The Tapestries(from PEACEWEAVER)

While I was practicing yoga regularly, I redecorated my home. My tastes were bohemian, but I was concerned about surrounding myself with tapestries made in India about gods I do not understand. I searched for Catholic art, but I could not find anything that even remotely hit the style I was seeking. What’s more is that everything was the traditional Catholic paintings that I had grown up surrounded by, the ones that embraced suffering so fully that it was all I could feel when I saw them. Other people may not have the history I have with them, but there is a lot of pain and confusion for me in the typical Catholic art. As I continued to search I eventually found a few pieces I really loved, but they were so expensive I had no hope that I could afford them within the next century. I was so angry at how expensive everything was, and so frustrated that I finally decided to just get the Indian tapestries, but I would only get the ones that had a strong Christian spiritual meaning for me.

I chose a popular yellow tapestry with the symbol for Aum in the center because of how God had revealed Himself to me in their philosophy, a tapestry of elephants-which God had used to help me pray about some issues in my life, and a peacock tapestry that as far as I could tell was not associated with any deities. I treasured these tapestries. I took every picture in front of them, I planned which one I was going to use in the baby’s room, when I hopefully someday got a nursery. I laid them on the bed gingerly when I needed color in my room during long periods of stress. I designed my bedroom around them when I was pregnant with my first child.

As my two babies grew into toddlers, they used to love to play with the tapestries. During a time of particularly difficult post partum depression and hormone balance aggravated by what I can only ascribe to spiritual warfare, my oldest pulled on the corner of one that I had awkwardly hanging from the curtain rod in our basement apartment. It shredded down the whole side. She had pulled on it before leaving little rips, but this time the whole thing was shredded. A postpartum rage rippled over me and a she ran giggling to the other room, I ripped the tapestry in half, holding my breath while I cried so she wouldn’t hear me.

It occurred to me that that particular tapestry was probably not a great one to have around kids. My husband and I knew and understood the reason I had it and what it meant, but my girls would not for a long time. I threw the remains of it away mourning the independence I had lost. I cried too about how in motherhood the pretty pieces of art I loved were getting destroyed, the worst was a painted bowl I ate from for practically every meal. It was a bag of chunks of ceramic now, and it broke my heart.

The thought that the girls would not understand the tapestries stuck with me. For about a month I prayed and thought about it until in a progesterone and anxiety and spiritual dark night induced haze I pulled them all down and threw them all out. I kept the peacock one a little longer because it didn’t have a deity, but one day in another of these turbulent days I read on google there was a cult that worshipped Satan in a dark blue peacock, so I threw everything in my house that had a peacock on it away. (I found out later that the peacock is a symbol for Jesus so take that for what it’s worth.)

I honestly don’t know if it was wrong for me to have the tapestries in the first place or not, God knew it was about Him. I think maybe it was ok for me, but not my kids who were too young to understand and impressionable. As I began to do yoga and decorate again, I got alternating answers from God, yes yoga, no idols, yes art, no misleading art. I began to pray that God would help me create art that would meet that desire for color I had, and that He would help me to help others with the same struggle.

At first I thought maybe His answer was no. I started finding all these Catholic artists who were amazing. Plus, what I was trying to do with tapestries wasn’t working. I was painting, and when I did I prayed beforehand. When I work on any art, it is a prayer with the Holy Spirit, I ask Him for help and sometimes I can feel His guidance, sometimes I can’t, but the best is when I dive see the plan and it suddenly turns into something amazing and I can’t take credit for it. I went through a phase where nothing was working, these weird amalgamations of color sort of happened and took over everything I tried to make.

I hated them, and I felt so down on my work, Until a few months later, when I realized that the paintings resemble the crystals and nature art I love so much, but are all actually connected to God. I could not wait to buy every single one(but I had to because we were on a low income budget with toddlers. 🤦🏽‍♀️) What’s more is I already had them available to buy as tapestries. When I built my page on a website I didn’t even know had tapestries, I allowed them but it did not even occur to me that this was an answered prayer. Months later, in the middle of the night I woke up and realized I had created a line of bohemian tapestries that were rooted in God and not gods. The tapestries I needed 5 years ago. I laughed to myself once again about how the Holy Spirit works, and wrote this out for Him.

