Things are starting to happen in the garden, the dogwood tree is in bloom, the pansies are smiling from the front steps, the peonies are preparing to burst and the honeysuckle buds are peeking from between the leaves. I also caught sight of a spider on its beautifully formed web, waiting for the unsuspecting aphid (?) amidst the double knock out rose bush.
Happy Mother’s Day to all moms everywhere.
This ancient looking wisteria embraces the main house at Van Vleck Gardens in Montclair, NJ and I believe it will be blooming in a few short weeks. Strolling elsewhere on the grounds there are a number of little niches where one can sit, both in and out of the sunshine.You may find yourself on a grassy walkway with several stone sculptures from which emerges the shadow of a meditating buddha when the angle of the sun is at just the right position. Installation by artist Mac Adams.I’ll post more photos of Van Vleck Gardens once the wisteria is in bloom.
“Reading [life] backward means that growth is less the key biographical term than form, and that development only makes sense when it reveals a facet of the original image.”“…the innate image of your fate holds all in the copresence of today, yesterday , and tomorrow. Your person is not a process or a development. You are that essential image that develops, if it does. As Picasso said, I don’t develop; I am.““We dull our lives by the way we conceive them. We have stopped imagining them with any sort of romance, any fictional flair….[rather, we could dare] to envision biography in terms of very large ideas such as beauty, mystery and myth.”I accidentally (on purpose?) came across a copy of The Soul’s Code by James Hillman. He opens by discussing the Platonian myth that each soul, before birth selects its unique circumstances which best fit its life’s purpose, or “necessity.” I don’t wish to affront anyone’s religious beliefs, I simply think that this myth or notion is worth a ponder, some reflection, a moment of thought. Personal myth, or the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves hold a great deal of power. Plato may have been onto something…
Wishing you a week of envisioning your life in the context of those large ideas of beauty, mystery and myth.
Quotes from The Soul’s Code, In Search of Character and Calling, by James Hillman, further images from my personal mandala journal. You can read an intriguing interview with Hillman on photographer and journalist Scott London‘s website by clicking here.
I recently had the privilege of facilitating an Open Studio Process for the local Mental Health Association. We utilized the three step process of first setting an intention, followed by a period of sustained art making, then witness writing and sharing. Our materials were blank boxes and all kinds of collage materials. I worked alongside everybody and offered gentle support throughout the process. Images are from my collaged box. View of outside lid above, inside view below. We first warmed up with questions like : If you were a fabric, what would you be? If you were a taste, or a food, what would that be? If you were a sound, which sound would you be? If you were a smell, what would you be? Participants had the opportunity to jot down these answers privately, just to stretch the imagination a bit.
Art making is such a physical activity. The intention of the warm up was to encourage participants to pay close attention to their sensory experiences of life, to be aware of their bodies as vehicles of experience and to get in touch with various expressions of their inner essence.
During the artmaking portion, participants were invited to explore the materials without any concern for outcome. Different materials were placed about on several tables. They were encouraged to freely move about the room, to touch the various papers, textiles, fibers and items (feathers were a big hit) and to note the different textures, sensations and to claim the which ones appeal to them. All were reassured that it was okay to rip, cut, glue, tie, twist, smooth and crumple – simply be at liberty to play. There are no mistakes, no such thing as a wrong decision here, no such thing as a bad mark.
Lots of magazines were provided to browse through and participants were invited to choose any images that resonated with them. Having images to choose from releases you from the pressure to generate your own image, which may be intimidating. Although the images already exist, the way you choose to combine them imparts them with your own unique stamp of creativity.
We had only about 35 minutes to work, but everyone dug in with some mild encouragement and the results were astounding. I am continually humbled by the richness of creativity in each person, once the individual allows herself to access it. Creativity is a human birthright and bypasses no one, even the one who emphatically protests : “I’m not creative!”
I was enriched by the wisdom of each person as she spoke about her own individual box and process. The ground rule of active listening with no comments created a safe and respectful space for sharing. I once again experienced the power of metaphor and learned from each participant’s story. The room was full of truth and I left a better person for it.
Discover more about the Open Studio Process by exploring Pat B. Allen’s website. You will find warm up exercises and other great ideas for art making and accessing creativity in Spirituality and Art Therapy, Living the Connection, edited by Mimi Farrelly-Hansen. Highly recommended.
As she sleeps, the girl has further visitations. The foxes’ eyes grow bright and intent. They sit, look and wait. First comes the spider, on glittering legs that softly click. In the girl’s vision, he stands above her, gently swaying on eight jeweled legs.
“Did you forget what I told you? I spin my web out of myself, my very being, I spin in faith and wait. A clumsy animal passing by rips to shreds my weaving. I spin again and wait. My existence is one of letting go, of casting out the threads, in faith that all I need will come to me. And in time it does.
“What we choose to fight is so tiny!
What fights us is so great!
If only we would let ourselves be dominated as things do by some immense storm
we would become strong too, and not need names.
When we win it’s with small things,
and the triumph itself makes us small.
What is extraordinary and eternal
does not want to be bent by us.
I mean the Angel who appeared
to the wrestler’s sinews
grew long like metal strings
he felt them under his fingers
like chords of deep music.
Whoever was beaten by this Angel
(who often simply declined the fight)
went away proud and strengthened
and great from that harsh hand,
that kneaded him as if to change his shape.
Winning does not tempt that man.
That is how he grows: By being defeated, decisively,
by constantly greater beings. “
Excerpt from The Man Watching by Rainer Maria Rilke
The girl falls down, fainting in the snow and her breathing becomes shallow. The foxes rush to the girl and surround her like a living nest of orange fur, beating hearts and warm animal breath. Slowly the girl’s own warmth is returning, the fox hearts are filling her with energy. At the same time, they open their mouths and blow a living wind that surrounds the girl.
The snow on the ground begins to melt, revealing deep red clay of the mother earth. Underneath, the moist mud nourishes. The girl is breathing now, long, deep steady breaths but her eyes remain closed. The foxes stand by, alert guardians as she rests. In the distance, comes the dawn.Carl Jung wrote that dreams are messengers from our unconscious mind. From Man and His Symbols:
” Man, as we realize if we reflect for a moment, never perceives anything fully or comprehends anything completely…No matter what instruments he uses, at some point he reaches the edge of certainty beyond which conscious knowledge cannot pass.” (p.4)
” As a general rule, the unconscious aspect of any event is revealed to us in dreams, where it appears, not as a rational thought but as a symbolic image.” (p.5)
The above drawing represents page two from my mandala journal as I process a dream which I believe is assisting me in dealing with the multiple losses of my mother, father and sister . Page one can be found here. I am working from the base of a very vivid dream I had on Easter, following my intuition and using my imagination to carry the story forward through words and images. I will continue to post as my comfort level permits.