Page 40. Line 8.

Sometimes, when she thought no one was looking, she would sprinkle fairy dust on the flowers in her garden and watch the colours flow, wild and free, cascading like a stream pouring over a waterfall, onto the ground, turning the world into all the colours of the rainbow. 

Delighted by her creation, she'd splash with joyful abandon amidst the running colours until exhausted, she fell into a pool of cherry red and periwinkle blue and sunshine yellow and viridian green swirling all around her. Content to be amongst the living colours dancing in harmony, she'd fall asleep and drift into dreamland.  

It was there, floating upon a cloud of shimmering violet, she dreamt of flying high in the sky, sprinkling fairy dust all over the world. And as the colours ran free, pouring their beauty into the hearts and minds of everyone, notes of harmony and joy rang out amongst the hills and valleys, from mountain tops and deep from beneath the ocean beds. And all around the world, the animals danced and the people leapt for joy, and the trees swayed in the beauty, harmony and peace of the world around them.

Satisfied with her creation, she fell deeper and deeper into sleep, wishing and hoping she never had to wake up to a world without colours running free and mountains singing for joy and harmony ringing out in all the voices of humankind.

And so it was. And so it is. And so she sleeps on and on and on.

I have started a new morning practice. I read it on a thread in an art website to which I belong and felt so inspired by the idea, I immediately jumped in.

The process is simple — Close your eyes. Pick a book from your collection. Open your eyes. Open the book to Page 40. Go to Line 8 — read it — now let whatever is on Line 8 be your writing prompt. Set your timer for 6 minutes and begin to write.

The book that picked me this morning (my first morning of entering into this morning practice) was, CREATRIX: She Who Makes by Lucy H. Pearce.

Line 8 on Page 40 reads: “Because, while my own creativity scared me, I knew subconsciously that I still had to be around the magic somehow.”

I set my timer for 6 minutes and began to write.

There was a time when my creativity scared me, when I let what others think (or at least what I thought others were thinking) dictate how I expressed my creativity. Not that I expressed it much. Mostly I tried to hide it, shield it from outside eyes, keep it buried within me. For some reason, being ‘creative’, or acknowledging that I was creative felt foolish, uncomfortable. I was embarrassed by my own nature. It was as if the very word, ‘creative’ was a dirty word, never to be spoken out loud...

Released by my 6 minute writing flow, the ‘story’ above appeared and flowed out of my fingertips as I began to write this post.

I wasn’t thinking them.

I wasn’t wishing them into being.

They simply flowed.

I hope you try it — pick a book, any book and turn to a page (I like the symmetry of page 40 but you can use any number – your age, house number, day of the week…) go to a specific line number – and use that as a prompt.

Important caveat — have your number scheme organized before you begin. It helps stave off confusion, worry and the possibility of changing your mind to find ‘something better’ to use as your prompt. Part of the magic and beauty of the prompt is its randomness and its consistency.

I hope you do give it a go and let me know how it worked/works for you!

Oh… and do remember to stay out of self-judgement and criticism. Magic only works when we let go of telling ourselves it’s just not possible, or no good or… all that jazz.

Have a colourful, joyful and peace-filled day.

Namaste.

The Stories They Wrote

No. 8 #ShePersisted Series
The Stories They Wrote
by Louise Gallagher

He wasn’t born
a criminal
though his mother said
on the day he was born
that he would grow up to be
a bad one
it was written in his stars.

She wasn’t born
drug addicted
though her father said
on the day she took her first step
that she would go nowhere
but bad
it was written in her blood.

And when he grew up
he lived true to his mother’s predictions
until he found himself in that place
where time was all you got
and he had no choice but to dig
for a way out
from beneath the layers
of a story
his mother wrote for him
on the day he was born.

And when she entered treatment
for the first time
she had to go back
again and again
to erase the scars
she’d etched into her skin
searching for the beginning
of the story her father had written
when she’d taken her first step.

