Sometimes it helps to go back to square one. To start over. To begin again. To regroup.

That’s what my art partner Lee and I figured out after sushi for lunch, and a leisurely afternoon of art-making at the studio processing the last couple of weeks at the Lighthouse. I doodled, she painted, I painted, we processed.

By the end of the afternoon we’d taken the whole of our situation, cut it up into manageable pieces, looked at each piece this way and that, studied the details closely, and reassembled the pieces into a new whole.

And that’s where we began with the ladies at the Lighthouse last Friday. With the reassembled “big picture” of who we are, what we’re there for, and why therapeutic art workshops are so helpful in the recovery process for those dealing with substance abuse issues. But the women had done some of their own “big picture” reassembling and regrouping.

The biggest surprise was the young woman who was due to give birth in mid-October. She had gone into labor right after the art workshop the prior Friday. A month early. The baby which had been head down was now breach. Four hours later, after an emergency C-section, a beautiful baby boy was born. It seemed an apt metaphor for our post-workshop Friday afternoon. Our troubled labor needed an emergency intervention in order for something new to be born.

After we’d introduced the day’s art activity, creating images of bright hope interwoven with dark thoughts written on black paper, Lee went from table to table. Writing their responses on a simple water colored page, she recorded each woman’s name, requested a word that personally described her, and asked how she could specifically pray for every woman in some way. She was taking the next step in the starting over process. We were becoming a new group with one another.

We were regrouping because Lee had asked the crucial “third question.” As Brother Tom might say, the first question “how are you?’ most often invites a non-committal reply. A second question “no, really, how are?” might encourage a slightly less vague response. The third question brushes the impersonal answers aside and says “I really want to know how you are.” Lee’s third question suggested “I really want to know you.” We could ask each woman her name, but that didn’t mean we knew her. We might know a little more by asking for a word that described her. But we began to know her more deeply by asking her what was on her heart.

By the end of the morning we were becoming known to one another. So much so that when one of the women shared her image of hope she dared to add, “I’m not happy. I’ve never felt happy. I have an empty place in my heart.” Such honesty and invitation. Hopefully, over time, we’ll be able to speak into that heartfelt emptiness through the arts…with our love.

Have you ever come up against a situation or relationship where you had to stop, reassess, and regroup? How did you go about becoming known to one another again? If someone were to ask you a “third question,” what would you want them to ask? If you were to create an image of hope and regrouping, what would it look like?

Looking forward to your regrouping comments.

PS – Which pieces in the image above are not as they should be? What needs to happen to the whole to “regroup?” The “Afternoon Delight” doodle was cut into manageable pieces and is now my latest series of business cards.

PPS – I’ve added a new page to my website under Arts Portfolio. To view, click on Church Art.



4 comments to Regroup

  • Hi Lynne,

    I so needed this today. Sometimes we just need to regroup. Slow down and look at our lives from a new perspective. What so interesting about the “third question” is that sometimes my life is moving so fast, I need to ask myself the same question: No really, how am I? When I take time to really ask myself that question, I feel like I’m just on the brink of being honest with myself.

    Interesting for me to think about asking that question with Christian communities: no really, how are we, really? Do most Christian communities have the courage to dig deep and to consider their hopes and brokenness without a need to cover it with a need to feel good about ourselves? I suppose the same is true for marriages and any relationships that are important to us. I love what you are doing with the women at the Lighthouse. And in fact, I love what they are doing with you.

    Keep up the faithful journey. Thanks for letting us in on it.

  • Deanna J Bowling

    In reading your piece, the thing that amazes me the most is that you were able to regroup basically in the length of time it took to have a leisurely lunch. It’s been 10 months since I initially got the pneumonia last Thanksgiving, and granted with a lot more stuff that has happened during these 10 months, I am still trying to regroup.

    I love your blog, Lynne. The pieces you post on it consistently challenge me to think and re-think issues.

    Love, hugs and prayers,


  • Deanna J Bowling

    I also agree with Brother Tom about the “third question”. I need to ask that of myself more often, and mostly answer the question more honestly.

  • I’ve been thinking about some serious regrouping too. It’s challenging to access at time where to keep placing energy and when to move that effort into another place altogether.

    Still thinking, but feeling better knowing I’m not solo in the regrouping exercise.

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