Category Archives: acts of grace

My Mother’s Prayers

My Mother’s Iris At The Altar – Mixed media on book page.

My mother prayed. A lot. No matter the time of day, situation, pressing need, she would pray.

After she passed away, my sisters and I sorted through her belongings and came across the leather pouch where she stored her many prayer cards.

None of us knew what to do with them so I took them, thinking I’d eventually use them in an art piece.

That time has come.

On Tuesday, I started a mixed media online course with Orly Avineri. Orly is my kind of creative force. Free-flowing. No ‘steps’. Just you, the muse, your intuition. And the courage to take risks.

The first exercise includes an invitation to use whatever papers are on hand, affix them to a page and create.

My mind immediately leapt to my mother’s prayer cards. This would be a good home for them. Not just on the first page, but on every page I create in this art journal.

In this case, the journal is an old book I found in a box that I’m willing to release to the creative forces. It is part of a set of three I’ve had for years. Unique to this one is the way the inside pages are inserted. They are all upside down.

A book with upside-down pages seemed appropriate at this time. The world right now feels a little topsy-turvy. Like everything we once knew, relied on, took for granted is no longer so dependable. So known. So inevitable.

There are no mistakes.

Working on this art journal, “My Mother’s Prayers” is stirring up my thoughts and feelings and memories of my Catholic upbringing, my mother’s prayers and her unshakable faith and our relationships. It is giving me pause to look at it all through different glasses, angles, lenses, perspectives. Upside down included.

Yesterday, I completed my third 2-page spread in the book. As with the previous two, this spread also includes a couple of the cards from mom’s collection.

As I created the page using flowers from the garden that were at the end of their life-cycle, my mind swept back to childhood days when my sister and I would help mom with the flowers in church on Saturdays.

I go back to this memory a lot. As if somehwere in that sacred space I might somehow find the key to where my mother’s and my relationship went off the rails.

Because it was. For much of our life together, not a very well functioning relationship.

In one of Orly’s videos for the course, she talks about how it’s important to live within the gifts, not the trauma of the past.

There were many, many gifts that came through my relationship with my mother. It helped forge the backbone of who I am today and who I am as a mother, an artist, a woman, a human being.

In her final years, the tensions between us eased. In her passing, they fade away leaving behind only Love and memories of the sacred moments of grace we shared.

The gifts in those moments are what fill me up today. They give me peace, hope, faith, Love.

Perhaps, one of its gifts is also in the surrendering of any guilt I may be unknowingly carrying from the past.

And I smile as I write the word ‘guilt’.

How very ‘Catholic’ of me.

My middle sister and I used to joke a lot about our Catholic guilt. We were good at it. Doused in it as children, it felt only natural to carry it into our adult years.

It took me years, and lots of therapy, to realize guilt is not natural. Nor is it constructive.

It can however, be a powerful force for change.

To not carry guilt, I must clean up my messes. It isn’t about tidying up the past as much as honouring it so that I can let it go without feeling… guilty.

And so, I create.

A book of prayers. For my mother. For me. For my daughters. My soon to be born grand-daughter.

The Crosses We Bear – first 2-page spread in My Mother’s Prayer Cards Art Journal

A book of prayers that begins with the words I wrote on the very first 2-page spread. Words that surprised me even as I wrote them: “The crosses we carry through the centuries burden us with their blind faith in what to believe in the here and now. Their weighty presence strangles our breath as we struggle to free ourselves of the guilt and shame of a past we cannot change.

I cannot change the difficult times with my mother.

I can honour our past, all of it, and in the here and now, celebrate and cherish her beautiful thread in the tapestry of my life.

Being the mother she was, her spirit is praying for all of us now.

What a wonderful gift of life and death in an unending circle of Love that remains, as always, nourished by my mother’s prayers.

Just As My Mother Taught Me.

It is four months today since my mother took her last breath.

The Irises are blooming.

This is our third summer we have lived in this house. The first that the Irises have bloomed.