And they both kept digging
and they both kept searching
and re-writing and re-wiring
the stories
they told themselves they had no choice
but to live
until to live the story of their own creation
they had no choice
but to walk away
from the stories they’d always known
but never wanted
the stories no one should have written
on the day they were born.

We all have stories. Stories we tell on ourselves, stories our family tell about us, stories we’d rather forget but can’t seem to keep ourselves from living again and again.

We all have stories.

And here’s the thing about our stories. They are personal to us. They are our experience. Two people can have a similar experience; one is traumatized and the other doesn’t give it any more thought.

Our responses are personal. They are a combination of our emotional make-up, history, experiences, environment, childhood…

In my family, there was a story of my birth that left me feeling unwanted and a disappointment. As I got older, my family quit telling that story. I didn’t. Until one day I decided, enough is enough. And I changed the story to something that celebrates my life and my being here on this earth.

The fact remains though, that until I made that choice, everything about me was shadowed by my internalized belief that I was unwanted and a disappointment.

Unravelling the feelings that story evoked and its limiting beliefs was critical to my freeing myself to live my life, my way, in joy, gratitude and Love.

Working at a homeless shelter, everyday I encountered people whose lives were a daily repetition of stories they didn’t want to live but didn’t have the knowledge nor resources to change.

This morning, as I was reading the news, the story of a young man I’d encountered at the shelter popped into my mind. When he was born, his mother had said he would be good for nothing.

At 26, he had been in and out of jail numerous times. This time, he was determined to stay out.

To do that, he had to learn tools that would help him in walking away from the story he’d been living out of his mother’s predictions.

He wasn’t born criminal. He was made that way by his environment, lack of nurturing, lack of good role models and a limiting belief that he would be good for nothing.

We all have stories. We all have limiting beliefs.

To live our own stories, we must set ourselves free of our limiting beliefs so we can write a story that celebrates the magnificent nature of our human condition.

Do you have a limiting belief that is holding you back from living life as the star you are meant to be? Are you willing to set yourself free to shine?

Fear of Looking Imperfect

One of the things that inevitably comes to the forefront for me in art-making, is my fear of looking imperfect. Of looking like an imposter, or that I haven’t got it all together.

Over the past few weeks, as I’ve gotten ready for the Vale’s Greenhouse Cultivation of Art Show and Sale, I have come up against my fear again and again.

Yesterday, after what I deemed another miserable attempt to create something worthy of being part of my offerings at the show, I told my beloved, “I figured something out in the studio today.”

“What’s that?” he asked from where he sat on the sofa watching a hockey game on his laptop.

“The thing I hate about art shows is that I get all caught up in the outcome and lose my joy of creating simply for the sake of creating.”

“Oh.” he replied. “Is that why you’ve been on edge these past few days?”

I was on edge? Hmmm…

“Probably. I love being immersed in the creative nature of art-making, but what I’ve noticed, as I’ve gotten ready for the art show, is I’m not allowing the creative process to just happen. I’m making art instead of making space for art to happen.”

I paused for a moment as C.C. sat quietly watching me, waiting for me to find my way through my angst. “I hate art shows. Don’t even know why I go in. I don’t create to sell. I create to have fun. And I’m not having much fun right now.”

Ahhhh….. that little five year old loves to get into it when she feels like I’m fleeing the scene of my artistic potential.

It isn’t that she’s trying to create havoc or run amuck with my self-confidence. Rather, it’s that she feels my fear. Unfortunately, when I am running with fear as my companion, she gets scared. Scared means she can’t go play with abandon amongst the wildflowers. She can’t paint the moon all the colours of the rainbow because I am standing outside the sacred garden of my creative nature.

When I’m running with fear of my creative expression and talents, my peace of mind is a fast river of muddy waters swollen by spring run-off. .

This morning, I woke up, took Beaumont the Sheepadoodle for his early morning walk. At one point, I stood at the railing of the John Hextall pedestrian bridge which joins the western edges of the city to the downtown. I stood on the Hextall and watched the waters of the Bow River flowing deep and fast beneath it.

