When my parents moved away a couple of years ago, they kindly left me nine boxes labelled “Keren” they had discovered in their loft. Mostly they were full of university notes and schoolbooks, now happily recycled and living new lives as, well, probably university notes and schoolbooks, but with better karma.
Everyone finds themselves fascinating, it is one of the foibles of the human race, and so it was eye-opening going through my English books and the bits of dried up classroom acrylic that must once have passed as paintings of sorts. The maths and physics books were, for me, the easiest to throw out. The ones with no pictures, or just diagrams. Books of French and German vocabulary too, redundant in the age of Google. History and Religious Studies, that was harder. All those terrible drawings of the Bayeux tapestry and motte and bailey castles, people in togas, or wearing giant phylacteries were rather sweet (or unintentionally funny). But my writing and my art? Nope, couldn’t part with it. Not even the poorly illustrated, badly written and unfortunately named “Amurus and the City of Atlantis,” (age 9) which had my husband and I in fits.
If you read any book about discovering God’s purpose for your life, you will be told to ask yourself what you loved doing as a child, before people told you what you should be doing with your life. It’s a smaller and smaller window of time these days, but those moments where you got lost in the magic of something, what was that? For me, it was always books, it was always colours and nature. It took me a long time and some ministry to rediscover those joys, after decades of adult cares and pressures, exams and paying the rent, as well as a horrendous neurological illness had wrung them out of me. Grown ups do NOT write and paint. Grown ups go to work and pay the bills.
But some of us escape. Some of us become daring enough to start a sentence, even a paragraph, with a conjunction. And looking back at those delightful stories and poems (there must surely be some kind of institution for 7 year olds who use the word “doth” without compunction?), I felt a kind of affirmation. This strange, sick woman who loves to write, draw and paint, had her roots in a child who devoured Dahl, Lewis and Aiken, this little girl who danced in her imagination so free and wild, and wrote a story (aged five) about two patterns who met and fell in love. It was so wonderful to find her again.