I got an email the other day...

...Out of the blue, a thoughtful woman named Stacey wrote a few lines that filled my heart so full that it overflowed out of my eyes. She had come across my business card while cleaning out her sister’s desk. The card reminded her of when the two of them had come into our henna booth at the Fallbrook Avocado Fest in 2016, and her memories inspired her to write to me...

Her sister, Shauna, had wanted a chest piece... Stacy even sent me a couple of cute photos of the henna design I ended up doing for her. At the time, I remembered, Shauna and I had discussed the design; I was trying to dissuade her from getting it on her chest (it doesn’t stain very well there) but her heart was set on it. She told me she had cancer, and was starting her chemo treatments, and wanted her chest adorned. Of course I acquiesced and did my best. We had a few lovely moments together while I created her design. I like to think that the intimacy of the closeness, the aroma of the henna, the quiet relaxing rhythm of the gentle touch, engenders a moment suspended from the cares and bustle of the “normal” day. In this quiet bubble a subtle energy exchange takes place, I like to think of it as part of the baraka (or spirit energy) of the henna. I deferred when Shauna tried to pay me; it’s always been my personal policy to offer complimentary henna to chemo patients in honor of my mother, who passed away from cancer when she was only 59. My mother never saw me become a henna artist with my own little business, and I like to think she would have enjoyed seeing her wild child succeed in something that had blossomed from my bohemian soul.

In her email, Stacey reminded me of the details of our session with heartfelt appreciation. Generously sharing with me her memories of how much her sister enjoyed wearing the henna design. While I now remember the moment fondly, I had completely forgotten about it. I’m sure it is a stronger memory for Stacy, because she told me Shauna passed away just a few months after I had the privilege of adorning her with henna.

Henna has always been associated with protection, celebration and blessing. It has been so in my life as well; affording me a way to earn my living with my skills as an artist, opportunities for travel, for meeting a variety of people in interesting places and at fun events. It has also blessed me with more of these moments of compassionate and joyful connection than anything else in my life. So much richness for one little street artist...

Shauna closed her email with, “Life is overwhelming and beautiful...”

I agree.