The Three Things
I belong to a religion where a basic tenet is ‘the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,’ where the invisible becomes visible. This means layers of theological things, some of which I don’t fully understand. I tend to think out of the context of everyday life, not theology books. I can appreciate the lofty beauty of the big mountains in the distance… from the sanctuary of my firm little hill.
So in my simple way, I believe that in my life, every day the word becomes flesh and manifests, is made real through what I call ‘The Three Things’. They are:
Love the best you can.
They don’t happen in any given order, and some are more difficult than others to do depending on the circumstances at any given time. This is how it works for me.
I am an artist, an iconographer to be specific. In order to do this well I have to show up in my studio at my painting table. I’m showing up for the good work, the process of creating, which is what really excites me.
As I work I pay attention to the flow of paint, the subject matter, color blending, the light and the amount of water loaded on a freshly rinsed brush. Do I wipe it off or not? Does the corner of John the Baptist’s robe need more burnt umber? Knowing what to pay attention to has taken years and years of practice.
Loving the best I can is about making choices. Most of the time the choices are simple, right out of the foundation of my childhood –be kind, serve others, take turns, share, play fair, and write thank you notes. It can get complicated, like when loving my best took the form of showing up for myself, which is what I did when I left the security of a 9 to 5 job and made the commitment to paint full-time instead.
Love helps me pay attention and listen for the answers when I ask myself hard questions about what I’m actually going to do about building community and protecting the ecosystem.
It is in my relationships where The Three Things overlap and embrace. By paying attention as I listen to my elderly neighbor’s concerns about her cat’s health. In showing up when my co-worker was moving and needed our truck, and loving the best I can by attending the funeral of my friend’s partner.
Show up. Pay attention. Love the best I can. The Three Things inform my life like my spirit informs my eye when I paint. I can see it right in front of me. Truly made visible, the words of my actions become the flesh of my journey.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.