Category Archives: reflection

Pentimento

pentimento (pĕnˌtəmĕnˈtō) [key], painter’s term for the evidence in a work that the original composition has been changed. 

Despite my good intentions, there was no beauty in the outer lines. The peace I so longed to paint upon the canvas held the jarring discord of the reality. I did not know how to bring peace within the relationship this mandala represented. I did not feel direction in how to breech that barrier. Imposed hope, unwanted judgments clashed as colours and line created dissonance. Only the centre held promise.

How the urge to flight, to run away from what I couldn’t seem to fix held me! Throw the canvas away! Repaint the background to obscure the creative mess! What good are intentions if the product is flawed?

I was stopped by the centre, the seed and ground of my own heart. Green radiating from the spiral spoke to me. 

I raised my paint brush and began to recolour some lines. As I did, it struck me. This mandala was walking me through the inner labyrinth. This time on the journey was the walk toward the centre, that time of Release, the emptying to make room for the changed. The past could not be undone but colours and lines could be revisioned by letting go of what needed change.

I chose the colours that were darker for the heaviness of their pigments. Spiralling upward as layers obscured the colours and line below. I prepared for what will come by letting go.

It is not finished. Releasing is a spiralling process in time. It will come as I take the steps I can see. Each will draw me to that place of Revelation which will lead me to Return to the place of serving more deeply again. It will not be what was. It will have a new beauty.

I look at the mandala and see raised shadows as the only evidence of what had once been.

Only the centre remains.

 

**Credit to Heather Plett for teaching me the stages of a labyrinth

**Credit to Info Please for the wording in the definition of pentimento.

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Dear Once Upon a Time

finding homeDear Once Upon A Time,

You believed the fairytales of a woman’s ability to be like a god changing the attitudes of another, bringing to life your fairytale perfect home. You believed that you could change enough, be enough to satisfy the desires of those who were the forces of power in the world you had been taught to believe. For you, the Stepford Wife existence would have been a mercy. You would not have had to deal with me.

When among the hoped for fairytales, the nightmare took root you fought with virtual tooth and claw to keep me trapped within the prescriptions of your schedules and I tried to comply, tried to find the line between your ridged expectations and the fluidity of my visions of a world of creative possibility waiting to be explored. It was never enough. He had called me frivolous, an escape. And you did not have the talent set that would have made it all better, that would have finally brought the acceptance you so longed for. The anger and despair in you built, an anger you could not accept. You broke when finally you came to realize things would not change.

Someone saw me in you then. She called me an eagle locked in a cage. Her vision gave you hope that perhaps I was not a chain that held you down but wings waiting inside and tentatively you began to seek me again.

For many more years you would struggle to find a way for both of us to be accepted without breaking the code they  had set you in throughout your life. It was an uneasy alliance for your world had become one that had little room for me. As before, when despair robbed you of the energy to hold me down you let me emerge to write words of hope that you could read or to record a memory you would someday need. In those years, you let me create at times as well, practical crafts, nothing too frivolous.

You even tried to kill me when you realized my presence would never allow your world to have the stability of acceptance in a fairytale romance you had fought for so long. It was easier to blame and discard me then to face your humanness which kept you from being a god with power to effect the choices of another.

Ironically, when you finally accepted the reality of your life and began to heal in the aloneness of distance, you still could not accept my presence in your life. You still blamed me for being. They called it anxiety and depression. I knew that it was your raging grief at not being god enough to meet the expectations of the world of thought you had been raised in. The day you finally came face to face with your freedom not to be responsible for the choices of another, you began to heal.

I had learned to wait, that even within myself I could not impose a vision on the part of me still in the pain of disillusioned dreams. It would be years before I would meet the images of the hurt woman in a way that you could begin to see the painfulness of a life without me. Our uneasy alliance would find more compatibility in our house of disappointing or distant relationships.

