I kept thinking that I should have more markers, or more crayons, handy to do it right. And time. I should have more time.
And a proper sketchbook.
But then things got desperate.
So I threw all my shoulds out the window and just started with what I had on hand:
My regular little lined notebook that I carry around and fill up with everything from shopping list to journal entries and work meeting notes.
Whatever pen I had on hand. Usually blue. Sometimes red.
See, when you get down to it, the practice of praying in color is also the practice of praying in doodles.
And doodling I can do.
When I was around the age of four or five, there was a commercial for M & M’s where the catch line was “melt in your mouth, not in your hand.”
My four-or-five year old mind found that line to be odd and troubling. I would lie awake in bed at night, after prayers, wondering things like “What sort of chocolate would melt in my mouth but not in my hand? How was this possible? And why hadn’t I noticed before? Surely I was missing something. Or were the M & M people stupid or worse-lying?”
(I am the type of person that can overthink things easily.)
The next time I found myself in proximity to what seemed to be an unlimited supply of these magical candies, I decided to test this theory this for myself.
First, I grabbed a handful of those tasty candy coated morsels to shove into my mouth, and then I grabbed another handful to hold on to the rest of the night.
Sometime later that evening, excited, and fairly discquested by, the outcome of my expirment, I showed my opened, chocolate covered, sticky hand to my mother.
Look! It melted! They lied!
I don’t remember what my mother said, but I do remember that she wasn’t angry with me, perhaps slightly annoyed, but not angry.
I also recall that she helped me wash my hand clean, that I wasn’t allowed to have any more M&M’s that night, and that my previously held hook-line-and-sinker belief that commercials could be trusted completely was forever erased.
But it did not erase my fist clinching habit.
Over and over I seem to return to the clenched-fist state of mind.
I gather up all my worries, doubts, fears,and anxieties,pack them tightly into the palm of my hand, and then clutch my fingers around them as tight as I can.
The more worried I am, the tighter I squeeze. The more I squeeze, the harder it becomes to breathe.
Or think. Or pray.
Where to start?
This weekend I started by opening my hand and picking up a red pen, lying on my bedside table.
On the middle of a notebook page I wrote the word Worried.
And then I drew all these lines shooting out from it.
At the end of each line I confessed something I had been clenching in my fist lately- last week, that weekend, that day, five minutes before.
No matter how big or how small. How self-absorbed or how silly.
I took each of my worries out of their dark hiding place inside my fist, and one by one, brought them into the light, naming them as I doodled.
And then I begin to breathe again.