I have this practice that I have begun recently. I own a deck of SoulCards. I spread them out face down and choose one, put it on the top of the deck and live with it for the week. I journal on it numerous times throughout the week. I allow it to get into my body and soul, and pay attention to how it resonates within me. This has been a powerful experience.
This week’s card got into me and came out in paint. I have had this card before. However, this time, I was struck by the body, the embodiment of the prayer that is flowing through this woman’s body, through my body. As I journaled I began to open my heart to my body’s prayer (which freaked me out of course). I brought that prayer into my conscious life, my dreaming life and paid attention to its invitation, its yearning, its desires. I sat with the Holy, with this card, with my body and invited the prayer to embody itself in my body and soul. Then I began to freak out and become frustrated with how the prayer was inviting me to open my heart.
I went to paint, completely ignoring my SoulCard and work that week. (I’m good at that.) My teacher invited us to center ourselves and await a word, allow a word to bubble up to our consciousness. Then she invited us to allow that word to take color, shape and form.
My word was direction. Ignoring the prayer of my body, I went to the prayer of my working self. I imagined paths and roads connecting and diverging from each other. I imagined a spiral starting in the center of the painting and spiraling out, weaving around the paths, creating a labyrinth of sorts. I was excited and looking forward to what would happen. Wow, more work on my direction in life!!!
Problem was, I was in my head not my heart. So I began. I cut out roads, paths and painted them and put them on the paper. It was great. I was putting up my vision, my voice, allowing for Shadow. All was going well.... until....I attempted the spiral.
I sat on the floor and cut it out. That was fun. I had a moment when I realized it was unmanageable, this spiral. I knew it was about to take its own direction which was not going to be my direction. But I decided I could wrestle it into submission....
And as always happens to me when painting, I lost. The spiral was destined to have its way. I started and it was sort of working. I got it to weave a few times, but then it began to want to fold and come back on itself. Then it ripped and came apart. But I went with the flow, still deciding it could work....until I began to put it on the top of the painting and came to a place where it hung and begged me to hang from the painting. That is when I knew I was about to be unravelled....again.
I got mad and frustrated with my painting. I was frustrated that I could not make the painting do what I wanted it to do....just like I could not make my body stop putting out into the universe its prayer.
I did not want the spiral hanging. Damn it!!! I was going to get something I wanted. So I taped a piece of paper to the side of the painting and stuck the remaining spiral up on it. Direction!! Now it was taking direction. The wrong direction to my conscious mind. The right direction to my body.
I sat down and stared at what had happened. Frustrated. Angry. Wondering why I could not get what I wanted. Fully aware and conscious of the fact that I was fighting my body and its desires.
The only color available in my soul was orange. Orange, in that moment, became the new black. Orange. More orange. And more orange.
It makes sense. I was fighting the desires of my second chakra and its connection to my heart and invitation to my heart to open to something new.
I grabbed the oranges. I began to slap it on the paper, releasing my anger. Smearing it all over the paper. Covering every bit with orange. Adding some black. Covering the black with orange.
Then I got mad at that piece that went off to the side. I folded it back onto my painting and covered it with orange. The fold was too heavy and began to fold again. I allowed it to fold.
Then I got angry at the paths that were peaking through. I began to pull them off one by one, the part that would come off. I added them to that fold and began to see a wound form again. But this wound was different from my previous ones. This one was related to why I was fighting my body’s prayer. This one was specific. I continued pealing, ripping, tearing, squashing it and allowing the wound to form.
The wound, the Critic, telling me that I don’t want to open my heart to another because I won’t be able to stand as the person I want to be.
The Critic telling me that if I open myself to possibilities, my old self, the one that I have been shedding, the enduring one will return.
My Critic reminding me of those wounds of relationships... those wounds of intimate violence... those wounds and fears that I will manifest the same relationship style for a third time.
Wow, that angered me. Angered my body. Angered my soul. I continued the orange, working the Critic out of my soul, out of my body, out of my heart.
And the coolest thing happened. That wound was too heavy and began to rip (on its own) off the painting. I did not stop it. I actually lovingly, carefully held it as it ripped off. I gently placed it on the floor and looked at what was left.
And that is when it hit me, hit my body, hit my spirit, hit my soul and opened my heart. I am no longer defined by my Critic, by that wound. I can and am choosing a different path. I will manifest a different style of relating, loving, opening my heart.
So I began to scrape the paint off...all the orange off my painting. I scraped and put it on the wound, releasing more and more of the Critics hold, the wound’s hold on me. I scraped until I got as much as I could off.
And when I looked again, I saw new possibilities, new direction, new vision. I allowed it to form and show up on the painting. Setting a path down the center of my soul, through all my Chakras, connecting heaven and earth; spirit and ground.
And then an even cooler thing happened. I showed up in the midst of the path. My heart opened, petal by petal, circle by circle, flowering right there on the painting.... spreading... surrounding the path... guiding the flow.... opening me up.
Powerful moment. Healing moment.
My favorite artist, liturgist and theologian Jan Richardson has a line in one of her prayers:
“I know who I love transforms me, in all my loving make me bold!”
That prayer continues to resonate powerfully in my body and heart...opening me up... expanding into the universe... and inviting a deep sacred holy response.