As I stand and watch the waters and Beau sniffs the grasses growing in the planters that line the center of the bridge, I am reminded of a poem by Apollinaire Guillaume. I was first introduced to Apollinaire in my teens. His work still resonates deeply. The poem, The Mirabeau, begins with the line, “Under the Mirabeau flows the Seine.”

And I am transported back to that child of five who danced and laughed and spun about when she was a little girl and we lived in France. Life was full of possibilities. She had such dreams, such flights of fancy and wonder and awe. There was nothing she couldn’t do and she planned on doing it all.

And I hear her whispering deep within me. “Let me go back to where I am free to run amidst the wildflowers and paint the moon all the colours of the rainbow. Let me go back so you can run free of fear standing here on the Hextall above the Bow.

And when I return home I take a flight of fancy and write an homage to Appollinaire.

An Homage to Appollinaire
by Louise Gallagher

Under the Hextall flows the Bow
muddy waters churning
the mountains are running 
free
of winter’s excess
the lakes are flowing 
clear
of mother nature’s blanket
frozen
against their beauty

I stand on the bridge
and cast my doubts
into the fast-flowing waters
free
of fear that the waters
will never run clear again
that the lakes
will never thaw
that I will never
be free
of fear

I cast my doubts
beyond the thrall
of my confusion
and breathe
the morning’s cool fresh
kisses
falling
upon my face
where I stand 
musing
on the Hextall
above the Bow.

And I return to my studio.

I need not fear my imperfections. I only need to embrace them so that I am free to celebrate my creative expressions in all their many colours, all their multi-dimensions and all their unique expressions.

In that frame of mind, I let go of expectations and outcome and throw myself with abandon into the deep running waters of my creative expressions flowing free.

Namaste

It Is Their Ways That Will Heal Us.

They are getting ready, these tiny bodies of winged possibility that have only known the nest their mother built since first she laid them in its safety and sat for days and days on end upon their shells until they were born.

I have watched them over the past three weeks grow from tiny, featherless newborns into feathered beauty with wings unfolding with every breath they take.

I have watched the mother and father robin carefully tending to their young. Bringing food. Sustenance. Warmth.

The father doesn’t linger long. But he is never far away.

Over these first weeks of life, the mother has moved from sitting in the nest for hours on end, to sitting on its edge for brief spurts of time, trusting in nature to take its course and give her babies the gift of flight.

Her babies are growing stronger. Soon it will be time.

And I sit and watch and marvel at the power of nature. To create life. Sustain life. Set it free.

And I think of the mothers whose children were taken from them so young. Who never had the chance to nurture and sustain their offspring. Who never had the gift of seeing them take flight.

And I think of how, in their pain, they wandered through their days searching for their missing children until they could no longer stand the pain.

And how, like a bird with a broken wing, they had to tend to their own wounds. Heal, as best they could, the gaping holes that could never be filled. How, they yearned again for those days when their children ran and played and sang songs and told stories and gathered around the table and shared a meal and bickered amongst themselves knowing, that no matter what, their lives were woven together with strands of love threaded through a way of life that could never be erased.

Until it was.

Until a force greater than their mother’s arms could hold back and their father’s breath could push away, swept in and tore the ties that bind apart, ripping out the hearts of the weavers who had built the nest they called their home.

And how, over generations and generations of unravelling the ties that bind, there was nothing left of the threads of all their ancestors weaving the vibrant stories that had sustained them, nurtured them, carried them through their lives. Nothing left of the songs that sang them awake and the stories that lulled them to sleep. Nothing left of the way of life threaded through their history, for their history was gone. Rewritten. Erased. Assimilated.

Until one day, there was a murmuring. It wasn’t loud, but it was steady. Like a heartbeat. And in its steady thrum, thrum, it whispered a song of hope, rising up, Up across the land calling their ancestors and all their relations to rise with it.

