I am in summer writing mode, lazy mornings, reading, walking, re-ordering my days. I will be posting less frequently over the next two months, but on those days when I spend my time ‘othering’ I’ll share things that inspire me.
The painting above is one of the very first paintings I did when I first started painting almost 20 years ago. It continues to be one of my favourites — perhaps because in it, I see only the simple, pure joy of creation.
In the beginning, my mind was not cluttered with thoughts of ‘the right way’, or the ‘that’s not good enough way’ of creating that is a natural by-product of learning more about ‘how to paint correctly’ versus ‘how to paint for the pure joy of it’ which is the beginner’s way for me.
In the beginning, painting for the pure joy of it was natural. Now, I strive to recapture that essence. I must consciously let go of my need to ‘do it right’ versus ‘do it for the pure joy of it’ – which can be challenging because when I think about it, I am no longer in that place of natural joyful creation!
Ahh, the contradictions of life are so fascinating!
Inspiring thought for the day:
Rejoicing in ordinary things is not sentimental or trite. It actually takes guts. Each time we drop our complaints and allow everyday good fortune to inspire us, we enter the warrior’s world.
– Pema Chödron
from the book “The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times”
“The propensity to feel sorry for ourselves, the propensity to be jealous, the propensity to get angry—our habitual, all-too-familiar emotional responses are like seeds that we just keep watering and nurturing. But every time we pause and stay present with the underlying energy, we stop reinforcing these propensities and begin to open ourselves to refreshingly new possibilities. As you respond differently to an old habit, you may start to notice changes. In the past when you got angry, it might have taken you three days to cool down, but if you keep interrupting the angry thoughts, you may get to the point at which it takes only a day to drop the anger. Eventually, only hours or even one and a half minutes. You’re starting to be liberated from suffering.
For much of her life, my mother struggled to find joy. To be light. To be carefree.
For my mother, life was a challenging journey fraught with fears of everything in the world around her. Fear lived in her belly constantly stirring the bile into discord and unease that choked off her words and stuffed down her voice.
She wanted peace. Tranquility. Calm.
It is all she still wants.
And so she sleeps. She spends her days mostly in her room, napping and watching television. She will read, and she will pray.
And the days pass by.
She turns 94 this August. She is still a beautiful, sweet, gentle woman. And still she yearns for peace, tranquility, calm.
For a long while, after my father passed away and then my brother a year and a half later, she wondered why God would not take her. She was ready to go, she asserted. She wanted to. Needed to. She felt so much pain and anguish. So much fear. Would not death come and get her and ease her of her fears?
And so she prayed. And still, death never came.
Slowly, she has let go of her entreaties for God to intervene in her life on earth. She has come to accept her place. Resigned herself to being here until she no longer is here.
And my heart breaks open in Love. Her pain is my pain. Her fear resonates within me. Her sadness causes me to rise up and want to be like the sunshine. To create warmth, peace, love, joy where ever I go.
I am my mother’s daughter.
In his essay, “Archetype of the Great Mother“, yogi, writer, dream-interpreter, Tony Crisp writes, “After all, our mother was the most powerful being in our early world. ‘Did she admire hunters; then we would kill dragons and cleanse the world. Did she feel the weight of the world; then we would be the peace maker and bring her joy.’ (W.V. Caldwell).”
I have been exploring the role of the Divine Mother. What does it mean to awaken to her presence? What does it mean to invoke her? To hear her? To make space for her presence to heal and guide the unhealed aspects of my psyche so that I can be of service in the world?
She is a powerful archetype.
Tony Crisp writes, “…the archetype of the great mother is more than simply a residue of our relationship with our own mother. Motherhood on our planet is as old as life. So the archetype holds in it all that experience, all those patterns of behaviour, whether of the mother wolf with her cubs, or the eagle rearing its young. To touch such enormous wealth of experience is to be penetrated by the holy. Something so beyond the limitations of our own small personality enters us and leaves its imprint.”
The Divine Mother brings me back to compassion and mercy.
In her book, Start Where You Are: A compassionate guide to living, Pema Chödrön teaches Tonglen Meditation or Giving and Receiving. It is a form of mindfulness meditation that awakens us to being compassionate with our own suffering so that we can be present to the suffering of others.
Chödrön and others call it one of the richest and bravest practices that we can do.
It is not easy. It is powerful.
Giving No Fearis at the foundation of Tonglen Meditation. It is the practice of learning to relate with our own suffering—our rage, helplessness, frustration, doubt, bitterness, and fear—instead of pushing it away. Of acting through gentle loving-kindness toward ourselves to be present for our own suffering. In this way, we learn to stay with our own suffering without trying to change it or fix it. And in staying with our own suffering without changing it or fixing it, we are present for others.
I want to shine sunshine on my pain. To stay in the light and dance on rainbows and run through fields of wild flowers without thoughts of darkness skimming along the edges of my mind.
To give no fear I need to breathe into fear, invite it in, embrace it, know its presence and then, to release it for all the world to experience as light, fresh, spaciousness.
The Divine Mother is teaching me to hold myself in compassion and mercy. And in her presence, I am learning to be present with others in the same way so that I give no fear.
My mother has struggled to be free of fear. This is the gift I give her.
It is a gift we can all give the world. For today, I invite you to Give No Fear.