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Art as therapy

By Ann Mann

What brings you joy? One of the things I love is art. There is no limit to the art I enjoy. Paper crafting. Painting. Journaling. Writing. Writing these columns is therapeutic for me as I mourn the loss of my husband. And as helpful as writing is, I have been reluctant to paint, and craft, and journal. Until this week.

This weekend my husband’s brothers and sisters hosted a baby shower for my daughter in his hometown of Tallassee, Alabama. The baby, Lynde’s first, is due March 21st. There is another baby shower the end of February. One of the things I want to make is a memory book.

It will contain pictures of her and her dad, pictures of the two of us, pictures of our family across the years. There will also be blank pages for her and her husband to put pictures of the baby at one month, two months, etc. I am going to write a letter. (Once I write that letter, I will share it with all of you, too.)

I am also including a letter her father wrote when we were expecting her. I want to share part of that letter with you. He was writing to his mom, soon after we found out we were expecting our first child:

“We went to the doctor last Monday. Everything is going fine. We heard the baby’s heartbeat and heard him/her moving around in there. It’s very exciting, yet all the anxiety that goes with it is somewhat overwhelming. Between the house and the prospect of being a parent, I feel sort of ‘awe struck.’ I guess I really would like for all of it to get over soon, waiting is torture.”

As it turns out, the baby was a girl. The same girl that is expecting her first child. She and her partner in life are experiencing the same awe. The same anxiety. The same joy. What a rare treat to be able to share these thoughts from her father with them now.

How I found the letter is kind of amazing. I was cleaning out my husband’s home office. And as I was cleaning, I found a stack of papers the family had given us when Kim’s mom passed away. In that stack of papers was this letter, along with several of Kim’s baby pictures. I feel like it is a gift from God. A timely message from my sweet husband, that I could share with our daughter as she prepares to become a parent.

There is nothing quite like a parent’s love. I feel the love of my heavenly Father as I thumb through these papers and pictures. My husband’s life and legacy come alive as I look over the memories of a life well lived. And it is inspiring me to create this memory book.

While I am on the subject of memories, I want to invite you to remember how much our heavenly Father loves us. Jesus went to the cross to take the weight of our sin. In dying, and rising three days later, death and sin are defeated. By this gift we are free to love and serve in Jesus’ name.

 In about two months, Barnesville First United Methodist Church will offer a visual reminder of our Father’s love through our Stations of the Cross Immersive Experience. This year we are focusing on John’s account of Jesus final days, found in John 18:1-19:42. We are receiving submissions through March 23rd. If you are interested in more information, send me an email, and I can forward you the details.

One of my devotions this week made a beautiful point. How often do we sacrifice creativity for expediency? When we immerse ourselves in a moment, and allow time for a creative re-telling of that moment through art, it has a way of deeply touching our hearts. May you experience the joy of art as therapy.

 (Ann Mann is an Emmy Award winning journalist, now serving as pastor to Barnesville First United Methodist Church. Her email is annmann@comcast.net,)

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