Tag Archives: contemplation

End of Summer Retreat Day Part II

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“End of Summer Retreat Day” DS Phone Photo

 

Having observed

The sea

Nature in feathers

Human nature vibrant

It felt urgent that I move on

To the gallery

 

I looked in the closed windows

I meandered the long garden row

I had my quotes in tow

To read on the pier

 

I chose a place on the side rocks

I dozed

I placed some found shells

Three in all beside a

Pilfered recycled

Community garden Sunflower head

 

Proof of my day

I photographed

I read and enjoyed anew my quotes

My perch was comfortable

In the sunny sun and the windy sea

From the side rocks so new to me

 

I looked back at the land

At the place that had once held my art

At the place I had walked rain or shine

To another time

Of celebration

Contemplation came easy now

Of God of times bad and good

Of times misunderstood

Of love and loss

Of times filled with

Life and

New plans came

 

I came off the pier and noticed

So many flowers near pink as I like

I skirted the bike on the lane

To take a picture again

And hiked the 6 blocks back to my car

More at peace than before

And ready to work

 

The studio beckoned but

Exhausted I reckoned a

Rest on the bed instead

And anxiety returned

And the retreat day returned

And the contemplative events

Returned me to

Peace in place of plans

As I survived

A day unworked

A creative day

An interrupted day

A day of play

Of gratitude

To face my class

Homework undone.

 

 

Spiritual Practices:

Silence

Contemplative Walking

Spiritual Reading

Attention to Nature

Prayerful Play

Re-Membering Faith Stories

Practice of Rest

Gratitude

 

Creative Practices:

Collage

Photography

DS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Studio Rhythms

Stephanart Studio Rhodos

“Stephanart Studio Rhodos” Phone Photo DS

Proposals, jurying, framing, carrying, selling, or not

Sketching, canvas prep, composition, colour, painting

Artist statements, bios, CVs, photographing, website posting

Contemplation, creativity and rest: these are the rhythms of my practice.  The ancient monasteries called it “Ora et Labora”:

“In Christian mysticism, the phrase pray and work refers to the monastic practice of working and praying, generally associated with its use in the Rule of St. Benedict.” Wikipedia

The vertical blinds flutter as I unlock the studio.  Sunlight shines across the white colour spotted floor.  I drop some supplies in, take in the fir-treed mountain view from here and mostly just notice the mess:

Cuttings from garden and fashion magazines

Dried paint skins on plastic take out lids

Brushes in red Folgers coffee cans

Glass beads, Play Doh, and wooden rulers

A painting on this easel and the other

Time stands still here.  I like that. Ideas formed and partially executed, a yellow pad with tiny sketches of what is to come, and the temptation of the paint itself wait.

It is about the paint – the way colours juxtapose, drip, run – even onto the floor. This is freedom.  It is the space to make a mess, to leave it there and to long for this antidote to the structured life I lead outside of these walls.

 

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

Book of Ecclesiastes

 

 

Unloading the Dishwasher

I have not regularly unloaded the dishwasher for years. It was always my husband’s chore. I ignored the process unless there was a quality control issue. He never complained. Now he watches, unable to help, but supportive as always.

Over the past few months, I have noticed a pattern emerging of loading and unloading, of placement and displacement. I notice this morning that it has become a contemplative practice for me. It is like a form of Tai Chi, a whole body exercise, as I move back and forth between cupboard and dishwasher.

I find myself thinking about the day ahead. I pray for people, for situations, for grace…

They say that the best way to learn is to teach. The past six weeks have been filled with contemplative practices – often in theory. I speak of contemplative knitting as we get to know both ourselves and God and of contemplative collage as a way of waiting and discernment for the way ahead.

Undocumented until today, I practice without awareness – contemplative unloading of the dishwasher. This must be similar to – an updated version of – Brother Lawrence’s prayer while peeling potatoes of four centuries ago. God companions us when we are unaware – even as we develop our awareness skills. Hmm.

“Fall on my Knees” lyrics

http://thebrowders.com/lyrics/onmyknees.pdf

for the song check out Matthew Browder on youtube

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“Unloading the Dishwasher” DS

Contemplation and Work

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“Lions Gate Bridge at Night” smartphone photo DS 2015

I find I am most productive when I am busy up to a point. When I am continually working and the studio is filled with projects at various levels of completion, connections between them just happen and a new seemingly unrelated work is created.

On the other hand when I practice a rhythm of work and rest, as has been experienced in monasteries for centuries, I find inspiration even when I sleep or read or visit galleries.

