Moments of Beauty by Sara Frykenberg


Last week a friend of mine started a post asking people to share something that they’ve enjoyed or appreciated since shelter-at-home orders began across the country and globe. This friend was in no way trying to minimize the very difficult situations that so many of us find ourselves facing during this pandemic. Rather, the list she elicited and generated helped to create, at least for me, a moment of hope or peace—a moment that I suspect many of us need right now.

Inspired by my friend (who has quite a talent for pointing out the potential for joy or happiness), I would like to add to her list here by sharing a couple of my “moments of beauty” in the hopes I can share this hope or peace.

I do art with my daughter, Hazel, almost every day; and I love it.

I have always liked to draw and color with my four-year-old daughter, but having her home right now, ‘art time,’ has become a part of the daily schedule—a way to keep her (and me, and all the other adults) from driving one another crazy.

We started by making take-out wooden chop sticks into wands. We have a wand that makes you into an insect, a wand to make you pink, and even a grading wand (we fight over this one a lot). Every member of the family has a wand now.

S Frykenberg - Wands

Mommy, Hazel & Auntie’s Personal Wands

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The all important “grading wand,” mine to use over the past week

 

 

We’ve also done lots of coloring and painting, on rocks, on paper plates, on regular old paper; and Hazel likes to tell stories while she draws. For example, if we’re painting the universe, a black hole might appear and start eating all of the things that mommy painted (she’s a little obsessed with black holes; and loves the black paint the most). A couple of weeks into the quarantine, though, a new element appeared in her stories which goes something like this: “Oh no! Then there was a virus. Now the ______ (kitty, person, spider, etc.) needs a face mask,” and she draws one on.

S Frykenberg - Spider

This fancy spider is wearing a giant pink face mask to protect her from the virus

At first, I was really concerned about this development. I know kids work out their feelings through play, but I didn’t know how to interpret these new stories. So, I talked to a close confidant and he said, “Sounds like Hazel is doing better than anyone in the house. She’s taking care of her ‘family.’” And you know what, it’s true. Knowing this tells me she probably feels taken care of as well, which is relief to me when I am feeling so uncertain and worried myself. And while Hazel says and plays and draws what she feels, she takes care of mommy too, teaching me about her world and filling my heart up with it.

I have been repeatedly struck, like lightning, with immense gratitude during this time. It sometimes surprises me in its intensity and suddenness; and it is teaching me more about myself and my community.

Like all of us, I am struggling with the consequences of social isolation, though I know my struggles are different and less severe than many others who face greater inequity in our society. I am also horrified and enraged by the way social isolation compounds injustice and by the way that this pandemic is being used as an excuse for further oligarchical power-grabs.  

But I am also I’m finding sustenance and life in small and big acts of kindness.

A neighbor that I do not know leaves giant chalk on the sidewalk with a sign saying, “enjoy and share.” I am grateful for you, neighbor, for your generosity, fun and the bright pictures I get to walk by. Another unknown neighbor posts large signs on their lawn reading, “We can do hard things,” sometimes jokes and other encouragement. I am grateful for you too.

My friend brings me soup. She drops it off for me at a distance when I feel sick, or bad, or sad, or whenever she thinks I should just have some. I don’t know how to describe this soup—it is too good. I asked her once how she made it, and she said something like, “Oh, I just throw random things in the pot… but I also use a bone broth I make myself in a crockpot for eighteen hours.” Yeah. That is not random. It is amazing; and makes me feel so loved.

S Frykenberg - Spider 2

Another spider. It was spider day, which lasted 2-3 days. We learned that spiders can have up to eight eyes! Hazel thought she should have more.

My brother and sister-in-law temporarily moved in right before things got bad. So, while we are all working from home, I am also co-parenting my daughter with FOUR adults, three of whom are teachers. (Four-to-one seems the most appropriate ratio for a child by the way, and I am not sure why society has ever done this any other way.) I am more grateful than I can say for their presence, help, cooking, company, and community.

But you know what gives me daily gratitude and pleasure? My sister-in-law makes me coffee. This is not regular coffee. It is presented in a warmed cup with just the right amount of cream, and almost ritually, she reminds me to ‘drink it while the crema is on the top.’ It may sound silly, but her coffee gives me something to look forward to while every-day slips into the other and feels exactly the same.

