Since I was a little girl, I believed I have something to say.  Last year I felt a clear connection to that feeling when I realized that I am meant to create healing art for hospitals and cancer clinics.  Susan Saarel shared this on Facebook one year ago today – punctuating my belief and purpose.  Here is what Susan shared:

Susan's photo of her husband Doug among the sculpture installation at Billings Clinic last year

Susan’s photo of her husband Doug among the sculpture installation at Billings Clinic last year

Epiphany.

(Done all we can with Neurology in Bozeman except for a brain biopsy so we want a second opinion, because yeah…that’s pretty invasive. Waited over a month for the earliest appointment in Billings. Broke his hip in the meantime, but I’m still taking you, I said. Early morning appointment, so let’s stay at the Dude Rancher Lodge, get a good nights sleep. Except I could not sleep at all. 4 a.m. and still I lie awake. All kinds of thoughts running through my mind.

Dr. Scott Riggins was great and very thorough. Cute and funny too. Which made Doug a bit jealous when I told him so. Well, I’m not dead yet, I said. Neither am I, he said. And we laughed.

And as we left the Billings Clinic, I maneuvered his wheelchair through something familiar. Wait a minute. I know these, I said. These are Amber Jean’s! And I felt compelled to photograph him among her Reliquaries.

In her own words, she describes her work:
“The epiphany happened unexpectedly at the base of a tree. Struck by lightening, the tree stood twisted and torn, dead and alive, insistently bold and strikingly humble. Sap ran like tears. Crimson red streaked the black charred trunk. Nakedly exposed dead limbs savagely intermingled with the tender life-bearing leaf-filled branches. Passionate clinging …survival …acceptance …love and loss …all wrapped into the trunk of a tree made more beautiful by the scars… more majestic in its humility. I was awestruck. The powerful mixed message struck my soul and blazed my heart…charred and scarred. Instant communion… I felt deeply ALIVE. I cried. The ordinary made extraordinary…a relic holds more power for me than an idol. Existence based in experience rather than an image made in the likeness of something other. The energy emanating from a relic or the care given to a reliquary both have the potential to be captivating. The fortuitous spirit I witnessed that afternoon touched twisted triumphant places in my own soul. Split. Relic and reliquary. Raw and adorned. Shockingly disturbing and deeply comforting. Tragic and triumphant. I embrace life with its contradictions and plunge headlong into the marvel.”

It was foretold almost 18 years ago that Doug would have an epiphany. We waited for it and perhaps it is still yet to come. But today, I realized this epiphany is not only Amber Jean’s but mine and Doug’s too.

It is collectively ours.)