Do you continue to go with Jesus? The way lies through Gethsemane, through the city gate, outside the camp – the way lies alone, and the way lies until there is no trace of a footstep left, only the voice, “follow me.” Oswald Chambers

On the train trip to Florence I had a chance to interview Jody, 32, who is married without kids. I discovered, however, that she was mysteriously noting the names she liked on the buildings around Rome and Florence. Later, during the interview, she said, “I’ve come to the realization that there’s never a perfect time.”  Like most of the Art-Women-Wine participants, Jody is gearing up for a transition – to take the next step in her relationship with her husband and become a parent.

Jody began her adult life by putting college on hold and becoming a flight attendant. While growing up, it was her sister who was “the artist.” Her mom described Jody as being into clothes or other hobbies. So when Jody took a leave of absence after 9-11 and went to an art institute in Ft. Lauderdale, she went there for advertising purposes. “I didn’t know that drawing and painting were prerequisites. I didn’t even know how to mix paints.” The art Jody learned was pragmatic and helped her secure a job as an operations program manager for Microsoft where she currently works.

But the art institute didn’t help Jody at all with her personal life. She was in a bad relationship with an older man for awhile, which disintegrated after a miscarriage. Then, she began a three-year long relationship with someone who, after they were together, began drowning in a maelstrom of drugs and depression. “I didn’t want to leave him because I thought he was going to die,” she said. Trying to live with these difficult pressures was wearing on her, too. Eventually, after discovering he was cheating on her, she was able to leave him. Then, the slow work of putting back together a broken life began.

Healing comes from above, but it’s ushered in many forms. Jody’s healing came in the form of a little Chihuahua named after the main character in A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving. Owen Meany in the story was born deformed and taught the people around him about faith. Owen the dog did the same thing for Jody. Owen taught her how to love again – how to have faith in her future. Eventually Jody met and married her husband, and even found her faith in God. Sharing with her friend, Susie, she found they both had come to believe at the same time. They called and read scriptures to each other and their friendship grew stronger. They also began to paint together. Then, Susie introduced her to Art-Women-Wine classes and here they are, together in Italy, looking back on the windy path that brought them to these cobbled streets. In the midst of the shopping and the toasting to one thing or another, in the midst of the happiness and the highs of realizing a dream come true, Jody’s dark night of the soul becomes a dim remembrance and the happiness of what’s to come shines all the brighter for the darkness left behind her.

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