This is a story about an old book that has been sitting on my shelf, collecting dust, for years. It’s a Greek language book my mother used in the late 60s when she started dating my dad (he was Greek, she Serbian). The book was outdated and no longer relevant, per my Greek language teacher who suggested I throw it away. Who knew a language could change so much?
But, still I held onto it. There was the sentimental connection, of course, because my mother died 15 years ago; because she left behind a broken-hearted family with the quickness of her departure; because she didn’t leave much else.
Well, there were her framed oil paintings and needlepoints, but those are still bubble wrapped waiting for a wall to go on. And there was her gold jewelry that was sold before my sister and I thought twice about it because we don’t like or wear gold, but now there’s my daughter and who knows what she will like, but you do and say things in the wake of grief that go beyond rational understanding or explanation. But this isn’t about any of that.
This is about a book, sitting on a shelf, collecting dust, for over a decade.
For who knows what reason.
In the beginning of last year, I took an online painting class (Painting the Feminine - check it out and then take it. Best. Class. Ever.). On the eve of the first class, I looked through my supplies for an empty journal to use and I couldn’t find anything that felt right. Searching, searching, searching, not wanting to go buy something new.
Then my eyes rested on that dusty book. I took it from the shelf, wiping the years off, opened it. Could I? The pages were silky and heavy. I suspected they’d hold paint and some water, but didn’t know for sure. I had never painted in a book before. But in my heart I knew this book was it; I was going to paint in it.
The first time I painted in this book, I felt my mother, knowing she had touched these pages decades ago. My paintbrush moved, connecting me to some other time when my mother was young, and hopeful, and I was not even a thought in her head. I was emotional and grateful and surprised.
But as I continued painting in this book, thoughts of my mother faded to the background and I found myself lost in time and space, putting down color and painting in a way I had not painted before. This is when I realized that something special was happening in this dialogue between me, the book and the Universe.
Something magical happens when I paint here - it's more than a connection to my mom. I mean to say it IS that, and it’s so much more. It is a portal to something and somewhere else when I sit down with it. I connect in to some part of me that feels so real and true. I am aware of my connection to life, to the cosmos. Even as I write this and feel the truth of it in my bones, I wonder what that means and how to put in words this experience, other than to say, I feel the truth of life when I paint in it.
As I write this, I realize this book has been another one of my teachers, a guide. I’ve dreamt about this book, and what wants to be painted in it and the messages connected to those paintings; then I wake up and paint and let that guide me to what is next. It’s a deep dialogue, back and forth. And I don’t know where this is all taking me, but I do know that the journey is full of truth and beauty, of expansiveness in space and suspension in time.
What is more beautiful than finding a vortex in an unexpected place?
An old dusty book that has been waiting for its time. What do several years mean to this book, when the time wasn’t right, and now it is, and now I’m being given teachings that change my life? Those dusty years, they are but a blink of an eye in the expansiveness of space, waiting for the time and place to land.
I'm Eleni and I'm a shamanic practitioner and shapeshifter dedicated to creating deeper connections to place, community and my little family. I'm intentional with putting my energy towards creating the type of world I want to live in.