Wednesday, June 27, 2012

When Orange is the new Black....

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.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Ignoring won’t make it go away.... lessons from my Throat Chakra

The Throat Chakra is the place where we express ourselves in the world.  It is out of this chakra that we create consciously, that we find our own voice; that we communicate and listen; that we express ourselves in the world.
I have been doing work at finding Clearness in my vision for life.  I called a Quaker Clearness Committee together (a group of wise friends that would come together to hold heart space and journey with me toward clearness through loving, challenging, probing questions and reflections).  This painting was the night before that Committee was to meet with me.  I was murky, unclear on what I wanted to manifest in the world; how I wanted to live out my life; what my priorities were.  There are so many options, I felt overwhelmed and unable to discern the road to travel.  My hope was this Committee would help me find clearness in my spiritual, physical, and career-oriented journey.
So, with the Clearness Committee the following evening, I arrived to paint my throat chakra with my chocolate and a bottle of chocolate laced malbec red wine.  I decided that this was going to be a fun, lovely, painting experience.  I was going to create a thing of beauty.  Why not?  The throat chakra is all about consciously creating, manifesting in the world.  So, I talked myself into believing that I could paint something pretty...ignoring the reality of the murkiness that led me to a Clearness Committee.  Yeah, that’s right.  I had no clarity on the direction my life was going in, but I was going to paint a beautiful throat chakra.
(Yes, you can laugh at my ability to mess myself up.)  
So, I grabbed orange paint and began to paint a thing of beauty.  Playing with orange and blue -- playing with the intersection of conscious creating and unconscious creating -- all along ignoring that black that wanted to be on the paper.  Ignoring the murkiness.  Ignoring my reality.  Ignoring the potential of what I could learn about myself.
I added some black in, but as soon as it started to feel like that murkiness was entering in I stopped.  I went back to color... to green... to yellow... to spirals of green... to red dots in the center of each spiral.  Here is how much I got in my own way:  my inner conversation was all about how I was rooted; how from that rooting I was journeying out from the center of my heart; journeying out into the world through manifesting, creating, expressing my dreams and hopes.  What a fabulous dream I was dreaming in that moment. The problem is, it is not my reality.  It is my hope; my dream; where I wish I was.
No.  I am not there yet.  I’m working on it.  I’m working on that re-rooting in the Holy, on opening my heart to resurrection and growth, on manifesting my dream in the world.  But right now.  In the here and now.  I’m in the Shadow, in the darkness, in the fear. 
So, after making this thing of beauty, I ended up on the floor, sitting, staring, stuck.  Stuck because I was not listening to my throat chakra, because I was not opening my heart to myself.  Stuck.  Stubborn.  Done with black!!!
And that is what I told my teacher when she asked what was next.  “I’m done with black!”   Of course, she suggested black.  I resisted.  She suggested it again.  I resisted and then gave in.  Unhappily, of course.
So I added black dots to the painting.  Starting at the bottom and allowing it to bubble up as if it were air bubbles in the water.  Then I covered over the red spiral with black placing two purple hand prints in the black.  Then I got mad, angry at the painting.  it was ruined.  The beauty was gone.
So, I wiped it clean and began to put hand prints of various colors on the painting, all over.  And, guess what?  It was still ugly.  The beauty was gone....
I was once again on the ground.  This time angry.  Angry at my painting.  Angry that beauty was not happening.  And that was when my teacher said the words that made me smile and enraged all at the same time -- because they were true.  “What made you think you could paint something pretty today?”  She knows me.  She knew about my Clearness Committee the next night.  She knew about my murkiness, the falling apart of my life, the shaking out of my soul.  She confronted me with that question.  
My answer:  Because I’m tired of this shit.  I’m tired of living in the black.  I want color.  I want life.  I want resurrection.
Sometimes you have to go through the black....
Okay.  The pastor in me knows that to be true.  The pastor in me knows that I have to work through the crap of life.  The pastor in me knows that those down times, that hard road, those are the ones filled with blessings (which we usually only notice after the fact).  The pastor in me just preached that.
But this night.  I was ignoring the pastor in me.  I was ignoring all of me.  I was wanting to live in denial...have a moment of something else.  But, unfortunately for me, that is not the case.  If I want to be resurrected, I have to travel in this darkness until I have learned what I need to.
So, I wiped the painting clear.  I added black and got rid of the color.  And in the process, ripped the painting so much that I needed to tape it.  I added duct tape to the front of it.  
And then, denial took over again.  I thought I could hold it together with the duct tape, so I began to add it as rays going out from the center, from those two hand prints.  I worked, having a great time, feeling better with each piece of duct tape.  Then I began to paint them yellow and the joy of what I was doing dissipated because I realized I was about to be undone again.  Undone because I was redoing what undid me in my third chakra painting....
And, yes you guessed it, I was undone.  Angry.  Tears.  Lost.  Wanting to attack my painting.
What I had hoped would bring back that beauty had taken me down.  What I had hoped would hold me together had just band-aided me.  The duct tape was band-aiding my painting, covering up the crap, the wound, the murkiness.  
Duct tape is a wonderful thing.  It can hold anything together.  It can “fix” things.  The problem is that it covers up the rust that is eroding the thing we are ‘fixing.’  The duct tape keeps us from seeing and truly fixing the problem; from taking out the part that needs to be replaced; from scrubbing the rust off; from doing the real work of healing, growing, opening, igniting.

So I tore it off.  Each one of those ray-like band-aides came off.  I stuck them back on because it they were part of the painting.  I crumbled them and stuck them over the rip.  And in the process, brought forth the one thing I was ignoring the entire time I was painting -- that annoying wound deep in my soul that keeps popping up, bubbling up, showing up.  There it was.  
I kept the two purple hands.  There is something powerful in this for me.  My vision showed up and the same time as my wound showed up.  They are both there.  
One shrinking (the wound).   My teacher reminded me of that, suggesting that I look back at all the other paintings were my wound appeared.  It is shrinking!!  Taking over less and less of the paintings.  Very cool.
The other (my vision) growing, rooting, holding its own again the darkness, not giving in to it, seeking that Light.  
I was looking for beauty; beauty without the darkness.  What I found, when I stopped ignoring the darkness, was beauty -- beauty shining forth out of the darkness.  HOPE!!!
Sometimes ignoring the darkness could mean missing valuable lessons and moments of Sacred Beauty.
Thanks be to the Holy that through gentle guidance and confrontation I did not miss that moment!