August 21, 2017
I'm flying high today in more ways than one. Yes, I am on a plane, moving from Minneapolis to Miami, but the powerful elevation I'm currently enjoying is the result of the fabulous weekend I just spent playing the 'life' game with my Twin Cities Circles family. Since the inception of these activities, I make it my business to experience our annual picnics and bowl-a-thons in different Circle cities each year in order to be a part of the myriad varied and creative ways we do what we do.
These last few days were spectacular! We saw Sondheim's wonderful, "Sunday in the Park With George" on Friday, picnicked on a. beautiful Minnesota Saturday and cruised Lake Minnetonka on an equally pristine Sunday. And, I must say that every morsel of food I consumed during those approximately seventy-two hours, delighted my uncompromisingly discerning palate. Now, however, as lovely as all those experiences were, what I find myself thinking about this morning is the film we saw last night.
The movie was entitled "Maudie." It was a small indie, based on the life of a "special needs" Canadian artist named Maude Lewis. After answering an ad to be a live-in house keeper for a grumpy village fish salesman, Maude convinced her new employer to marry her since they were living under the same roof. In the ensuing thirty plus years of their marriage, this very simple, loving 'spastic' artist . . . by being and seeing only God . . . taught her self-serving, embittered, abusive husband how to love.
Although, during that same time span, she became a successful artist, Maude's paintings were very simple and child-like, and even the then Vice President, Richard Millhouse Nixon, was one of her patrons. Maude spent a great deal of time staring out of the window and her subject matter consisted of the flowers, trees, birds, butterflies and people that were the objects of her observations.
Maude and her husband lived in a one room shack with a cramped sleeping loft, however, that was never the focus of her attention. Rather, on every single surface of that most humble dwelling, she had painted what she saw as beautiful and stimulating. She lived totally in a present state of seeing and feeling, and then lovingly and carefully expressed herself with the paint brush her rheumatoid arthritis made very difficult to wield.
I think what touched me most was Maude's uncomplicated innocence. And, what that had me thinking about was how deeply disturbing agenda is to the human psyche. . . wanting other than what what we have; living our lives in past regret or future hope over something we think would have, or will, leave us better off, absolutely out of touch with all that could be acknowledged and appreciated in the present moment. There was such quiet intimacy in that tiny space.
Maude was an example of everything I believe demonstrates a useful life of service to one's Higher-Self. She was not angry or disappointed and thus shut down by her lot in life. Instead, she was a channel for all that her frail and crippled body would allow to come through. She was kind, constant, loving and creative, and, as her shack has become a cottage museum in Nova Scotia, those qualities created an atmosphere of inspiration and beauty that is still being enjoyed today.