jeans, black leather jackets and a Santa hat, and smelled a little of beer and cigarettes, not the type many would imagine would want a portrait of their cat, but I knew better. This is their second portrait, the first being a gift from the woman to her husband of a portrait of his cat a few years ago; this second was a gift from him to her of her cat, who she had put to sleep earlier this year.

She was ushered into the kitchen and he to my studio so he could look at and approve her gift from him, and as I lifted the cover from the drawing, still on the easel, his face softened and his breath caught. "It's him," he said softly, "she's been grieving him all year and she's really going to cry when she sees it," as his hand, tattooed with a black snake that continued up under his sleeve, lifted to brush at his eye and cheek. We called her in, even though she had wanted to wait to see the portrait until Christmas morning, because we needed to share this moment, and we all had a good honest cry together at the loss of her cat, the losses of mine remembered, the meaning of the season and the joy of being able to share even a sad moment with another understanding human being.

And they had brought gifts to me—dishtowels with cats on them, a little teapot shaped like a cat, and the best little box of chocolates I had had in a long time, so generous even though the joy of sharing those moments with them was gift enough for me.

It gets a little messy at times but I wear my heart right out on my sleeve so that my emotions are always conveniently ready whenever I need them, but still an excess wells over into tears at the abundance of a moment. This was not the only experience of sharing tangible and spiritual gifts I've had this holiday season or even this year, but it was the one that pushed me over the edge into a semi-permanent state of blissful excess in love and sharing that is the holiday season for me: no one can do wrong, I love everyone, the world is a beautiful place and everyone in it is divine.

This excess makes life so much easier in living without judgment, in seeing right past the motorcycle jackets and tattoos, the divisiveness among races and classes and creeds, the big wars and eternal conflicts among nations and individuals, seeing through all the meanness that humans can visit upon each other to who we really are underneath, and we're not very different when it comes down to it. In fact, we're very much the same.

This condition will wear off in a while, although it never goes away entirely. I consider it an affirmation, a blessing, and a gift.

I am humbled by the generosity of the two with the portrait, their simple kindness in bringing gifts and their willingness to share their emotions without reserve, and by the generosity of all such gifts given to me now and all through the year by the people in my life. I only hope to be able to return a portion of it in kind some time in the future, and to pass it on to others, to help win everyone over and fill the world with love.

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