Friday, November 30, 2012

Playing Joyfully with Paint...

I made a commitment to myself to paint each time I go on retreat for Spiritual Direction training.  This time, I was not feeling it.  Hurricane Sandy had just been through the area wreaking havoc all around.  She stirred up my own inner storm pretty majorly.  I was feeling exhausted, off balance, fragile.

But, I packed my paint and paper in my car before leaving -- just in case...

When I got to the Center I unpacked the paint and paper and set up for painting that evening.  I made myself do it.  It felt like I was dragging myself through quicksand.  I was extremely resistant and cranky and hurting.  I did not want to paint alone!

I went to class that afternoon and into the evening.  My Spirit and Soul felt extremely fragile.  I think I may even have voiced that during our check-in.  

After evening prayer, as has been my practice, I headed to the art room to paint.  Usually I’m excited, even if I have a sense I may be about to bump into something major.  This time, I was down, down, down.

I grabbed the blue paint and covered my painting in blue.  The entire thing.  Blue.  It seemed right.  Most of my paintings recently have had blue as the background.  Blue has become a place of stability for me in some ways; holding the space for my painting.  As I covered the painting in blue, I felt stuff sliding away... little by little.

I grabbed the purple and painted a huge purple star right in the middle of the painting.  It was time to face Fear head on.  Since fear tends to show up as purple stars, that is where I started.  

Then everything changed.  I began to surrender to my Creative Self.  I lost myself in the painting.  Things just flowed.

I put four red hand prints in the center of the star and filled in the “holes” with brown.  Then came a swirl where the four hands came together.

Then a Deer leaped upwards out of the center of the star, off the hands.  To a green heart at the tip of one of the stars edges.  A green arrow pointing the way.  

Then a River Otter appeared below the hands.  I was challenged by that otter.  She wanted to be plumper than I wanted her to be.  She wanted to show up Her way and when I gave in She appeared in all her fullness with a large green heart!   Red arrow pointing the movement from the center of the star toward Her.
Then I put my attention back into the center of the Star.  I began to play with the swirl, to connect it to each hand.  A four point spiral formed.  I scrapped away the paint to create a heart in the center of that spiral.  The hands were connected by Love.  My Love and Christ’s Love.

The tree formed next.  Growing up on the edge of the painting.  Stretching its branches out toward the star, spiraling inward.  Musical notes appeared within each spiral at the end of each branch.  Without really thinking, each color of the chakra system appeared.  Singing!!

Green hearts appeared where branches branched off nestling themselves into the tree; being supported by the strength of its trunk.

Green exploded from the top of the tree.

And a small red flower appeared in the base of the trunk.

The flow continued.  I was enjoying myself.  I was smiling (which I had not done for days really).

The star drew my attention back to it.  It wanted to emanate Light.  I began with the Left side pulling yellow out from the star.  It wanted to go behind the river otter, so I painted over her head and then re-painted her head.  I added red and orange to bring about fire.

I repeated this in two other spots, allowing the Light to shine forth as it wanted.
Then the River Otter wanted to dance.  Really inside me, she wanted to dance.  I couldn’t figure out how to do it, so I trusted my Creative self, grabbed purple paint and a brush.  My Creative self painted musical notes.  Then came the shimmering green and purple lines vibrating outward bringing the song and dance to life!!
And one final brush stroke was wanted.  I grabbed the yellow and painted a halo over the heart in the center of the painting.  My angels and spirit guides wanted to be invited to this party.  And it felt like a party!

When I was done, I felt lighter.  I felt laughter.  I felt peace.  I felt like the Sacred had gifted me with remembering all the ways in which She has cared for me, held me, guided me, supported me, and loved me in the past few days as my inner storm raged.

As I write this, I feel gratitude in my heart for this gift of paint and paper and Creative expression.  I feel blessed to be loved and held in such a powerful way by God.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Learning to Sing my Heart's Song...

My shaman gave me an exercise the first time I met with her.  She told me to sing, to find my note.  She gave me a few exercises to get started and set me on my way.  She told me it would help me find my voice, strengthen my voice, and step into ME more.  She was right.

I do not have confidence in my singing voice.  People told me when I was young that I sang off-tone.  I grew up believing that I should not sing because I did not have the talent for it.

But this was a different singing.  This was singing my song, my note, my heart.  It was for me, not for anyone around me.

So, I began.  It felt weird at first.  But as I went through the exercises I began to have more and more confidence in my voice.  I began to relax.  I began to feel more free.  I began to let my heart sing.  I began to dance with my song.

And all along, I continued my daily creative ritual of working on one piece for a long time.  What I noticed was that my singing and dancing wanted to become part of my creative ritual.  My heart song wanted to be expressed not just through dance and song, but also through paint (or in this case iBrushes on my iPad).

