This month I am following along with Oprah’s podcast version of Super Soul Sunday. She and Eckhart Tolle are discussing his book “A New Earth” chapter by chapter. I have had so many wonderful moments of clarity rereading this book. Today I really understood surrender and peace.
Many years ago when I had younger children and did a lot of volunteering at their school and at church I was often tired, busy and dissatisfied. One afternoon while driving home from a painting class I was taking, I clearly heard the word “surrender.” It was not Morgan Freeman but it was commanding enough that I immediately began sobbing as I was driving. I knew that the word meant for me to surrender all the busyness, fear, doubt - surrender it all and paint.
At that time in my life I was pretty conflicted. I was in deep with all my volunteer commitments. My children needed my hands on attention and I was not yet ready to surrender and paint. That message, along with many others through the years, has haunted me. Even as I tried to push those feelings and urges down, always in the back of my head there is some part of me that knows I will never be happy until I surrender.
Since my double-hip replacement in January, I have been forced to slow down and surrender to my recovery. The hip replacement has given me the luxury of slowing down and taking more personal time for things other than errands. This morning was day two of breaking out the oil paints (after nine months of part-time art journaling) and getting back into a routine.
I did not know what I was going to paint or even if I had a spare canvas. I just knew I needed to paint. Luckily, I found an old half painted canvas, a reference photo and I went to town. It didn’t take long but when I was finished I sat back and felt at peace.
This reminded me of what I have been reading in “A New Earth.” In chapter two Eckhart Tolle references resistance as an inner contraction, a state of being closed up. When you are in that state nothing good can come to you. When you open up and surrender a new dimension of consciousness opens up. Instead of closing yourself off and fighting against life you will be in alignment with that creative intelligence that animates the universe. He says “you will rest in the peace and stillness that comes with surrender, you rest in God.”
This also brings to mind Steven Pressfield’s book “The War of Art.” He describes overcoming resistance and surrendering to your inner urge to create like slaying a dragon –everyday. After you slay the dragon there is peace in the kingdom but each day brings a new dragon.
Today after I finished my little rooster painting I had that wonderful feeling of peace. Jesus described it as the peace that passes all understanding. I know it won’t last but each day that I choose to surrender to my art I know that I will be rewarded with peace.
Peace is a powerful reason to do something. More powerful and meaningful than Instagram likes, followers, or a vague dream of making money. Those are the outward, ego demands we put on the ephemeral process of making art.
Tomorrow is another opportunity to practice surrendering again. I will try it, how about you? What brings you peace? Do you have something in your life that calls you to surrender to it? It doesn’t have to be painting or anything related to art. The Creative Intelligence that animates this world operates in endless ways.