Up Close or From a Distance

What is the condition of my heart?

It depends on if you look at it up close or from a distance.

From far away it might look masterful. Intentional.  Intact.  Strong and brave.  Coping.

My six-year-old son’s school was closed today and we made the trip to visit the Art Institute of Chicago with friends.  I love the Impressionists, specifically Monet.  We spent time standing back and taking in the beautiful water lilies, haystacks, and irises.  Then as we leaned in, we could see how different the painting was.  My heart is like an impressionist painting.  Perhaps beautiful from afar.

taken today

But once you peer into my heart more closely, you can see the mess. The frantic strokes.  Thicker in some places and thinner in others.  Like Monet going blind, it is hard to see a clear picture.

My heart was lost for a bit. When found, it was covered in dirt and grime. It was too much for me to clean and restore on my own. Other people had to help in the meticulous task of bringing me back to former glory.  But though restoration can be done, it is never quite the same as the original.

The frame is heavy, exquisite, perfect.  It holds up my heart.  There are many beautiful things in my life that frame me: my husband, my family, my friends. They encircle my heart to protect the edges.  Without the frame, the mess would simply escape the canvas.

People walk by my heart because I have been putting it on display. Some people admire it from a distance.  They may think that I am wonderfully composed and “holding up well.”  Only a few venture close enough for a more detailed look.  No touching.  People talk in low whispers, pointing. Or shake their heads and don’t understand. Keep walking.  Some people find that they are in the wrong museum altogether. They meant to visit the Museum of Science & Industry, where everything can be neatly explained. Move along.

Then there are the few with a deep appreciation.  Maybe they studied art, so they know what to expect.  Others are simply awed by paintings.  They stop and absorb my heart, drinking in the colors.  They want to make sure that my heart is well-cared for, so that it can be just as beautiful for future generations to enjoy.

For now, I am hanging in a gallery with other hearts, painted by other artists.  Each painting is unique. Each artist tortured in his or her own way.  I look at the other hearts. Some are similar to mine; some are so different that I have to pause to examine in order to understand.  All of us have an aspect of beauty.