Eliza Raven

Vincent, lunar eclipses and beauty - a perfectly imperfect week

Published about 2 years ago • 5 min read

My dear friend,

This has been a very mixed week in The Bridge Cottage - aka Raven Towers.

A full moon in Scorpio and a lunar eclipse in the same moon cycle are definitely having an impact as they unsettle all of us and remind me to look at the deep underbelly of all the things I’ve been sweeping under the carpet in the name of “peace and quiet”.

On the upside, I’ve done a lot of learning and growing through it. My personal relationships have been deeply affected. I’ve held boundaries lovingly and firmly. I’ve realised that I too am triggering others’ past traumas, and had to apologise and adapt so that I don’t keep on doing so. I’ve let people down, I’ve pushed back appointments, I’ve completed admin tasks I’ve been putting off for months - it’s been a real seesaw of all of the feels and all of the inner judgements I hold about myself.

The very best part of the whole week though, was last night. I’m a great one for finding magical experiences we could take part in, looking them up, finding out all the details, making arrangements to make it possible and then……not booking the bloody thing!

So it’s a very good thing that I have a partner-in-crime who is really brilliant at doing the damn thing and completing the loop! In fact it’s entirely thanks to them that we went to the Van Gogh Expo in Bristol last night, since I’ve been bookmarking the tickets page and then freezing since about January!

We picked up Flora from school at 3.30pm and raced with her down the road to the car - got home, changed, dogs walked and fed and back out of the door by 4pm! RESULT! Then we drove through torrential downpours to the middle of industrial Bristolian nowhere, and entered the most magical world. To say it’s beautiful, is to make it sound like nothing much. To say it’s innovative and magical and special and utterly transfixing and a once in a lifetime experience doesn’t really capture the true essence of it all. Not. At. All.

In my adult lifetime I have enjoyed 3 experiences which have remained with me decades later. One was Harry Potter World at the studios near London. One was the David Hockney retrospective at the Royal Institute, and the third was last night.

I will never forget it.

It was more of a trip inside the emotional world of a human being who happened to paint, than an exhibition of his great works. It was less a celebration of his skill and talent and more of a journey inside his psyche; and it was all the more affecting for it.

At one point my eldest leant towards me and whispered over the crescending music - “Is it weird that this is very moving? I am crying a bit!”. “No!” I responded, “That’s the whole point of this experience - you are encouraged to feel the feelings and emotional responses Vincent’s lived experiences created for him. That’s why it’s an ‘experience’ and not an ‘exhibition’!”

And it was a deeply moving experience for us all. I came away inspired by his work, his art, his vision, his struggles, his loves, his relationships and his words. Being there made me imagine that I too, could paint as he did! It humanised him and integrated him back inside his physicality. (If you go, definitely pay for the VR extra bit. It was superb!) By recreating him as a 3D human being with all the complexities we share, it gave me such a feeling of hope and an expectation of myself that I too can create beautiful things - maybe I won’t paint - maybe I will love and garden and write and sing and make my family laugh, and that is how I will bring beauty into the world. Vincent thought this the pinnacle of the human experience - to love well - and I agree.

"Love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is done well."

As we left (they were closing the doors and huffing behind us as we went!), we realised we had spent 3 hours in an expo designed to last 60-90 minutes. The power and magnitude of the emotional responses we each felt were quite overwhelming - so we medicated with pizza, Picpoul and margaritas!

Balance is everything.

In the aftermath I’m exhausted, but I’m inspired too. Inspired to create, to love and laugh and cry and sing and dance and write to the max! Inspired to bring my small offerings to the world, because Vincent never stopped believing that it mattered - that our creations are more important than we can imagine. Who knows who we will inspire when we do?

"Your profession is not what brings home your weekly paycheck, your profession is what you're put here on earth to do, with such passion and such intensity that it becomes spiritual in calling."

Vincent didn’t see success in his lifetime. Two of his 3 sisters also failed to see his recognition grow. It’s only really his sister-in-law Jo - the widow of his devoted brother Theo, who died of grief just months after Vincent shot himself fatally in the chest - who was able to see him become an artist of serious international repute, and in doing so restore his name as the incredible visionary he is.

I’m planting a wisteria, a hibiscus and an oak tree today in my riverside garden. Next week, when the striplings have rooted, I’ll be planting willow to stabilise the riverbank and planning a copper beech hedge. Possibly none of these plants will be at their peak during my lifetime, and certainly all of them will outlive me, and that’s the legacy I’m excited to leave behind. I don’t have the obvious talent of Vincent, but I want to bring more beauty to the world and leave it a more inspiring place. I do that through my garden, my letters, my blogs and my hope that my children will also feel inspired to create and that my legacy will continue as Vincent’s has.

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced."

It’s easy to rubbish our own little efforts, and in his own lifetime Vincent certainly did too. The amazing efforts he went to to continue to explore beauty through his own particular viewpoint have left us so much richer. Maybe, your tiny corner of the world will continue to thank you when you are gone. Maybe the seeds you plant today will become the great trees of the future. Maybe the beauty you create in the cake you bake with love, the song you sing with joy, the dance you invent to express yourself and the pleasure you take when you stop and enjoy the world around you, will create ripples which will touch the farthest reaches of the known universe - and bless the lives of those around you.

"Many people seem to think it foolish, even superstitious, to believe that the world could still change for the better. And it is true that in winter it is sometimes so bitingly cold that one is tempted to say, 'What do I care if there is a summer; its warmth is no help to me now.' Yes, evil often seems to surpass good. But then, in spite of us, and without our permission, there comes at last an end to the bitter frosts. One morning the wind turns, and there is a thaw. And so I must still have hope."

You are free to follow his example and keep going!

As Vincent himself says:

"Great things do not just happen by impulse, but as a succession of small things linked together…..Doing little things well is a step toward doing big things better…..Success is sometimes the outcome of a whole stream of failures."

In gratitude and appreciation for you and every tiny way you bring more beauty into the world.

Lizzy xx

Eliza Raven

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