Selah

Note: This post is not meant to be a promotional post, but if you are interested in my tapestries they are available at https://fineartamerica.com/profiles/julia-odonnell

Happy New Year 2020:2 Weeks Later

I am at that weird point a couple of weeks past the new year where it feels like all your resolutions were useless and stupid, and all the hopes of the New Year seem to be empty. 2019 was a war for me, and I was so excited for 2020. I felt in my bones that this year was going to be different, but the first day felt like a reality check. Social Media and daily life was full of reminders that people still die, the fall is still real. The 2020 pain was overwhelming and this year has not gotten off to the sparkling glitter that I was expecting. I gritted my teeth and told myself to manage my expectations and everything was going to be ok.

Today, I felt God reminding me that He does want abundance for us, and I felt the bitterness of the last few weeks working in my heart. A prayer thread I follow asked us to “Ask big” from God, and I felt a voice in me saying “why bother?” It was followed by the Gospel passages about Jesus feeding the 4000 and the 5000. Then, I watched a powerful meditation about nature and God and the ache of my desires weighed on me even harder. My little ones cried for daddy, reminding me how far we are from the together-more-often family life we are working towards.

There are times in life where we keep the faith even when everything around us looks impossibly dark. In 2019, I thought I was probably dying, I was in physical and emotional pain almost constantly. God and my faith in Him has worked so much in my life in the past year, and He has brought beauty from struggles I never would have imagined. I received and acted on life-changing opportunities and I am so incredibly grateful for them. Still though, doubt in Him creeps in so easily.

Maybe what we need to remember when we feel this way is that this is exactly what the serpent did to Eve. He made her believe that God does not want what’s best for us, and she believed Him. Over and over in my life I have been close to my dreams and I have given up because they were hard and I couldn’t see them ever working out, but last year, over and over I pushed through these terrifying times, and that’s when the Spirit took over. God worked in those moments when I felt like I could not go on. He didn’t always change everything, but He knew what I needed the most and He would fill that. He let me see over and over how He was working in stages so I would be ready for each step.

When Jesus came, He showed us the kind of love He and the Father want to show us. He healed the blind, the lame, the sick. He raised the dead. He comforted those who were hurting and fought for those who were marginalized. He sacrificed Himself to save us, but even in death He emerged victorious. He showed us that He has power over everything including death, and He wants to use it for us. It is true that there is still suffering, and even Jesus Himself suffered, but what God really wants for us is the abundance He brought with Him, not the suffering that is present in the world.

So today, though I’m feeling discouraged and lost, I will give that to God. I will remind myself of His goodness. I will be patient waiting for His goodness and I will continue to serve Him. A writer I admire wrote a prayer about her deepest struggles, “Lord, you can, but even if you don’t…” I am praying that prayer today while I fight for my dreams, and lay them at His feet. I pray that this year is a year of miracles, and that God heals every single person from the pain that is breaking their hearts. I pray that He frees us from the weight on our souls, and that He restores. Even if He doesn’t do it every single time for every single person though, I believe that He wants to, and in time He will. He will wipe away every tear. Continue to ask big from Him, even when it feels like He is not listening. Then, ask Him to pour His love on you in the meantime.

Giving Credit Where Credit is Due:Miracles do Happen, They just look different than you might think

A couple of weeks ago, someone asked me what I did to heal my teeth. I had had severe receding gums, at one point an enormous cavity that felt like a huge chunk of my tooth had come out. 2 HG pregnancies in a row and breastfeeding did a real number on my teeth that had been pretty much perfect before this. I told them the actual steps I took to heal the teeth, but what I forgot and was too afraid to mention was that I was so consumed with fear and hopelessness that I started praying. I was praying daily about my tooth anxiety. I found the patron saint of teeth, St. Apollonia, who I had never heard of, and I bought the most beautiful print I could find of her, which happened to be a holy card. I displayed it in my bathroom and prayed for her intercession every single day.

