Thursday, 24 December 2015

Merry Christmas



If someone was to ask me what my favourite 

childhood book had been I would tell them it was 

"Hurlbut's Story of the Bible" by the Rev. J. Hurlbut.


Hurlbut strikes me as an amusing name now but in 

1959 in my part of the world the sound of the word 

'but' didn't conjure up pictures of bare bottoms - it 

was still just a conjunction.


Anyway I read those Bible stories over and over and 

over.


And I still love them. 


I especially love the story of a baby who brings 

hope to a weary world and is born of a virgin mother 

on the winter solstice and is visited by angels,

shepherds and wise men who were led 

by a Star.


It just doesn't get much better than that.


And so with my own heart full of hope I wish 

everyone joy and peace this Christmas season.



Monday, 21 December 2015

The Horrified Christ

Cree girls fishing



Should the Anglican Church be allowed to raise money to bring running water to our indigenous communities that are presently without water or sewage?

I guess that question doesn't matter because they already are according to a blog I read recently.

And it isn't the only church doing so.

Although I agree with the writer/priest that the spirit is moving across the land I'm not sure the churches are listening to Her.

Yes fresh water will bring many health benefits and certainly bring dignity to anyone who aspires to our white level of deodorized and sanitized bodies.

But if Christians insist on patting themselves on the back and thinking running hot and cold water and flush toilets will magically decrease the suicide rate among our aboriginal  sisters and brothers they are
mistaken. 


Again.


By all means Canada, let's get that water where it should be but please don't let them make it a "Jesus" project.  

Jesus is no doubt horrified and still trying to get over the Residential Schools the churches built in His name.


Truth and Reconciliation should be led by the First Nations people themselves.


For now our job is to follow.




Friday, 18 December 2015

The Message Behind the Symbols



The image asks Christians to honour 

the Divine Feminine.



Some may find Her in the Holy Spirit.

Some may find her in our pre-Christian roots.



Wherever  you find Her,

may She bring peace and blessings

to you

as we prepare to celebrate the birth 

of Her 


Holy Child


and the return  of the sun.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Honour Her



The Winter Child tells us to honour his 

MOTHER  

.

SHE 

from whom all things come.


Saturday, 28 November 2015

Feed the Poor



I was at an Advent Cafe at a church in downtown St. Catharines this week. 

It was great, complete with a barefoot Anglican woman priest celebrating the Eucharist, (I haven't been an Episcopagan long enough to understand the significance of this so don't ask) and lots of
funky music/musicians.

But as it turned out that isn't what I was meant to see.

As I approached the back of the church I saw three men sitting on the ground.  Each man had his arms locked around a large dog as if he was afraid someone would take it away.

A few other  people were milling around. I was mildly puzzled but I went inside and came upon a crowded room filled with laughter and children playing tag.

It didn't look the way I had pictured an Advent Cafe but I shrugged and stepped forward.  I didn't get to go in though,  the person at the door directed me upstairs when he found out why I was there.

As I climbed the stairs I asked a woman what was happening inside the busy room.

"That's the "Out of the Cold" programme she said. Every night a different church hosts it.

Oh.

Living so far away from downtown I had no idea of the number of hungry adults, children and animals in our cities.

She looked at me and said kindly," They don't all sleep here, some are just here for the meal.


First lesson of Advent.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

I See

1995, self portrait


Last night I dreamt that I found a horse.
 
Then I realised it was my horse and that it was dying of thirst and starvation as I had neglected it for years.   

I was distraught to think I had done this to such magnificent creature.

I tried to find a bucket to give it water but all I had was a wine glass which I knew was too fragile and small. 

A friend of mine who owns a horse walked by and I decided to ask her for some hay.


***


When I woke up I immediately e-mailed my friend and told her about the dream.  

I also asked if I could buy some hay from her. 

She understood that I was joking but I don't think my unconscious would get the joke.

It would, however, get the message that I am listening to what it is telling me.


You need to take care of the aspect of your life that you are neglecting.

You are in a rut and only a healthy horse can carry you forward.



Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Sacred Labyrinth



Colouring books for adults are popular these days because someone - probably an artist realized the 'zone' we get into is marketable.

People occasionally ask me if I get bored when I'm doing my oil pastels, mechanically putting down layers of colour.  The truth is that those are the times that the spirit comes to me.

I've noticed the same thing happening in spinning class at the gym. There is something about our conscious minds being preoccupied with repetitive actions that opens the door to the unconscious and the spirits that dwell within.

I don't know why it is so, I just know that it happens.

Hence the interest in colouring books - people are searching to reconnect with the Sacred.

This is one of my attempts to design a colouring page. Unfortunately it is harder than I expected.

Drawing a straight solid line is not for the faint of heart.

