Saturday, June 02, 2007

Play as comfort for the soul




I thank everyone who commented on my last post. You are encouraging me to keep on with my new painting hobby.

Over the last few days I've been thinking of how comforting creative activity can be. I remember times in my life when it was very much soul food for me.

When I was seven years old I was sent away from my home in Amsterdam to stay at a place we called a "colony." This was an institution in the countryside for city children who were unhealthy. Here we stayed for six weeks while the nurses tried to fatten us up by feeding us lots of starchy foods - lots of bread. Parents were only allowed to visit half way through this six week period. I stayed in one of these places two years in a row.

It was a traumatic time for me, a shy little girl who found it hard to be away from home. I remember the nurse's harsh command to us at bedtime to lie facing the same direction, a ploy to keep us from talking. I remember the shrill yelling at me to get into the shower in the steamy institutional bathroom where we had all lined up naked. "Get in there! Now!" I was terribly frightened, since I had only taken baths in our zinc washtub at home. I was afraid of the hot water splashing all over my face.

One day I got locked into the bathroom by accident while everyone else went out for a walk. I panicked. Here I was, all alone, with no one to hear me. I cried and screamed. Finally, someone did come and let me out. This nurse was kind and compassionate. She got me settled at a table by a window with some coloring pencils and paper. Here, with the warm sunshine pouring down on me, I enjoyed a peaceful hour by myself, looked after by someone who cared about my feelings. That was one of the few enjoyable times I had in that place.

Throughout my adult life, ever since I first got sick at the age of nineteen, I have turned to creative activity to help me through depressions and to keep depression at bay. The solace of quiet playing with paints, photoshop, or embroidery thread restores me. Making something beautiful with my heart and hands is powerful medicine. It feeds my soul.

3 comments:

"Dootz" said...

Marja, I found your site through Susan Bernard's. I, too, find that I get grounded through writing. Being absolutely inept at the visual arts - my lovely wife has the monopoly on this among adults in our family - I turn to "creative non-fiction" essays. Your post made a great deal of sense to me. Thanks.

marie said...

I am so very pleased you have found something to comfort and heal you when life is to much to bear!

When I have some extra money, I will have to buy your book. It looks like you may have something to say to me.

For me my writing helps me express my emotions in a very posotive way. In therapy, I found that anger, rage and sadness are not bad emotions. It is how you CHOOSE to express them that may lead to possibly hurting yourself or someone else. Keep it going!

Mel Alarilla said...

Hi Marja,

That's a very positive way of coping with stress and depression, letting your creative juices flow and find expression in works of arts. You must be a fine writer, what with a very colorful and exciting past to draw inspiration from. That's a God given talent, a gift from the Holy Spirit. Keep it up sister, and may the Spirit of the Lord be always with you, to guide you and inspire you more as you minister unto the needs of others. God bless you more and more.

Yours in Christ,

Mel Avila Alarilla
of "Random Thoughts"
Mel Alarilla of "Blessings"
Philippines