Crocheting has become therapy and a form of contemplative prayer for me. This morning I am pondering loose ends. Sometimes those loose ends in our life do not only need to be tied up but woven in. How do I weave God more into my life?
Artist and poet, Jan Richardson’s words and images have been speaking to me for the past couple of years in the emails she sends out to those who sign up. I am not sure why, but so many times I feel such a deep connection with her words illuminated with her soulful abstract paintings.
When I saw this book, I have to admit that the cover caught my eye first. It makes a lovely coffee table book. The title–Night Visions–also called to me.
The winter season is not one of my favorites in Minnesota. The cold is embraceable with warm “woolies” to keep you warm, but the lack of sunlight can sometimes feel like you are under a big dark heavy blanket looking for an edge to peek out. Just these past couple days I noticed what a difference there is in how I feel if the sun is shining vs when it is not.
Most of my life I have associated darkness and night with things I do not want in my life. Because of that, I try to stay away from them and ignore that they are there. But these past few years with my practice of trying to be more mindful and in the present moment, I have found that there is so much beauty and wisdom that can come from darkness and night. I believe God created day and night, so why did I think God is not in darkness and night?
As I have been practicing embracing the darkness and night, I am seeing things I never noticed before. And I am seeing them in a different way. For instance, we have a Great Horned Owl that we can here hooting at times. The old me might associate owls with scary stuff, but the new me, ponders the sound with awe and wonders what that owl can teach me about God’s creation. I am realizing that there is much I have missed out on in life by letting my presumptions and fears get in the way.
I am looking forward to making this new book part of my daily Advent practice. The other part I really like about it is that it goes through Epiphany. Did you know the 12 days of Christmas do not start until Christmas Day? I guess I will save that thought to write about later.
Here is a little preview of what is inside the book:
The book is available for purchase on Jan’s website—www.janrichardson.com–or through Amazon.
Watching the footage from some of the photographers at the Standing Rock camps, I would see this sculpture sometimes and wonder about it. Who made it? How did it get there? How big is it? What is it made out of?
I did a little research to find out some of these answers. The sculpture is titled Not Afraid to Look the White Man in the Face. The artist who created the sculpture is Charles Recountre He is of Lakota heritage but now lives in New Mexico, where he made a similar piece that resides in Santa Fe.
The sculpture at Standing Rock, which sits on the edge of the hill overlooking Lake Oahe and the Cannon Ball River on the now evicted Sacred Stones camp, was completed in October 2016. News resources say that Recountre with the help of people at camp worked from sun up to sun down for 30 days to complete the piece. It was constructed from rebar and cement then painted a rich adobe red.
As I searched for photos of the sculpture, I started thinking about the significance of the title and how it related to me as a white woman. Thoughts that ran through my head were:
• If I looked at myself as a white woman in the mirror, what would I see?
• If I considered myself part of the collective “we” as a white immigrant who came and took the land from these people, how do I respond?
• In relation to my last post about not turning away from sin, how does not being afraid to look echo those same thoughts?
One of the photos I found (the top one with the closeup view of the sculpture from behind) had me envisioning myself as the sculpture with someone behind me taking the photo. Maybe that someone also had their hands on my shoulder in reassurance. Maybe that someone is God giving me the courage to not just look but see.
If I sit here for a time in silence pondering those thoughts, how does it change the way I think, feel, see?
Last spring a little corner of our dining room evolved into a sort of prayer corner for me. Yesterday I printed out that photo of Not Afraid to Look and added it to the corner. I feel like it has more to tell me.
Credit for above photos: http://www.facebook.com/NotAfraidtoLookatStandingRock/
Interview with the Artist: http://greenfiretimes.com/2017/01/not-afraid-to-look/
Not Afraid to Look Sculpture in Santa Fe, New Mexico: http://www.publicartarchive.org/work/not-afraid-look
It is quite extensive, and I have to admit that I have not completed all the pages that require answering questions to better define your goals in life. The concept behind the planner is to create rituals in your life that you want to make a habit. It is based on the thought that it is small steps that create change, vs large ideas.
