I have been looking at this picture I picked up at a flea market for at least 10 years or more. I know the painter is “Rogers B” from the writing on the back, but that’s all I know. It’s chipping in places and fraying on the edges, but I love the muted colors, the dilapidated shack slanting amid the rolling hills and the young girl looking on with her faithful dog at her side. I wonder why the painter chose this scene. What spoke to his soul, to paint this?
It wasn’t until today that I noticed there is a path that lay beyond the road, winding up the hill. I have probably looked at this picture 100s of times, but today, I saw the path.
My own inner landscape looks a lot like this one. My shack has a foundation built with love and expectation that it will hold the weight of what is built. The stones, pulled from the neighboring fields, are the teachings and beliefs instilled within me from the church, community, and family to which I was born into. These people, situations, and ideas influenced how I would form my walls, add my chimney, and where I would place my window.
Throughout the years, there were many jovial times in my inner shack. There were also trials and heartaches which sometimes lead to building fences and piling rocks around the yard. I loved this little shack and felt an obligation towards the foundation that held it. To keep the walls standing, I often became more concerned about what others expected or what others’ beliefs were about my inner shack rather than what I knew to be true for myself. While there were times I thought about painting the walls or adding a garden to my landscape, I would eventually let those fancies go as it was more important to be grateful for the shack that strongly stood amongst the hills and tall grasses than to think about redrawing the map of the land. My shack housed me, gave me a place to rest, and made me feel secure.
And then the winds came, as they always do. They tore the shutters, shifted the walls, and tilted the roof. At times, I could hear loud and frightening noises coming from within them, but all I could do was cower in place.
And then the winds stopped and the noise subsided.
I had no other choice but to walk outside and take a good look at what had been left behind from the storm.
While my inner shack was still standing, strong from the foundation that was built, it could no longer shelter me as it once did. I had to look towards the sun and find my path.