They were her flower. She carried their name. Iris.

Iris Marie Gallagher August 31, 1922 – February 25, 2020

And I smile. My mother is here. Around us. With us. Amongst us.

For a few weeks, she kept visiting me. Usually, while I was in the bath. That kind of bothered me so I kept pouring in extra bubbles to blur her view.

“I’m spirit, Louise. I can see through everything. Including you. Stop hiding.” She said this to me on one of her many visits over the past four months. Her laughter tinkled like cutlery and crystal amidst the chatter at a cocktail party.

I don’t remember my mother laughing like that in real life. I also know she never sat in a glittery, tight, figure revealing cocktail dress, martini glass in one black elbow-length gloved hand and cigarette in a long glossy ebony holder in the other.

“Who are you?” I asked the first time she appeared. I knew she was my mother. She had her face. Her voice. Her scent. But the rest?

“Louise. I’m spirit. I’m the mother of your dreams,” she replied, again with that tinkly, almost girlish laugh.

“But you’re so different. You’re smoking!”

“It’s not like smoking is going to kill me,” she said and then, she threw back her head, blew smoke up into the skylight above her and laughed. Loud. Deep. Sexy.

Sexy? Oh no. Not my mother. She was beautiful. Exotic. Mysterious. Never sexy. As a girl I didn’t think she even knew how to spell s-e-x, which was always said in a whisper making my sister and I giggle at mom’s descriptions when she tried to teach us her version of the art of being a woman. If we had questions her favourite response was, “Go ask the school nurse.”

We never did. Ask the nurse. We mostly just muddled our way through it. My eldest sister taking me to buy my first bra. My first box of Kotex pads. My grad dress.

Girlfriends were the source of all things boy related and as to boys… Well, as long as you kept your legs crossed you couldn’t get in trouble. At least, that’s what my mother told me.

Which was why this mother, the one who insisted on visiting while I was in the bath and drinking martinis and smoking was so surprising to see.

“What happened to you when you crossed over, mom?” I asked her one day while she sat on the closed toilet seat lid painting her nails a bright red that she never would have been caught dead in if she was alive.

“Real life put so many restrictions on me,” she replied. “It was such a heavy load I always felt like I was suffocating. Now, I’m light as air and can delight in being all of me. And with you, that means being the mother you always dreamt I’d be. You did say you wanted a martini drinking, high heel wearing, cocktail dress swishing kind of mother didn’t you?”

Oh dear. My mother read my blog “Is This Grief” from the other side. She knows what I wrote.

But then, she always said she did. Know what I was up to. And it wasn’t always good, she liked to remind me.

Softly she whispers into my thoughts. “Louise. I know you did your best. I know you wanted to be a good daughter. It’s just the pain and the secrets between us were greater than our ability to see eachother as co-creators of our life together, not as adversaries.”

See what I mean? This is not the mother I remember. My mother never used words like co-creator and she definitely didn’t acknowledge that their was pain we shared. I mean, I was the one who inflicted the pain on her. Right?

Wrong.

At least that’s what she told me during her bathtime visits. To acknowledge ours was a challenging relationship from the get-go and to apologize for her role in it all. (Now that’s something my mother never, ever did in real life. Apologize to me.)

“You know Louise,” she said one day during one of her ‘from-the-other-side’ visits. “What if it wasn’t about my being the mother you wanted. What if it was all about my being the mother you needed to become the woman you are today?”

That one stopped me. Still does. Kind of makes me cry too.

What if it’s true? What if my mother was the perfect mother for me? Just the way she was.

And I breathe.

My mother hasn’t visited me in the bath lately. Last time she was here she told me she had other relationships to tend.

“Relationships are like a garden,” she told me. “You water and weed and tend them with loving care, and beauty will grow. Ignore them, let the weeds overrun the seeds of possibility, and everything will wither away.”

And then she said the words I’ve yearned to hear. The words she used to say all the time. The words I often dismissed and miss so much now. “I’ll light a candle for you and say a prayer.”