I am also more receptive to including what I see modeled by friends, colleagues and mentors when I am contemplative and grounded in a spiritual/mental/emotional/physical practice.

 

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Book of Ephesians

“Ora et Labora” St. Benedict

The Abundant Life

The Abundant Life detail

“The Abundant Life” detail DS

It has been over a year since I posted on my blog. Life in all of its fullness suddenly overwhelmed me. The blog slipped away with regret. I simply could not write a post.

In the past year life has been overflowing with all kinds of experiences. My husband’s health took a strong dip but now he is on the mend again. I had a milestone birthday but have taken it in stride. There has also been so much good stuff happening it is hard to contain it all.

The workshops have been ongoing if sporadic and the participants have been life giving to me. I know it is a cliché to say that they are ‘special’ but clichés proliferate because they are so often true and defining. A two-year supervised ministry partnership has now come to an end. I miss the women already.

I have been cleaning up of late: sorting art supplies for my new studio, shredding old notes and correspondence, and re-organizing files. As a result, I have found myself reviewing my life. As it turns out, life so far has been even more abundant than I realized – especially of late.

Research material and supplies are still languishing in heaps shocking visitors who enter the wrong room on their way to the loo. I have taken to leaving the room door ajar so they can peak in rather than have the surprising experience of being faced with over-the-head piles of pink boxes, paintings and miscellany. “Oh, that’s the storage room,” I say.

I have come a long way from my neat and tidy roots. Instead of feeling the shame of the woman whose goal was perfect housekeeping, I feel the freedom that comes from succumbing to a creative lifestyle. I can now laugh at myself, sometimes. But I digress.

“The Abundant Life” is actually an art exhibition that will be showing at the Carey Centre, U.B.C. in the month of June. Something in me hopes it will become a travelling show. Twelve paintings with reflections witness to the goodness of God in my life. It has been so wonderful these days I just had to share this with you, dear “Shellseeker” followers.

Heroes

 

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Last evening the “Women in Waiting” workshop series began with a friendly but rough start. People were stressed from difficult lives of juggling children, jobs, court cases and memories. A couple arrived late and some were no shows – or so we thought.

The contemplation part got off to a belated start with a rushed quiet time. We listened to some soft Taize music and breathed or not breathed, as was our need. I gave them the heads up that the instrumental piece was 5 minutes long. It was a good way to re-orient us from our busy lives and the long commute to get there. Amidst sisterly annoyance, hugs and ‘no you’re not late’, joie de vivre begins.

Much of the contemplation time was taken up by telling the stories of women. We imagined ourselves into the life story of Mary the mother of Jesus. She was a devout Jew. Her life was difficult too. We recognized her courage in telling the angel that she would willingly bear God’s Son. She found comfort in her visit with Elizabeth who was pregnant miraculously in her old age (as prophesied). We talked of her feelings atop that donkey at almost 9 months pregnant and finding no place to give birth right away. We see her mystified when Jesus at 12 years old teaches in the synagogue. Her grief was discussed when she was present at the cross and the strangeness and joy she must have experienced at the resurrection. We recalled that Jesus had asked John to look after her.

The conversation progressed to a recognizing of more modern heroes: Malala, Queen Elizabeth II, Gabby Giffords. The name of Anne Frank was raised and a World War II personal family story was told. I thought of Corrie Ten Boom, Teresa of Calcutta, and Teresa of Avila, Julianna of Norwich, Kim Campbell, Adrienne Clark, Alison Redford… All were women with feet of clay – some celebrated, some not so much. Our desire as women of seemingly ordinary lives is to live well, to flourish, and to be heroes if only of our own stories.

The evening continued with more people arriving and being let in on stories and instructions. The ideas of saints and collagists and the era of Dadaism filled the excited air. Our times too are filled with uncertainty and turmoil. Some have life decisions in the hands of judges, of doctors and of counselors – and some of God (if not all).

We collaged women and shadows, text and flowers, colour, paper, images all a seamless mash-up of art mixed with life. Once there, no one wanted to leave. As I drove home tired and happy they chatted in the halls and dark driveway of the church. A Dieu dear ones – until next week.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

 

 

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“Tartan Waves I” DS

“Christ be with me, Christ within me,

Christ behind me, Christ before me,

Christ beside me, Christ to win me,

Christ to comfort and restore me,

Christ beneath me, Christ above me,

Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,

Christ in hearts of all that love me,

Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.”

St. Patrick

A Celtic Blessing from Roma Downey

http://www.andiesisle.com/ThisBlessingIsForYou.html