I met Lungala yesterday at an art fair in a quirky little beach town next to booths of jewelry made out of spoons and wooden pens. I was immediately drawn in by his art – (I almost accidentally wrote HEART – which is exactly the case). Each picture tells a story, and my heart connected with his stories immediately. Lungala can mean “He speaks for the people,” and his art was doing just that– telling my story of motherhood, of letting go, of finding my voice and my strength again, of finding my path. His art also tells the story of my son, the one I left my heart with on the other side of the country just a couple of weeks ago.
Lungala was engaging, and shared much of himself with us in a short amount of time. His love, openness and wisdom was incredibly refreshing. His smile pulled you in. The way that he saw each person in his booth held whoever came along. He was trusting and believed in the goodness of people. He convinced us that if we really wanted his art, we should just take it and pay him whenever we could. No hurry, no timeline. Refreshing – shocking even.
Finding the Beat of Your Own Drum
Besides meeting us at a heart level with his wisdom and life lessons, his art was speaking to me on a deeply personal level. I am just now beginning to find words to put to the journey of taking my first son to college. I haven’t had words to express the journey I am on or lend voice to my heart as I enter a new phase of life. Lungala’s art was another step in my process. His art was giving voice to my journey; his name rang true and he spoke for me.
Lungala came to study at UCLA in economics and business, with plans to enter the corporate world. He tried to keep walking away from the art and stories he’d been gifted with to be the corporate giant he thought he was supposed to be…but eventually he had to concede that the drums he was meant to play were telling stories and using his art to connect with peoples’ hearts – to bring healing and restoration and wisdom to people through the gifts he had been granted. One of my favorite pieces of art is shown here next to him. There is a drum with a stick, but instead the man in the painting chooses to play with his hands the drums that most closely match his hat. Each person must find the drums they are meant to play, that most closely match who they were created to be.
I’m over forty with gray hair and a kid in college, and still this art speaks something important to me. I am still trying to find the drums that most closely fit who I am created to be. Not only that, but this is what I pray over my boys each day – that they would know what they were created to do, and that they would stay on the path that was created uniquely for them. Lungala told us about a seventy-nine year old man that found the painting and left crying, painting in hand. Lungala’s art had expressed what this man was experiencing for the first time in his old age. He felt that if he could find his drums in his old age, there was hope for anyone. So at 42, there must be hope me. I know there’s hope for my man cubs.
And that is love.
Lungala’s painting depicts the love of letting go perfectly – its all motion – a choice – an act of will – it’s looking at each other but heading in different directions – it’s being carried on the wings of the Spirit. It’s beautiful. It’s as it should be.
And it’s utterly, heart-wrenchingly painful. It’s being terrified that there’s something fundamental you failed to teach or lay in his foundation. It’s being afraid he might not ever text or let you know what’s going on his life. (So grateful this hasn’t been the case!) It’s having kissed your boy every single night on the cheek and praying over him every single morning, and knowing you won’t get do that every day. Ever. Again. Apparently, it’s looking through old DVDs to see what to give away, and bursting into tears when you realize that one you wanted to show your boys hasn’t even been opened. (My poor husband.)
So I bought this painting. Well, honestly, I left with this painting on Lungala’s honor system because I couldn’t actually afford it. I saw this painting and through my tears knew that I needed to mark an important time in MY life.
I want to build an altar. I want to remember all that God has done to get us here. I love having a picture of my desperate prayer for all that I dream for my boy, and all that God has for him. And I want a constant reminder to LOVE my boy, my man, in the way that love looks now.
Lungala plays his drums as he was meant to, and gives what he was gifted with freely that others might be changed and receive his melody. So I will let my man cub go, and give of him freely into the world, that the melody I have poured into him might be able to bring light and life and love into the world as it (HE) was meant to. So thanks, Lungala, for trusting me to pay you back. I will.
I totally recommend meeting Lungala at an art show, and buying his art. I promise you, he (and his cousin) has a story that will resonate with your heart. You can see it all and follow him here. I am grateful for his wisdom, his graciousness, and his smile. I pray he is blessed in equal measure as the ways he blesses each person that walks into his booth.