My friend Franco
Marker on drawing paper
5.5 x 8. 5 inches
Barbara Muir © 2021
One miraculous part of my
life in the last decade has been
taking part in shows around the world.
a show in the Amsterdam Whitney Gallery,
and loved my work. Meeting fabulous
artists, and being part of international
exhibitions made me so happy.
This is all on hold now because of
COVID, and I miss it.
This drawing is loosely based on an image
from a video Franco did
about being so tired of racism. The
video broke my heart, and I wanted
to draw Franco and honour him.
My story about miracles is separate.
I could never have imagined the
wonderful life I've had when I was a child,
not because I didn't enjoy my life, but
because I had no understanding
of what was possible.
It's hard for me to imagine the little girl I was sitting in Sunday school -- itching to
be outside, or home with my dolls, or reading. I couldn’t get the concept of miracles.
The Sunday school teachers would read from the Bible about the loaves and the fishes,
and it wasn't until I was much older that I understood what the miracle in that story was
supposed to be. As a child I didn't like fish at all, (love fish now), and I remember thinking
that if everyone got a little bit of this horrible food, they'd still be hungry. Maybe I was meant
to be a scientist.
Of course I'd keep all of my rebellious thoughts to myself on the ride home with my mother
and father. There was probably more to my unease than just the content of the stories. I didn't
like beards (no men I knew had so much as a mustache,) so I couldn't relate to the art work,
or the proffered God. I hated sitting on the cold chairs in the basement. I could hear the singing
upstairs, and resented memorizing the psalms downstairs.
But it was probably the earnest, didactic nature of the teachers, and the concept of sin that
bothered me the most. Here we were, a collection of entirely innocent, fresh faced, six and
seven-year-olds being told that we were bad. That was a boring, tiring and annoying message.
So how did I, a childhood cynic, start to believe in miracles and wonder? I have been
so lucky to be released from the idea of guilt for enjoying life, and into the delight of seeing
what's good in the world. This didn't happen overnight, and maybe it's a natural progression.
My mother was big on wonder, and helped me notice nature -- birds and animals. My father
loved his garden and his land on the river, so he taught me love of place. Both of my parents
loved art. My mother almost got a third degree in it, but opted to audit art history classes
instead. My father was an excellent photographer, ands self taught painter.
My father quit going to church, because he was expected to spend his time adding up the
donations. My mother stayed part of the church until my parents moved back to Ottawa.
She had been trying to please my father by attending the United Church, but was raised a
Unitarian, and didn’t believe in the United Church credo.
I left the church right after getting baptized at 15. After church one Sunday I asked my mother
why she didn’t repeat the credo, and she said she didn’t believe it. “Then why do I have to?” I asked.
And she answered, “you don’t.”
My friends taught me all about sharing and humour, and my husband and children taught me about the
sheer joy and poignancy of love. In short, I was saved, but not by the church.
Now I feel like I witness miracles every day. When I first wrote about this subject one miracle was
my yowling cat, who noticed that my son hadn't changed his socks in a couple of days, and dragged
a pair of clean socks up from the laundry room in the basement, to my son’s bedroom on the second floor
yelling all the way. That was a miracle I could relate to. And most miraculous is the world I
share with you here -- of art, ideas, wonder and love for our family, friends and the planet.
Have a miraculous day.