This morning on Facebook a long time friend posted, “Hello my friends. I have some sad news …” This dear woman, the same age as my youngest daughter, is facing surgery to remove cancer. It is unclear how far the cancer may have spread.
My heart sunk into deep compassion with thoughts of her and what lies before her. Then I moved onto thoughts of her husband, their small children, her parents, siblings, and all those who love her. All this was whirling within me in the weavings of prayer. Whirling and watching because if you have ever walked thru fire, you already know. We never forget those fires that have burned in our lives. And when a loved one walks through fire, we stand beside them. That is just what we do.
In a flash I remembered an artwork that totally captivated me. I was in Boyne City, MI in July 2015, enjoying the Walkabout Sculpture Show. Six pieces of art were thoughtfully displayed in public places. Right in our walking path on the sidewalk stood an explosive sculpture titled, Becca Triumphs. This sculpture, standing tall and bold with emotion, demanded a response. Mine was instantaneous; long tears streamed down my face.
In this sculpture the artist depicts many aspects of a courageous journey. I looked at the long outstretched hands, her head raised upwards in gratitude and victory. And the many strong cords that had held her captive were loosed. Of course we all bring our own individual interpretation to artwork. The strength that was portrayed in this piece was unmistakable. To me, Becca Triumphs brings hope and the clear sounding encouragement to keep going.
Suffering changes us. I understand this expression of triumph; it is an undeniable response over that which sought to hold us as captives. Triumph is a stance of strength, gratitude and awe, courage, joy and deep awakening. This victorious expression was beyond any words I could stammer.
Becca Triumphs burned deeply into my entire being; art has a way of doing just that. I do not know the back-story of who Becca is and what trial by fire she went through. I do recognize the inspiration beyond words that rises out of the work of artist Ann Gildner. She knows what it is to rise up above adversary. She captured this moment of triumph. And in her work she shares it with all of us in a portrayal created from iron and granite.
I think of my friend and I hold this image of incredible courage and triumph before me. I replace Becca with her own name. I continue to watch as this sculpture rises up in my heart … “You too will triumph,” I whisper to her. “You are a woman of courage and might.”
Art is not just something to look at. It can also be a vital place where we live and have our being. Art can be a sacred expression that calls to us, reminding us when we need courage or truth or a place to hide. I am grateful to this artist, Ann Gildner, whose work gives us an iron-strong visual of what true triumph looks like.
Becca Triumphs, a sculpture by Ann Gildner, is currently displayed in Boyne City, MI. Ann is the owner of Gildner Art Gallery in Cheboygan, MI.