Friday, November 25, 2011

Erasing Dark Shadows

By Hazel Holland

"A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones." Proverbs 17:21-23

This watercolor painting that I painted of a Michigan sunset is a reminder of how I struggled to keep smiling as I faced being confined to a TB hospital for two months back in August of 1967.  It actually amazes me now that I had the determination to paint such bright colors when I was feeling anything but cheerful. 

As I look at the jagged edges of the dark shadows on the mountains I remember how they seemed to parallel my gloomy thoughts and unspoken fears back then.  Now the lines seem too harsh, but back then they clearly reflected the stark reality of daily life.

Although some patients told me that they had been in this hospital forever, I was not going to be one of them.  Others had died in there, but I would live to tell about it.

So in order to try and bring some kind of semblance of balance to the dark shadows of my doubts and fears, I decided to paint the most warm and cheerful fall leaves I could imagine in the foreground of my painting.  Perhaps it would help to dispel my angst with hope.  So each time I would have those dreadful thoughts of being confined to this hospital for eons, I would add a few more orange and yellow leaves to the trees in the foreground.  

As you can see from the density of those orange and yellow leaves, I struggled a bit with anxiety.  But gradually the focus of my thoughts shifted away from myself and my own fears to the needs of the people around me.

I began to wake up each morning with a renewed sense of purpose.  I would make the best of my two month "vacation" because now I had a mission.  I would paint my heart out, and do whatever it took to help erase the dark shadows from other patient's hearts. Instead of spreading around more gloom, I would bring them hope and cheer.  And with God's help I think I did.

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