To trust is to be reliant or confident that all is well. When we trust, we believe in the firmness and soundness of something. In some cases we develop trust because we have a history of positive experiences that leads us to believe that because something or someone has always been reliable in the past, it is safe to assume the same will be true in the future. Other times we must practice blind trust, meaning without any guarantee of a certain outcome.
In this image the man trusts that the bridge is sound and that he can safely pass over the canyon on it. Many times in life we have no proof that something is trustworthy, and we are forced to carry on anyway if we want to go forward.
From a spiritual perspective, we can begin to trust that no matter what happens to us, even if the bridge did give way, literally or symbolically in some enterprise in our life, we will still be okay. With trust we know that all paths lead us where we are meant to be, and sometimes the hardest ones lead us to the best places. We are always safely returning to our source.
I wrote those words about trust a few years ago. They seem particularly relevant in these times of crisis when all of us are being forced to trust that others do their best. We are continually reminded how much we are interconnected and dependent on each other. Did the bridge builders do their best? Did they test their work to ensure the materials would withstand heat, rain, time? We are never completely in control. And often we find ourselves completely alone on our journey, having to trust others whom we have never even met. Still, we can focus our minds on “trust” knowing that we will be capable of meeting whatever may come to pass on our journey.
In presenting this project publicly as I am now and writing about it for the first time really in all the years I have made these images, I want to emphasize that my life was anything but easy during these times. I had a lot of privilege going to art school and graduate school at a prestigious and expensive place, but I was always unsure of my life in so many ways. I had experienced trauma as a child and I was not at all rich; I just somehow knew I had to have certain experiences in my life because I had lessons I needed to learn from them. So, I went after things that some people might have thought were well beyond my grasp. I trusted that the path was going where I needed and most wanted to go. Naming and envisioning one’s truest heart desire is the crux of this whole project.
Part of it has to do with repetition, and I made these images over and over again. The repetition part is like prayer; it has a kind of magical effect which I find hard to explain. I think it has to do with getting back the same that you put out into the world, and by putting out a positive message over and over again, it somehow magically came back to me.
The photo above of the larger paintings in my studio is evidence of how following my path led me to where I wanted to end up. The paintings are the commissioned pieces I made for Children’s Hospital, Colorado that I spoke of in my earlier post above. During the course of making them, my life took a turn and I ended up returning to Vermont in the middle of making these paintings. This photo is from my studio in Arlington, VT where I finished them and shipped them back to Colorado.
Also, in 2003, a man from Chicago bought one version of this image of “Trust” and wrote the following card to me. It was returned the first time he sent it as I had moved, but he persisted by sending it to the store in Denver where he had bought my plaque, and I am so glad he did. I am honored and delighted by his words. I had lost his card when I moved back to Vermont, but recently found it again, and was again delighted by it.
“Hello, I purchased a small piece of art that you made, one entitled “Trust”, and wanted to share with you my reason for the purchase and why I was so touched by your work. I am Jewish and deeply spiritual. There is a beautiful little song by Rabbi Nachmon– a rabbi from the old world, a world that sprang from the mystical world of Hassidam– which goes something like: ‘All the world is just a narrow bridge, just a narrow bridge, just a narrow bridge, and above all, and above all, is not to fear, is not to fear at all, and above all is not to fear at all.’
These words and the melody that goes with have often been a powerful source of strength for me. It is a reminder that we all suffer and this crazy, wonderful world we live in is so precious, and so very fragile. Seeing your piece on trust gave me that same sense of vulnerability and strength that can only be wrought through a deep faith in what is beyond our seeing, and at times beyond our knowing. So this is all a long winded way of saying thank you– for your art work truly touched me & is something I will cherish.
(Added later after it was initially returned:) I leave you with a prayer from Kundalini yoga tradition which is actually a Sufi chant: May the long time sun shine upon you, All the love surround you, And the pure light within guide your way home.”
This note is one of my most cherished awards for my work. It shows me that someone understood me across a great divide, without even knowing me, because of our shared human experience. And by my putting myself and my work into the world, despite feeling that perhaps the work was not smart enough, I was rewarded a hundredfold by this note.
Also, it should be noted that I am deathly afraid of heights. That is why to me the image of this bridge portrayed the greatest instance of trust, because heights are naturally frightening to me. Growing up in Colorado, I nearly fainted on mountain roads or on the Rio Grande bridge in New Mexico where I traveled with my family as a kid. So, to me trust means going ahead anyway despite ones fears. Or as this great Jewish song says, trust “Above all is not to fear at all, not to fear at all.”
May you trust that all is well despite these troubled times, and that you are safely returning home always, in one way or another.