I'll talk more about this design in the next post.

Friday, 18 September 2015

Fearing Islam

'The Dart Game', oil pastels on paper
approx 16" x 18"


At a very deep level I fear Islam because

a) I fear Sharia Law and

b) I fear burquas, niquabs and hijabs because they 

seem to represent Sharia law.


I want that to be perfectly clear because it is true.


But I don't believe the state has the right to tell 

women what they can or can't wear so I accept the 

head coverings.


I also understand that my fear is often driven by 

social media.


And I know that there are many Muslims who have 

worked/are working to free themselves and their 

religion from the misogynistic trappings that it 

somehow developed,

( see http://www.monaeltahawy.com/ )

just the way there are Christians who have 

worked/are working worked to bring equality 

and social justice to Christianity.


Consequently my compassion is stronger than my 

fear.


Therefore I believe that Canada should be taking 

immediate steps to help alleviate the refugee crisis 

in Europe.


Not next year, next month or even tomorrow.



Today.


***

Friday, 11 September 2015

The Ghosts That Haunt Me


The Ghosts That Haunt Me
oil pastels on paper
approx 17" x 20"



I was looking down at a goat that was strung up by its legs.  

The goat was beautiful. 

It had shiny black fur and the most gentle
Christlike look on its face.

I had cut the skin off its head from the eyes back and I was slicing and eating pieces of its 'meat'. 

Suddenly I saw that the goat was only unconscious.

I realized that I would have to take its heart out and kill it because it would suffer terribly if I put the scalp back on particularly as I had eaten part of it.

It was a horrifying dilemma.

I couldn't kill the goat but I couldn't let it suffer either.


*** 

The black goat represents my unconscious.  

That was easy to figure out - the word 'unconscious' 
was the word I used myself in the dream to describe it.

Peeling back the unconscious (the scalp) and eating 
parts of it (taking in) suggests to me that there are 
some shadow issues I've integrated into my conscious personality.

But the rest of the dream is more problematic.

And "getting to the heart of everything" is going to be a bloody, painful mess.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

How Clearly the Dying See



It is coming up to the fourth anniversary of the day

my father died.

His last few days were full of visions and visits from

people I couldn't see.

One afternoon a fist punched its way through the 

ceiling of the room.

He wasn't surprised or even concerned that I 

couldn't see it.

But the symbolism of an open portal between this 

world and the next has been with me ever since. 



***

Thursday, 27 August 2015

The Dart Players



Do you see the female figure between the two men?

I didn't plan it but I was interested to see She was there.

The Mother seems to be everywhere.

Even church - although that is the last place I 
thought I would find Her.


Part of a particularly lovely contemporary 
Anglican hymn:


She Flies On

Refrain: She comes sailing on the wind
Her wings flashing in the sun
on a journey just begun, She flies on.
And in the passage of Her light
Her song rings out through the night;
full of laughter, full of light, She flies on ...


Desert turned to gardens ...
and down through the ages she flew on ...

Refrain


Long after the deep darkness
that fell upon the word,
after dawn returned in flame of rising sun,
the Spirit touched the earth again,
again Her wings unfurled,
bringing life in wind and fire as She flew on.  

Refrain

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Me



I knew there had to be one more picture in the series.

So I took the pieces that flew apart yesterday and put them
back together again this morning.

This is the sketch of the new 'whole'.

I call it ... "Me".

Sunday, 23 August 2015

The Pieces



"The Self might be thought of as the archetype of wholeness, and its intention is to restore wholeness to the human psyche which has been so fragmented
 - even through means which may appear to be at first destructive."

The Dream of the Cosmos, a Quest for the Soul
Anne Baring


I met for supper with three other women last week.

One of the women has twice survived breast cancer 

and chemo.

Last year her husband said he wanted to downsize 

so they sold their house.  About three months ago 

he told her he wanted a divorce.


Her children are grown up and gone.


She doesn't feel capable of going back to work as an 

EA at a local school in September.


She went through a celebratory 'glad to be rid of 

him' time of lavish spending on herself. But last 

week the bravado was gone. 


She sees that there is no husband, no family, no 

money. Just fragments of a life scattered around her 

like broken glass.


Her depression is absolute.

I feel for her.



But it is only when you are in pieces that the

process of becoming whole can begin.



Friday, 21 August 2015

I Once Was Blind II



How hard to drop the window dressing - the extraneous details that distract from the whole.

The basic shapes are starting to appear. 

Some were not in the first effort but have appeared in this one - others are emerging from behind the frippery.


I have never appreciated the courage of abstract artists.

And I certainly didn't realize how clearly they see. 




Psalm 119:18
Open my eyes that I may see wondrous things ...

















***

Thursday, 20 August 2015

I Once Was Blind



I'm reading Anton Ehrenzweig's "The Hidden Order 

of Art".


