We were down in southeastern Massachusetts for a couple of days this week. Many trees had leafed out, flowers were abloom everywhere, and the birds’ dawn chorus was magnificent. The world was an intense vernal green, vibrant and noisy, reminding me of spring as a child in rural England; I was embedded in sweet recollection, fragrant and surprisingly tactile.
In the small Japanese garden in my in-laws’ back yard stands a fine flowering cherry which filled the sun room with a soft pink floral presence. The cherry, a welcome presence, watchful and awake, swayed ever so seductively in the gentlest of sea breezes, casting shadow plays against the room’s walls.
This week I also found myself engaged in conversations, with clients and others, concerning whether making art and engaging in psychotherapy make sense in this difficult time. Repeatedly the conversation hung on reminiscences of hiding under school desks during air raid drills. Such memories bring with them an intense sense of the futility which hung then in the classroom air, along with irony and a terrible sense of foreshortening and futility. They arise now, as the world appears to be sliding yet again towards the unthinkable.
As has happened repeatedly since the election, I listened as clients, colleagues, and friends questioned the value of working to soothe deep hurts, write poems, or make art. By midweek I found myself fervently insisting that engaging in therapy and art making, in all its myriad forms, are not only worthwhile endeavors in difficult times, but powerful acts of resistance and hopefulness. It seems to me that each is, at least potentially, a way of caring for the world, others, and the self, and of bringing to the fore joy and beauty. Thus each holds great and lasting value.
I believe there is a real possibility, even likelihood, that caring for the soul and dancing with creativity embolden us to care more for others and for the fragile, glowing world that is our home. They stand in ever sharpening contrast to life styles and ideologies that favor the accumulation of wealth through the destruction of all that is most precious, and hold the promise of continuity and renewal, a bright hope that pushes back the shadows of hatred and environmental and nuclear threat, and opens the door to beauty, affection, and joy.