Monday, May 23, 2011

Time to Unfurl

This past weekend was spent in Black Mountain, North Carolina with a wonderful group of ten women.  My intention was to give them time to unfurl their creative wings with their cameras.  And they did more than that.  They let nature speak to them and listened and recorded the images nature gave them.  Butterflies, dragonflies, water, flowers, dandelions and more offered themselves to be photographed.  On one of our walks we were escorted by butterflies on both sides of the path down to the river.  And the butterflies even posed for us. Nature re-connects us with the sacred in everything.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Turtle Energy

The morning of spirit circle hosted by Mary Lemons in my studio, my husband found this baby turtle in the garden.  So small and so perfect.  Last time Mary was here the deer came to visit.  I am always filled with gratitude when the animals let me know they are here to support us.

In the book Animal Spirit Guides we are told that if turtle shows up, it means, among other things, that this is a period of increased sensitivity to the earth's vibrations and those of the collective human consciousness.  Also that it is time to nurture yourself, to slow down and pace yourself.  It is suggested that we spend a few hours in solitude, away from noise and people.  I think this is guidance we can all relate to.  Time away from the usual fast-pace of life allows us to absorb and make sense of what's been happening in our lives.

The turtle joined us for spirit circle in his own little box and after everyone had left I found a safe place for him in the garden outside the studio.  I checked on him in the morning and he was still hiding under the foliage.  But by midday he had moved on. As the saying goes: "Behold the turtle.  He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out." 

Perhaps he was reminding me that working slowly and steadily toward my next project (online classes) and enjoying the journey is more important than feeling the need to rush towards completion.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Our Words

I've just completed binding and getting ready the latest collaborative book done by the Photo Art Journals Yahoo group which I moderate. For this book I asked members to decide on a word to name their year which would help them focus their intention for the year ahead.

What would their lives look like if they embraced and lived this word daily?

And then ... they had to creatively photograph their word!  I then had fun creating a Wordle out of all the intention words that were chosen which I used as the cover for the book.

Thanks to the wonderfully creative members of this group for making this such an enjoyable project for me to put together.  You came up with some great ideas!

Here are links to photographs created for this collaborative book by some of the participants.  I love reading about their process of deciding on the word they chose.
Karen Dorcas in Alaska.
Louie Shellenberger
Paul Bogdan

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Mystic Path: Unitive Vision

Unitive Vision is the final stage of the mystic path. The best description I can find of what this is, is from Meister Eckhart, a 14th Century German mystic.  He says: "If I am to know God directly, I must become completely He and He I: so that this He and this I become and are one I."

If I consider the dark night that comes before this stage of union as a time of germination, then perhaps this stage is one of re-birth into a new reality.

To try and understand this more fully I once again looked to the mystical poets and Hafiz (as translated by Daniel Ladinsky) once again gave guidance:


The Seed Cracked Open

It used to be
That when I would wake in the morning
I could with confidence say,
"What am 'I' going to

that was before the seed
Cracked open.

Now Hafiz is certain:

There are two of us housed
In this body,

Doing the shopping together in the market and
Tickling each other
While fixing the evening's food.

Now when I awake
All the internal instruments play the same music:

"God, what love-mischief can 'We' do
For the world

Does my SoulCollage® card have any wisdom for me?

Take it one step at a time.
The way is always clear.
Let light guide your path towards the Light.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Mystic Path: Dark Night of the Soul

Most of us have experienced the "dark night of the soul" in one form or another.  Mystics are as human as the rest of us and also experience times of deep sadness and fatigue when nothing seems meaningful or even makes sense and when one feels abandoned. But it appears that this period of the "dark night" also is a period of growth.

St. John of the Cross, who is most well known for the phrase "the dark night of the soul" talked about it as a "passive purification, a state of helpless misery, in which the self does nothing, but lets Life have its way with her".

It seems to me that if I think of this stage of growth and discovery as similar to that of a seed in the deep darkness of the soil.  Essential expansion is taking place within, even though from without it doesn't look as important as the more exciting phases of budding and blooming.  Perhaps this is a time of "gestation of the soul".

And the wisdom from my card?

I am the one who waits patiently in the dark allowing the sadness and despair to wash over me.
I am the one who knows that there is no light without darkness.
I am the one who is growing wings in my darkness, although I am not aware of them sprouting.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Mystic Path: Ecstasy and Rapture

According to Evelyn Underhill's study of the mystical path, ecstasy is "an exceptionally favorable state; the one in which man's spirit is caught up to the most immediate union with the divine". I come closest to understanding this state through the poetry of some of the mystical poets, such as Rumi, Hafiz, St. John of the Cross and St. Catherine of Siena.  The absolute joy and connectedness they feel with the Divine appears to lift them to a higher state of being.

One of the most amazing collections of these poems is found in the book Love Poems from God by Daniel Ladinsky. Each poem speaks profoundly to connection, not just by the poets to God, but to all of creation.

I have chosen this poem by Hafiz from the book I Heard God Laughing, (also translated by Daniel Ladinsky) because it speaks to me of the deep connection of the mystic to God in all things.

I Am So Glad

Start seeing everything as God,
But keep it a secret.

Become like a man who is Awestruck
And Nourished

Listening to a Golden Nightingale
Sing in a beautiful foreign language
While God invisibly nests
Upon its tongue.

Who can you tell in this world
That when a dog runs up to you
Wagging its ecstatic tail,
You lean down and whisper in its ear,

I am so glad You are happy to see me.

I am so glad,
So very glad You have come."

And so what does my SoulCollage® card say to me?

I am the one who has the wings to fly into the encircling arms of all creation. 
I am the one who rides the wild horses of joy, going wherever they lead, knowing that all is well.
I am the one who opens up and says "I am here.  I am waiting."

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Mystic Path: Contemplation and Introversion

We live in a world where time for contemplation and inner listening do not happen unless we consciously make time to be quiet.  Often this means saying "no" to friends and family and hoping they will understand that the time you make for yourself is just as important as time you give to them. 

This was said a little differently in the Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer: "I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself."  When I first read these words I thought they had been written incorrectly.  Surely the author meant to write "....if you can disappoint yourself to be true to another."  Surely one should always put other people first? Wasn't it selfish disappointing others?  It took me quite some time to understand the true meaning of this line.  It is about being true to your Soul.

I believe that turning inwards doesn't need to be meditation.  It can be sitting on the side of a stream fishing, lying watching the clouds go by, reading spiritual literature, sitting on the beach watching the waves and digging your bare feet into the sand, walking a labyrinth. For the mystics it was a way to God. Angela of Foligno says that through contemplation "the eyes of her soul were opened".

My SoulCollage® card says to me:
Make time to align your soul with the cycles of nature.  They are your teachers.  Let the moon speak to you.  Let the trees speak to you.  Unless you listen with careful attention you will not hear what they are saying.  You too are part of these cycles, and time in quiet is to you what the soil is to a seed and what the soil is to the roots of the tree.  It nourishes and feeds at a deep level and is necessary for growth.