She took one final sip of her martini and did that thing only spirits can do. She threw her glass over her shoulder without breaking a shard and said,” My words will always be a prayer of Love for you, Louise. Nothing will ever change that. Especially death with all its deep and mysterious beauty stretching out into eternity.”

And then she, like her martini glass, disappeared into the deep mystery of eternity.

My mother is gone from this physical plane. But she is here. Showing herself in elegant blue wonder in my garden.

She is a candle burning bright in the mystery of life.

I too have lit a candle this morning.

My daughter asked me to light it. To say a prayer for her and my soon-to-be born grand-daughter.

And so I do.

Just as my mother taught me.

Namaste.

.

How To Surrender Fear

When we began self-isolation, I stopped walking the path along the river to get to the off-leash park near our home. Instead, I drove the five minutes it takes to get there, telling myself there were too many bicyclists and too many people on the path.

I was scared of the very air I breathed.

A couple of weeks ago, I started walking it again.

My fear still lingers. Joy of walking, being in the open air, of the tranquility of the walk keeps calming fear into quiet surrender.

My walking to the park again came about by accident.

One morning a couple of weeks ago, I’d driven over. Walked for an hour and then, when Beau and I returned to the car, I discovered I’d lost both my phone and keys.

It was a lengthy search. Beaumont was delighted of the extra time at the park as well as the imperative of walking home along the path to get C.C.s’ phone so I could go back and search and ring and listen for it ringing. With Beaumont’s assistance, of course.

Eventually, my phone and keys were found. By a fellow dog walker.

When I saw the man on the trail in the woods ahead of me, I called out and asked if he’d seen my phone. He held it out towards me, smiled and said, “It’s been ringing and I keep answering but there’s no one there.”

Sheepishly I explained what I’d done. – held it away from me so I could hear it ringing. I never thought someone would be answering, I told him.

We both laughed. I thanked him profusely (I really wanted to hug him but I couldn’t) and we went our separate ways.

The next morning I began walking to the park again.

All because the day before my lost phone and keys forced me to walk along the path and face my fear.

There are still bicyclists on the path. And other pedestrians. But I no longer view them as ‘the enemy’. Like me, they are enjoying the park. The fresh air. The river flowing.

Like me, they do not want to contact Covid, so we keep our safe distance and when bicycles approach, I step off the path to give them room.

No matter the path, fear is an awkward companion.

Fear limits our thinking, sending our thoughts in spinning circles of anguished contortions filled with dire predictions of dark and gloomy possibilities.

Fear sucks the life and breath out of our bodies.

When self-isolation first began, my fear was reasonable. Not enough was known about the virus. Being cautious, taking precautions was imperative.

I still take precautions. I’m careful about who I see. Where I go and when I’m out and about, I wear my mask. (Thanks to my friend Wendy C I have several stylish options in mask wear!)

The difference is, I have faced my fear and embraced it, thanked it for doing its best to keep me safe, and let it know that it is no longer in charge of my thoughts and actions.

I am.

And in my being in charge, I lovingly embrace my fear and acknowledge its presence while also acknowledging that compassion, light, joy, love are also present. Together, they cast a brilliant light that shines brightest when I breathe deeply into my fear and surrender it to Love.

Covid is still to be feared. Fear no longer needs to control my life.

It is my choice.

To choose Love over fear.

And when I forget, I breathe and once again walk the path back to the light so that I can begin again to choose Love over fear. Always.

The Stories Untold Awaken

Nine years ago, I wrote a blog called, “In search of my father” on my original blog, Recover Your Joy.

In it, I told the story of travelling a thousand kilometres from Calgary, to a tiny town tucked into the prairies of Southeast Saskatchewan. Gravelbourg.

Gravelbourg is the town my father first lived in when he came to Canada as a young boy.

While I was there, I wandered the streets my father walked when he was a boy. I visited the cathedral in which he served as an altar boy at mass. I visited the Bishop’s home where he and other boys who attended Collège Mathieu, the boarding school where he was sent as a young boy, sometimes visited with the Bishop who oversaw the district when the Cathédrale de Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption was the seat of the diocese.

