Chihuly at midnight

My daughter has been on pins and needles the past few weeks. She has fallen in love with the idea of attending a particular all girls middle school, and we have gone through all the steps of the application process. Admission is competitive in a non-traditional way: one cohort of 20 girls are accepted each year, and the cohort is constructed around a group of girls who are selected for their diversity and compatibility of learning and growing together across four years. I am excited about this possibility, too, but my daughter is really the driving force. We should know the outcome any day now, but waiting is very hard. Especially for a nine year old.

Last night, she could not get to sleep. I was actually at my wits end, because I was tired from the week and just wanted to go to bed. She had tried everything to calm down, but she remained a ball of uncontrolled and relentless emotion. Sleep was nowhere in sight.

Sometimes it does no earthly good to be a trained therapist because, at the heart of it, you are still a human being complete with all the authentic failings and flaws that parenthood so readily illustrates in all of us. In fact, having been trained in theories of human behavior generally makes me even more keenly aware of how inadequate I am. On this particular night, I was considering whether threats or cash bribes would be a better option for convincing her to sleep. I had nothing left, not a drop of rational energy or creative maternal instinct. And yet, my daughter sat on her bed with huge tears pouring down her face, saying, “please Mom, please help me figure out how to get my feelings under control”

My small point of light came in the form of a visualization exercise that intuitively appeared in my mind. I have no earthly idea where it came from. And so, I can only credit divine intervention.

“Do you remember when we went to see the Chihuly glass exhibit at the art museum? Do you remember the video of how they blew the hot mound of molten glass into those beautiful, giant glass globes? We are going to do that with your feelings…” On we went, choosing various colors for both feelings of hope and optimism as well as feelings of fear and dread that accompany the unknown. We visualized blowing these feelings into the glass, watching it as it expanded. We described the colors appearing, changing, and combining, just like emotions. We progressed color by color and feeling by feeling, together spinning a beautiful figure of multicolored glass that could contain all her emotions. We sealed it off mentally, creating a glass sculpture that reflected her many, swirling emotions. As we finished the visualization, she drifted off to sleep.

I kept that same image in my mind as I drifted off as well. It came from somewhere beyond my human frustration and tiredness. It came from a place where feelings and colors and air and glass and art and science and stories all converged.

I think I would call that a glimpse of heaven.


About harasprice

Professor of Social Work and Priest in The Episcopal Church, parent, teacher, learner, writer, advocate, and grateful traveller along this journey through life
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