cartoon: home?

cartoon: home? October 19, 2010

You can buy the original or a fine art print of this image here.

I spent all weekend working on this piece that I call “Home?” I’m calling her Sophia. Notice a few things: there are no footprints in the snow leading to where she is standing. She is leaving the house far below. Is she turning to look one more time, or is she thinking of going back? We can faintly see someone standing in front of her home. She has left at night. She has left some behind.

All these suggest that she left the comfort and security of her home in the dead of night so as not to be prevented. She is determined to venture out, initiate her own quest, and find her own path.

She might return one day, but only when she is certain she won’t lose herself again.

Are you in a moment of decision? Is there some comfort and security you’ve been enjoying that you know, deep down, is preventing you from discovery? Understand that those who provide the comfort and security we enjoy usually aren’t just trying to enslave us. They are afraid of our ventures and the harm these ventures might bring us. They care. But their care has turned into fear. They will never go themselves. But they will never let you go either. You have to tear yourself away. You know this.

I like what Wendell Berry has to say in his provocative collection of essays, The Unsettling of America (I’ve changed “he” to “she” for consistency):

The pattern of orthodoxy in religion, because it is well known, gives us a useful paradigm. The encrusted religious structure is not changed by its institutional dependent; they are part of the crust. It is changed by one who goes alone to the wilderness, where she fasts and prays, and returns with cleansed vision. In going alone, she goes independent of institutions, forswearing orthodoxy (i.e. right opinion). In going to the wilderness she goes to the margin, where she is surrounded by the possibilities… by no means all good… that orthodoxy has excluded. By fasting she disengages her thoughts from the immediate issues of livelihood; her willing hunger takes her mind off the payroll, so to speak. And by praying she acknowledges ignorance; the orthodox presume to know, whereas the marginal person is trying to find out. She returns to the community not necessarily with new truth, but with a new vision of the truth she sees more whole than before.

What are you going to do? This young woman, like many young women and men I know, has dared to break away from the pack. She had to. Or she would never forgive herself.

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  • Nancy

    Oh David you have just told my story of leaving home……long ago.
    Only there was no comfort and security in my home. I did leave in the dead of night so as not to be prevented! I was determined to venture out, initiate my own quest, and find my own path, and I never returned. In my case I had to escape who others said I was before I could discover who I really was. I ended up though in the arms of legalistic religion and spent the last 25 years under the same type of controlling abusive authority only in the name of God. I suppose I was looking for loving parental acceptance. REALLY lost myself then, only didn’t know it. So now your breathtaking picture speaks my story again, only in a beautiful way <3
    I have walked away once more, not going back, and will take my chances in the wild! Thank you for your beautiful gift you created!

  • Jkay

    To me, the young woman in the picture doesn’t look dressed for the weather. Nor am I. So I convince myself that I can still find a place inside where I can discover, learn, grow and serve — a place away from the elements that beat me down, somewhere near an outer wall, where I sometimes look at that snowy hill outside the window and wonder “What if?”

  • Although she must leave for the pure survival of her heart, the way isn’t easy. There will be intense mourning for what she has left, a wondering why she could not find herself and have her needs met as others had. There will be a plowing through her identity as she searches for truth, for comfort, for herself. She becomes so strong that she realizes that no matter how bad things seem, she can’t turn back. She delves into the inner reaches of her soul discarding all the lies…all the baggage…and after an eternity discovers light and comfort and love that were hers all along but were hidden under the debris that was put there to make her acceptable.

    David…that picture tells my story. From dysfunctional family…from dysfunctional church…I left…and in my journey I left several times more when I encountered the same old traps.They could no longer ensnare me as they had in the past. In time…in solitude and silence…I felt as Augustine had when he wrote ” i’ve looked for YOU without and all the time you were within” The anger is gone…the feeling of having been used is gone. I can accept that my family is dysfunctional and keep my distance. My journey of Grace began when I realized that the only place to look was within…that the answers weren’t in a book or in someone else, but within me. The books can help…others can give encouragement. We must have the courage to leave all that and look deep inside our souls. Its not a happy ever after story but a feeling of wholeness and an ability to withstand…come what may.

  • well said preacherlady.

  • NotPaul

    Beautiful. Even as a small icon in my facebook I could see there was great depth to this one.