Saturday, October 31, 2009

directional praying WS gets me oriented yet again

Recently my parents bought a very special stained glass. It was one in a series of projects that emerged from my friends (and amazing retreat leaders) Wanda Schwandt and Suzanne Halstead who take me into deeper places and then say, "now draw it (or paint it or collage it)" Then I come home and imagine it into glass. The first link shows how they inspired a water color which became the stained glass project in my parent's condo.
Two weekends back while at the Walking With God retreat, I signed up for Wanda's workshop. She taught us a prayer which got our bodies into motion. A series of movements that began facing east, then south, then west and then north. Then she set us free to do it our own pace. Then set us free to play with colors on paper.
When I prayed in silence I found ..
  • the hope for new beginnings to the east
  • the warmth of healing to the south
  • the gift of color to the west
  • the pain of suffering to the north

then I played with colors. We all played with colors as we drew mandalas. then most shared our journey and drawing with each other

  1. East became green
  2. south became yellow
  3. north was blue
  4. west was orange

what happens when a round curvy mandala is transformed into 61 straight edged pieces of glass inside a square. Now use your imagination... if the pieces were foiled, then soldered, then held up to the light... soon you won't have to use your imagination

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Hopes of recovery, listening to Pat Martino and making strudel

When the anesthesia wore off, Pat Martino looked up hazily at his parents and his doctors. and tried to piece together any memory of his life.

One of the greatest guitarists in jazz. Martino had suffered a severe brain aneurysm and underwent surgery after being told that his condition could be terminal. After his operations he could remember almost nothing. He barely recognized his parents. and had no memory of his guitar or his career. He remembers feeling as if he had been "dropped cold, empty, neutral, cleansed...naked."

In the following months. Martino made a remarkable recovery. Through intensive study of his own historic recordings, and with the help of computer technology, Pat managed to reverse his memory loss and return to form on his instrument. His past recordings eventually became "an old friend, a spiritual experience which remained beautiful and honest."

Mosaic Woman and I went out to see Pat Martino play guitar on Friday night. I am humbled by this experience. My hands that are connected to a brain, that oh so loves music, have made very little music themselves. And here is a man who learned twice, and both times became one of the best.
The last time my grandmother made me strudel was the first time I was her student. Shortly there after she had a stroke from which she struggled to recover. My grandmother did not lack the desire to heal, but it proved to be beyond her effort. In my mind she gave up her life after failing to recover and I respect her for her fight to recover and her letting go of life. Every time fall comes along and I dedicate a day to making strudel for my family, I marvel at having moved back to Pennsylvania and asking to learn a family tradition in such a timely manner.
I imagine Pat Martino listening to the music he made, but unable to perform it. Where would his life had gone if he failed at relearning how to play guitar.
I try to imagine my grandma seeing me make strudel. I am hoping she is pleased. I am in possession of a card I drew for her. I am not sure why I have it. I am blessed to have hands that can make art and strudel. I try to imagine a situation in which I would have to reemerge into my own life and I hope I have the strength and desire to do it...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I thought you should know that my friend lives in this world too...

I stand in my studio soldering as I fall in love with a Richard Shindell song and thinking of my good friend WC.

Long before I ventured into Jesuit spirituality, WC guided me into the world where hymns appear out of the mystery in which I now walk. Friday night, I waved her over and asked her for an hour of her time. I would not want to retreat in silence with WC, I would miss out on way too many laughs.
But during that hour, I am telling her about my heart. My pains. My joys. My callings. She says, "We need to do something about this." She says wonderfully kind things and I try my best to not close my eyes to the kindness.
At dinner, she is in the midst of some announcements when she asks me to raise my hand. She tells the masses that she has given me permission to add them all to my mailing list unless I hear otherwise. I do not hear otherwise.
WC knows me. She prayed for me when I fall into despair a year ago. She honors me when I speak of calling God into my studio. She praises me to others. Dare I say she loves me. Dare I say that I love her.
I thought that you should know that WC lives in this world...

who should I know who lives in your world? Richard Shindell wanted someone to know about Balloon Man.
Balloon Man by Richard Shindell (sorry could not find the music but here are the lyrics...)
I'm standing outside on the balcony
balloon man is passing below
making his way to the park by the church
he goes where the little ones go
balloon man's a little bit ragged
his glasses are slightly askew
one lens is cracked and shoes never match
he might have a screw loose or two
and you're so far away
on the other side of the world
I thought you might like to know
that balloon man lives in it too
his rig is a marvel of equipoise
Leonardo might've designed
bamboo for the wide horizontal
pine for the vertical rise
he's wearing in a flag-bearers harness
he's holding the whole thing aloft
balloons all arrayed, he's a one man parade
if he ran he'd surely take off
and you're so far away
on the other side of the world
I just thought you should know
that balloon man lives in it too
but it's cold up here on the balcony
and it's time that I went back inside
balloon man waits for the light at the corner
I'll watch til he goes out of sight
but there's a wind that whips round the corner
and he's having a hell of a time
he staggers and it looks like he might just go over
but balloon man he puts up a fight
and you're so far away
on the other side of the world
I just thought you should know
that balloon man lives in it too


Sunday, October 18, 2009

the last 6 weeks led to a walk....