And I toured the almost deserted town of Mazenod, a few kilometres away. I went there because I discovered, via the school records, that my father’s father gave an address in Mazenod as his permanent address while my father was at school in Gravelbourg.

We never knew that, about our grandfather being close by while dad was at school. His story was always that he was sent, alone, to the school and only occasionally saw his Uncle Pat, who lived in Regina many kilometres away, on school holidays.

So many secrets. So many mysteries in the life of my father that will never be resolved.

He had no brothers or sisters. Though there was a half-sister in England who died many years ago. Even there my father’s penchant for secrets prevailed. The presence of an aunt on my father’s side of the family was never fully known by my sisters and brother.

Dad never talked about her. Until one day, he received a letter through veterans affairs. Inside that envelope was a letter from his sister.

My eldest sister called me when she found out. “So. What do you think about dad’s sister?” she asked.

“What sister?” I replied. “Dad doesn’t have a sister. He’s an only child.”

“Not anymore,” my sister said.

I promptly called my father to inquire.

“Her name is Phyllis,” he said.

“Why didn’t you ever tell us about her?” I asked.

“It didn’t seem relevant,” my father replied tersely.

For the next two years, my father and Phyllis corresponded via mail and telephone, both refusing to go see the other, though they both stated they wanted to meet again. Dad’s rationale was always that as she was the one looking for him, she needed to come to him.

The last time they’d seen each other was when dad was shipped off to boarding school from London, England and his mother left his father to live with another man. A man she’d been having an affair with for many years. Apparently, Phyllis was actually his daughter and so, she went with her mother to live in a new home while dad sailed across the Atlantic to take up residence in a new country.

Aunt Phyllis died before she and dad navigated the distance, the years and the pain between them.

My father passed away a few years later and carried the stories of his youth he’d never shared with him.

And still, sometimes in dreams and quiet moments, my father’s voice enters and whispers quietly in my heart. “You are a poet child,” he whispers. “Woven together of the warp and weft of stories threaded through your timeline shivering in harmony with the voices of the story whisperers of the past. Be brave. Give voice to the stories calling out to be told.”

This morning, I went in search of the posts I’d written about my father long ago. Thank you Bernie for your question! Aside from having to ignore the typos, I read the stories with fresh eyes and a heartful of gratitude and Love.

Listen. The muse whispers. The stories untold are awakening.

________________________________

In order of appearance, here are the stories — and btw — if you have never been to Gravelbourg it is a beautiful town set in the vast wild prairies. The cathedral alone is worth the visit!

In Search of My Father

Journey

Father Maillard’s Ode to Joy (This one has lots of photos of the town and the cathedral)

A Morning Meditation

A Morning Meditation (turn sound on)

Dust motes dance with the lissome grace of fairy dancers swathed in shimmering gowns of sunbeams streaming through the window. I stand in the light and open my arms, welcoming the sun in. I feel it. Warm. Against my skin. My face. My hands. My body. Effortlessly, it warms me with its grace.

I sit at my desk and watch white fluff drift lazily through the air. A delicate dance of grace floating down towards the ground. The poplar trees are casting off their spring buds. Snow falls in June.

Pink honeysuckle scents the air. The glossy green leaves of the poplars that dance above their blossoms rustle and whisper, redolent with the stories of the wind as it moves effortlessly through their branches.

The river flows past. The wind drifts through. I sit and soak up the beauty of this morning, my body embraced in the sacredness of the world around me.

Here. I am.

I breathe. Deep. Soul-nourishing breaths that ground me here, in this moment.

I imagine my toes digging into the rich soil that nourishes the grass and shrubs and flowers and trees. I imagine the soles of my feet sinking. Down. Down into the bedrock. Deep. Deep within the earth.

I keep breathing. Slowly. Deeply.

