A God That Looks Like Me
After that first breakthrough painting, I found myself unable to paint anything but images of women with their legs splayed, birthing all sorts of creatures—scaled serpents, feathered birds, furry mammals, and strange humanoid creatures—in every imaginable setting—still woodland ponds, the dark depths of the sea, verdant jungles, the vastness of outer space. But after the exhilaration of that first breakthrough paint wore off, I began feeling embarrassed and concerned about the meaning of all this weird fecundity. What was wrong with me? I couldn’t help myself. So I kept painting, hoping the meaning would reveal itself. In fact, I made the decision to trust that meaning was there and that, somehow, I would find it. Little by little, it began to dawn on me that I was painting God the Mother. I knew absolutely nothing then about the goddess and wild woman archetypes that are so popular today. But I did know that as I painted, I felt increasingly powerful and free. I remembered begin a small girl, sitting in the balcony of the Orthodox Jewish temple with the other girls and women, gazing down at the men in the privileged seats below. We females couldn’t sit with the men. We couldn’t touch the sacred Torah. We couldn’t be near the rabbi or the cantor. We certainly couldn’t be the rabbi or the cantor. I recalled how I felt, like a second-class citizen—inferior, shameful, and incomplete. Now I had painted myself as I truly was, as much an image of the Divine as anyone else. For the first time, I felt the spiritual and emotional bond that, as a child, I had been taught I didn’t deserve. I no longer needed anyone else in order to feel complete, valid, and loved by God.You don’t have to be in trouble, as I was, to desire this healthful reconnection. All of us yearn for a greater sense of belonging and meaning in our lives. Painting in this intuitive, non-censoring, explorative, and engrossing way gives us that profound and healing connection, as well as a heightened ability to simply enjoy our world. The sense of mastery, awe, and aliveness you receive from authentic creative activity also gives you a larger, more accurate picture of life, death, and our eternal souls.