I woke up one morning with my Creative Self wanting to express movement and dancing.  She wanted to engage my Heart.  I added the musical notes, the door, the hearts coming out of the door and the big red heart surrounding the entire movement.

As I continued to work with this movement, the piece morphed into a large blue heart with musical notes filling it.

My heart song began to grow and develop and strengthen and dance from my heart.
And the vine appeared one morning flowing from the outline of my heart.  Her branches surrounded my spirit guides.  She reached to the corners of the piece.

Flowers joined the song.

And then, She exploded a beautiful yellow flower inside my Heart.

Followed in the next few days by blue, purple, red, orange and green flowers.  Each emanating from the place where the branches expand.

It felt like my heart was trumpeting loudly its song into the Universe.

So I kept at it.  I kept at the singing and dancing.  I kept watching as more and more spirit guides appeared in my piece.

I watched as the purple star of fear appeared without stopping me in my tracks.  I sang and danced and there it was, part of the song, part of the dance, part of me welcomed and accepted.

As hurricane Sandy blew through the area, blew up the inner storm of my Soul, I watched how the Shadow entered its way into my heart and song.  I noticed how as the Shadow entered in, as the storm exploded within my desire to sing each morning weakened and my heart song quieted.  I felt tired, drained, off balance.  And it showed in my piece.

Tears fell.  Shadow darkened my heart song.

And yet I prayed for the reigniting of this joyous discipline.  I prayed for the spark of song to reappear.  I prayed for Light and laughter.  I prayed that the Holy hold me in Her heart.

And I noticed that the song began anew there, in the heart of God, there surrounded by the Sacred Light.  It grew.  It echoed outward.
Light outlined my heart. 

The Sacred blossomed forth in each trumpeting flower.

And it turned to fire, 
to flame, 
to movement, 
to passion...

And my heart reappeared, new, transformed.
My song began again.  

Different this time. 
Strong.  Tender.  
And the Sacred joined me
and danced with me
and sang with me
and I feel loved

and held

and deeply blessed!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Expressing Gratitude...

A few years ago, I received an invitation from the Spirit to engage in a month long spiritual discipline of expressing my gratitude each day for the month prior to Thanksgiving.  Each morning, I would get up and post on Facebook something I was grateful for.  As I got closer and closer to Thanksgiving, I began to notice that I was positing my gratitude more than just in the morning.  I began to notice that my heart was opening more and more each day, filling with joy and laughter and a deep sense of being blessed.  Each year I have returned to this spiritual discipline because I believe it is important to release our feelings of gratitude and blessedness into the Universe.

I am sharing with you, this Thanksgiving (my first blogging Thanksgiving), my gratitude practice:

    My thanksgiving season moment of gratitude discipline begins now: today I am grateful for God's transforming affirmation that when we trust the process and trust the HOLY things will show up! at the appropriate time!! Blessed be!

    I dove deep into my Shadow yesterday uncovering some deep limiting core beliefs and wounds.... This morning I found myself surrounded by love filling my heart with laughter and joy by the silence that is the Sacred.  For this deep experience of being beheld I am grateful.

    I’m grateful for the healers in my life...for my shaman, my acupuncturist, healer, teacher and friend who somehow realigns my energy, holds my heart space and invites me to the next level of healing and movement in my spiritual life journey with grace, love and gentleness. Blessed!

    Is grateful today for a slow gentle day!

    I am grateful for God's grace and how it is teaching my to be kind and gentle to myself.

    Is grateful to have the power back on... Yeah! (post hurricane Sandy)

    I am grateful for a class I am taking on Cleansing my Consciousness and the group of women participating and supporting one another. We all need support when we focus on inner work and growth. I feel blessed to have this opportunity.

    Is grateful for a tremendously powerful balancing loving protective GIFT from the Sacred last night in my silence. Ah, the beauty of what can come out of darkness, shadow, and silence!
    Is grateful this morning for the simple things: sleeping through the night! Ah, what now a complete night of rest can make u feel

     I am also grateful for my Creative Self and all She teaches me about how to be fully alive, fully authentic, and deeply connected to the Holy

    I am grateful for the opportunity to be back in the pulpit for one Sunday. Looking forward to pulpit supply this morning.

     I am grateful for the quiet and stillness of early morning walks and the light that offers a sense of safety on early walks. Fabulous way to start my day!

     Is grateful for the right to vote and all those who worked so hard to get everyone that right! I look forward to honoring their diligence and work as I vote today!

