Friday, March 29, 2013

Painting Gurdjieff

I'm not certain this painting is finished.  It sort of feels like it is, but I'm worried that that's only because, with my back out, it hurts to paint, and it's hard for the usual creativity to flow through me.

So I'm just going to set it aside for now, let it be what it is.  And I've given myself permission to do that because I think the painting is somehow a symbolic representation of this passage in Jeanne de Salzman's book on Gurdjieff, The Reality of Being: The Fourth Way of Gurdjieff, which I read this morning:

"I need to understand that by myself, without a relation with something higher, I am nothing, I can do nothing.  By myself alone, I can only remain lost in this circle of interests, I have no quality that allows me to escape.  I can escape only if I feel my absolute nothingness and begin to feel the need for help.  I must feel the need to relate myself to something higher, to open to another quality."

Perspectives on failure

Yesterday evening we went in to Seattle (again! twice in one week!) to meet with the incoming president of Maine's Island Institute.  The Institute does some very impressive work building connections between the islands of Maine and helping them adapt to shifting economic and social currents; we've been supporting them for years now.  So it was exciting to see them reaching out to islanders in other parts of the country for the exchange of ideas and experiences.

... and of course I brought my camera with me: though my focus is mostly rural and waterfront scenes these days, the city provides a wealth of photographic opportunities -- and I always love photographing the unsual perspectives of the Seattle Library, one of Frank Gehry's more impressive contributions to our fair city.

It's curious.  One of the reasons it took me 60 years to put a brush to canvas is that, despite several courses I've taken, I've never been able to master the art of drawing perspective.  I love to photograph it, but my brain just doesn't seem to be able to reduce 3-dimensional subjects to a 2-dimensional drawing. It's a bit like my friend Janet, who never seems to be able to accurately estimate which of her many tupperware containers is the right size to contain the leftovers she wants to put away.  She's brilliant in every other respect; it's just this spatial piece that seems to be missing. 

We all have our little quirks and foibles, things that come easily to others but not to us.  I fully believe that we all have the same amount of brain power, it's just allocated differently.  Each of us has gifts and failings: the gifts, rightly used, can help others; the failings, lovingly accepted, keep us ever mindful that we are not perfect, and that we need the help of others to survive.  The problem comes, I think, when we cannot admit our weaknesses, and cannot bring ourselves to ask for help: I've seen a number of organizations fail because their leaders were unwilling or unable to admit their failings and delegate that work to others. 

For some reason we are often ashamed to admit our weaknesses -- something I've been struggling a lot lately.  I threw my back out coughing a couple of weeks ago, and haven't been able to do a lot of the household tasks that normally come easily to me.  But for some odd reason I can't seem to bring myself to ask my husband for help.  It's as if some part of me thinks my neediness will drive him away; that imperfection somehow equates to unloveableness.  So it's been an interesting opportunity to look more closely at a part of me that's usually hidden -- and to see how more than willing my husband is to help if I can just remember to ask.  We who have failings tend to forget that it can actually be a gift to others to ask for their help...

Thursday, March 28, 2013

When Spirit stands still

Renowned photographer Minor White is reputed to have said, "Spirit always stands still long enough for the photographer it has chosen."  Somehow, reading that this morning, I thought of this tree which I photographed in Seattle yesterday while my husband struggled with a parking meter.

I had taken one photo, but the lines and angles were all wrong, and so I was busily re-composing the shot while hoping the meter would keep him busy just a little longer, long enough to get the shot I wanted before we walked off to the restaurant.

Silly, really -- it's not like the light -- or even the subject -- is anything special.  It's not like any of the ingredients of this photo are going to move; if I were to come back a week later and photograph again, I doubt there would be any difference.  I could have photographed it after lunch as easily as before lunch.  But something in me was determined to capture this image at this time, and was really quite stubborn about its insistence.  And I've learned not to argue with that instinct, or even to try to reason with it; I just try to remember to pay attention and follow its directions as best I can.  Because when I do, for that moment, I am one with the camera, and the tree, with the colors and the buildings, and the slowly disintegrating wall.  And something in me soars with delight.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


This morning I awoke to find one of our neighbor's ruby-throated hummingbirds sipping from the rosemary bush in our garden. So beautiful! Such glorious color!  But of course, as soon as I reached for my camera, he flitted off to the apple tree next door and sat there, scolding me noisily for interfering with his breakfast.

