On “zentangling”, life, and God

I haven’t written anything new over the last few days (though there are many thoughts I’m itching to get on paper), because I’ve been…doodling. A lot.

Apparently, this type of detail-oriented (or should I say “obsessed”?) and geometric doodling has a name — it’s called a “zentangle”. I would not have known this if my colleague hadn’t passed me a Zentangle workbook to pass to Omari, my student who’s currently in the hospital.

Annie the Antisocial Anteater
Annie the Antisocial Anteater
Camille the Capricious Camel
Camille the Capricious Camel
Malcolm the Maladjusted Meerkat
Malcolm the Maladjusted Meerkat

I am hooked, and think I may have figured out the appeal of zengtangling. It’s a lot like life — you can’t erase any of the strokes you’ve made, but you can adapt and build off from those accidents, misfortunes, and mistakes. In the moment, every detail seems random and incongruous with everything else, but at the end of the day you find yourself with a final tapestry much more complex and beautiful than what you could have dreamed up at the beginning.

And it reminds me very much of God’s continuing work in my life and yours. In the words of a very wise priest, God is a skillful impressionist painter — his work can make little to no sense up close, but when you step back you see a masterpiece.

This has been fun and therapeutic for me, but I also connect deeply to the idea of characters who are so fixated with a certain trait that they forget there’s so much more beauty and complexity to them. I’ve seen it in myself, in people struggling with mental illnesses, in my students, and in how people view those who have special needs.

I’m now thinking of putting them on sale as prints/T-shirts/tote bags/iPhone skins on Society6. What do you think?

8 thoughts on “On “zentangling”, life, and God

  1. Very interesting.. Your artwork, your words, and perspective. I worked in mental health for 14 years and have since taken to blogging and wellness coaching. I think my readers would find interest in your works. I look forward to sharing them on my blog http://certifiedwellness.wordpress.com and on reddit. I’m always keen to inspire conversation and the exchange of ideas. I invite you to visit my blog to comment and share in my community as well. Thanks for sharing, I look forward to reading more! Be well!


  2. I love this statement!
    I am in the middle of a ‘what-seems-like-no-sense’ part of my life where I’m not attempting to question God since He has always led me in the right direction. But at the same time I don’t understand why certain things are happening at the moment. I know the purpose will be revealed to me later on down the road so for now I must just have faith. I’m squeezing the ‘mustard seed’ dry!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The statement to which my previous comment referred is this:
      “God is a skillful impressionist painter — his work can make little to no sense up close, but when you step back you see a masterpiece.”

      I copied n pasted the quote from your post into my previous comment but it disappeared when I posted. Not sure why.


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