I believe that is what caught my attention when the post about the planner popped up on Facebook, as I had just read an article about studies that showed our brains are much better at creating change when we break the steps down into things we can accomplish more easily. (I wish I could find the link to that article, but I am not finding it right now.)
Anyhow, on the weekly layout for the planner, there is a mandala design at the top where you put your focus for the week. This week, the thing that came to me was not a word or words but a heart. I decided to just go with what my gut was telling me to do and I drew a heart. Pondering that a bit, I realized that I had colored the red on the outside of the heart and left the inside of the heart blank. That led me to ask myself “What is in my heart?”.
Instead of being able to write a bunch of things that were on my mind, I realized that I had stumbled on a very significant question to which I really needed to let simmer before I could answer.
After I wrote the question next to my heart at the top of my planner, I took out my prayer journal and markers. I simple drew a big heart and wrote the question next to it. As I doodled around and embellished the heart, I considered what was really in my heart. Many thoughts came to mind, but none were fitting quite right. Then, something came to me–my need for connection. I decided that was where I wanted to start. How I will connect with who/what and how I will do it are the next step.
I decided that the page I had drawn with the heart in the middle was going to be my prayer journal meditative exercise for the month of February. (I know. It is fitting with Valentines Day being in the month of February too!) I am curious to see what will unfold.
If you are looking for a fun and thoughtful exercise to do with a group–adults and even children–you might consider giving each person a piece of paper and asking them to draw a heart in the middle and ponder the question “What is in my Heart?” Some might answer the question and say, “well, of course, it is Jesus.” But then ask “what does that mean?” What does it mean to have Jesus in my heart? It could most definitely be a dig deep exercise.
For the past few years I have embraced the tradition of choosing a new word symbolize my intentions for the new year. The tradition was introduced to me by Christine Valters Paintner of Abbey of the Arts. Christine talks about how we are to let our word choose us as well as us just choosing a word.
As an introvert–someone who needs alone time to recharge–I have been feeling the need to find some balance in my life. I really do like being with people too. That was one of my first thoughts when I pondered the word “connect.” I even tried other words on for size like “weave.” “Weave” is more poetic, but I was still drawn back to “connect.” My decision was made.
So, what does this word mean to me and how do I apply it to my life? The answers to that question are still evolving, but a couple things have stood out to me. One is the idea of strengthening my connection with God. Another is helping other strengthen their connection with God. Instead of doing something completely new, I realized that I was already doing these things through prayer bedes. (At least, I was intending to do it.) But intentions are not actions. One blog post a year is not much action!
That brings me to another thought I had today. Namely, “How do I connect my mind with my body?”. Another thing that I have intended to do, which is something I know many intend to do in the new year, is get more exercise. I have big ideas of what I want to do, but they never seem to be accomplished. Merging my mind with my body is another way I intend to connect this year. My word for the year has usually fit easily into my spiritual and mental intentions, but I was excited to see how it could fit into my physical intentions this year too.
Now that I have said that, this website will be an actual track of how I fulfill (or not) my intentions for the coming year. My goal is to post at least more than I did last year. That I think I can accomplish. Two is more than one!
New Year’s Blessings to All!
I noticed the daylilies were in bloom this morning. While googling “daylilies” because it is highlighted as misspelled in this post, I realized that they are edible. That means that all three of these yellow flowers in my gardens are edible. Kinda cool.
The Elizabeth Gilbert quote I included in the graphic I just found, and I love it! It seemed to fit perfectly with my thoughts, as I yielded to absorb the beauty of the blooming yellows I found.
I ran across this article this morning on Facebook, and I wanted to share. It mirrors some of my own beliefs as a raised Lutheran, Episcopal, married Catholic.