Since the best I was able to do was capture his silhouette, I added a couple of other images to give this final piece a bit more life. But isn't it wonderful, to think that a silhouette can be so distinctive; that just the outline of his figure says hummingbird so clearly?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Beyond technology

So much of modern technology seems to be about building and maintaining connections -- with our families and friends, with businesses and opportunities, with advice and information, with sources and supplies...

And yet, despite all this connectivity, so many people still seem to feel cut off, isolated, and lonely; so many people still hunger for connection of a deeper sort, at a deeper level.

It's almost as if this complex web of connectivity we're weaving occupies so much of our time and consciousness that it's gradually coming to obscure that which lies beyond all earthly connections; as if we can no longer detect the majesty and mystery, the clouds that lie beyond our carefully constructed networks; as if "The Cloud..." has become a sort of technological biosphere, insulating us from what we crave most...

Monday, March 25, 2013

The critical voice

"Judging your work is one of the hardest challenges in the painting process," says Michele Cassou in her book, Life, Paint, and Passion. "It is the immediate reaction of a consciousness long bent on protecting itself, and is felt with such conviction that there seems to be no arguing with it.  A disheartening judgment is the last resort of a threatened self-image, and it can attack with the desperation of a cornered animal, endangering your openness and enthusiasm."

That voice of judgment seems much louder for me as a painter than it ever was for me as a photographer. But then, it was always more critical of me as a singer than as a pianist or bassoonist, too.  And I suspect, when it comes to singing and painting, that critical voice seems stronger because there's nothing else to blame: no instrument to go flat, no camera to malfunction.

The singer or painter is more exposed, more vulnerable. We stand or fall on our own merits: the outcome of our labors is a direct expression of one individual's passion and expertise (or lack thereof!). So it's not surprising that the temptation is strong to do a pre-emptive critical strike; to condemn your own work before anyone else does. 

Cassou doesn't want us to pay attention to that critical voice.  "The mind is a thief," she continues, "so whenever it tells you anything about your painting, remember who is talking."  But to me ... well, I actually LIKE that critical voice -- or at least, parts of it.  Because that's the voice that told me the first two things I painted on this canvas were (excuse the phrase) "butt-ugly" and I should try again.  And while part of the thrill of the whole painting process is this growing conviction that it's okay to paint "ugly stuff," there's more fun, and even more to be learned, in the process of redeeming the uglies, of working with what was and turning it into something more pleasing, like this.

I'm learning to really appreciate the fact that each painting, even if completely covered, contributes something to the one that follows, whether on the same canvas or on a new one. And what I'm finding is that the ability to turn something I don't like into something I DO like is enormously satisfying and encouraging.  So I actually want to listen to that critical voice, the one that says, "I don't like this but I DO like THAT."  Perhaps I just need to be certain that the voice I listen for is the one that comes from the heart, not the head...

Monday of Holy Week

When the river slows
with the weight of silt and corruption,
it grows sad and prays,
Lord, what you gave me,
I gave others.
Is there more?
Can you give more?
Clouds draw the water up
to become rain;
the ocean takes the river
back into itself.
What this means is
we often need to be refreshed.


Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Sun is Love

The sun is love. The lover,
a speck circling the sun.

A spring wind moves to dance
any branch that isn't dead.

  -- Rumi

Friday, March 22, 2013

The roots of guilt

I've been feeling a little guilty about thinking my paintings could have worth even though I've begun so late in life.  But this morning I read in a book on abstract paintings that there are four types of painting skills: technical skill (knowledge of materials and techniques), painterly skill (understanding of perspective, shading, color theory etc.), artistic skill (having a feeling for color, shape, composition etc.) and skill of expression, which is the ability to give expression to your own ideas and feelings... This has helped me to understand that, as a professional photographer who has taken lots of art courses over the years, I'm not all that new to this; it's mostly the technical skill that still needs work.

But that guilty feeling doesn't necessarily submit to rationality.  I mean, I feel a little guilty airing this photo, as well -- because the zebra in the picture is stuffed, not live.  So what drives guilt?  For me it seems to be deeply entangled with a fear of lying.  But is it a lie to publish a photo of a dead zebra? Is it a lie to assign monetary value to a painting when I've only just begun to paint?  I suspect the root of much unnecessary guilt has less to do with lying and more to do with a feeling of unworthiness:  I don't deserve appreciation because I didn't work hard enough to earn it.

