spirit, lead me

spirit, lead me
14×11 inches

So far this has been a year of major life changes and experiences. A beautiful new life entered mine in late February in the form of my little Grace. And a profound loss in the form of the death of my father occurred in late April. It is a bit disconcerting to experience a birth and death so closely together. I feel a bit shook up and bewildered. A little lost. And definitely exhausted. But such is the circle of life.

I am no stranger to grieving, but losing a parent is something that just shakes you to the core. I am still trying to process it all.

I do not have much studio time lately (that’s a big understatement)but I have managed to squeeze in an hour here and there when I can. I have to. Painting helps me make sense of It all.

I had just finished up this painting when my father passed suddenly. I had been working on it for a while these past few weeks, working on it in bits and pieces when I could. Experimenting. Doodling. Pushing for meaning. Making marks. And while yes, there is a bird there, botanical imagery, this is a departure from my past work. And it was actually after his passing that the title came to me.

I was anxious in sharing it because it is different……but then I thought to myself, what is so scary about sharing my art? Art making is a process, a journey. I, myself, am constantly learning, growing, changing. It wouldn’t make sense for my work to stay the same all the time. And really, there are plenty of things in this world to be scared about. Birth, life, death, health, etc. Art is not one of them.

The important thing is that I really enjoyed painting this piece and I learned from it. We’ll see if it leads me in a new direction. It may and it may not. Life is anything but predictable.

I found this poem by Mary Frye that speaks to me these days:

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.

I am in a thousand winds that blow,
I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush,
I am in the graceful rush
Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.
I am in the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.

Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there. I do not die.
~Mary Frye


  1. Thank you for sharing this wonderful post. I like your new painting and I wish you strenght for the coming time. Inge

  2. Your new work is lovely and my heartfelt condolences on your loss. The poem was really beautiful and something I will remember. Thank you for sharing!

  3. This is a beautiful piece, Bridgette.

    I’m glad that painting and the poem you share are helping you process what you are going through. Sending good thoughts to you. ♥

  4. I am so sorry for your loss. May you find comfort in those you love and in sweet memories.

    I see you in this painting as well. It is beautiful!


  5. This is a beautiful piece…strong. Different yet I still see your hand. I am sorry for your loss and happy for you with your new child…it is all so difficult to put into words.

  6. Your poem brings back thoughts of a sad loss but has beautiful imagery and I hope it will continue to bring you comfort too. I think your new work will strengthen you and has your beautiful touch.

  7. i am so saddened to hear of your father’s passing. i wish you the strength, love and time needed to process that kind of profound loss. the painting you shared here today is amazing and moving…thank you for sharing.

  8. I’m sorry to hear about your loss, Bridgette. That’s a beautiful poem, your new piece is special. It feels right, and I would have recognized it as yours.

  9. In Buddhism we call it the ‘sorrowful joy’ and the ‘joyful sorrow’ and sometimes it all gets mixed and swirled together and thenit’s the ‘gloriously wretched’ and there’s no way to separate out the laughter from the tears.

    This deeply contemplative work, these words, this story, the poem all show how very much Spirit Leads…Spirit leads.

    I am so sorry to hear of the unexpected passing of your dad.

    It’s one thing to ‘prepare’ and face the natural ending of a life (years of volunteering for hospice showed me the beauty of that time well used) but how shocking to have a parent here and then not here.

    My thoughts and condolences to you and your family during this transition.
    My feelings of joy and cherishing for you and your beautiful Grace.

  10. Bridgette–I am happy to see you here again but saddened by the news that you share. I had posted this poem for a dear friend of mine that passed 2 years ago on her memorial page we put together. It is so appropriate, isn’t it? I hope that someone says these kind words when I pass. We are still here, aren’t we! My word for this year was “grace”. I am so happy to hear you chose it for your new baby too. It is such a special word, isn’t it? My daughter is trying to have a baby now and it would be so wonderful to have her name her baby that too. Can’t wait to see more of your work. It reminds me of fabric; of a quilt. Nurturing, seeking, comforting.

  11. thank you for sharing your heart and soul, through your art and your loss, which are intertwined…i lost my mother a few years ago, it is hard losing a parent, prayers are sent up for you…
    i plan on visiting again…

  12. I’m so sorry for your loss. I know what it’s like to lose a father suddenly. The hurt eventually dulls but never goes away. I am sending you hugs and warm thoughts. I will be in Chicago in late August to teach at a retreat…I want to see you then! I am praying for you and your family…

  13. A beautiful piece Bridgette. New for you but also very BGM! So sorry to hear about the loss of your father. My thoughts to you and your family.

  14. A touching piece. When my father died, I painted & repainted a wall in my home, thinking if I could just find the right color I would be all right. And I was.

    You are beyond painting the wall, you are touching your art, your grief-energy and love staying with it, coloring it, telling a tale.


  15. Bridgette,
    Sorry to hear of your loss. May you feel Spirit close and comforting you in the midst of this time.

    This painting is wonderful and I thank you for sharing…


  16. Spirit has led you, Bridgette. Your post has touched the commentors here profoundly, and we are an indication of its effect on many more who have read it.

    I love your line about there being plenty of things to be scared about, but art is not one of them. Art gives us the means to express every emotion we experience, from great joy to bewildering grief. As you said, “Painting helps me make sense of It all.”


  17. What a wonderful poem. I feel for you but everything has its reason. One thing loss is replaced by something even greater.

  18. Thinking of you…we lost my mom on Aug.16th and celebrated the birth of our grandson on Sept. 24th.

    Your work is always meaningful and inspiring.

    Keeping you in my thoughts…

  19. so you had a baby Grace- how wonderful- and sorry to hear of your loss of your father– happiness and sadness is the cycle of life.. I love this poem– and your encaustic is lovely

  20. So much has happened since I last visited here. A gift of Grace, and a deep loss. Your encaustic bridges the space between those extremes. Beautifully.

  21. I am so very sorry for the loss of your father Bridgette. I haven’t been by in a while and had no idea – so I’m also sorry for my delinquent message. I recently posted some art that I had hesitated sharing as well, so I understand where you are coming from. I decided my hesitancy came from being in that place of vulnerability that we find ourselves in when grieving, or suffering in one way or another, because of course, there is nothing to fear! I really like this new work of yours- there is a boldness in the contrasts, along with a playful quality that uplifts me.
    sending love, Karin

  22. hello Bridgette – great joy and great sorrow – hopefully you can find the middle ground between these life experiences – this is a wonderful piece of work xxo

  23. My heart goes out to you Bridgette for your loss. I understand. And thank you for that poem…it brought tears to my eyes.

  24. Bridgette: I came across this post via Flickr…I too lost my Dad in April after a long and painful illness. A lot of unresolved anger at him. I tried to do an encaustic piece about his years working in the steel plant, which you can see on my photostream, http://www.flickr.com/photos/girlmeetsart/sets/72157624546549498/, but found that the piece didn’t resolve for me b/c my feelings are not resolved. So sorry for your loss. both my parents are gone now and it is a very different place to be emotionally.

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