One year, I asked my life-long friend Judy what she’d like for a birthday present. I’d been painting, which she knew, and she had a love for Arizona. So it didn’t surprise me when she said, “Paint me a mountain lion.” Only thing was, I’d never painted an animal before.
I dutifully set off for a weekend in my mountain cabin, paint supplies in the back seat, intending to make a stop at the local art store for a table top easel. I had been widowed awhile then and although still missing Jerry, was getting adjusted to my freedom as a single woman.
It felt good to wheel up the gravel drive. I loved my little redwood and knotty pine cabin. It was my hideout. I’d spent amazing weekends alone there writing my book, Chasing God. It had seemed like God was chasing me the way the words flew onto my computer screen as fast as I could type.
This particular Friday night, I had no special expectations about the painting I was about to begin. In fact, I was fairly tired after a busy week and the two hour drive from Phoenix to the Groom Creek cabin. I unpacked a few groceries, ate a light supper and thought about bed. I would paint in the morning when I was fresh.
The early evening light filtering through the jack pines outside my window was fading. Soon glorious stars would fill the sky, so easy to see here, away from city lights. Lowering the shades on the big front window, I decided to put on my pajamas and putter around a few minutes. At home, I’d have read for awhile to wind down, but reading light was poor in the cabin. I gazed a bit wistfully at the single bulb lamp casting its halo on the counter.
My father-in-law had built this little place in the ‘60s and likely wasn’t much of an electrician when it came to light fixtures. Yawning, as I reached for the light switch, I noticed something. A package I’d forgotten to open...my new easel.
I eagerly tore open the wrapping paper, then the box. Instructions fell out.
‘Assembly required. ’Uh-oh...I was too tired for this! Then a handful of slats and several screws tumbled onto the counter. I groaned.
Tired as I was, after a few attempts to figure out top from bottom, front from back, I surprised myself and actually got the little dandy together.
Next thing I knew, I was unpacking my gesso, finding my big brush, spreading newspaper on the counter, telling myself: “I’ll just give the canvas a coat and then go to bed.”
Well, one thing led to another. The gesso dried. I sketched a momma lion with her kittens.
Then rummaging in my paint box, I asked myself, “What would this golden brown color be like for her coat?” and “Would Prussian blue work for the sky?”
Hours later, the painting I was going to start the next day was nearly finished. I went to bed, exhausted but satisfied.
Next morning, I sat looking at the painting. A Fierce Mother had arrived! My lifelong connection with my friend had flowed out onto the canvas in a dramatic salute to her. Judith, as she likes to be called these days, is the awesome mother of three adult sons. I have known her since our childhood, and them since their births. That she would protect them to the death, I would never doubt, just like a mother lion with her kittens. The golden eyes of this formidable cat portrayed the spirit of my dear friend, the energy of her deep heart for her children. Somehow Intuition had guided me, even unconsciously, to capture it.
I wondered as I sat with the painting that morning what could be stronger than a true mother’s love, the fierceness of mother love. And where could it possibly come from, the power of such human love? My own woman’s body and mother’s heart told me, or maybe it was the Spirit within: it has to be from the deep source that is the origin of all, the Source of Life.
Do I believe we are all somehow connected? And is that connection especially strong with those we love? When I looked into the eyes of this mountain lion, I knew the answer was ‘yes.’ Somehow, an incomprehensible Goodness we don’t understand permeates our lives, and is the very stuff of our connectedness. This Great Goodness is far stronger than our fierce human loves, and it seems to me, like a good mother, It can be trusted.