And in its beat, a memory flickered through the darkness, and then another and another. Memories full of the way it was when the rivers ran deep teeming with fish and the buffalo roamed the prairies as far as the eye could see. Memories of the forest paths beckoning with healing ferns and moss and flora. Memories of when the drums beat loud and the fires burned bright. Memories of the stories the elders told that guided the young in the ways of their people as their mothers wove baskets in the light of the fire and their fathers hunted for the foods that would sustain them. Memories of their ancient ways. Ways that nurtured and sustained and honoured all of life.

It began as just a murmuring, a gentle breath of hope. It is growing. Louder.

And their wings are growing. Stronger.

And the way is growing. Clearer.

And their hearts are beating. Faster.

And the drums are pounding. Fiercer.

Soon. Soon. It will be time.

Time to erase the erasing of their ways that could never be erased because theirs are the way of nature and nature can never be erased. It flows always. In the rivers. In the seas. In the air we breathe. In the light of the sun and the cast of the moon. It flows deep within the earth that has always nurtured and sustained life on this planet we call our home. This planet that is growing weary of our ways that is killing off its creatures, poisoning its waters, clogging up its air.

This earth is calling them to awaken to their ways.

It is time. Time for the stories to be told. For the light to return. Time for the threads of yesterday to be woven back into the tapestry of life that was their way. And is their way.

It is their ways that will sustain and nurture us.

It is their ways that will heal the wounds.

It is their ways that will heal the truth.

It is their ways that will heal the earth and all of nature.

If is time for us to step aside and let their ways lead us all back into nature’s balance.

More Than Just a Lost Boy

In school, I vaguely, and I mean vaguely, remember learning about Sir John A Macdonald. Sir Wilfred Laurier, Langevin and the other ‘Founding Fathers of Confederation’ as well as the Davin Report, the full name of which was, Report on Industrial Schools for Indians and Half-Breeds. (Source)

I vaguely, and I mean vaguely, remember learning about how the Davin Report set the path for the assimilation of children into the Euro-centric culture of Canada’s founding fathers. It proposed a cooperative approach between the Canadian government and the church to implement the “aggressive assimilation” pursued by President of the United StatesUlysses S. Grant.[29][28]:1.

I remember vaguely, and I mean vaguely, photographs of the painting above. it is a recreation of an original painting by Richard Harris that hung in the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa from 1884 to 1916 when it was destroyed in a fire that also destroyed the original Parliament Buildings. In 1964, Confederation Life, an insurance company, commissioned artist, Rex Wood, to recreate the original painting to be presented in honour of Canada’s Centennial. In the recreated version, three figures, who had not been considered Founding Fathers in 1883 when the original painting was commissioned, were added on the right.

I remember vaguely, and I mean vaguely, having to re-enact in some elementary school class, the negotiations, the haggling, the political maneuverings needed to get signatures on the bottom line of The British North American Act, Canada’s constitution.

I know, and I mean know, I did not ask, where are the Chiefs in this painting? Where are the First Nations people who were the first to inhabit these lands? Why were they not signatories? Why aren’t they in the painting?

I also know, and I mean know, whatever I learned about ‘assimilation’ it was framed in the language of the founding fathers, because I know, and I mean know, I never thought to ask…

What about the children? What about the residential schools?

What about the attempted annihilation of those who walked these lands, who hunted and planted, who gathered and raised families and had their own system of governance, who built canoes and lodges, who knew the medicinal values of all the plants and could heal broken limbs and festering sores with their knowledge rooted in the forests and lakes, the mountains and rivers of this land and who had lived here for centuries long before white man arrived?

I know this because I know that I was never taught about the residential school system when I was in school. I was never taught to question the purpose, value and impact of assimilation.

I could not question what I did not know.

My education into the harm done by the residential school system began in the 1990s when I began working on a project with a group of street-engaged teens. We were writing a play together. Its purpose: to build a bridge from street life to main street. To give those who did not know, an opportunity to learn more about something they did not understand – -street life.