That was when I started learning about how dangerous modern care is for our teeth. I found out that the way the dentists had taught me to brush was destroying my gums. I learned that the very toothpaste the gave us is destroying our mouths. I learned that half the time my problem was grinding my teeth due to stress. I learned that deficiency in certain vitamins leads to certain issues in the teeth.

I started following the recommendations I found in a book called Cure Tooth Decay, particularly in the chapter on receding gums. My gums healed almost completely, and so did my cavities. It was a miracle. Then, it happened again, because you have to keep up with a routine, and it is hard to do with 2 under 2 when you are constantly playing catch up, and I attributed it to science and myself. It happened again, and I still didn’t give credit where credit was due.

Yet I sit here one more time because I completely failed at my routine last week, and immediately I turn to St. Apollonia, and I keep hearing myself explaining how I fixed my teeth, but I’m afraid to be a fanatic so I just mention the ‘normal’-ish sounding part. She is my mainstay, I turn to her when I am so desperate in fear and pain that I can’t remember what you are supposed to do to fix these things.

That’s how prayer works sometimes. Sometimes it’s not that you get a miracle that just happens, though that happens too, but sometimes your miracle is that you learn something you didn’t know before. Sometimes it’s that you thought you had a problem and you don’t. Sometimes it’s that you find some information you needed to keep going but you couldn’t find.

The Holy Spirit, the most often neglected member of the Holy Trinity, is a powerful partner to have in life. He is beauty, He is truth, He is knowledge. Everything good and beautiful in this life and this world, comes from Him. I call Him “The Muse,” because I believe He works especially in artists. I believe that He reveals what is true, beautiful, good, through His people. He is capable of great things, so great that you might think I’m crazy if I were to list them.

One time when I was in college, I felt called to write letters to some friends I had who were on retreat. I wrote them in the chapel during Adoration, and I remember feeling like I knew every word they were supposed to say. I will never forget a particular one of them. I was writing all of these comforting things about being angry and sad, and I was writing them I was like, “Where is this coming from? He is on retreat, everything should be great!” But I kept writing and writing for 2 pages. Several days later, he came up to me with such sincerity in his eyes, and told me, “I don’t know how you knew. I was having such a hard time, and this was exactly what I needed.”

Another time I was going Christmas shopping with my mom, and we were on our way to the mall talking about a friend of hers that she had no clue what to get. I prayed, and immediately told her to go to Barnes and Noble instead of the mall. She argued with me, but I repeated, “I’m serious, just go!” We walked in and on the first shelf we saw was a Calvin and Hobbes book, I told her to get it, and she wasn’t sure but she did. When we gave it to him, he said “How did you know? I’ve been wanting this forever!”

Sometimes, I am afraid that people will think I am crazy when I talk about this stuff. I even sometimes think I am. Powerful moments of communication with God are not something that is often talked about, and when it is, it seems so fake to me. But He does still talk to us today. He has given us ways to stay in touch with Him so that we are not alone no matter how alone we feel. This is what Scripture and the Eucharist are for. They are for Him to be close to us, so He can talk to us and comfort us, every time we turn to Him.

That doesn’t mean that sometimes I don’t feel hopeless. I do. I mean, obviously anyone who knows me knows, I do. This world can be scary, and some seasons in life seem almost unbearable. Some things about my life now, I try to tell myself aren’t as bad as they are, but if I am not constantly on my knees begging for help, I am in tears and the whole world falls apart. It is literally only in Him that we can survive the millions of things that could possibly go wrong in this world. I don’t know why He doesn’t save us from every trial, but He does save us sometimes, if we ask. He can see you in complete despair, and bring you the one ray of light you need to keep going. Sometimes He brings you so much light that you are blinded by it, and sometimes He just brings the feeling that you are not alone, but no matter what He is there, even when you don’t feel Him, and as much as it sucks to not feel Him there, it’s worse when He really isn’t, which is what it feels like if you don’t go to Him.

So go to Him today, with your struggles be they little or big. He wants to hear them, and He wants to help you. He wants you to be close to Him more than anything. He wants to heal your hurting heart, even if it’s hurting too much for you, even if it’s not hurting as much as the other people who are hurting. He wants to heal you, go to Him.

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