Children are Pieces of Heaven


“It is no small thing, when they who are so fresh from God, love us.”  – Charles Dickens

When children arrive into earthly life, they bring with them a breath of heaven. Just look into any baby’s eyes and you’ll know it’s true. To be loved by a child is to be loved for one’s self. It’s a love that heals hurts and changes the course of the world. It did for me. When my eldest was placed in my arms, it seemed as if the room lit up. I knew without question, that God exists. I felt whole. I was no longer the girl who defined herself by the wounds of a painful childhood. I was Robby’s mother.

After that came Bridget and then Brian – almost too much love for one heart to hold. My passion to be an artist was always trumped by being with them. It didn’t feel like I even had a choice. They came first. My career would have to be patient. I agree with Jacqueline Kennedy’s observation, “If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do matters very much.” Looking back over my life, I wouldn’t change a thing. Although being a mother slowed down my painting for awhile, it gave me a much broader range of colors to choose from on my palette. Today I am able to focus on sharing my creative gifts with the world while marveling at the incredible human beings my kids have grown into.

When my children were little, I used to feel their shoulder blades and tell them they were the nubs from the wings they had before they were born. As angels they flew over the world to pick out their families. How lucky their father and I were they chose to land here, with us. Back then I never considered this anything more than a tale told to delight. In the here and now, I know better.

In the portrait I painted of Cooper, the quote from Charles Dickens was the perfect addition. He is a delight.

In the portrait I painted of Cooper, the quote from Charles Dickens was the perfect addition. Cooper is a treasure and charms everyone he meets.

Text and images © Sue Shanahan. All rights reserved.

Ready to Let Go

And why are children the most beautiful flowers of all? Because they allow themselves to be who they are. Without agendas, they flourish in the now. Whether the sun shines or buckets of rain pour, it’s a good day. We are all born with a sense of wonder,  but it soon fades. We learn not to trust our own nature. It happens to some earlier than others, but it’s rarely escaped. This lack of trust is the root of why we think we have to control every aspect of our lives. It’s not only self-defeating but futile. I’ve spent years praying for my hands to unclasp the control I hold so tightly. I have come a long way. I’ve discovered that I don’t know what is best for others or myself. I am open to what life brings me – most times.

 An area I’ve found impossible to loosen my grip on is my creative process. I have a schedule in my mind that I’m never able to adhere to. Always pushing, I resist any interruption in my work flow. When something does get me off track, the wheels of reprimand begin turning in my brain. Why do I hold on so tightly? Because my creativity burns like a fire in me. I’ve guarded and protected it my whole life. I’m afraid to let it run its own course. If I do that, will it eventually die away?

 Matthew 6:34 reads, “Therefore do not worry for tomorrow; for tomorrow will look after its own.” Does that mean if I let go, my commissions will be completed in perfect timing? Have my attempts to direct the flow actually interfered with the Creator’s plan? Why am I so insistent that illustrating is a 9 to 5 job anyway? My attempts to manage only seem to bring frustration.

 I am ready to take a leap of faith and live like a child. That means being immersed in the now and turning my creative undertakings completely over to God. I’ve done that in other areas of my life. Remembering the peace of being guided makes this leap less scary. I’ve learned life works itself out and to count on the missing pieces coming to me. Stress is a sure sign I’ve taken control back. What spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle shared in a lecture makes good sense to me, “Enjoy the doing in the now. With the enjoyment of the doing also comes the power that flows into it. Enjoy the energy that flows into the doing and it becomes empowered. And then the goal looks after itself.”

 Yes, I’m ready to let go. If flowers and children blossom at exactly the right time, then my paintings will too.

 Is there anything you cling too?

Aine, my little muse.

Aine, my little muse.

Text and images © Sue Shanahan. All rights reserved.