This is my Chakra, so to speak. I am a pastor after all. I have spent years working through my own theology, working at connecting deeply with the Holy, wrestling with angels, listening to God’s Call and Guidance. I continue to do that each time I put my hand into paint and put that paint on the paper, each time I sit down to blog, each time I open my journal, each time I walk the labyrinth, with every breathe I take.
I was excited about this Chakra...looking forward to what the Holy would reveal to me. And then I began....
I decided I needed to be expansive. My faith, my spirituality is becoming more and more expansive as time goes on. I am no longer contained within the bounds of Christianity. So I grabbed more paper than usual and covered the wall I was painting upon with paper. It was a bit intimidating, but I was looking forward to it.
I grabbed a brush (which I rarely do) and began with circles echoing up from the bottom corner and down from the top corner. Yellow echoing up. Purple echoing down. The image came from my dream the previous night. It looked totally cool. I liked it. I liked how the circles met in the middle; how they created a vortex, a center, a Holy Place.
And then the black showed up. The next image that popped into my head was a solid black line across the entire painting. I struggled with that line. I know what it’s about. I know what God and I are currently wrestling and I did not want that reminder. But I put the line up because that’s what you do. You trust the brush, trust the paint, trust your unconscious to speak to you through paint and brush. I spread the black line with my hand, adding red and dragging that red up and down like fire. As I stood back I saw the eyes. I continued with the red, making place where the purple circles intersect into eyes. It sort of freaked me out, but I kept going....
Adding the chalice. First in brown, then filling in the drinking part with blood red. That stopped me in my tracks. I don’t actually believe that the Cup is really the “blood of Christ.” I don’t. It is just a sign, so why did I put blood in that Cup? I don’t know. But I did.
I have resisted religious imagery for so long. Each time it has arisen, I have ignored it. Somehow this time it just came out before I could stop it... And then the water came. Really?
I stepped back and sat down on my stool....and the wrestling began. God and I have been going at it for a while now. I am making plans. The Holy is laughing at them. I am trying to move away from pastoring. The Holy is creating numerous opportunities for me to continue to pastor. I am resisting. The Holy continues to keep dialogues going with Search Committees.
I want the circles echoing out into the Universe. The Holy is reminding me that those circle are showing up as the Chalice. Accept it! It is part of me. This is my history. This is how I grew up. This is a major part of who I am. I may be opening my heart to a more expansive experience of spirituality, a more open way to connect to the Holy; but the Holy is reminding me about my roots. (After all, the Crown Chakra’s element is Earth. We come full circle from Earth in our Root Chakra to Earth in our Crown.)
I did not want to accept the Chalice. But I did need to open my heart to what the Chalice had to teach me. My teacher reminded me of that. Don’t get stuck on an image that shows up. Accept it, thank it, and move on. Allow the next color, shape, and form to show. Allow my unconscious to teach me what it needs to. Trust it. Trust the process.
The process was telling me to create light shooting up, shining forth from the top of the Chalice. I did just that. White, yellow and purple flaming up to the sky. That felt better.
Then the purple filled in the remaining white space between the water and the black. And I began to play with the blue, green and purple of the water, melding them together. The blue began to move up the painting to the top left corner. The green to the top right corner.
I continued to work at bringing the Light out from the Chalice. Interweaving it with the blue and green. Allowing those colors to become part of the Fire.
And then the bottom of the Chalice started to bother me. It kept telling me it wanted to reach the bottom of the painting. I was annoyed with the Chalice, so i did not want to do that. But it just wouldn’t leave me alone. So I grabbed the brown and brought the bottom of the Chalice to the base of the painting. Then the Chalice did not have the right balance between the Cup and the Base. I worked at that. It kept getting bigger. Ugh!!! It was bad enough to have it up there at all.....
The Chalice became all blood red by the time I was done. Huge and blood red and majorly bothersome. My teacher encouraged me to keep going, to not stop. “What is the next color? Don’t get caught in the story of the image. Go to the next color, shape, form.” Fire.
A red, yellow and orange flame coming up out of the Chalice, like the flame that came up out of the Ash in my Ash painting series...
The problem was that flames are really hard to make (for me). That was the image in my mind. It did not happen. As I began to get agitated that it was not working, I heard my teacher’s voice echoing in my head “Start with the images in your head and open yourself to how they want to show up on the paper. They may not turn out the same on the paper.” I breathed out my resistance, my frustration, my agitation. I breathed out my perfection, my want for that perfect flame. I released it to the Universe...
and went back to my painting...to the flame that wanted to come out of this Chalice. It was more like Fire, exploding up and out.
Then came the gold. I started with circles along the Chalice, but that did not feel right. So I took painting in my fingers and made a solid line up the sides creating spirals. That so tremendously helped. The painting was beginning to come together.
Now it looked like a bundle of wheat just harvested, held together by the gold spirals, on Fire with the Spirit. Hmmm.... I can get into that image.
There was one more thing that was hugely bothering me. My eyes kept moving to it and back. I actually put down my brushes and began to clean up, to give myself some space, to see if the painting was done. But that spot kept bothering me. It kept nudging my Soul. Something needed to happen there.
It was in the top right corner. The purple circle was bleeding through. The black line was blocking the movement of blue and purple.
I decided to address it. I put a gold circle up and began to pull the red into the circle so that the flame spread up and across the painting, bringing it all together. Then I brought a spiral from the center of the fire out to the gold circle. I stepped back and got really annoyed. The spiral in the gold circle was upside down. It did not work. I did not like it. It stared at me, hauntingly. But, as is the process, once there it stays. It is part of me.
I began working with purple down to the right corner. Working up and down, working purple and blue into the black, integrating the up and down movement together.
Then I grabbed a white-ish green and put it over the gold circle with the spiral; pulled the red back out. Added a bright pink into the flame. Brought the spiral’s tail to the edge of the painting so that it’s beginning morphs into the circle. I stood back and finally felt like I liked the painting.
When I look at the painting now, I can see the Holy in me. I can see that spark of Light and Incarnation flaming up out of me.
The words of Hildegaard of Bingen echo in my soul:
“I, the highest and fiery power, have kindled every spark of life. I, the fiery life of divine essence, blaze in the beauty of the fields, am aflame beyond the beauty of the meadows, I gleam in the waters, and I burn in the sun, moon, and stars. With every breeze, as with invisible life that contains everything, I awaken everything to life. The air lives by turning green and being in bloom. The waters flow as if they were alive.... I am also Reason, having the wind of the sounding Word by which all things were created, and I breathe in them all, so that none may die, because I am Life...”