I was home from the retreat that took weeks to blog about and someone said to me, "this place sucks the life energy out of us." I let that seep into my being.

Over the past 6 weeks I have convinced myself that I was toast, and maybe I was. I wrote two IEP's got a physics and a zoology class up and running, and watched the vegetable garden at the school fade away from summer. I entered too much data into a computer. And I was at a loss as to help my ever challenging students. Having fun in my classroom and teaching the subject at hand was not enough. I wanted to see behaviors that held them back vanish into thin air.

At home Mosaic Woman and I took a long drive to see glass sculpture, a shorter drive to see quilts, and moderate drives to hear two jazz concerts. We lived through a major disappointment in her life. I forgot to go to Monday adult classes at my church. I wrote a news letter for Nutmeg Designs and tried to keep up with my friends on-line as my own blogging slowed.

I did not forget that I had come home 6 weeks ago wanting to take God into my glass studio. I cut out pieces for two collaborations. Designed a piece for a school auction. Was commissioned to create a piece that will or has flown to Rome where a design in my head will be transformed into a gift at an ordination. I put a cross in my window and made four more. I made a Dr. Ed Mandala that even impressed me and tomorrow I will hand it to a friend who wants to buy it sight unseen. I have returned to the green vine design as well as a few of my star designs while also designing a 4 pointed star that has 8 pieces. In all 15 pieces have been made, two pieces repaired and a 16th is halfway is cut out.

And the whole time I knew that I had a retreat planned. I forgot what it was about, who was leading it, and when it began and ended. But I knew that on Friday the 16th, I would leave work to go Walking with God, and so I did. and I talked about being called into my studio...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

return to coming by sorrow

not sure why Julie Miller's tune has been in my head this week, but it has.
Maybe it is feeling lost at work when it comes to having any clue as to how to help some "challenging" students.
Maybe it my own past creeping into my subconscious.
Maybe it is reading and listening to stories of friends, who have emerged and/or are emerging from sorrow.
Yesterday driving home from work, I fell asleep behind the wheel for an instant. The car and I were not moving at the time (stopped by a commuter train crossing the road). Last night I so wanted to pass out and sleep but needed some info. Annoyed by no response from an e-mail and no response from a phone message, and by the lack of info given by a friend on the phone... I got dressed and walked a short distance to get the info during which time I cared less about hiding my annoyance. Tonight I will be with these friends and that is the info I had been searching for...

because I did desire to see them, but apparently not last night.
More than ever I am feeling the energy drain from my job. Maybe I needed to remember how I have emerged from sorrow. Some of the photos chosen to go with this song I could live with out, others resonate in my heart. Like Julie Miller and many others, I have come by way of sorrow...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

how it ended

This is how the Jesuits at Wernersville end an 8 day retreat.... a morning mass.

The homily is given over to the silent folk and the Jesuits just ask for us to be short about our reflections. It's been over a month but I said something like this:

Walking into this retreat 8 days ago, I was greeted warmly by Father Jack, but just on the other side of him I saw a huge list. I nearly gave up on drawing cards for all of you but your presence here means so much to me. It is how I say thanks for your willingness to be with me in silence. I have received so much. I am leaving here today with a calling to make art and to greet God as I enter my studio. Your cards and thanks are going into my studio as a physical reminder of what this retreat has meant to me.

In my studio window is the cross that goes deep (see Jim's comment) and on my walls are cards and slips of paper containing words written in silence. I stand in my studio surrounded by reminders of how powerful a gift of God can be, if shared with the world.

Then it was over and the introvert, who is not so good at hearing nice things about himself, braced himself for some positive attention. Don't these people know how hard it is to hug someone.

anyway, choosing to enter into a relationship with God is far from easy, not always comforting, but can be down right amazing.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

a cross emerges from going deeper...

So at the retreat I picked up the erasure and went deeper...

it will hang in my studio as a constant reminder of how blessed I am to have a studio. A studio where I utilize what I see as an amazing gift from God.