... which translates perfectly into the arena of spirituality, or at least, into Christian spirituality.  No matter how much I tell myself God loves all created beings, that old protestant faith vs. works thing kicks in, the whole original sin thing, the whole (to quote the Anglican Prayerbook) "we are not worthy to so as much gather up the crumbs under thy table" thing.  I may be moving beyond that understanding at an intellectual level.  But the heart still has a long way to go... 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A message of hope

And now, after reading about what happens when we empty out all those accomplishments and memories, I understand better why this one began painting itself yesterday as soon as the ugly fragmented one was finished.

A message of hope, I think... same colors, but a very different feel.

The emptiness of perceived fullness

I had no idea where this painting was going; I only knew it wasn't yet completed.  But I realized this morning, reading an article on John of the Cross in preparation for an upcoming retreat, that the bizarre impulse I had yesterday to outline all those little pieces in this figure was an important -- if temporary -- prompting of the spirit.

"For John of the Cross the human person is seen as an infinite capacity for God.  As long as one is preoccupied with filling the great caverns of the mind, heart, memory and imagination with human knowledge, loves, memories and dreams...the person is unable to feel or even imagine the vast hollowness one is. 

Only when one becomes aware of the illusory and limiting character of this fullness in the face of the breakdown of what/whom we have staked our lives on, the limitations of our life project and relationships, the irruption of our unclaimed memories, and the shattering of our dreams and meanings, can the depths of hunger and thirst that exit in the human person, the infinite capacity, really be experienced.  

Only when the great cavern of memory is enfeebled by its obsession with the past, debilitated by its unforgettable suffering over losses and evil inflicted, limited by its inability to come to terms with a complex world, constricted by its need to organize images or to understand and unsay inherited constructs, can the great void of yearning for God really be admitted." (Constance Fitzgerald, "From Impasse to Prophetic Hope: Crisis of Memory," CTSA proceedings 64 (2009)

Seen in this light, all the losses I've experienced over the last 15 years, the loss of all the pieces of me that I thought I was merrily carrying down what seemed to be an obvious path, become a dismantling, a necessary emptying of useless fragments of identity in order to make way for the in-pouring of God and spirit... Hmm.  Ever practical, I find myself wondering whether that in-pouring will happen on this painting, or whether this painting is done, and needs to serve as a reminder of the emptiness of perceived fullness. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Leave something in the marketplace

O boy, 
what a mess love makes of me.
But there is nothing else right now
I would rather be doing
than reaping something
from a field in another dimension
and leaving it in the marketplace
for any who might happen by.

Leave something 
in the marketplace for us
before you leave this world.

-- Hafiz

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The New Zealand Lord's Prayer

Last night as I was signing off my computer my husband mentioned that there had been a 6.1 earthquake. "Where?" I asked. "South Sandwich Islands," he said, "off the coast of Antarctica."  So of course, when I woke up this morning, visions of melting polar ice caps and global warming filled my head, and it became impossible to go back to sleep. He was downstairs eating breakfast, and when he came back to the room he laughed at my fears. "Maybe by the end of this century," he said. "Not to worry."

Easier said than done... But what came to me at that point was this wonderful version of the Lord's Prayer from the New Zealand Prayerbook. So I thought I'd illustrate it with this painting that came to me last week:

Eternal Spirit,
Earth-maker, Pain bearer, Life-giver,
Source of all that is and that shall be,
Father and Mother of us all,
Loving God, in whom is heaven:
The hallowing of your name echo through the universe!
The way of your justice be followed by the peoples of the world!
With the bread we need for today, feed us.
In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us. 

Your heavenly will be done by all created beings!
Your commonwealth of peace and freedom sustain our hope and come on earth! 

In times of temptation and test, strengthen us.
From trials too great to endure, spare us.
From the grip of all that is evil, free us.
For you reign in the glory of the power that is love, now and forever.

Monday, March 18, 2013

What makes the heart leap

This is not a beautiful lagoon.  It's messy, ill-kempt, and very likely polluted.  Nor is this a perfect photo.  It's never a good idea to have an image divided in half; 1/3 to 2/3 is generally a much better proportion to follow.  The tops of the trees are almost completely washed out.  It's a very busy picture, and there are those branches popping in from the upper right that really shouldn't be there.

... none of which changes the fact that I like this image.  I like it every time I see it in my files, but I actually don't think I've ever published it, for all the reasons listed above; it just breaks too many rules.  But I'm beginning to listen to what I've understood intellectually for some time now: it's really not about the rules, it's about the response -- and I know, that's really a "I don't know much about art, but I know what I like" sort of sentiment.