     Had an awesome walk in the first snow storm of the season!! I love the first snow fall it is so beautiful and majestic and Holy!  I am so grateful for these moments with Mother Earth

     Is grateful for the power of prayer and silence in my life. I feel blessed by this holy silent conversation and communing with the Sacred and all it is bringing into my life!

     Is grateful for the Sacred's gentle and not so gentle lessons and reminders to slow down and live in patience. I have noticed that when I rush I end up frustrated and stressed because of things I can not control. When I breathe in surrender and patience I slow down, chill, feel more centered and less stressed and still seem to arrive places on time...and to complete tasks on time...

     I am grateful for the invitation to my first Shamanic Circle tonight. I am grateful for the gentle nudging of my friend to actually go to my first Shamanic Circle.  I am grateful for the experience of this totally awesome worship moment!!

     This morning I am grateful for the steadiness of the Universe. The Sacred speaks and the Universe seems to be making sure I follow Her guidance!! I feel blessed to be experiencing that, even when it is challenging and painful.

     Today I am grateful for the experience of grief and the opportunity to grieve the loss that comes with transitions, knowing that grief is healthy and bringing me one step closer to healing my Heart and bringing me Wholeness.

    My final day with this piece. It has blessed me; brought me to tears, brought me to laughter, challenged me, and taught me a great deal about my Heart and Heart Song!! I am thankful for my teacher's invitation to this process. Tomorrow begins 40 days until Solistice and a new piece to work on. 

    This morning I am grateful for the beauty and warmth and steadiness of the Sun. Such a wonderful companion this morning on my walk, offering Light on my path.

    This morning I am grateful for the invitation to dance with the Sacred and sing my Heart's song. It has been such a powerful energizing centering spiritual practice! I thank my Shaman for giving me "singing homework" that began to strengthen my Voice and open my heart to its Song; and the Sacred for inviting me to dance as my heart sang.

     Today, I am grateful for spiritual direction and the opportunity to sit, linger, notice, and listen to my Holy Inner compass and all She has to teach me about myself, my journey, the Sacred and our Collective journey in this world.

     I am thankful for powerful shamanic healings that come at unexpected times and in unexpected ways. Thank you Jesus, my healer.

     This morning I am grateful for a day of painting yesterday and what it brought to the surface for me: the things it taught me about myself and the things it is requesting I pay attention to, and the next level of healing it revealed. Intuitive painting is a powerful spiritual tool and I am grateful for it being a part of my life. I am also grateful for my awesome teacher who provides a loving, safe, expansive container for all this to happen!

     Is grateful for a week with my pup, even when breakfast wake up call happens at 5am and morning walk begging at 6 am...

     Is grateful for my contemplative practice and all the silence brings, especially the invitation to empty myself and surrender to the Holy and notice all the challenges and resistances to that invitation. It is an opportunity for deep prayer and learning...

     Anouk (my pup) decided to dance and sing (bark) her heart song with me as I danced and sang my song this morning. Quite the wild rumpus!  Joy, laughter and gratitude filled my heart...

    I am grateful for the opportunity to slow down and pay attention to the inner work of my Soul.  I am grateful for all who are walking this journey with me and their love and support.

    Today, I am thankful for curry: all types. It seems my body is craving them. I am enjoying making curried veggies, curried soup, red curry paste and more. I am also grateful for the yummy aromas it makes.

    Today  I offer my gratitude to Mother Nature: to Her trees, rocks, flowers, wind, water, and earth that have been my companion on many walks, ponderings, wandering, wonderings, and hours of contemplation.  I am grateful for their beauty, patience, gracefulness, power, gentleness and wisdom. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Going deeper into grief...

My teacher has challenged us (the group of woman I paint with twice a month) to stay with the same painting for the Fall Sessions.  I have done that before with my second round of chakra paintings, layering each on top of the other, putting them together, creating one painting that brought them all together.  It was challenging with my chakras.  It invited me deeper and deeper into my Soul, into my Shadow, into my being.

When I finished the first day with this painting, I was not looking forward to continuing on it.  All of my mythical grief-oriented images were on that painting, and to be truthful: I did not want to continue to dive deeper and deeper into all my these images that were landing me on my back AND I had no idea where to even begin.

I began by putting my painting back up on the wall and staring at it.  Then I grabbed the metallic blue and green and “cleared” the background of the painting creating two focuses for me to face. 

When I was done, I looked at that blood red circle and yellow shape.  What arose within me was Light, so I grabbed the yellow and created a flame, like a candle flame, directly over the center of the circle.  I added red to bring out the flame color.  I added strokes to bring the flame to life -- flickering upward toward the top of the painting.

