Harp Lessons from an Oak Leaf

Since retiring, I’ve been doing watercolor sketches in one of my journals. I don’t know where this is coming from…I’ve not painted before. But none-the-less, I’m enjoying being totally engrossed in reproducing some little icon of my day via ink and watercolor.

This autumn, I am also fascinated with all the shapes and colors of the falling leaves. So much brilliance, so many gifts lying at my feet.

Last week I pencil sketched an oak leaf, then outlined it in with my pen. My sketch ended up looking so flat and lifeless, so cartoon-ish, I’d given up hope of making anything of it. My sketch has languished alone and ignored in my open journal for the past week. I’d look at it as I walked by my work table, sigh, and walk on.

Yesterday afternoon I decided that I would finally face it, and add watercolor. I could not just leave it in my journal, a naked testament to my problems with truly seeing this leaf. And now, with watercolor, it has come alive on the page. So many shades of brown, so many tiny traceries of veins, each one connected to all others across the entire surface of the leaf. A whole network of connections, a miracle replicated how many millions of times on this one oak tree. And replicated how many hundreds of millions of times in all the leaves now falling through this achingly blue November sky like a blizzard of multi-colored snow flakes.

I am happy that I did not let my embarrassment about this drawing keep me from returning to it and welcoming it into my journal and my heart, where I could give it color and a chance to come alive. Perhaps if I can give up embarrassment about my harp playing, I can also let the music I am trying to play enter my heart, be bathed in brilliant color and come alive.

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