I have always loved words, ever since hearing “So Far Away” by Carole King for the very first time. In the beginning, it all started with words: “Let there be light…” Words are woven into every medium I use to create: songwriting, essays, and more recently, painting. With painting, using words to express myself happened by accident. It was a visceral reaction to an article I found during the summer of 2020, only five months after our world turned upside down.

The collective confusion and outrage was still raw. We were all used to unlimited freedoms and the never-ending horizons of what our lives could be. Then, one day it all faded away, like silent movies. Suddenly, I found myself stranded in the lonely defiance of what should never be taken away: our bodily and spiritual sovereignty. If we are now not magical and sovereign creatures of God, then who are we? I struggled with this question daily.

Sometimes I spent hours scouring social media and my few trusted alternative news sources for any signs of hope. Did anyone see what I saw? One day, after hours of scrolling, there it was. A small province in British Columbia that called itself Kanada had decided that they were done with COVID restrictions and declared themselves a free territory. No masks, social distancing or business closures. How? Life could return to normal? I couldn’t find anything anywhere in the mainstream media about it, and yet the people who were interviewed seemed very real. It WAS happening. And if it happened there, could it happen here? Or anywhere? I had to get this message out to the world. I raced out to my art studio and grabbed a bunch of paints. Before I knew it, I had made a mess, and in a tornado of excitement I squeezed out the word HOPE onto a background of abstract colors. They all clashed in a beautiful and odd way. The red paint I used for the word Hope was so thin that when I lifted up the canvas to look at it, the letters dripped down. Oops. Could that be enough to translate this urgent message I had for the world? I chose new words to work with: truth, love, free.

Sometimes just one word can change the world.

“Hope”, “Truth” and “Love” by Michelle O’Connell Katz.