Saturday, February 6, 2010

A Work in Progress -- Again

"When you give birth to that which is within yourself, what you bring forth will save you. If you possess nothing within, that absence will destroy you."
-- The Gospel of Thomas, Logion 70

Yesterday my husband and I paid a visit to the Collective Visions Gallery, to see the Third Annual Washington State Juried Art Competition (into which the photo you see here had been accepted). The work displayed in this exhibit is phenomenal, and, frankly, I think I was amazingly lucky to get in: my husband and I both agreed that mine was one of the least impressive entries in the show. And interestingly enough (every visitor gets to vote for their favorite piece) each of us voted for a photograph, despite the fact that there were works in lots of other media.

So what made those photographs special? Though the subjects were appealing, they weren't things I hadn't shot myself at one time or another. What gave each of them impact was the presentation: the size, the shape, the section of image chosen, and the way it was mounted. They had authority, an assurance to them, that was impressive. These photographers believed in their work.

My image, on the other hand, though I do like it, was presented in a very ordinary traditional way, inexpensively matted and framed, and its story got lost in the telling of it; sort of died, stillborn. So while I sat in meditation this morning, I found myself wrestling with this issue: what -- of all the things I do -- should I actually be investing myself in, pursuing whole-heartedly? What was I born to do, and why do I feel I'm not living into that potential?

So then I came to my computer and found the Thomas Logion above was my lesson for today. It seemed amazingly appropriate. And the meditation I had written for that Thomas logion went like this:

Initially, upon reading this meditation, I felt reassured. Yes, I thought, this creative spirit is still tunneling through, trying desperately to emerge into the light; it's just not there yet -- and that's okay. I liked thinking that "Observer aches with me and sees...a pattern of delight."

But then I thought about an email conversation I had yesterday with David Ord, of Namaste Press, whose blog, Compassionate Eye, I have been reading lately. We were talking about all the misunderstandings that get perpetrated when we persist in believing God is Other; some remote being in the sky, and David mentioned his book, Your Forgotten Self.

When I went to read about the book I saw that his premise was this: "If you are a follower of Jesus, you have a glorious hope. You expect, someday, to be like Jesus—to be the loving, joyful, peaceful person you see in him. In the meantime, along with millions who hold this hope, you live with feelings of inadequacy, if not defeat, in the present. What, then, of Jesus' promise that we can experience a magnificent life here and now? What about the "peace that passes understanding" and "joy unspeakable" he promised us in our everyday lives?

Your Forgotten Self asserts that if you see Jesus as different from yourself, you have no hope of enjoying the fulfilling life he lived. It argues that, instead of being fundamentally different from us, Jesus was the embodiment of the essence of our humanity. In the view of Jesus' early followers, to be a believer is to see yourself as Jesus saw himself. To have faith is to become aware that you have already been "raised up" with Christ into a state of divine consciousness, and are at this moment blessed with "every spiritual blessing" the kingdom of heaven affords.

Your Forgotten Self invites you to see yourself with new eyes. When this happens, the power of the Christ floods into your everyday circumstances. You experience life as Jesus experienced it. You begin to live as Jesus in the present moment.

Letting that sink in for a bit, I begin to see that the meditation above actually operates out of the old worldview, that Observer is something separate and above. And, seeing that, I could begin to see that what is being birthed in me, in you, in each of us, is not some creative gift that needs to emerge and be displayed, but rather an understanding and appreciation of Who we really are; that Divine is not something other, but that it is us.

Once we have that understanding rooted in us, we can bring our gifts into the world with confidence and assurance, knowing Who we were born to be. Looking at my image in that show, and, later, watching the DVD of my performance in Peter Pan, I could see that, for all my bravado and faith, there is still something in me that doesn't believe, that holds back -- nay, SHRINKS back, in fear.

And what, I wonder, will it take to nurture that spirit into the light?

It's all part of the journey, I think: I keep being reminded of that Corinthians passage: "For now we see in a mirror, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know fully even as also I was fully known."

I want to live in THEN. But living in then is really about living in NOW. And there's some part of me that seems to be having a sort of mid-life crisis, and worries that I won't live long enough to get to "then", that I will never fully realize that creative spirit that's being birthed in me BECAUSE IT'S TAKING SO LONG to get to NOW.


Clearly I had to rewrite the meditation. So I went to my image files, and what jumped out at me was a photograph of some graffiti found on a bunker wall on the south end of our island -- fabulous bright colors -- with the word NATIVE scrawled across it in black. Aha! I thought; what we're talking about here is nativity. And so I rewrote the meditation, with the result you see here.

And now to REALIZE that!

In the meantime, since I clearly can't THINK my way into presence, I'll have to trust that -- as David said to me yesterday, "When we stop trying, it happens."


Maureen said...

What a wonderful conversation you had with David Ord. He gave you a wonderful blessing in the words he shared with you. And in sharing, you bestowed that blessing in turn on us.

Do you know David Richo's book "Being True to Life: Poetic Paths to Personal Growth"? I'm reading it, and enjoying the insights. Another good book is Kim Rosen's "Saved by a Poem".

May you look on yourself with a (more) compassionate eye.

Congratulations on being selected for the art show. Think how your post about it might read differently now in light of Ord's words. Keep moving in the liberating direction.

M.L. Gallagher said...

Dear Diane,

I love the power in your words, the honesty in your thoughts laid bare upon the screen.

Some time ago I was thinking about my 'nativity' and the family story surrounding it. It didn't sit well with me. Didn't ease my heart nor create a feeling of joy. And so, I created a nativity story I wanted, one that released my angst and set me free to live joyously in all my being, being who I am meant to be.

From my re-invisioned nativity, I created my spiritual belief statement: I am a Child of God, a Divine expression of amazing grace, living in the rapture of now, being my creative expression of all the wonder in the world.

Thank you again for sharing your journey and illuminating my path with your light.


This post is so full, so from your heart into mine. I agree with ML about your ability through "the honesty in your thoughts laid bare upon the screen" to reach places in me that are important - some realistic and some totally unrealistic expectations that I have for myself. I still tend toward the totally unrealistic as I try to overcome my logic with possibility. Thanks for stretching my mind this a.m. You write beautifully - a dynamic of inspiration alongside your photography!