Several of the teens involved in this project were Indigenous. Like the other young people involved they were thoughtful. Articulate. Passionate about the project and committed to using it as a vehicle to reach other teens to let them know, street life is not the solution. It is a road to more pain and suffering.

I was involved with this project for three years. In the second play we wrote there was a young man involved, I’ll call him Chris, who had run away from a reserve in Saskatchewan.

I credit Chris with awakening me to the horrors of the residential school system and its lasting impact on Indigenous peoples.

Both his parents, his aunties and uncles, they all attended the schools. They had never been lovingly parented. Deeply wounded, they did not know how to parent their own children.

Chris wasn’t angry with his parents. He was angry with ‘the white man’. With authority. With a system that denied him dignity, respect, justice and freedom.

And still, for all his anger and pain, Chris kept turning up for our group every single Wednesday afternoon. He didn’t have a home, but he did have a place to belong in our small group of fledgling writers and actors.

The play itself was a cooperative endeavour. Everyone involved offered their words and ideas and as a group, we chose which ‘story-line’ to pursue in the overarching piece.

Chris was an inspired rapper. His words penetrating. His emotions ran deep.

Everyone agreed, Chris’ story was a pivotal piece of the play and he was hyped to be giving voice to his people’s story.

And then, a few days before the play was to be mounted, I received a call from Chris.

He was in tears.

I’ve been arrested, he told me. I won’t be out before the play.

I struggled to find a way to get Chris permission to still be able to be part of the play. But the system was greater than me.

I don’t know what happened to Chris after that as once the prison doors closed, I lost touch with him.

What I do know, and I mean know, is that Chris made a difference in my life. He opened the door to the dark underbelly of our history. His wasn’t just ‘a story of a boy lost to the streets’. It was the story of an entire people whom, despite the centuries of abuse they’d endured, had never lost their will to fight. To survive. To live.

I don’t know where Chris is now, but I believe, and I mean believe deeply, that wherever he is, Chris is waking people up to the fact, ‘not knowing’ is not good enough.

We must educate ourselves. We must start asking questions. Demanding action. Creating change. Now.

What are you willing to do?

I feel like I have been holding my breath for the past week. I feel like the burden of these days have settled on my spirit, bringing me little peace of mind, little gentleness of body.

Mind and body are all one.

Our human condition is all one.

We are all one people sharing this one planet walking this one earth, together.

We are One.

Peel back my skin, my blood runs red. My bones are white.

Peel back your skin, your blood runs red. Your bones are white.

Peel back the layers of my story, your story, we were all born of a mother’s womb. Different yet the same.

Our lives entered this world through a force of nature that sometimes feels too mystical, too ephemerally magical to comprehend.

Yet here we are. Walking this one earth. Sharing the same air. The same waters. Lands. Breath.

A friend commented on my FB page this morning that “There is always light after darkness.”

She’s right. The earth turns. The sun rises. Darkness rests. The earth turns. Sun rises….

If we keep our eyes closed, we will never see the light. To see the light, we must step into the darkness with our eyes and heart and minds wide open to its shadows, its hidden mysteries, its beauty.

The lights shines brightest in the darkness. So does truth.

In an email exchange with a friend this morning I commented on how to heal, Indigenous peoples have had to be able to speak the truth of what happened to them.

In my own life, speaking truth has helped me heal from childhood abuse, initmate partner abuse, and from my own misdeeds on this journey called, ‘my life’.

Speaking truth heals.

So does facing it.

And the truth is, non-Indigenous Canadians have struggled to hear the truth and to face our shared history of racism and cultural genocide of Indigenous peoples because… it hurts.

It hurts to think that our forefathers acted with such cruel and callous intent towards those who walked these lands long before the first boatload of settlers arrived.

