During a healing session last evening, I “remembered” how my ancestors were “torn away” from their home ground (by choice, but it was still a tear). As I “went” to the place they left (Ballymoney, N.Ireland) and then to the place they migrated to (DeSoto, MO), I felt a sort of mending going on. It felt as if I were part of that mending. There seemed to be something more needed, a kind of reconciling force. This turned out to be New Mexico and the healing properties of that land, in its wildness, the quality of the earth, and the practice of forming homes and vessels from the earth. The pueblo homes never wear down, as they are always being mended right from the earth. New Mexico pottery (Acoma Pueblo) is formed entirely from the earth and is returned to the earth from whence springs new pottery.
The land can heal us and our ancestors, and it seems there is a force in this direction, when we open ourselves to it.
This morning as I looked out of the window, I saw a ridged texture in the melting snow. I wondered how this had come about, and why the ridges were angled southeast/northwest. In this wondering, there was a sense of “something missing.” So I went outside and spent time keenly observing the snow in the yard, imprinting the images in my mind. As I gave myself plenty of time to explore, I discovered the first bulb shoot under the window. I also discovered a package under the mailbox! If I hadn’t taken time to really observe, I would have missed so much!
This morning, just after sunrise, I noticed a magpie flying across my field of view out the picture window. There is a pattern of wing movement unique to magpies. Finding pattern in nature (and in traditional stories) produces a sense of comfort in me. I could feel my body relaxing as I watched the magpie.
Our breathing also has a pattern. In most traditions, watching the breath is recommended to silence the mind and bring us into the present moment. Pattern and mindfulness are linked. The pattern of the breath becomes an anchor for mindfulness.
Thank you to Magpie for reminding me to return to breath awareness today.
As local community decays along with local economy, a vast amnesia settles over the countryside… when a community loses its memory, its members no longer know each other. How can they know each other if they have forgotten or have never learned each other’s stories?
— Wendell Berry
If we will have the wisdom to survive, to stand like slow growing trees on a ruined place, renewing, enriching it… then a long time after we are dead the lives our lives prepare will live
here, their houses strongly placed
upon the valley sides…
The river will run
clear, as we will never know it…
On the steeps where greed and ignorance cut down
the old forest, an old forest will stand,
its rich leaf-fall drifting on its roots.
The veins of forgotten springs will have opened.
Families will be singing in the fields…
native to this valley, will spread over it
like a grove, and memory will grow
into legend, legend into song, song
The abundance of this place,
the songs of its people and its birds,
will be health and wisdom and indwelling
light. This is no paradisal dream.
Its hardship is its reality.
The earth is a living being, and many who have been “civilized” out of having that understanding are relearning it. As in the human body, each place on the earth is connected to every other place, and there is a higher intelligence holding everything together.
Is it so surprising, then, that I, along with many others, am gaining a better sense of the nature of this interconnectedness?
This understanding is coming to me through my morning nature meditations and through the drawing process. I am a “work in progress.” But certain things are becoming more clear.
I am increasingly able to sense the lines of energy that connect where I am standing with another specific place on the earth, a place known for being magnetic and “high voltage.” The drawing process amplifies this, as unanticipated forms come onto the page. The pen is guided by the connection that I am “tuned in to,” not by the thinking mind. I feel revivified by this process, and I hope that it is having a positive impact upon a particular place and its inhabitants.
It dawned on me today that Spider (weaving) and Butterfly (transformation) are intimately aligned in this work. I have recently have had vivid, colorful dreams of both– and I just saw a spring spider last night. Thanks to the Native Americans, who have kept the connection with the medicine animals alive.
With this turning we put a broken age to rest. We who are alive at such a cusp now usher in
a thousand years of healing.
From whence my hope, I cannot say,
But it grows in the cells of my skin,
my envelope of mysteries.
In this sheath so akin to the surface of earth
I sense the faint song.
Beneath the wail and dissonance
this singing rises. Winged ones
grasses and mountains and each tree,
all swimming creatures.
Even we, wary two-leggeds,
hum, and call, and create
the changes. We remake our relations, mend
our minds, convert our minds to the earth.
We practice blending our voice,
living with the vision
of the Great Magic we move within.
the new habit, getting up glad
for a thousand years of healing.
This morning it dawned on me (no pun intended) that, within the given boundaries, the painting process is about a relationship between myself, the landscape, and time. Each of these aspects is more malleable than I might have supposed.
As this relationship becomes more and more the focus, I feel released from prescribed notions of what I am doing. I feel freer and more in the moment. Which is the wonder of relationship– it has the capacity to free us from set ideas. Whether it is with other people or with the landscape and time. We must allow ourselves to come into reciprocal relationship if we wish to become more Conscious and live from the fullness of our own being.
This makes me think of the hardening quality of strict adherence to ideology– an idea or set of ideas that, when adopted strictly, hardens the heart and other sensibilities of being in the living, breathing world.
It also makes me think of the potential power of storytelling, which is, above all, a living reciprocal relationship (thanks, Laura Simms). It opens us to the malleable living space of the heart, where we are free to have an individual experience while also being part of a group of people with whom we are at one with at that particular place and time.
Not long after I did the painting, I happened to see a bird soaring in the distance– perhaps a raven. I was seeing the bird with the eyes of the heart. This is a very good sign. It means that the process of doing the paintings is moving me in the direction I want to go– to see with the eyes of the heart, to hear with the ears of the heart, and so imbue all of the senses with the quality of the heart.