I sense myself coming to rest deep within the core of the earth. Connected. Supported. Grounded in Mother Nature. Mother Earth.

Here. I am.

The morning breaks itself open to day.

The sun casts light into infinite space.

The river flows past.

I sit at my desk. Silently embraced in the grace of morning’s awakening.

I am the temple girl carrying water from the well to wash the feet of the holy women gathered to sing the praises of Mother Earth. To dance in honour of the sun rising, the moon setting, the dawn breaking.

I am the initiate dancing in the light of dawn bathing her naked body in early morning light.

I am the priestess supine, body stretched out in supplication before the altar of Mother Earth’s beauty.

Here. I am. I whisper.

And Mother Earth wraps her being around my body and gently, lovingly pries me open. I am broken open and I weep in gratitude, joy, Love.

My heart sighs. I take a sip of morning’s glory bursting with the promise of this day. I take another and another and am filled with the wonder and awe of being here, where I am.

Here. I am. I whisper to the morning and the sun and the trees and the flowers and the birds and the river and the grass whisper back. Here. We are.

Namaste.

Blindspots

When I first got my car two years ago, I discovered something I’d missed during the test drive – there was a significant blindspot over my left shoulder. Uncomfortably so.

I was paranoid about that blindspot. Changing lanes, I’d twist and turn again and again, fearing I was missing an oncoming car. In all my twisting and turning I was a bit of a road hazard and had to consciously train myself to stop the paranoia and trust that I knew how to use my mirrors as aides.

And then one cloudy day when I wasn’t wearing my sunglasses, I realized the blindspot wasn’t there!

What? That’s when I realized it was the arm of my sunglasses, which was attached midway down the frame, that was blocking the view out of the corner of my left eye, not a blindspot in my car.

I bought new glasses, ones with the arms attached at the top of the frame and Voilá! Problem solved.

Blindspots are like that. We use the same set of eyes, with the frame we’re most comfortable with, to view the world. In our comfort, we cannot see the places where our view of reality is blinding us to the reality of others.

Like racism. It has always been amongst us. It’s just many of us were blind to its pervasive presence as well as our contribution to its presence, until the conversation could not be avoided any longer because it was marching right before our eyes and could not be denied.

For those of us for whom the colour of our skin has seldom given us cause to question or even talk about our privilege, nor our inherent biases, it can feel stressful, uncomfortable, disorienting to face our own, as Robin D’Angelo calls it in her same-named book, “White Fragility“.

What if we change our glasses?

What if instead of seeing our discomfort of our ‘white fragility’ as something to be ignored or pushed away or angrily denied, we decided to embrace it and say, “Bring it on. I’m willing to feel this so others do not feel ‘less than’ around me. I am willing to break open my privilege, along with my mind and heart, and be vulnerable to change because what’s happening in today’s reality for so many is not good for anyone. And I do not want my privilege to undermine the well-being of others any longer.”

As a person who fits within the context of being ‘white skinned’, it is easy for me to say, “I don’t see colour.” I haven’t had to. My life is founded on a cultural belief that has survived centuries of life on earth that insinuates (and at times blatantly states), ‘white has more value than black.’

In the world of colour, white actually has no value. It is the reflection of light and gains value through the reflection of other colours. Like rainbows. Sunlight shines through water molecules in the air after a rain and is refracted so that we can see it dancing in a rainbow of colour arcing across the sky.

Without voices of colour speaking up about their experiences, informing those of us without colour about what it means to be devalued in this world because of the colour of your skin, we would not understand the totality of our whiteness in today’s world.

We have that chance. Right now. To listen. To hear. To understand. To learn. To grow and to see the world in all its beautiful colours.

We have the chance to change our glasses.

For real, lasting change to happen, we must stop seeing racism as ‘someone else’s issue’ and see it as ours too, because our whiteness blinds us to the truth about colour. In that discomforting place of recognizing our own culpability in creating the world in which we live, we have the opportunity to refract light differently.