It hurts to know that, while the motivation behind Residential Schools at the time may have been considered ‘best practices of the day’, (even writing that phrase I am aghast to think it was possible knowing what we know today, but at the time, it is possible it was so) they did little to stop the abuses they uncovered, at the time and during the century and a half of their existence, and continue to take little concrete action to address the truth of the inequities of The Indian Act today which continues to limit the rights and lives of Indigenous peoples.

And it hurts to think this land, this country of which so many of us are proud, believe is a fair and just nation, is not, has never been such, and continues to be not a fair, just and equitable nation for Indigenous, First Nations, Metis, Inuit and many people of colour.

It hurts.

Truth does that sometimes. It hurts.

But when I write it out. When I state unequivocally, we are not a fair, just and equitable nation for all, there is hope. In the face of the truth, I do not have to waste my time defending against it.

In acknowledging it, I open the door to the question… “What am I willing to do about it?” What am I willing to do to dismantle the lies I’ve told, the mistruths we all told to keep the status quo in place, no longer continue to exist? No longer continue to keep those who have been harmed by our inability to bear witness to the truth, can breathe fresh air, drink clean water, live fearlessly on this land that has been their land since long before we arrived.

What am I willing to do about it?

I will speak the truth. I will not hide behind platitudes of “We’re doing our best”. “It takes time to right a ship this large.” “It’s complicated.” “Change doesn’t happen over night.” etcetera. etcetera. etcetera.

It is in our denial, in our shying away from truth, in our dismissal of facts, our refusal to hear the pain and trauma, our habit of casting blame on the victims, to wash away the struggles of many with words like, ‘it’s time to get over it’, or, ‘‘those people. they’ll never change. they’re just dirty, rotten….’, it is in our inability to listen, and hear and be present with the truth, that we become that which we do not want to be, ‘an unfair, unjust and inequitable country.’ A country where the privileges bestowed the majority, simply because of the colour of our skin, give us an inequitable right and access to fresh drinking water, education, safe housing, health care, financial well-being, freedom of speech, justice and so much more.

The light shines brightest in the darkness.

It’s time we cast light on the truth so that we can stand in the darkness of our past, and find our way into a future where all children, all people, no matter the colour of our skin, our faith, our age, our education, our history, the depth of our bank account, or our ‘connections’, have the possibility of living a future free of racism, discrimination and abuse.

A future where our Canada is a just, fair and equitable nation for its people.

Namaste.

_______________________________

The anger comes in waves — this morning’s news shared on CBC that our Federal Government “says it’s not liable for cultural damage caused by Kamloops residential school: court documents”

I use the ‘our’ intentionally. This is our government. We cannot, must not, let them get away with denying the truth.

Link to CBC article.

Did They Search For The Children?

A 1931 photo of the Kamloops Indian Residential School. PHOTO BY NATIONAL CENTRE FOR TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION

I am haunted. Haunted by the image of a mother desperately trying to find her child.

I am burdened. Burdened by the stories buried beneath generations of denial.

I am bewildered. Bewildered by the truth that we are not standing up as a nation, standing with the Indigenous community, decrying these acts of genocide and demanding we start listening, deeply, to the stories so that we stop repeating history, again and again and again.

And I am saddened. Saddened by so much loss. So much abuse. So much.

____________

I awoke this morning with a question on my mind. “Did they search for the children?”

Because I know, if it had been one of my children who had gone missing, run away, taken, the police, the community, my family and friends would have banded together and never stopped looking until she was found.

And sadly, I know, that didn’t happen. Sadly, I know, no one listened when the mother of one of the 215 undocumented deaths cried out, “Help me. My child is missing!” Sadly, I know this is true.

Calgary Herald Article, May 21, 2021 – Why so many children died at Indian Residential Schools

______________________

Did They Search For The Children?
by Louise Gallagher

When they discovered
they were gone,
when they realized
their bed was empty
did they search
for the children?

Did they send out a call
for volunteers
to come
band together
with the police and school administrators
and community members
and the parents whose tears 
could not stop falling
as they searched 
desperately
the long tall grasses
that surrounded the school
in a frantic attempt
to find their child
gone missing in the night.

