Two years ago, I asked an artist friend to create a painting of Switzerland for my husband’s fortieth birthday. I took photos of my favorite view, one that belonged on the face of a postcard, and someday I hoped, on a painting. I sent the artist the photos, he sent me some sketches. I congratulated myself on a job well done.
My husband is now 42, and we live in America, and until a few days ago, we still didn’t have the painting. For 18 months we had a blank space above the sofa, left open and waiting. Eventually, we found another painting from the same artist and used it as a placeholder. But the placeholder grew on me, every time I look at it I forget it wasn’t meant to permanently steal the show. I see it as an unexpected gift, something I never knew I wanted or needed, but that fills a blank space not only on the wall, but it fills a part of my soul.
When we heard the Swiss painting was complete, we couldn’t drive there fast enough. The artist and his wife revealed it to us with a glass of wine and the light arranged to capture every nuance, every color, just so. We teared up because it’s simply that beautiful. It captures a sliver of time in our family history that was so difficult and charming and beautiful in its adversity. It’s a masterpiece, and I don’t say that lightly. It was worth the years we spent wondering and waiting.
When we arrived home with the painting we immediately put it in the space we originally intended, removing our placeholder painting. And to my surprise, it doesn’t fit. It belongs here in this home, just as much as the memory belongs in my heart, but we need to find another place for it. The temporary art claimed its space. The new painting will find a Swiss-shaped space all its own.
I’ve discovered this kind of shifting of plans and dreams and spaces applies to more than works of art. Like you, I dream of what if’s, I plan for what could be’s. I set aside a place in my heart for the dream I imagined, and the image fits perfectly. But life comes along and fills those empty spaces with other things, good things, often times, even better things than we ever expected while dreaming.
Sometimes I feel guilty when I realize the dream has shifted, and the space filled with something good, but unexpected. I feel guilty when the things I planned for and dreamed of don’t fit exactly where I thought they should be. I’m learning that when time takes over, desires shift. Something unexpected arrives, and I must learn how to make room. Make room for the new, make room for the old, make room for dreams fulfilled–both hoped for and unexpected.
Are you making room for something in your life? What dreams have been fulfilled? What has unexpectedly come your way?