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Tuesday
Apr242018

MY CREATIVE PATH TOWARDS GEULA

When I was young, I would often daydream and plan my future. Yet, as I reached midlife, I learned to accept the reality that I am only a passenger on the ship that was running its course according to the Divine plan. At that turning point I discovered my creative potential. Baruch Hashem for this gift through which I am able to strengthen myself and others and to add light to the world.”

By Sara Yitta Gopin

I grew up in Riverdale, a pastoral suburb of New York City, by the peaceful waters of the Hudson River. My home was religious, and shortly after my bat mitzvah a friend from the neighborhood introduced me to the Chabad teachings and lifestyle. Soon afterwards I decided to write to the Rebbe with a request for a bracha. I received a reply in the mail in which the Rebbe included a copy of a discourse in English intended for Lubavitch women and girls. Its message was that just as a fish cannot survive when cast outside the ocean, so too a Jew must always live in the proper surroundings and preserve the purity of his neshama by observing the laws of the Torah. The words of this sicha were deeply internalized and continue to guide me throughout my lifetime.

My childhood dream was to become an artist. Yet these plans changed when I was unable to find an art program that was suitable for a religious young woman. Therefore I decided to study psychology, and at age twenty three I received my master’s degree in counseling and guidance.

During my last semester I enrolled in a course which was an introduction to art therapy. As part of the curriculum we were sent to observe patients in hospitals, schools and treatment centers offering art therapy. It was deeply impressive to witness how adults and children overwhelmed with physical and emotional pain were able to find relief and healing from the creative experience.

The years passed…. I was grateful for my blessings, especially for the eight children that I raised. Yet I found myself entering a severe midlife crisis, as I began to accept that I was not able to fulfill all of my childhood dreams and that it is Hashem who is directing the course of my life. I felt a deep and urgent need for chizuk and for a renewal. It was time to reacquaint myself with those talents that had been neglected for too long….

One Shabbat afternoon I was feeling quite listless as I was sitting on my sofa in my home in Rechovot. I decided to learn the weekly discourse of the Rebbe from “Hitkashrut,” one of my favorite weekly pamphlets distributed in Israel. In this sicha, I discovered the saying from the holy Sages, “Olam Chadash LaLeviim,” and these three words changed the course of my life! The Rebbe explains that at age fifty the service of the Levites in the Beit HaMikdash is upgraded from technical activities to more administrative and advisory tasks. The basis for this promotion is the universal phenomenon that at age fifty, one’s jubilee year, every Jew naturally undergoes a most significant spiritual elevation. A wave of new energy permeates his neshama, awakening dormant talents and strengths. After just recently celebrating Shavuot, this new idea corresponded with the avoda of S’firas HaOmer. For forty nine days one must do the work of refining his attributes, and on the fiftieth day Hashem elevates his neshama to a totally new level where he is capable of receiving the Torah. “Olam Chadash LaLeviim” became my byword, and I was determined to reach the new world that awaited me.

I decided to join a weekly art class in the neighborhood. After four decades of alienation, as soon as I sat down in front of the canvas it became covered with colors and images that expressed my hopeful visions. Gradually my paintings became brighter and more enlightened. After about a year I painted myself in an especially harmonious blend of colors. Suddenly I was inspired to add the verse, “HaBoteach BaHashem Chesed Yesovevenu” (T’hillim 32:10). “Those who have trust in Hashem are surrounded by kindness.” When I finished this powerful painting several friends and acquaintances asked me to give them a photocopy. Once again I discovered the tremendous healing effect of spiritual creativity.

My artwork continued in this style, as it enabled me to find new sources of strength. Whenever I felt weakened by tests and challenges, I would paint a picture that reflected personal redemption, with corresponding colors, images and words.

The painting “Ahavas Olam Ahavtich” (Yirmiyahu 31:2) is a clear illustration of revitalizing by reconnecting to those precious moments of overwhelming love in my childhood. This most beautiful phrase can be translated as, “I will love you with an everlasting love.” Its source is in the Prophets, and through these touching words Hashem expresses His deep and eternal bond with the Jewish people.