I am also more grateful than I can say for my sister who is a nurse. Grateful for her hard work, that the one Covid test she’s had to take came back negative, that her partner takes good care of her, and for the sound of her voice on the other end of the phone.

 I am grateful for these things and so much more.  

I am not really an optimist by nature. But lately, I am feeling the great importance and value of finding these positives, these moments of beauty in human connection, even when connecting at a distance. They help, sustaining me and teaching me.

What sustains you right now? What are your moments of beauty?

 

Sara Frykenberg, Ph.D.: Graduate of the women studies in religion program at Claremont Graduate University, Sara’s research considers the way in which process feminist theo/alogies reveal a kind transitory violence present in the liminal space between abusive paradigms and new non-abusive creations: a counter-necessary violence.  In addition to her feminist, theo/alogical and pedagogical pursuits, Sara is also an avid fan of science fiction and fantasy literature, and a level one Kundalini yoga teacher.



Categories: Art, Food, General, Gratitude, Motherhood, parenting, thriving

Tags: , , , ,

11 replies

  1. I love this post… I love the creative way you are working “arting” with your daughter – your attention to gratitude – gratitude is a gift – a cup of coffee for you – a turkey outside my window for me – to appreciate these moments is to be present to all there is…. the stress we are all experiencing has a numbing/ptsd (in many cases) effect that must be countered… the uncertainty we are living has put us all on the edge…and gratitude is the antidote – not the forced kind but genuine gratitude ….

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love your thought here: “Gratitude is the antidote- not the forced kind but genuine gratitude.” Struck as I have been lately by gratitude, I am only now realizing that “compulsory gratitude” was a part of my religious upbringing–and I am only just starting to think about how this has impacted me.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Lovely wands and other treasures! Art is indeed a splendid way to make our enforced time at home more pleasant. And gratitude is a good way to counter stress, no matter when or where. Thanks for this post. Bright blessings to you and your clever daughter.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I love this idea – that if we look at the small moments of art, they become moments of grand beauty. I hope one day to have children, and I think you are right – it does take quite a few to keep them engaged – but how beautiful that quarantine time has given you that help as well! If you ever do get that soup recipe, some of us over here could definitely use it :)

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  4. Great news, just simple fare of a family, showing how you all are creative these days. I’m very thankful to read some positive experiences these days!

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  5. Thank you for this post! I love the wands. Coffee and soup, made with love. Beautiful. I am grateful for the plants, animals, and birds i see each day. For the puddles after rain, which look so fresh and clear to me. For the long, cool spring we’ve had. And something, as a technophobe I never thought I would be, I am grateful for technology. All of my children are too far away to see in person, one across a closed border. But we can gather on zoom. We now even have midweek check ins by text. I am grateful for their attentiveness and concern.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Great post. I feel like it is the Picasso version of writing. You come at the issues from all different directions. 4 to 1 in child care – LOL – I hear you! Wands, coffee, soup, nurses, and more amen to it all!

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  7. What a wonderful post, Sara! I love the wands you and your daughter have made, and your creativity. Your daughter is sure blessed to have you as her mother, and to have 3 other relatives to love and care for her. I am blessed to have my 85-year-old mother living with me. We garden and cook and just enjoy each other’s company. I’m grateful that she tells me stories about my relatives and ancestors and shares photos I’ve never seen, including 2 of my great-great-great grandmothers! I’m grateful for the owner of a tea lounge who offered to grocery shop for us because he and his wife consider us to be family! I’m grateful for all healthcare workers and first responders, as well as all grocery workers and others who are considered essential workers. I’m grateful for the mail carrier who smiles and urges me to stay safe and have a nice day. I’m also grateful for Zoom and for my minister and those in my women’s singing circle who lead us using Zoom. I’m grateful that I can walk in the woods behind my house, and I’m grateful that I didn’t break or sprain any bones when I fell in the woods recently! I’m really glad I was able to walk back home and that I had my mother to take care of me. It was really nice being babied, even though I’m 62, lol! I’m also grateful for the friends who’ve called and checked on us, and for the relative who wrote me a note, just because. I’m grateful for flowers and glad Mom and I were able to get out and buy some pansies and petunias for our gardens yesterday. These are certainly scary times, and I don’t wish to minimize the suffering so many are going through, but at the same time I want to remember that life is good and I am grateful for it!

    Liked by 1 person

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