Art and Healing

Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life
— Pablo Picasso

Today a gathering of thespians and theater lovers will participate in a staged reading of my second original play: RIFTON DINER.  I have been working on developing and writing this play since the summer of 2013, and I am very excited to see the characters, words, and conflicts on their feet.

As I have prepared for today’s reading, I’ve also been reflecting on how I have been affected by the processing of writing RIFTON DINER.  It started out as a one-scene piece that wrestled with the damage depression does to relationships. I had no intention of doing anything more then to write a good scene for girls that didn’t involve romance and that gave me the added bonus of processing some of the hurts I had experienced in the depression-imposed rift in some of my relationships.

My very influential Uncle Jim coaxed me into developing another scene, telling me that there was a play waiting to be written. He was right. Two years later, one scene between two sisters has become a play about the rifts that exist between family members, friends, siblings, and strangers.

The significance of wounds is prevalent in my play. Each side is given an opportunity to state her case, to explain how the other character has hurt her. Writing an exaggerated and modified scenario based on my own wounds ended up being very healing. My characters speak some of the raw truth that I have not been able to say. I got to think about the other person involved in the issue, to think about how I had hurt her.  Crafting the characters’ struggle to revive their dying friendships encouraged me to keep reaching out.  Writing an ending in which characters were on the journey of reconciliation gave me hope for friendships that often seem far too broken to ever mend. In short, writing this play brought me to a new place of healing.

Art is powerful. Art can be used to help people heal physically, emotionally, mentally, and even spiritually.  I’ve painted many a prayer, played out a rage on my piano, and bandaged old wounds with words. I’ve been using art to help me grapple with resentment for a long time, and my art has changed as I have progressed in that wrestling.

My first written brawl with resentment was completed in my novel Chrysalis, which I am still editing and hoping to publish in the near future. The novel is angry, and while there is healing and hope in it, it is a deep, heavy hope and a difficult healing.  Writing Chrysalis gave me a safe place to duke it out with God and acknowledge just how resentful I am. Exploring and acknowledging the issue of resentment through my novel opened up my art to explore more encouraging themes.

RIFTON DINER gives a more light-hearted treatment to the issue of reconciliation. It was exciting for me as an artist to find myself developing work that wasn’t as despondent.  Now that I am almost done with polishing RIFTON DINER, I find myself ready to develop my first comedy, with the goal of extolling the joy of life: something I would never have imagined myself doing.

I’m confident that as I wrestle with the hardships and joys of my life through art, I will experience more healing. Art, literary and theatrical, is the road that has taken me from darkness into hope, and I am grateful for how God has used it to “wash the soul of the dust of everyday life.”