Wednesday, June 3, 2009

St. Dymphna and the Lights of Gheel

St. Dymphna and the Lights of Gheel
watercolor 3.5 X 5.25

I know an incredible woman. She is the survivor of childhood incest, suicide attempts, abusive relationships, addiction and severe depression. She has, thank God, had the strength to not only survive but to thrive, to recover, and to heal. I make all of my St. Dymphna paintings and shrines with her in my mind, not in appearance, but in feeling and experience. This painting shows St. Dymphna as a very young girl, surrounded by a dangerous storm and blown by a powerful wind. Her hands are so thin and small, almost too small to keep her light from going out, almost too small to save her, but she is praying, going inward, asking for serenity. The lights of Gheel are behind her, a safe haven, a place where she can find help and protection. She just has to see it, to cross the distance without giving up hope.

I feel so blessed to know my friend, to witness the miracle that is her beautiful self. She has helped me to heal from my own problems. Every time I see her I am filled with wonder and gratitude at her strength, that she is here, and that she perseveres with such grace. Amen.


I recently came across a wonderful blog. I myself do not have a mental illness, but some people who are very dear to me do. I grew up, as most people do, without a real understanding of mental illness. Our society does not meet confounding behavior with compassion, but with outrage, derision and scorn. I feel that this blog really sheds a lot of insight and will be helpful to everyone in gaining understanding of ourselves and others: