Weekly Photo Challenge: Beginning

Beginnings can be a bit messy.   That’s because they often occur as the result of or in response to a significant life event.   Perhaps a relationship or a job has ended.  Perhaps you were shaken by tragedy or a crisis.  In all these situations, something has broken–our hearts, our ideals, our expectations, or maybe our bodies.   This break has jagged edges, which cause us pain.  But at this dark moment, we resolve to begin something new.  Take off in a new direction.  Begin a new relationship.   Or perhaps, finally accomplish what we know in our hearts we must do.

But despite our best intentions to move forward, we linger in the murky middle ground between the old and the new.   We know what we have lost.  And we hope somewhere up ahead, we will gain something that will put an end to our regrets and sorrow and will give us joy.  But from where we stand right now on the edge of something new, we aren’t sure of anything or anyone, most of all ourselves.

"Nestor," by Joshua Adam Risner

“Nestor,” by Joshua Adam Risner

This expressive and dramatic oil painting by the artist Joshua Adam Risner visualizes for me the act of “beginning.” As we stand on the brink of change, we carry with us the jagged reminders of the past.   At this moment, it’s hard to believe in ourselves, in our ability to change.  It’s hard to know if we are on the right path.  But we need to look down at our feet.  And trust them.  We need to take a deep breath.  We need to pay attention to our minds and hearts when they say “You can’t go back,” and “Listen to us.”  And so, we take one step, certain that the ground will open up and we will fall through.  But to our surprise, our foot lands on firm ground.  We take another step.  And another.   And we wonder, why were we so afraid?  (View Joshua’s portfolio : http://www.joshuaadamart.com/site/  )

Our steps will take us to a different door.  It may not be the door you or I were expecting, but on the other side, we both will find fulfillment and joy and unexpected pleasure if we brush aside our fears and trust ourselves.

Tiffany window and staircase, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Tiffany window and staircase, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

I’ll end this post with a poem by Mark Nepo, which beautifully captures the duality of opening and closing, loss and gain.  It offers us the reassurance we need to hear as we take our first uncertain steps towards the future.  If you’d like to receive a weekly reflection from Mark, sign up at:  http://threeintentions.com/blog/


As something is breaking, somewhere
something is being joined. As something
is joining, somewhere something is breaking.
As something closes, something opens. As
something opens, something closes. Where
there is dark, somewhere there is light. And
where there is light, somewhere there is dark.
When things go clear, somewhere things are
thickening into confusion. And when people
are agitated, others are calm. I don’t understand
this. But as something is taken, something is given.
As something is given, something is taken. As some-
one is cruel, someone is kind. And when kindness
appears, somewhere something cruel is poised to
sting. Then someone is lost, as another is finally
at home. And some are aware of this, while others
are not. The way things break and join at once, the
way people are cruel and kind at once, the way life
constantly opens and closes, how there is light and
dark in every soul, how we’re clear and confused
just behind our heart, and lost and at home in
every breath—This is the river we’re born into,
turbulent at the surface, swift in the deep. This
is what we try to make sense of and live through,
feeling it’s all too much but needing more. So lift
your head and steady your heart, knowing, as you’re
swept along, that Experience is the face of God.

View other “beginnings” at:

16 replies »

  1. Dear Patricia,

    That painting just calls out to me. The colour of the skirt reminds me of flames and calls to mind the image of the pheonix: with the new self being reborn from the ashes of the old self.

    P.S.: Thank you very much for the pingback.


  2. It’s a very moving picture; it shows the feeling of uncertainty, wonder, and sorrow…. “the gain something that will put an end to our regrets and sorrow and will give us joy.” well said. Thank you for sharing your wisdom, Patricia.


  3. This painting is stunning. I was unaware of the artist but will search for other works. Your thoughts are meaningful and I appreciated how you interpreted the painting in the context of new beginnings.


    • Hi Maureen, I just heard from the artist yesterday who was pleased with my post and interpretation of the painting. Even though he is still in grad school, I think his work is amazing and shows great maturity as an artist. If you want any more info just let me know.


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