Three days ago I had the magnificent urge to write something beautiful. Something beautiful about the sunflowers blooming in my precious little corn patch. But once again the balance has been tipped. The pain and suffering of the world comes a calling and settles in for a spell. Way too close to home, it clutches me by the heart and dares me not to look away.
My dear Vincent, I have always wondered, “why the sun flowers?” But just three days ago when I laid eyes on the first sturdy stock, taller than myself, covered at last joyously with a dozen diminutive blossoms (as diminutive as sun flowers go!) Beaming delight…I got it, I got you, Dear Vincent. You and your suffering. You and your search. Your struggle and search always for God.
The sunflower reaching up to Father Sun, reflecting his golden, divine light: the herald of a bright new day.
Allah is capable of all things. Allah is great and good. We ride this tipping balance daily, like surfers riding waves.
Balance is not stillness. Balance is motion. Check, recheck…check, adjust…Check, position…check, reposition…We move through this world feeling sometimes like surfers on a forty foot wave. Eyes wide open in suspense of what the future will bring!
You Dear Vincent are the epitome of this struggle. Again and again you transform your pain and suffering into divine uncommon beauty. Always you remain, Patron Saint of the artist, Patron Saint of the self-healer.
The sublime beauty of your irises, there at the Getty Center in LA… beauty blooming in all its glory and grace from the dark humus of human suffering. I imagine you bearing your easel like Jesus bore his cross. All the way to the end.
P.S. The Solstice corn harvest is a great success!
The Angry Elephant Within: Listening
I have walked with the spirit of the elephant for over 55 years. She is the one who has been with me from the start. By the time I was 4 years old, I had decided I would grow up to be one of her kind. Family history supports the fact that I fully intended to grow up to be an elephant.
People ask how is it possible for a raw clay pot as thin and delicate as this elephant medicine to survive the pit firing process. It is a simple matter of resistance… there is none. The pots are so thin that the fire’s heat moves effortlessly through the clay. This is the voice of the spirit of the clay giving, by example, insight into the process of transformation by fire.
I once found myself held fast, arm wrapped to the arm pit, in the trunk of a very angry elephant. I saw in her eye the desire to kill. It was nothing personal, her rage was old and festering. I did not meet her anger with fear and resistance, for surely she would have killed me if I had. My deep love and respect for elephants was stronger, in that moment, than fear; stronger even than the hatred she carried for what she had experienced at the hands and ignorance of man.
When our eyes met I felt the pain in her heart in my own and my heart flung open wide in love and compassion. My willingness to surrender in love to her will dissolved her rage. In that moment she chose to gently untwine our limbs and step aside.
Transformation by fire often feels like the rage of an angry elephant within…and resistance can sometimes mean death. If transformation by fire is what you seek let the flames burn through you, meet them with courage, love and self- compassion. Some of us have chosen to walk through a certain type of hell on earth: walking through the hell, loosening the death grip of resistance and allowing the fires of transformation to burn away the darkness allows us to step forward into a certain kind of heaven on earth.
My dear friend Shirley Tassencort says, “If one is to become a listener, one has to wait for the sound of permission. Even at 65, I’m not sure I’m old enough to create forms that carry the Buddha nature.” My sentiments exactly. I wait and listen. Only when the spirit of the elephant comes to me do I accept the commission to bring her form into being. She asks me, here and now, to bring her chosen form into being in clay; that she might speak to you and I.
This aspect of Her being is about listening: the grace of listening, making one’s self available to hear the quiet voice of God, dancing to the sound of the universe creating itself. Speaking directly to each and every one of us, the voice of the Gods’ whisper through every form in nature; every stalk of holy corn, every lizard who crosses our path, every beast that is willing to look us in the eyes.
Listen, listen they are calling!
P.S. I love you Annabelle! And will always remember you in gratitude and love.
In The Spirit of Annabelle