And when we do that, we get to see the world is not black and white. It is a beautiful dance of colour creating rainbows everywhere. And in that light, the world is a much kinder, equal and just place for everyone to shine for all their worth.

Namaste

The Apology Process

Years ago, when I was released from a relationship that was killing me by the police taking the abuser out of my life, my relationship with my daughters was in shreds.

For the final three months of that journey I cowered in hiding as the abuser tried to find ways to get out of Canada. I was too scared, too lost, too compliant to pick up the phone and let anyone know I was alive. Plus, he’d told me I couldn’t. I did not disobey him.

Healing my relationships, especially with my daughters, took time, and a whole lot of turning up and doing the work.

It was a long road home.

In the beginning, they were angry. They had a right to their anger. The things I’d done throughout that relationship hurt them.

For the sake of all of us, I needed to be strong enough to stand with them in their anger without trying to take it away, push it aside, or manipulate it into something I could tolerate with my insistence, “It wasn’t my fault.”

In the beginning, I was not strong enough to do that. I had to ‘give myself medicine first” so that I could be there to help them find the medicine they needed to heal.

I was willing to accept they might not forgive me. I was not willing to accept that what I had done was a life sentence of misery to which we were all condemned.

It was three years after I began that healing journey that I entered the Choices Seminars training room for the first time.

It changed my life. It changed my daughters’ lives too.

By the time I went through the course, my daughters and I were living together again. I knew they still carried anger, and I was doing my best to simply be present with them when it erupted. But I also knew I wasn’t powerful enough to take away their anger, or their fear of what might happen if the abuser did turn up again.

Choices gave us all the tools to travel those uncharted, and sometimes troubled, waters.

It also gave me The Apology Process.

  • Acknowledge
  • Apologize.
  • Commit.
  • Make amends.

In the months after learning the process, I used it often. I didn’t care if I had to apologize for the rest of my life, I wanted my daughters to know that I was committed to our relationship, committed to being here as their mother, caring, confident, vibrant and alive.

Apologizing never cost me a thing. It gave me everything.

My daughters pain was different than mine. They had a right to express it in their own way, to grow through it and heal from it for themselves.

No matter what that man had done to me, I was the one who did the things I did to harm them.

I was accountable.

The apology process gave me a way to stand in my accountability without having to carry shame, regret, despair.

My job was not to defend against their anger but to love them, and myself, through it.

It was about three years after the three of us had gone through Choices that my eldest daughter told a group of trainees how my apologizing as I did helped fill the river of pain that was once between us with Love. “Every time she said, ‘I apologize’, it felt like a little bit more of the pain washed away leaving room for Love to flow more freely,” she said.

I remember still the moment when she said those words. I started to cry. It felt like a giant boulder of pain had lifted off my heart. I am crying now. Soft, gentle loving tears of gratitude.

It is not unlike these times in which we live right now.

I acknowledge I have seldom questioned the privilege of my white skin. That I have never stopped to say, ‘Hey! This isn’t right! If I can get this so easily why is it so hard for that person over there whose skin colour is different than mine, to experience the same ease?’

I apologize and commit to doing better, to being more awakened, more conscious, more vocal when I encounter racist comments, acts and situations.

To make amends, I shall learn more about white privilege and its impact on people of colour in this world. I shall speak up adding my voice to the voices calling for change. And I shall cede space so voices of colour can be heard.

Namaste

Everything I Create. I Am.

A quadriptych of bookmarks created on cast-off pieces of watercolour paper.

I wrote the following in response to a post David Kanigan of Live & Learn shared this morning. (Do go check it out — the quote and his photo are beautiful and provocative and peace-inducing. Click HERE)

“For the past month, I have been creating daily what I’ve called my Sheltered Wonder Art Journal. I wanted to explore what Covid brought beyond sickness and death, fear and loss.

Covid brought silence. Deep. Meaningful. Exquisite, and sometimes painful, silence. It brought the opportunity to walk at a quieter pace, to speak more slowly, to act more thoughtfully, to be present in this moment more completely. To be still within the silence and the noise.