It is a hard go for a non-intellectual, but on the 

occasion that I do actually get something, it really 

rocks my world.


He has made me decide to explore the world of the 

abstract for awhile.


But it isn't easy to move into abstract and still say 

something.


Ehrenzweig speaks about how frightening it 

is for blind people who are suddenly given sight. 


How they must be guided to take in the 'whole of a 

thing' and not the details if they are ever going to 

learn to see with their eyes.


I've been trying to imagine how it would be to 

suddenly be presented with sight - how would I even 

start to make sense of what was happening??


"White Dog on Pink Bed" is the first effort.


It is a charming little picture but not even close to 

where I want to go with this.





If the Devil is in the details, then God must be in the 

whole - and seeing the whole of anything is far  

harder than I ever imagined - it involves so much 

more than just using our eyes.  Something all 

successful abstract artists must know I suppose.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Hidden



I had a dream this week that I found my nephew 

hiding in a small cave of earth, leaves and wood.  

He was wearing a Sikh head covering.


My nephew is now a grown man with a family but in 

my dream he seemed to be about 12 or 13.


I pay attention to my dreams and this one was 

unusual because the message is so clear.


My unconscious self seems to be  directing me 

to "seek" something that is hidden or lost. 


Anyway, it is always a good idea to let your

unconscious know that you got the message.


Hence the unfinished, untitled picture of a 

mental search.



If I figure out what it is I'll be terribly
tempted to finish the picture

and call it, "Sikh and ye shall find".

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Time


I just finished this picture which is based on a circa 1860 tintype of sisters who lived not far from where I live now.

I don't know much more than the fact that one of them was named 'Aggie' (Agnes), they were fairly well off and that Aggie's elderly granddaughter died a few months ago.

What their hopes and fears were or even how their clothes felt on their bodies, I have no idea.

So solemn and stiff in the tintype and so grey they might as well have already been in the grave.

Even warmed up with a little colour, Aggie and her nameless sister peer out at us - lovely/chilling reminders of our own mortality and the passing of time.


***

Monday, 27 July 2015

Le Gach Dea-ghuí



One day someone steals your bicycle, eats your 

lunch, insults you and trips you on the stairs.


After a few days of this you  call that person a worm

and a dog and what's worse maybe even say their 

mother wears army boots.


But then you start to feel uncomfortable in your 

skin so even though you consider the sins of the 

other far greater than yours you say, "I'm sorry I 

called you worm and dog and your mother 

actually wears nice shoes."


And surprise of surprises you find being good with 

the other person isn't important, being good with 

yourself is what matters.


Is this feeling of being back on an even keel 

forgiveness?


My churchy understanding is that forgiveness means 

that you never again think of what was said and 

done and like a frigging saint you pick up with the 

person as if it never happened.


Fine if your name is Mother Theresa.


It seems to me right now that it isn't churchy

forgiveness that is called for, rather it is

being right with your God(s), loving and 

respecting your own soul and being able to 

gently let the other person go.




One translation of the Irish 'le gach dea-ghuí' is 

"go with prayers".


***

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Sorry-ness


The funny thing about saying "I'm sorry" to someone 

is that so often it seems to hinge on the other 

person meeting us half way.  


As if we have a built in mental Geiger counter that

impedes the development of sorry-ness unless it 

detects sorry-ness in the other person first.


But a person can feel sorry or not sorry.


It's existence within can never depend on how

someone else feels.


Sorry-ness should only be measured against one's 

own moral standards.


Being sorry doesn't mean asking for forgiveness.


Saying, "I'm sorry," means holding your head up

and getting right with your own soul.



I learned that the hard way recently.


***

Friday, 24 July 2015

Sacred Comedy




That is the blood of the lamb

splattered across my new sparkly 

pineapple t-shirt.


Jeesh.  


I must have looked like I needed

more help than a simple sip would bring.


Anyway, the picture reminds me of an old 

friend who once told me the nuns at her

school said never to bite into the Host or 

the blood of Jesus would come gushing 

out of her mouth


and from there presumably, if she was lucky enough 

to have one, onto her new sparkly pineapple t-shirt.


:(




Thursday, 16 July 2015

Leaving Her Bones


'Besties'

Cree girls fishing at Moose Factory


I am awestruck by the journeys of my grandmothers

and often imagine their lives and the places they 

have left their bones.


Most came out of Africa, traveled with their tribes

through Europe to Ireland and Scotland and 

eventually came in great ships to the new world.


But one grandmother was already here.


Three hundred or so years ago my Mohawk 

grandmother left her bones in what  became 

the US.


Her beautiful brown pagan face stands out 

for me right now like shiny new chestnut 

lying in a bowl of fresh bananas.






***