The Lepers…


Living in your childhood home for a year with your own small family requires a difficult balance of looking forward with vision and being present in the moment.

In the beginning of our stay I didn’t have much of a problem staying in the moment. I was pregnant and morning sick. My body was an uncomfortable shell bringing me ever back into the now. Caring for two small children, as well, left me little energy to daydream beyond my nap time snack.

I wasn’t looking farther ahead than another labor, another birth, another dear little baby.

But after baby three arrived and our stay closed up on a year I began to allow myself to look forward, to dream a little about what our place might look like, bay views, and those little city walks overflowing into artistic vigor.

Thankfulness is a moment by moment thing. And my moments were becoming more interspersed with discontent and the adult version of temper tantrums, which we call complaining.

One morning God made my kids particularly difficult in order to trick me into opening the Bible and reading the story of the ten lepers. What started out as a lesson for them ended up doing its trick on me. I was floored by the truth that I was indeed rushing from one blessing to the next without taking the time to turn back and say thank you.

An image came to me and I started a linocut.

There’s something meditative about carving your lesson into linoleum. Something, you hope, that will enable you to remember it better, carry it deeper.  Perhaps you carve it into yourself a bit with the muscle memory, the tension between linoleum block, gouge and palm.

I had a very difficult time settling on the emotion that would be on the face of the leper who had turned back. I liked this one:

Not Happy Enough

Not Happy Enough

But my husband and mother said he didn’t seem happy enough, “C’mon, Barbara, he’s just been healed of leprosy!”
So I tried this:

Too Happy.

Too Happy.

But I wasn’t satisfied that this expression was any more profound than a man who had just found a fiver in his loincloth. I needed to add a touch of awe.

So, you can see how it turned out:

The Lepers

The Lepers

I was going to title it “Turn Back”, but for clarity reasons I ended up calling it “The Lepers. This is my tenth linocut. I hope you enjoy it.

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