Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Rest


I keep drawing the four of swords, in the metaphorical sense. I need to rest, long and hard.

It's hard for me to rest, when there are so many inspiring words and songs and works of art that I want to share here. In my non-virtual life, too, I have trouble resting when there pictures and stories to create, and there are the practices of body/mind/heart to attend to. But rest is trumping everything for the moment. 

I will return refreshed and with new perspective, I think.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Postmodern Hymn: The Earth Forgives

"The World," from the Zombie Tarot

Today's hymn is literally postmodern; it was written by Margaret Atwood for her book The Year of the Flood. It is part of a collection of hymns that members of God's Gardeners sing. While Atwood's invented religion is far from perfect (she says so herself in an interview on To the Best of Our Knowledge), there are aspects of it that clearly are meant to resonate with contemporary culture. The website devoted to the book includes tips on how to become more saintly green, which I love. But there's also the lurking message that no religion is the whole story; no religion can make a perfect human adherent.  

The hymn itself is so simply sweet to my ears. After just a few listens, I feel that John Denver would be a better representative for the God's Gardeners' hymnal, but I do appreciate the critical tone of the hymn.



Thursday, March 28, 2013

Sacred Space: Basilica of Agony

The Basilica of the Agony, photograph by Hans Mast

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed long into the night. The Basilica of the Agony is built at the foot of the Mount of Olives, near this garden. I like it that there is a church to mark Jesus' dark night.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Revelation

Amar-elo, by Nanda Correa

"I am Protennoia, the Thought that dwells in the Light. I am the movement that dwells in the All, she in whom the All takes its stand, the first-born among those who came to be, she who exists before the All....I am incomprehensible, dwelling in the incomprehensible. I move in every creature...

I am the real Voice. I cry out in everyone, and they recognize it (the voice), since a seed indwells them." 
    —excerpt from Trimorphic Protennoia, translated by John D. Turner

I'm fascinated by revelations. Somehow whenever revelatory in-spiration strikes, there is an element of creativity to it—playful, heretical, perhaps not the whole truth. How many revelations have been excluded from sacred scriptures because they don't quite match what religious leaders expect to hear? This creative aspect of transcendent experience is something I can't stop thinking about. To be willing to receive a revelation means to be willing to revise what is true. And if you keep revising "truth," what is true? 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Blue

by Joan Miro

"The gods live in a blue place of metaphor... 

The mind from the beginning must be based in the blue firmament, like the lazuli stone and sapphire throne on mysticism, the azure heaven of Boehme, philos sophia. The blue firmament is an image of cosmological reason; it is a mythical place that gives metaphorical support to metaphysical thinking... 

Alchemy begins... in the blue vault, the seas, in the mind's thinking in images, imagining ideationally, speculatively, silveredly, in words that are both images and ideas, ... the blue power of the word itself, which locates this consciousness in the throat of the visuddha cakra whose dominant color is a smoky purple-blue.

...Your mind moves in the caelum, touches the constellations, the thick and hairy skull opens to let in more light, their light, making possible a new idea of order, a cosmological imagination whose thought accounts for the cosmos in the forms of images."

    —from "Blue," by James Hillman

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Creative Work of Hope

Mechanitis butterfly chrysalis
(no attribution that I can find on the internet...)

Hope is a word that has been floating around on the surface of my awareness lately. Here are some of my encounters with the word:

"Hope is not an emotion, but hope is a cognitive, behavioral process that we learn when we experience adversity, when we have relationships that are trustworthy, when people have faith in our ability to get out of a jam." (Brené Brown on the work of C. R. Snyder, in her interview with Krista Tippet)

"I do like that . . . idea of hope as a function of struggle. It's almost like, you know, it would be counterintuitive, counterculturally, to say we need to struggle with this honestly, vulnerability, to cultivate the hope that we need to figure out what's next." (Krista Tippet in her interview with Brené Brown)

"There was a theologian from the mid-1900s who kind of described hope as an attitude toward the future that we cannot see, but we trust that somehow it's held by God and that there are possibilities beyond what we can even imagine." (Father Mike Surufka in his interview on Losing Our Religion)

Hope used to mean something escapist and fantastical to me, but lately I've been seeing it more as hard work, as practice in walking the invisible path. Hope has become a constructive enterprise that calls for creativity—anticipating future possibilities with the attitude of an artist who has seen the final creation in her head—as well as vulnerability—accepting the possibility of hope unfulfilled. Hope, these days any way, is a truly brave act.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Admiring: Widwife of Art, Ideas, and Healing

photograph by Carl van Vechten
April 12, 1934
via Yale Library

Mabel Evans Dodge Sterne Luhan was an influential salon hostess throughout her life, in Italy (where she hosted Gertrude Stein and Carl van Vechten, among others), then in New York (where she again hosted salons and also helped organize a post impressionist art exhibit). But she is perhaps is best known for hosting many great thinkers of her day at her home in Taos, New Mexico. Georgia O'Keefe, Carl Jung, Willa Cather, and D. H. Lawrence were among the visitors that Mabel invited to stay with her.

When her third husband moved to New Mexico, she soon followed, and when she arrived she was thoroughly moved by the landscape and the people who lived there. She saw the value in the pueblos' rituals and art, their connections to the earth and to each other. 

She was also interested in psychoanalysis and its ability to help people rediscover these connections, and she would invite guests that she believed could help her spread this "gospel" of reconnection to the rest of the world. Apparently her strong beliefs and goals also could make her manipulative and domineering. There are no perfect heros! But I admire her whole-hearted determination to bring healing to the world.

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