That was all good.  It felt like a good start.  I sat down to ponder what was next.  I ended up sitting for a long time.  I found myself tearing up as I looked at those two intertwined hearts.  I had written and written on them in my journal.  I had explored their inner meaning, coming to an understanding of a deep yearning within my Soul.  I had grieved the grief intertwined with that yearning.
As I sat in silence, quieting my heart to an inner stillness my contemplative practice has brought, that grief arose again -- the yearning deep within me bubbled up.  Silence became unstill as I dropped further and further into that image and into my heart.  I breathed deep, practicing the practice of welcoming prayer, whispering to myself, “Welcome grief.  Welcome grief.  Welcome grief.”

Tears rose.  The urge to wipe them off the painting ignited.  I did not want to stay there in that place.  I did not really want to welcome that grief, welcome that yearning.  I really truly would rather have shoved it deeper into my Shadow.   But that was not why I was there painting.  I was painting so that the depths of my Soul could speak, so that I could paint that stuff out little by little, get it out of my body and soul.

So I sat.  Breathing.  Praying for an inner stillness.  Praying for an image or a way forward in this painting.

The prayer brought my teacher intuitively to my side.   She asked how I was, what was happening.  I had few words, the grief was strong.

Having long observed my almost sacred ritual of washing my hands when I finish an image or a movement in the painting, she pointed out that I had picked the paint out from under my nails, scrubbed extra hard to get that blue off my hands.  I was unaware that I had done that.  She wondered what was so powerful that I was fleeing from it. Hmmm....

The intertwined hearts.  I was deep deep deeply overwhelmed by the feelings bubbling up from them.

She asked three things I could do. 

  1. Wipe them off.  She told me that did not count as that is not allowed.  I had to deal with them.  Ugh!
  2. Fill in the large yellow heart.  She laughed out loud and told me again that was not allowed because that was a creative way to wipe out the hearts.  Darn!
  3. Black.  Black on the painting.  Black.  Sadness.

I grabbed the black.  I began with a brush to just squiggle black all over the bottom of the painting being careful to not go over the hearts.  I allowed the black to fill up the bottom of the painting, then it wanted to spread upwards.  Upwards toward the top around the purple circle.  But not as strong, not as visible.  I painted more gently, dabbing most of the paint off the brush, allowing for a whisper of black to flow around the circle and up to the top corners.  

Then came the hands.  I had an image of hands coming up from the hearts to the flame.  I grabbed the red and placed four hands on one top of the other connecting the hearts with the flame.  The fourth was directly in the flame.  I liked that!  

Then I turned back to the intertwined hearts.  I was not yet done with the black.  I began to paint small black hearts around the border of the large yellow heart.  When I was done it felt like too much.  I grabbed the green and began to paint a green stroke squiggling its way around the heart like a vine, creating a border for the two hearts at its center.  That appeased my need to balance Shadow with Daylight.

Next came more hands.  More hands wanted to branch off of the red hands in all directions.  

Black wanted to work their way up around the circle to the top of the painting.  

Blue wanted to encircle the hearts at the bottom of the painting.

Then another colored bubbled up inside me. I grabbed the brown.  I dipped my brush into it.  I went to put the paint where my intuition thought it should go when I resisted hugely.  I stopped myself from putting brown on those red hands.  I stepped back.  I put down my pallet and brush.  I sat down.  Then found myself soon laying flat on my back.

It was a strong unconscious reaction.  My teacher saw it happen and appeared rather quickly asking what that was.  She encouraged me to put the brown up however it wanted to show up.  I resisted.  She insisted, rightly so.

I stood up slowly, picked up the brown and began to allow the brush to do what it wanted.  The brown filled in the empty space in the middle of the hands.  

Ah, the stigmata of Christ.  No wonder I resisted.  I’ve been struggling with my connection to the Christian Institution; with what my call to ministry is about.  I’ve resisted religious imagery in my painting and when it has shown up, I’ve found myself flat on my back glued to the floor.  This is a deep deep grief in my life; a grief of life’s direction, career.  Seems my Creative Self felt it was time to face it.  

Then came four brown arrows.  My mind had them pointing in four different directions coming from the red hand in the center.  My Creative Self had them coming out of the lower hand and pointing in four different directions -- the directions of each path of hands.  

When the brown was all up, I sat again.   This time to ponder what was next.  I stared at the painting, taking it all in.  I closed my eyes and began to sink into the silence of my heart asking for the next brush stroke.

Slowly and quietly out of the stillness of my heart an image appeared.  It felt good.  It felt healing.  

I got up and grabbed the brushes and began to paint two flowers:  one in each intertwined heart; opposite color as the heart; joining together in one stem with one base.  Unity.

That was the place to stop for the day, with that sense of unity and healing.