But I just had my first sale of a painting this week: someone saw one of my images on the net and responded to it so deeply that she just had to have it.  Which thrilled me -- not so much because she actually bought something of mine, but because she responded to it as deeply as I did (it was the first painting I did that actually made my heart leap when it was done.)

Having been raised in the Christian tradition, I've heard a lot of discussions over the years about discernment, about that mystical kind of knowing we get when something seems to be "of God."  Plus I've read those wonderful novels by Susan Howatch, which make it so clear how easy it is (and we've all seen this through the years) to confuse the ego's voice of longing with the voice of God -- something that's become increasingly obvious in the political arena as well.

So how can we know the voice of the spirit from the voice of ego?  I don't have an answer to that question -- certainly not an answer that works for everyone.  And if there WERE an easy, obvious answer, I think the world would probably be a MUCH nicer place than it is.  But for me, the one thing that feels most like spirit talking is that little leap of the heart you get sometimes, when things just feel... right. 

So it should have come as no surprise to me that when I found an artist on the web (Madeline Denaro) whose work I just ADORED, it turned out that she is a student of the Fourth Way of Gurdjieff and mystical/esoteric Christianity.  Yet another indicator that how we spend our time directly influences who we are and what we produce. 

So how will you spend your time today -- and what will you be studying?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

It's here, it's there, it's everywhere!

Garrison Keillor used to have a wonderful saying: "To an English major, everything is material."  No matter how mundane or bizarre the events in our lives, some piece of the writer is always set slightly apart, wondering what in this moment might contribute to a story.

The photographer's equivalent is an exercise I first discovered in Freeman Patterson's photography classic, Photography and the Art of Seeing.  The student is given a wire hoop, made of a coat hanger bent into a circle, and told to toss it into the air.  The space it then encloses when it lands becomes each student's area for studying nature and making photographs. Which implies, of course, that for the artist subject matter can be found absolutely anywhere, even in this view of the street from a balcony in Jersey City.

So if the person who seeks stories can find them anywhere, and the person who seeks art can find it anywhere, wouldn't it also be true that the person who seeks the spiritual can find it anywhere as well?  I'm just sayin...

Saturday, March 16, 2013

An optimistic thought

One of the truly wonderful things about acrylic painting is that you get do-overs.  Paint something you don't like? Paint over it! 

This one began as something totally derivative, and when I took it in on a whim to be sure my instincts were correct, my gallery friend assured me it was NOT me.  "Paint over it," he said, "Paint over it."

And so I did.  And though there are bits, here and there, of what went before, it's really a VERY different painting  -- and much more mine.

I know that there's this saying -- in life, there are no do-overs; that we never get the chance to repeat a single moment in time.  But, watching this painting evolve, I find myself wondering, if we step back and take the larger view, if ALL of life is a do-over -- endless opportunities, in similar situations, to bring more of ourselves to the moment, to bring our own unique stamp to things, to bring more color and beauty and thought and creativity into the world in ever-evolving ways.  Perhaps I should call this one "Optimism"...

Friday, March 15, 2013

Silver and gold

Though my enthusiasm for the camera has waned significantly over the winter, at the first hint of a sunny day I find myself running for it.  It's not like I haven't seen this before, the sunrise igniting the houses across the lagoon against a dark sky, but each time the beauty of it stops me in my tracks. 

It's possible that the urge to paint, like so many other bursts of creativity in winters past, is merely an attempt to keep engaging with that spirit during the dark season when the light that fuels so much of my photography is gone; that the need to spend time with canvas and brushes will pass with the gray skies and rain.

I hope not -- now that the paintings are starting to find acceptance I hope they will continue to flow.  But it is reassuring to take up the camera again -- and now there's a song twinkling in my head: "Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold."  Must be that golden light singing to me...

Thursday, March 14, 2013

From surrender to serenity...

I'm feeling that delicious blend of nervous and excited this morning: I am taking paintings in this afternoon, for the first time, to the gallery that's been showing my photos for the last ten years. 

It's for an upcoming exhibit, entitled "Setting Sail: Artists at Sea," which is certainly a broad enough theme to encompass the anxiety of a newly emerging painter.  But of course I'm also bringing in samples of a whole bunch of boat and water related photographs and photo collages, including this one, which I don't even remember creating...

