Mary Magdalene of the Hibiscus, Oil on panel, 9" x 12", 2010
A couple of years ago, I received a hibiscus plant from my husband. The flowers are particularly beautiful and "magdalenic." The colors are those I use to paint Magdalenes: yellow, fuschia, red and the mix of all these, bright orange. The plant would bloom every day with a new hibiscus or two. And I enjoyed each of them, looked forward to them, photographed them, told people about them. They were such a gift! A gift I needed to pass on.
I once read a book titled The Gift. It is an investigation on the nature of the gift. When we think of a gift, we think of something we might give or get, but what this book explained is that a gift is something that is meant to be passed on. Well, pass on, but not as in "regifting"! When we pass on a gift, we honor the gift we really like!
When we are given a gift, we are supposed to also give a gift. We do not have to give it to the same person who originally gave us the gift, but we can pass it on to someone else. The book told about a tribe where a gift would be passed around the different members of the community, with its pertinent gratitude ceremonies, until it reached full circle. The gift was a precious object, but what made it really meaningful was the action of giving it, of passing it on to someone else.
This book was assigned in one of my art classes. Although back then I didn't understand why, now I think it is important for artists, as well as people in all professions, to consider the nature of their gift. We come into the world with certain talents or inclinations. If we are lucky and obstinate, we develop them. But what good are they if they just stay hidden from the world. These talents, aptitudes, gifts we bring, are meant to be shared. This is the way we can help bring peace and harmony into the world. Have you ever given someone a very special gift? Have you made a gift with your own hands or worked hard to get enough money with the intention of buying a gift? Or even just looked up a thousand websites in search of something very, very special for someone you love? At that moment, when we search, make, work for the gift and at the time we give the gift, it is as if a light glows really bright. It creates a connection with the other person that shows the love that the gift brings. And our souls, in that connection, feel fulfilled and in love. We can think of everything we do as a gift. When we spend time with someone, we give them a gift. When we write a letter, or a blog!, we give a gift. When we work, we offer our knowledge and aptitude as a gift to those who receive the product of our work. Doesn't this make work sound a lot better?!
This is why I painted the flowers around Mary Magdalene, offering her a gift in gratitude for her many gifts, passing on a gift made with love. Mary Magdalene has been an immense gift for me. I paint her in the hope that I can offer that gift back to the world so that it will not remain stagnant inside of me. I hope that I can give you the bright colors of love that the Magdalene gives me, so that you can transform them in your own heart, and in the fire of your own passion, and share them with the world... until it comes full circle and we all get to share in the great gift of life.