There is a popular saying that sometimes one must move backwards in order to continue to be capable of moving forward. The soft and maternal energy of this nostalgic painting never fails to give a gentle and encouraging stroke to my neshama.

One of my most heartfelt paintings is “VaAni Tamid Eemach” (T’hillim 73:23), “I am always with you.” On the last day of Sheva brachos for my daughter Devory I was totally overwhelmed by the reality that two months later she would be going on shlichus to Belgium with her chassan Yaakov. I sat down near the empty canvas and cried out to Hashem to help me find the appropriate words to ease my pain, as well as to express my blessings to her for her new life. Suddenly I saw a flash of the phrase from the T’hillim, “VaAni Tamid Eemach.” As I painted my daughter on her path towards a great and colorful light my emotions subsided and were replaced by deep gratitude to Hashem for all of the blessings in my life.

My most recent picture is in a different style, and was inspired by my journey with Midreshet P’nimius to the graves of Tzaddikim and Admurei Chabad in the Ukraine. One especially unforgettable experience was when Rebbetzin Bracha Tverdovich was teaching us the “Maamer HaHishtatchut” of the Admur HaEmtza’i, Rebbe Dovber. This shiur took place in the shul of the Baal Shem Tov in Mezibuz! Afterwards the words emuna, yira and ahava that were explained in the maamer continued to echo. This unique discourse emphasizes the impact of prostrating oneself at the graveside of tzaddikim. The emuna that a Jew has for the tzaddik nourishes ahavas Hashem and yiras Hashem. Yet the emuna remains above all of the attributes as it glows as bright as a crown. This new understanding added an even deeper dimension to our journey.

The healing power of spiritual creativity has its source deep inside the unconscious. Without the barriers and filters imposed by the intellect, one’s free and unbridled spirit bursts forth. Regarding the creativity of a Jewish soul that is balanced and healthy, the most inner recesses of his soul can become revealed and elevated.

When I was a student I was fascinated by the psychology of color. I learned to administer a color diagnosis whereby the patient is shown a chart of eight particular colors, and is asked to rate them according to how much they attract him, or have the opposite effect. The results enable one to reach a greater awareness of his personality traits.

I personally have always been drawn to turquoise and to magenta, which is a deep shade of pink. In difficult moments I reach for these two loyal “friends.” As soon as I begin painting with these two colors I feel a very soothing and peaceful energy. Yet generally I try to integrate all of the magnificent colors of the rainbow in my paintings, as each one offers its unique energy towards true harmony. Additionally, I paint the Hebrew letters in their most classic form in order to fully capture their intrinsic holiness, thereby enhancing the impact of the words and expressions in my artwork.

Lately I’ve begun offering healing workshops in Israel and New York. The women participants choose a word or phrase that gives them chizuk, as well as related colors and images. I personally suggest painting these kinds of geula pictures on tambourines!

Recently I produced a thirteen minute video clip which shows my paintings as my daughter Sima Bella sings the verses that they portray. The emotion in her voice has a very touching effect. After joining me on this project she decided to record a disc of ten beautiful songs that she wrote, and created inspirational melodies. The theme is renewal!

I will conclude this article with my most precious painting, “Shiru LaHashem Shir Chadash” (T’hillim 96:1), “Let us sing to Hashem a new song!” In the background there are two pure, white doves flying high into the clear, blue sky. With this inspiration may we all reach our goals of growth, fulfillment and the personal geula of “creating a new song!”

Sara’s Song

Let your tears pour out
for those precious moments
that are never returning

Mourn your youthful dreams, feel the loss, the deep yearning

Growth from challenges is like diamonds of immeasurable worth

That decorate our path and bring the neshama to its rebirth

It’s time to stop the battle, you’ll never win

Instead ride the waves and a new flow will begin

Paintings courtesy of
saragopinart.com (972)8-9416527

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