But it's a delightful representation of the mixed emotions I'm feeling about this whole adventure -- the terrifying powerlessness of being swept over the falls and yet the utter serenity of the cormorant drying its wings.  And perhaps it's a good analogy for the spiritual life, as well: the sense of surrender to some larger force, and yet the calm center that arises within us over time as a result of that surrender...

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The radiance of the surmountable

I've been enjoying a delightfully laid back time with our daughter this morning.  She's back from two months in Australia with stories to tell and gifts to share, a glorious picture of radiant health and confidence, delighted to be back in the cool grey Northwest after the heat and humidity of Sydney.

We know, when we send our children off into the world, that there will be challenges; it is, of course, our hope that meeting those challenges will give them a greater awareness of their own native strength and courage (and I'm so grateful it worked out that way for her).

So doesn't it make sense that our own challenges are meant to give us that same kind of awareness?  Whatever we're facing, whatever difficulty is consuming us at the moment -- can we take that parental step back, out of time and into the big picture, and see the radiance it will engender within us when we finally overcome?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tethered to reality

We are, each of us, so tethered to the reality of each moment; our perceptions so colored by whatever struggles loom largest at the time. And so I look at this image, and the way those lines feed in to the right side of it, and do I think broad, noble, curious thoughts, wondering whether those lines are holding up the earth, or imagining myself as a kite, skipping bravely along the air currents while anchored, safely grounded to the earth?

No.  I think about how tired I am, after a week of coughing; how limited every activity, every breath is, by the threat of another coughing fit; how the very air I breathe feels fogged... 

At times like these I'm thankful for the Buddhist practice of Tonglen, as a way of finding in my own reality a vehicle to compassion.  When the breath in is a struggle, I think of all those who struggle to breathe, because of illness, or pollution, or fear.  And with each out breath -- those seem to come more easily -- I breathe that ease into those other troubled lives, and recite quietly to myself, "This, too, shall pass, and all shall be well.  This, too, shall pass, and all shall be well."

Monday, March 11, 2013

Dance me through the moon

When I see you and how you are,
I close my eyes to the other.
For your Solomon's seal 
I become wax throughout my body.
I wait to be light.
I give up opinions on all matters.
I become the reed flute
for your breath...

The universe and the light of the stars
come through me.

I am the crescent moon,
put up over the gate
to the festival.


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Becoming what we see

This image is a digital collage of four different photos -- a storefront in Capri, a statue in Fort Worth, a curious decoupage bust found in our Fort Worth Hotel, and another  sort of impressionist piece I created last year. 

I suspect it emerged in response to all the postings on Facebook about International Women's Day (Friday, March 8th) and the Violence Against Women Act. Which is to say -- whatever we allow to pass before our eyes leaves a trace; a seed, even, that, left to its own, will sprout in dreams, or in creativity...

My husband, I suspect, always thought I was foolish to monitor my children's television watching so closely.  We actually abandoned the television for several years during their childhood, and I've never regretted that -- partly because they learned, during those years, to entertain themselves.  But mostly because I still believe the violence we watch on TV can't help but influence us.  Perhaps it is the role of the artist to show us how deeply what we see can influence who we are, how we feel, and who our children become?

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Seeking balance

When you live as close to the water as we do, you see lots of different types of watercraft over the course of a year.  So when this young lady propelled herself past my living room window the other day,  I wasn't struck so much by the novelty of her craft as by the incredible balance required to make it work.  Though I'm not quite old enough yet to be terribly unsteady on my feet, I definitely lost some sense of balance with the onset of trifocals, and so I would no longer consider tackling this particular mode of transportation.

But there are other sorts of balance that do seem to improve with age and experience.  There's the balance that sits apart from judgment, the sort that assumes that whatever you've done or seen or said, there might be another side to the story. And there's equanimity, the sort of balance that modulates emotional response, or engagement -- the balance between highs and lows, the sort that understands the wheel is always going round and circumstances are always changing.

As an artist, I do still struggle with both of those, particularly the second.  But I do believe I've grown better at it with age.  And I know that the ongoing struggle to achieve balance also fuels my creativity, and finds expression there as well.  But now I wonder -- knowing my husband's strong sense of balance at both the physical and emotional levels -- if by working on one, we might conceivably strengthen the other?

Friday, March 8, 2013

Waiting for daybreak

"An old Hasidic rabbi once asked his pupils how they could tell exactly when the night had ended and the day begun. 

'Is it when you can see an animal in the distance and tell whether it is a sheep or a dog?' one student proposed. 

