I did not go into a church today, but I worshiped nonetheless. I worshiped with my hands in bread dough. I scraped tiles and washed dishes in the spirit of Francis of Assisi. I communed with Spirit sitting outside in January sunshine. I rejoiced as I tasted the fresh bread, breaking it with my daughter. I danced, and sang (some praise songs, some pop songs. Even ‘Never On Sunday’…) I was in gratitude, and release, and rest.
This digital collage was inspired by an old technique used by art therapists, where they ask their client to ‘draw a house, a tree, a person’ – an updated version asks us to draw a house, tree, water, animal, sun and moon.
The client is then gently led to look at her particular interpretation of each object and how they relate; for example, a house – in dreams, in therapeutic imagery, and in metaphor and symbol – is almost always a person’s perception of self; it embodies selfness and personal identity, quite understandably.
Conscious of this particular interpretation, but not the other requested symbols, I chose to create a digital image first and look at the ‘meanings’ later…a sort of self-administered Rorschach, I suppose. (Footnote: The wolf, by the way, is the mother wolf who raises Mowgli, in Kipling’s Jungle Book…) Be gentle; this is authentic stuff here, even if the details are shaded over. Try it for yourself, in a few days when the details are fuzzier, perhaps: house, tree, water, animal, sun and moon. What comes out of your drawing or your collage?
A quote from Anne of Green Gables, by the eponymous Anne herself, about the future.
I haven’t done an honest-to-goodness digital painting for a while, and this was just a quick sketch to illustrate the idea – fun but tiring!
‘Once upon a time….”
We all love to tell and hear stories. In fact, we want to make everything into a story, something advertisers capitalize on. But often we get trapped by our own stories, when we weave a fact, a happening, an event, into a narrative. You get a poor mark on a math test and you create the story that you are not good at math, for example. Or your husband is snappy over dinner and you tell yourself that’s because the food must have been awful and you’re a bad cook and… And there goes our story, running away with us. We can write negative stories, and often do… but we can also write positive stories, and they’ll turn out much more ‘happily ever after’.
Here’s a simple story I told myself today, in the car coming home. I was hearing “He’s not talking to me. I must be a boring conversationalist. I said something wrong, didn’t I? ….” and the negative film was all ready to keep playing. I deliberately pressed the Stop button in my head and sat back and looked at the frozen screen behind my eyes.
In fact, I’d said nothing offensive. The conversation had come to a natural stop. He was tired after a long day of work, he was concentrating on driving in rush hour traffic, and we’d just had a pleasant time together out at a bookstore with our daughter. I started up another story instead, and this is what it told me.
“You had a good time. You are smart and witty, and the two of you were laughing only a few minutes ago. You are kind and patient, and you handled that bit with your girl responsibly and pleasantly. He is tired but he’s doing his best to get us home safely. Let’s think about what we can make for dinner when we do get home. You’re a good cook; I’m sure you’ll think of something….” A smile seemed to form on my face without me willing it, and my heartbeat slowed and I settled back in the care seat with a much better sense of restfulness and calm for the rest of the ride home.
It was a very short little story. But it really made a difference in my mood, and I was able to make a difference with my family when we all got home. I chose to light a candle instead of cursing the darkness, as the proverb goes. Why not try your hand at script rewriting? What could you tell yourself the next time you hear negative self-talk and what could you write in, instead?
My ‘word’ – actually my phrase – for 2014 chose me, with subtle knockings and loud poundings, in repeated and rephrased sentences, in significant places and the most unexpected ways, on Facebook and in novels, counselling textbooks, emails, and more. Here, my art journal with only a few of the collected ways in which ‘step by step’ showed up for me. I need to pace myself and remember that every little bit is enough, every action, every step – as long as I’m still heading in the right direction.
Do you have an elephant of ‘things to do’, to be, to accomplish, to overcome, on your 2014 plate? Why not try eating it one bite at a time this year? Come along on the journey, step by step.
A comprehensive blessing for you, on New Year’s Day, January 1, 2014
“Cover me all in all with my five senses,
and with the ten doors formed (for me),
so that, from my soles to the top of the head,
in no member, without within, may I be sick;
that, from my body, life be not cast out
by plague, fever, weakness, suffering,
Until, with the gift of old age from God,
I blot out my sins with good works;
And, in departing from the flesh, be free from stain,
and be able to fly to the heights,
and, by the mercy of God, be borne in joy
to the heavenly cool retreats of His kingdom.”
The Gildas Lorica (Breastplace/Protection Prayer of Gildas), 1899
(please note – this is only the very end of a long litany which quite specifically prays protection over every bodily part from the iris of the eye to the navel, and not overlooking one’s liver, bladder, nerves, or shins! It’s worth reading the full thing at http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/gildas_08_lorica.htm. May your body be blessed and protected this new year.