Did they search
or did they already know
it was too late
the child was gone
forever
buried
beneath the black
earth covering
their tiny, fragile body
still
forever more.

And when the mother came
knocking, knocking, knocking
at the door
her body awash in a river of pain
did they bring her inside
and wrap their arms around her
and tell her how
how this had happened
what had gone wrong
how sorry and ashamed and horrified
they were that her child
was lost
and that they too
would never stop
searching 
for answers
never stop searching 
for her child
forever more.

Or did they slam the door
on her dirty Indian face
leaving her to wander
inconsolably
in the rain and the sleet and the snow
under a hot burning sun 
along the long dusty road
leading away from the last known place
where she had seen her child
enter
that dark day
the police and the Indian Agent
had come
to steal her child away.

Did they slam the door in her face?
Did they turn their backs on the mother
and whisper amongst themselves
how they would never tell
anyone
what had happened
to the child.

These questions
these remains
these stories
of two hundred and fifteen children
found
buried
deep
beneath the black soil
surrounding a school
where children were taken
from their loving families
so the ‘Indian’ could be beaten out of them,
these questions
these remains
these stories
they haunt me.

And I imagine a mother
grasping for her child
as the police tear the wee one out of her arms
and I see Auschwitz and Buchenwald
but I do not see
my Canada

Oh my Canada
we have lived with these stories
burning
deep
buried beneath
the dark soils
of this land
eating away at our nationhood
and still 
we do little.

And I imagine it happening to me
while my daughters were young
or my daughter’s children 
and the children of her friends
right now
being forcibly taken
so the Canadian can be beaten out of them
and I wonder
would we ever recover?
Would we ever 
get 
over 
it
as so many suggest
those who lost their children
and their culture
and their language
and their land
must do
now?

And I wonder
can we ever recover
from our past?
Can we ever wash away
our shame
when we know now,
as they knew then,
we cannot bring
these children back.
They are gone
forever.

Why I Dance!

Why I Dance – mixed media on canvas board. 11 x 14″

Years ago, as a gift for my daughters, I painted two paintings on the theme of dancing.

Yesterday, I wrote a poem entitled, Why I Dance.

I knew that somewhere I had a photo of the painting I’d created for my eldest daughter and went in search of it. I thought it might make a good accompaniment for my poem.

I found the painting, (believe me I was surprised!) but… I wasn’t all that pleased with the work. At the time, it was good. I had only been painting for a couple of years and it was a reflection of my nascent skills and talent.

But, (and yes, there’s always a ‘but’) I had totally forgotten about the ‘when’ of my beginning to paint until I started working on a new piece to go with my poem.

I started painting in the throes of a relationship that almost killed me. I had mostly quit writing. Writing is about truth for me and the truth around that relationship was enshrouded in so much pain and fear and terror I could not, would not, didn’t dare express it.

On that first day when I picked up a paintbrush, I found a way to express myself through creating beauty to block out the pain and fear I lived within every moment of every day.

As I look back on the gifts that painting has brought me, I am humbled by its power to transform fear into faith, pain into perseverance, horror into hope.

My eldest daughter taught me how to paint.

My daughters teach me how to love, the darkness and the light, within and all around me.

Writing teaches me every day how to walk in truth.

Painting awakens me, every day, to the beauty, within and all around me.

And here’s the thing about writing. This post is not at all what I had thought it would be about when I started typing this morning.

And then, the words appeared and as is the way, they just kept flowing as I flowed with them.

I’d type more but… Beaumont the Sheepadoodle is sitting by my desk, staring at me with that looks he gets when he feels I have been sitting here too long. “It’s time to get out into nature,” he says with his emploring eyes.

And I believe him and am off to dance with nature.

