As creative and sensitive people, how do artists deal with and respond to suffering? Can the traumas of life enhance the creative vision of artists? What benefits might exist for those who go through similar experiences?
Mieke Scoggins, a Nelson-based painter, relates the traumatic events of her bicycle/truck collision on a Brisbane road. She discusses her own recovery from the injuries she sustained, and how her artwork became cathartically connected to her healing journey.
Physical lows and spiritual highs
Her story offers a kaleidoscope of painful physical lows and also surprising spiritual highs. Pain, by its very nature, necessitates limits upon our physical, mental, spiritual and emotional capacities. Consequently, Mieke learned to objectively ‘streamline’ her responses, and to direct her available energy levels into healing processes and manageable creative projects. Throughout this ordeal, Mieke’s faith in a sovereign God is something that she credits as being pivotal to maintaining her sanity.A miraculous survival story
‘It happened when I was cycling on a semi-rural Brisbane road, in 2005. Because the reputation of local drivers wasn’t great, I was trying to be careful, cycling on the left hand side of the road. I even remember singing to myself, when I was hit from behind by a truck doing 70–80 kilometres per hour.
I wasn’t knocked unconscious. I can still remember the incredible force of the impact, and the sense of losing control of my body, like a rag doll tossed, flying through the air and then bang, bang, rolling on the ground over and over knocking over those white reflector marker poles.
‘When I finally came to a stop I remember looking up to see what had hit me, and seeing the brake lights of a truck. It was really strange, but my body was responding like an instinctive animal trying to cope with the trauma of what had happened. It was as if I was two different people.
My body was just screaming out in pain, and yet my mind was strangely clear and really rational. I remember my mind telling my body to just calm down. And at the same time, I was feeling around in my mouth for teeth and was just spitting them out. Then the witnesses came and people were looking after me.
Praise him through your circumstance
‘That verse came to mind: to "praise Him through your circumstance". And I realised there was nothing I could do, so I was thinking to myself, thank you Jesus—this must be happening for some reason.
One lady later told me that she thought the truck had hit a cardboard box, the way that I was just tossed in the air and rolled and rolled on the ground. She came back to discover that the box she saw was actually my body.
Can you pray for me?
‘It’s funny what you do in those situations. I didn’t really know what I was doing, but I remember asking people who were standing around me, "Are you are a Christian? Are you a Christian?"
There was this one woman who was really affected by the whole ordeal. When I asked her: "Are you a Christian? Can you pray for me?" she prayed for me, as best she knew how. She was really shaken. She couldn’t drive home afterwards. Someone had to take her home.
‘For the next eight days I was in hospital. I lost a lot of blood through my injuries. I was in a state of constant nausea. My internal organs were damaged, and they gave me these horrible antibiotics and Ribena, which just made me puke.
‘But one night I had this amazing dream....
(read the full interview, download CS Arts issue 31)
Mieke was interviewed by Andrew Panoho
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