These are the lessons from these times I want to embrace. To carry with me. To hold as true to living a rich, fulfilled and compassionate life that does not seek its purpose in getting more out of life, but discovers it in giving more to enrich life on this planet we call home through everything I do. Everything I create. Everything I am.

David, a master of words, condensed my response into two powerful sentences:

Everything I create. I am.

Yesterday, I had intended to take a rest day from the studio. And then, as she does, the muse floated in on a wave of joy enticing me to create ‘something’. “If everything you are is what you create, then what are you creating with your today Louise?” – I’m pretty sure she would have asked that if she’d read David’s response to my comment.

What am I creating?

Everything I create is an expression of my essence. My creative core. My joy. My love. My curiosity. And, my fears and sadnesses. My worries and confusions.

What I create is a reflection of all of me. I cannot separate one from the other. Everything I create. I am.

Not just in the studio, or the kitchen, but everywhere in my life.

Everything I create. I am.

When I let anger become my voice through words that hurt, I am those words. I am that anger.

When I allow fear to raise my arms against another, or turn my back on their suffering, I am that raised arm. I am that suffering. I am that fear.

And when I embrace life in all its beautiful nature and imbue everything in my world with Love of all life on this planet earth, I am that Love in all its beautiful nature.

Everything I create. I am.

I can chose to create from a place of anger, fear, worry. Or, I can choose to allow Love to be my inspiration. My muse. My spark.

Whatever I create. It is a reflection of all that I am.

Everything I create. I am.

I am sitting within the beauty and invitation of those words. Allowing them to slowly float down out of my conscious awareness deep into my belly to become my entire body attuned to their resonance.

Everything I create. I am.

Namaste

The Bird of Time

In the final days of my mother’s life, I carried with me a book that was one of my father’s favourites – Edward Fitzgerald’s “The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam”.

On those nights when I sat in the dark alone with her as she slept, I would read to her the poetry my father once read aloud.

“Come, fill the Cup, and in the fire of Spring

Your Winter-garment of Repentance fling:

The Bird of Time has but a little way to flutter

and the Bird is on the Wing.

Yesterday, as I began work on the final 2-page spread of my Sheltered Wonder art journal, the Bird of Time flew onto the page, reminding me that “Time is fleeting. Savour every moment and then, with a loving heart, let every moment go and flow with grace into the next.”

This moment in which I sit typing, watching the river flow deep and fast as spring runoff swells its waters, it is the only moment I have in which to be present within the beauty and the mystery of life and death.

Three months ago, as I sat in the dark of night in my mother’s room, reading to her, singing, holding her hand or sitting silently within the stillness of her breathing, the Bird of Time was fluttering its wings calling her home to where she yearned to go – back to her family, back into the arms of my father, her beloved Louis, back to the God who had never forsaken her.

This morning, I sit writing and the Bird of Time is on the Wing, calling me, just as the Egyptian goddess did on an earlier page, to ‘Awaken and Dare’.

There is much brokenness in this world of ours. Much despair. Anger. Fear. Death. Turmoil. Angst. Inequality. Injustice. Prejudice. Racism. Apathy. Confusion. Silence. Condemnation.

And always, in the brokenness, there is the wholeness of life. There is Love.

Yesterday, as I walked in the forest with Beaumont the Sheepadoodle and watched him run and chase the ball and stop to sniff grass and dandelions in full bloom, I was reminded of just how precious this moment is. And how filled with miracles life can be.

This turmoil that Covid has brought, the death of one man under the knee of another that has erupted in cries for justice, change and equality, perhaps they are the carriers of the miracle we have needed to force us to stop chasing after dreams of more wealth and power and to become present in the beauty of this life we embody of planet earth, our shared home.

Perhaps, they are bidding us to dare to examine our human condition and awaken to its priceless beauty, a beauty that affects each of us the same, yet different.

