Monday, January 14, 2008

A brown study

Yesterday I went to a mask-making workshop. I've loved masks for years, and have several of them in my house, but I had never made one before so I thought this might be fun.

We spent our morning in reflection, and were offered various poems and quotations to help us assess our current state of mind and rediscover who we are beneath the pressures of job, life and family. A tasty lunch of black bean soup and caesar salad and an all-too-short walk in the woods revived our bodies, and then the afternoon was ours to create as we wished.

There were tables of craft options set up in three different rooms, and the beads, paint and feathers looked very promising.

But another option was offered -- that of learning to make masks from found items outdoors -- and I chose that instead. And though I had realized over the course of the morning that I've been in a rather brown period lately, and am really missing color, I ended up making this almost completely brown mask.

Thinking about the mask this morning, I wonder if the browns in my life are not symbolic of the grounding that has been taking place in my life. Now, when I meditate, my feet are planted firmly on the floor. The pictures I've been taking have been stripped down to sepia, as I find the forms more intriguing than the color. Sitting in the morning portion of the workshop, I felt the balance of space and creativity in my life to be very comfortable for me.

And then, in church yesterday, our sermon was about New Year's Resolutions, and I realized that for the first time I hadn't made any. It wasn't that I didn't think about it. It was that the ones I would make would all be for paths I was already consciously traveling: losing weight, walking more, making time for study, contemplation, and creativity -- these have been resolutions for years, and now they are firmly part of my life.

But the sermon reminded me that all of those things are really steps to prepare me for a larger purpose. My browns are a sign of me watching my feet, stepping along in this path. And the longing for colors -- blues and teals, specifically -- is a reminder that it's time once again to look up and out; to see the sky, and its reflection in the water before me; to keep my eye on the larger goal.

And what might that be? The sermon suggested a possibility that resonates beautifully and fills me with hope: a quote from Micah, actually:

And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God?
(Micah 6:8)

Yes, we are on a path. But we are not alone. We have a job to do and a way to travel, and it's good to stay in touch with what's under foot, to stay grounded and aware. But let's not get too caught up in how good we are at following the signs along the way, but rather use the tools we are given to serve the larger good.

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