'No,' answered the rabbi.  

'Is it when you can clearly see the lines on your own palm?' another asked. ' Is it when you can look at a tree in the distance and tell if it is a fig or a pear tree?'  

'No,' answered the rabbi each time.  

'Then, what is it?' the pupils demanded.  

'It is when you can look on the face of any man or woman and see that they are your sister or brother.  Until then it is still night.' "

Jack Kornfeld, Bringing Home the Dharma

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Begotten, not made

Good photos mostly seem to arrive from some place other than my own head, my own limited imagination. More often than not I click the shutter in response to something outside myself -- which has actually been helping me to understand the concept behind "begotten, not made."  Painting seems to work the same way: I never know where a painting is going until it gets there, and the more I plan, the longer it takes to undo the planning and get to where it's supposed to go.

And so I watch, and wait; step back and look; try to respond to the evolving masses of color; try to add what feels right for me without stressing out too much about what's correct practice or good or sale-worthy, and without becoming too entangled in my shoulds, or in old patterns.

Painting is a lot like meditation; it requires a mix of concentration and openness.  And what I'm finding is that every picture stretches me beyond my comfort zone. (It's a bit like raising children...)  But, more importantly, every picture has a story it wants to tell; my job is simply to find the elements of that story and create space for them on the canvas.  Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn't.  But it's been a great opportunity to learn, once again and in a new way, that it's the journey, not the arrival, that matters.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Beauty that cannot be spoken

I'm never quite certain why it is that things catch my eye, but I just had to photograph this reflective column in the Newark airport. I've stretched it out (unpeeled it) so that the individual elements of reflection can be revealed.

It has a sort of "beam me up, Scottie" feel to it, I see now. But I think what I like about it is the transitory, mystical quality it gives to everything except the ceiling; a perfect illustration of this Rumi poem:

The open sky drinks from their circling cup.
The sun wears the gold of their generosity.
When two of them meet,
they are no longer two.
They are one, and six hundred thousand...

Friends, we are traveling together.
Throw off your tiredness.
Let me show you one tiny spot 
of the beauty that cannot be spoken...

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Like so many petals

So many different petals,
into a single flower;
so many different kinds of flowers,
joining voices
in a single hymn to joy.

See how we, too,
despite our differences,
have been woven together
into a single
reflecting the light
that shined us into being.

Monday, March 4, 2013

From death to life again

This is a very tiny piece of the view from my brother-in-law's apartment in Jersey City.  We were there for the weekend to celebrate the wedding of his daughter, our niece, to a delightful Australian man (the wedding itself had happened in Australia in January).

It was a lovely weekend, with some predictably touching moments (plus the usual amusing ones that happen when large families gather) and lots of opportunities to see what the world is like beyond my narrow field of view.

Some of it is lush and beautiful like this, but lots more is harsh and abandoned; many of the stores I remember from earlier visits are now empty and boarded up.  On the other hand, I'm certain that where these buildings now stand was once a desert of warehouses and hoboes and homeless people. 

What do we do with this understanding we have -- that some things inevitably decay, and much of what has fallen rises again in new form?  These are questions we are meant to be exploring during this season of Lent, I believe: it's good to notice what seems to be falling away -- and our resistance to that.  Good, also, to remind ourselves that many things fresh and new have been built precisely because of what has fallen away.   And -- having written that -- I find myself thinking about the Pope's retirement.  What, I wonder, will be born out of that loss?

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The soul wants to love

Look how the Creator
in the form of a mother or father
can then love the created, a child,
even more than themselves.

Look at the salvation and purpose
a person can find
in that devotion of caring.

A day is too great a force to bear 
without the heart open.

Time will slay your body
no matter what,
but with love,
the impetus of your final movements
will make eloquent your demise.

Could God care for the created
more than He cares for Himself?
The soul, and I think any being,
really wants to love, 
more than be loved.

  -- Hafiz

Saturday, March 2, 2013

At night I ask the moon

At night,
I open the window
and ask the moon
to come and press
its face against mine.
Breathe into me.
Close the language door
and open
the love window.

The moon won't use the door,
only the window.

  -- Rumi

Friday, March 1, 2013

The ocean of nonexistence

You have heard
of the ocean of nonexistence.
Try continually
to give yourself to that ocean.

Every workshop
has its foundations
set on that emptiness.

The master of all masters
works with nothing.
The more such nothing
comes into your work,
the more the presence will be there.

-- Rumi