Red Tree

Chapter Thirty-six         Cedar

Red Tree, oil on paper on board, Art Gallery of Ontario.
Public Domain/Copyright

As she began to paint, she saw rhythm in the tree's repeated forms, in the upward reach of the trunk furrows, its bare hanging withes reaching down, its laden boughs tangled with those of other trees. In one sweep she united the branches into a mantle of cedars. Her swinging arm became a swoop of greenery, boughs from adjacent trees breathing into each other, supporting each other, all one.

Loving everything terrifically, humming, half singing "Breathe on me, breath of God," she felt unutterably close to the Creator, as though she were an instrument of His presence. Someday, when some God-quality in her was fully in accord with the God surrounding her, she would achieve that one true painting. Maybe it would happen when, like an Indian living in his totem spirit, becoming the thing he held in awe, she saw no difference between herself and the Creator. Right before her eyes she saw something: The more she entered into the life of the tree, as one breath moving, in and out like the tide, one heart-drum beating, the more alive her work became. Oh, the joy of it!