Why I Dance 
by Louise Gallagher  

There is no rhyme 
or reason 
to why 
I dance 

there is only  
the beat 
pounding 
pulsing 
pushing 
my body 
to move 
cavort 
contort 
into expressive release 
of the energy 
coursing 
through my veins 
limbs extended 
reaching out 
as if in that one  
fluid motion  
I can grab on 
to nothing 
but air 
and fly 
as high as the sky 
free 
of all earth 
bound need  
to be tied 
down.  
There is no rhyme  
or reason 
to why I 
dance. 
 
There is only  
the desire 
to fly 
free. 
This is the painting I created in 2003, the year I was released from that relationship.

She Could Not Let The Gods Die

My mother was born in India of Euro-Asian descent. At the time, Pondicherry was a French Protectorate with a very vibrant and strong Catholic community.

Devoutly Catholic, she affixed crucifixes above doors and kept statues of the Virgin Mary and Jesus by her bed. She also ensured there were statues of Vishnu and Lakshmi and other gods all around the house, just in case.

The words of a prayer were never far from her lips, especially if one of us four children lost something or tested her patience (read mostly me). Where I was concerned, it didn’t take much provocation for her to quickly launch into a prayer to St. Jude, the Saint of Lost Causes.

I remember once, we were camping and my sister and I were using one of my father’s favourite camping pots as a bucket. We would scoop water out of the river and then throw the water back in as if it were raining. I was scooping and throwing and accidentally let the bucket go as I was throwing the water back in. I remember watching, aghast, as the bucket bobbed along the surface of the water, out of reach. My mother made me pray with her to St. Jude and a few minutes later, the pot was found safely tucked in between two rocks a bit further downstream. She was convinced it was St. Jude answering our prayers, just as she was convinced, God and St. Jude would never give up on me.

Yesterday, I read Agah Shahid Ali’s poem, “Lenox Hill” which arrived in my Inbox via The Poetry Foundation. Reading his powerful and provocative words, I was reminded of my mother and her many gods and goddesses and her deep abiding faith in the God of her faith.

This poem was born…

She Could Not Let The Gods Die
By Louise Gallagher

Tired now,
she prayed feverishly
to her Lord
God of her faith
committed 
to following His way
to the other side.

It was the way 
of the cross
she’d carried away
from the land of her birth
when she’d left
to follow the way
of a man
who appeared
like one of the gods
she could not let
die.

She carried her faith like a cross
but could not let the gods
of her land of birth
die
just in case.

You never know when you might need
a god of another colour
she whispered into the shroud
of mystery
that encircled her
in the dead of night.
You never know who will meet you
at the door
of Heaven or Hell or Svarga loka.

And when the time came
for her to pass over
through the gates
of an unseen world
she held tight
to the rosary she’d carried
with her from the land of her birth
as her lips silently moved,
praying feverishly for her soul
to achieve enlightenment.

I have never let you die,
she whispered with her dying breath
where karma met Moksha on the way
of the cross
releasing her from all earthly ties
free
to live in peace
forever 
on the other side.

Love Makes It So

I don’t often share a link to another person’s post without first writing about whatever is awoken within me by what another has written.

This morning. I’m changing it up. Mostly because… Brian Pearson’s lastest post, “Justice on the Journey” rings so deeply true within me, I feel compelled to offer it up for everyone else to read.

I hope you read it and come back to comment — I’d love to know how it resonates with you.

His opening paragraph grabbed me and just kept pulling me inward to the bare truth of his final statement,

"The spiritual journey requires us to be as engaged with the wounds of the world as with our own wounds. Justice, in other words, is part of the journey. And love makes it so."

Please do go have a read – CLICK HERE.

_____________________

About the photos — The top photo was taken when my daughters were 3 and 4ish. We were on the way to a wedding and the girls were so excited to see the bride! I share it because ultimately, it is only Love that protected and carried us through out lives to this day where my relationship with my daughters is the one I’ve always dreamed of – and as this is our anniversary week… here is one from our wedding where I was the bride and my daughters walked me down the aisle and C.C.s son and daughter did the same for him. (Photo by Ross Tabalada)