Every human being has skin covering a skeleton made up of bones upon which arteries and veins, organs and muscles rely. The inner workings of our human condition are the same for each of us. It is just the outer manifestation of the miracle of our life that is different for all 7.5+ bilion of us.

And, just as my mother’s passing was not the ending of my life but the beginning of a new phase, the miracle that Covid brings and the miracle that has erupted with George Floyd’s death is not a symptom of the dying off of our humanity. It is our awakening.

What we do in this moment, right now, matters. It matters how we respond, how we step forward, how we find healing, how we give and find and receive forgiveness. How we share grace.

It all matters, just as the lives of those who have died under Covid’s insidious presence matter. Just as Black Lives Matter.

It is the miracle of these times. They are not calling us to rise up and state, ‘my life matters more’. They are urging us to claim that other lives matter equally as much. And to do something about the matter.

.

And So I Pray

In every life, a little rain must fall so flowers can grow and hearts can learn to weather the storms and break open in Love. Pgs 28 – 29. Sheltered Wonder art journal

When I started this Sheltered Wonder art journal project, I wrote out the Wonder Rules to guide me. The reason for the journal is clear – to identify, acknowledge and celebrate the things I’ve learned, experienced, grown through, been challenged by and challenged during the sequestered solitude of Covid.

There have been so many moments where fear rose up, threatening to consume my peace of mind. It was through spending time in nature and in my studio that I was able to grapple with my fear so that I could find my calm even in its presence.

There have also been moments that absolutely took my breath away. Moments where the beauty of the world around me outweighed the sorrow and grief.

And, there have been moments where I felt like I was drowning in sorrow and grief. It has been here, in my studio, creating and writing, that I have found comfort, insight, healing, grace.

In this bubble in which I live, life flows as effortlessly as the river outside my window.

I struggle some days to align my world with what is going on in the world around me. And right now, that means how do I Share Grace, the fifth Wonder Rule, with my neighbours to the south where violence and death tolls continue to mount as the unrest boils over and Covid ravages lives daily.

There is little I can do in the physical world to change the course of events outside my own sphere of influence.

There is lots I can do in the metaphysical world, and also in this ‘cyber world’ where we meet up and share and learn and grow.

And that is, to practice every minute of every day, the art of sharing grace.

The issues that are impacting our US neighbours are deep and profound. Sitting here, north of the 49th parallel, it can tempting to sit in judgement. To cast aspersions upon those in leadership roles, those in power and control, those breaking the laws, those upholding them.

Grace means, I don’t do that. I cannot share darkness. I must share only light.

Light comes in many forms. For me, to add value (which is part of the fourth Wonder Rule – Find Value ) – my light must come in the form of my prayers. I must use my prayers to override any commentary I might want to make so that it is only my prayers that ripple out into the world for peace, understanding, compassion and healing for my neighbours to the south and all the world.

Just as the girl in the painting is carrying a bouquet of flowers to the tree surrounded by a field of wildflowers, I can only add my prayers to the millions of prayers going out to our US neighbours and to the world.

And so, I pray. In rain and sun, under grey skies or blue, I pray.

And I send my prayers out to the sky, the trees, the air, to the river of love flowing to those whose hearts are breaking, those whose lives are ending, those who are carrying burdens that feel too heavy and are falling under the weight. Those who are fighting for and against the turmoil of these times.

Those who are standing in confusion, fear, worry, sadness, sorrow, grief. Those crying in the darkness of their grief, those crying out for mercy, those calling out for the violence to stop, those calling out for change to happen now.

I pray and in my prayers grace finds me and hope embraces me. Hope for our neighbours to the south. For the world still struggling to come out from under the yoke of Covid. Those still struggling to come to grips with the loss of those they love, the life they had, the life they knew as normal. Those praying for peace. For change. For relief. For life.

I pray and send my prayers and my Love out into the world. It is the only way I can Share Grace.

May we all know peace. May we all know Love. May we all find the courage to heal what separates and divides us. May we all embrace our differences and celebrate our humanity as one people, one world, one human race.

And so I pray.

Namaste.