Portrait in a 1000 words for my good friend Helen
Occasionally I will do a portrait in a 1000 words for friends of mine when they ask. It’s a portrait in words of how I see them.
Since the time before life existed, the time when Lucifer had been cast from Heaven Angels have fought. The side aligned with God for order, the side aligned with Lucifer for Chaos. Good and Evil, birth and destruction, stasis and change locked eternally in a battle for domination. For billions of years Angels have fought neither side ever winning as they try to prove which side was right. God had withdrawn once he had cast Lucifer out, his plan had been set in motion, and not noticing that God had withdrawn the Angels fought on.
When Humans finally entered into the fray the nature of the battle between Angels changed. They still fought with stars and atoms, force and matter, but there was something about these humans. A whisper here, a shadow there and these humans would fight the Angels battles completely unaware. Yet humans were neither good nor bad so even the best laid plans of Angels would go awry. There was something in humans that drew Angels from afar to play this game of words, it attracted them and they knew not why. They didn’t know what it was about these humans but they added passion to this which which had not existed before they walked the earth.
Helen, oblivious to the ethereal battle waging around was in many respects a fairly typical representative of the human race. She laughed, she cried, she struggled and had moments of peace. As with most humans she constantly sought to find her purpose in life, her reason for being. To some extent she found this in her work, her art. She didn’t quite know what it was about creating but she always found herself absorbed in it. She lost herself in taking raw ingredients and building them into something. Adrift in her mind as she then destroyed little bits of the very thing she had created to turn it into something else. To Helen no day was complete without some creation brewing, it was her life and her work was almost as important to her as her family.
Now Helen was no Gandhi but she was also no Hitler. She was good at what she did, had a life to be envious of, a handsome husband, a beautiful daughter and wonderful friends. This is not to say she wasn’t extraordinary but in the halls of power in which the Angels flew her voice and talents were not large enough for them to notice in their normal scheming. This is of course except for the odd fleeting moments where an Angel might fly by and toy with any stray human who crossed their paths. It was just such an occurrence in which an Angel paused momentarily in Helen’s house as she was working, designing a new logo for an eco-tourism company.
Now this particular Angel was aligned with God and she started to whisper into Helen’s ear.
“Draw a forest perfectly preserved, untouched, never to be despoiled.”
Of course thinking she had her inspiration Helen started. As always, to the frustration of Angels, Helen never quite drew as the Angel had whispered, she left lines unfinished and rubbed others out. So this Angel kept whispering in her ear trying to get Helen to create something that should be so simple.
Now no Angel of good can go for long without attracting an Angel of evil to try and undo any order being laid down. So the battle over Helen was joined as two Angels now whispered in her ear.
“Add a bush fire”
“Draw shoots of rebirth in the undergrowth”
“We need a bulldozer and a log cabin”
“Add a fence and a forest ranger”
“Show the effects of acid rain”
“Lichen and moss to absorb the pollution”
“Progress, tear it down”
“Pristine Nature, preserve it”
So Helen drew, never quite adding what was asked and never quite removing what was suggested, frustrating both Angels at every turn. As the crescendo of the Angels whispers steadily grew something amazing happened, Helen became truly lost to her work. She had stopped listening to the whispers of Angels and it was just Helen and her drawing. In the end she drew something remarkable. Life. All of it. In this one design she created a masterpiece of forest and city, animals and humans, nature and machines. In the end she created harmony beautifully rendered on paper.
And so this became the day the Angels cried.
Seeing the final work Helen had just created something changed inside these two Angels. They had been fighting for so long trying to win such an unfathomable war they had lost their purpose. Each had thought their purpose was to win for good or for evil. Each had thought that this was their duty, to win, to either destroy the universe or preserve it. This is not what Helen had shown them though. Helen had shown them something entirely different. Helen had shown them that their purpose was life, that living was their purpose, to be able to create something more than what could be created through either order or chaos alone. This drawing showed them that God had created the Universe with an equal measure of chaos and order because without harmony there could be no life. Without harmony the universe would either be a churning ball of energy or a cold mass of rock and life could have never existed.
So these two Angels understood now; that it was not the Angels purpose to influence humanity but humanities purpose to teach the Angels. The two Angels watching Helen wept in a profound grief at how ignorant and naïve they had been to God’s purpose. Knowing their purpose hand in hand the two Angels leapt into the sky to teach their fellow Angels about life.
Photo thanks to Waiting For The Word