When the Clouds Rolled In

When the Clouds Rolled In, an encaustic mixed media painting by Bridgette Guerzon Mills
Bridgette Guerzon Mills | When the Clouds Rolled In, encaustic mixed media, 24×12 inches


Before you know what kindness really is

you must lose things,

feel the future dissolve in a moment

like salt in a weakened broth.

What you held in your hand,

what you counted and carefully saved,

all this must go so you know

how desolate the landscape can be

between the regions of kindness.

Naomi Shihab Nye

There’s a reason I am sharing this beautiful poem by Naomi Shihab Nye with my painting, When the Clouds rolled in, but I won’t write about that right now. Maybe at a later time. But whether or not it’s known why I am sharing it tonight, isn’t it beautiful and jarring? I have loved this poem since the first time I read it. I recently bought one of her books so I can delve into her words and world.

The actual creating of this painting was about honoring what came before and letting go. There was a lot of letting go in this piece. I really enjoyed working on this while also at the same time wondering what was happening….where are my grids and quilt like shapes?? But I followed what felt right.

Today I went to a funeral service and all throughout it and this evening I have been thinking about this thing called life. The time between birth and death and what we do with it. What we hold on to and what we lose. All the things we cross paths with and the different directions life can take. And that all that we touch, we change. And all that we change, changes us (these two sentences are based on Octavia Butler’s words in her Parable of the Sower series, I think about these words all the time).

Tonight I was driving through an empty parking lot, the day long drizzle reflecting back to me through my headlights. A lone fox was walking through the parking lot and saw my lights and quickly turned around and waited. As soon as I passed, the fox continued its solitary journey.

And now in the comfort of my warm home, outside dark and cold and wet, I keep thinking about that beautiful creature, a halo forming around it from the street lights.

Maybe the time between birth and death is about making connections with other living creatures. Tangible and intangible. Connecting the dots. Or maybe it is just what it is. I won’t figure it out, that’s for sure. Going to an end of life honoring just makes me ponder. Maybe that’s it. Maybe it is about just honoring the life that you have and the life that you make.

Just surviving is insufficient (these words are from Station Eleven– I think about this phrase often too).


  1. That poem is beautiful and jarring. I immediately understood it through the lens of my own losses and experience of kindness. It’s a perfect match for your words and art.

    1. yes, I think I first heard the poem on a podcast interview with the poet and it hit me in the gut. And I too felt it through my own losses and experiencing kindness from people as well as not experiencing kindness from people. I have found that the people that are most kind during times of loss/need are people who have been there too and know how a tiny act can mean so much.

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