A Little Light Rearranging
The Story of the Velveteen Chair
Last week I did a *little* light rearranging in my studio office. The rearranging was inspired by an oversized chair I have in here. I bought it off Craigslist like 8-years ago — it’s an oversized, velvet-ish, gray chair with missing buttons and a few well earned scuffs. This chair came to me in my first artist studio office in Long Beach.
The studio was situated in a nearly-abandoned vintage church, filled with plumbing issues, asbestos, and wonder. I had been given the gift of using this space to develop my artist practice (when I was still trying to find my way out of photography), and to build my private spiritual direction practice. I would meet with clients there and have sessions, then turn to my painting (I’m so glad that didn’t stick — beautiful practice, just not one that belongs to me). And so I needed a comfortable chair for my spiritual direction sessions. Clients, they had a couch (a surprisingly lovely one left over from a previous tenant). The chair would be for me.
I had loved this style of chair and was hopeful to find one used. I did. The perfect size, the perfect color, the perfect material — and a great price!
Once we moved out of Long Beach and to Anaheim, the chair came with me to my new in-home studio office. It continued to hold me while I held my clients’ questions and doubts about their faith. But when the pandemic hit, my chair went into irregular use when my practice went to Zoom. It began collecting pink throw pillows I’d find and couldn’t live without (I stopped at 6) and an oversized Valentine’s Day stuffed animal from my spouse. I still loved it. I just didn’t know what to do with it.
When we needed to furnish a home in Georgia (another story for another time) I thought, yes, this chair will find new life in Georgia! It will hold other people as they rest, recharge, and re-envision their life. But when it arrived on site a few days late, it just didn’t quite fit there either. So home it came.
CHRISTINE LEE SMITH • ARTIST & SPIRITUAL DIRECTOR is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
It sat in the living room for a few days. I had already grown accustomed to the new space in my studio. So it sat there while I figured out what to do with it — the chair I loved but didn’t know where to put. One day off, I decided to play a few video games. The chair was the perfect place to play: I could lean against an armrest and hang my legs over the other side comfortably. I pulled out an old sleeping bag, a pillow, and curled up to zone out. I was so comforted by this practice I repeated it for a few evenings, on long days after teaching.
I knew the chair couldn’t exist in that spot forever — it was interrupting a walk way in our living room. But I realized I needed to find a new place for it. A small corner in my studio caught my eye and a temporary landing spot for it. A few tweaks later, it feels like I found the spot it always belonged.
Sometimes things don’t make sense (okay, a lot of times). It can be tempting to make a solution happen. Undone-ness is uncomfortable. When we rush to draw conclusions, though, we work against our inner knowing. So many of us have been taught to ignore or repress this intuition; taught that it wasn’t trustworthy. Taught that somehow intuition and the voice of the Divine were different. Taught that God’s Spirit would only lead us to challenging things or hard things or things we didn’t want. But what if …
Our intuition is the way the Divine speaks to us?
What if our intuition is our greatest gift?
What if it actually leads us to good places?
I’m so glad I didn’t let go of this chair.