You still held a separate face within the mirror. My face aged yet yours remained trapped in the age your dreams stood still. Mine was a face you did not recognize as the lines slowly changed from the rigid prison of your lost dreams. There was an uncomfortableness when you looked in the mirror. You could not accept seeing me so clearly etched into the surface of your life.

A few days ago I looked in the mirror and only saw this face. The specter of your trapped image was gone. It has not returned. I can not feel you anymore. I can feel the legacy you left of finding order to build my life within, but your anxiety and discomfort are gone. There is a quietness within of just being.

Like other trapped pieces met through the years of healing you have faded into memory. I only hope you found that  inner island of healing that was hidden from us years ago when time came to put so much of the past to rest. I hope you are finally happy there feeling the acceptance you IMG_3118longed for.

But I go on, inwardly whole and healthy, living fully in this life that was always mine to live. I can only hope I am wiser now and aware enough to see the changes in direction that are needed when anxiety sends signals of danger ahead.

I have learned from you. Thank you for all you added in my life in the years you did not recognize your worth.

Peace to you,

Myself

 

 

Eddying currents of snow

It has happened. The cold dry snow light enough to form eddying currents powered by the passing of cars has laid is thin sheer sheeting gently across the grass.

My thoughts float in eddies of their own settling lightly in future visions of the coming spring and quiet preparations I will be making throughout the winter to let them grow with the warming sun.

This is one of the years when our concert will be in spring. Our school stays busy with activities so has opted for one big concert each year. That is fine with me. It gives time to develop smaller informal celebrations as the children learn new musical skills that will culminate in that final celebration. Within the cozy comforter of my classroom much will happen to prepare for the budding in the spring.

Life will move on through this time of snow. The tracks of vehicles already wind their paths through the snowy whiteness. There are small birds that will insulate among snarled branches and inside trees. Small animals will take foraging trips for food stored in the warmer months. Home will have a greater welcoming warmth when soon the wind blasts frozen across our faces.

There are some who say they would not live in a climate so cold. Just as my French immersion classes give me the extra challenge as I find resources for teaching and presenting in French, the winter challenges me to stretch beyond easy recreations, delving deep to find those things that bring me joy. I cannot be limited in what I find beauty in. The changing season recolors the world reinventing the landscape of possibilities.

The songs of my childhood in more static season can only be a part of my life. Coming from a place where snow was so rare I didn’t know how to maneuver well on icy roads, I have had to become adept at feeling the stability beneath my car, of recognizing the conditions of the road, of turning to resources like snow tires to help me navigate. I have had to learn the musculature of snow shoveling and high stepping where snow is still deep.

It is the same when I teach in the immersion school. I cannot become complacently reliant on the songs I already know or even what I hear on the radio. I am always needing to keep my attentions to the currents of change in order to keep my music teaching contemporary at the same time that I keep much of its content in French. Coming into the world as an adult, I have to research and take courses to more fully access the language and resources. Moving into this much richer climate of seasons I am stretched by seeking new music and learning to adapt known pieces to bring joy and learning to the children whose musical learning has been entrusted to me.

Changing seasons bring challenge. The coming winter reminds me of that within me which has the power and flexibility to learn and adapt.

A Palette of Darkness

“Don’t be afraid of your dark places,” Mom told her.
“If you can shine a light on them, you’ll find treasure there.”
Jeannette Walls, The Silver Star

Darkness comes in many hues. Leaving the safe lights of the city I experience this palette as the safe, known glow fades into the distance and the increasingly earlier night descends into the northern sky.

The openness of prairie has moved into the close protection of tree lined roads by the time night comes. Clouds and the sharp silhouettes of bare snarled branches and rising evergreens frame the sunset in its spectrum of yellows and oranges. The contrast of dark and luminous colour stop my breath with awe. The dark is the velvety smoothness of a black tapestry.

The colour barely begins to fade when the rising tree line hides it from view. The headlights of my car seem dim in the claustrophobic intensity of nothingness. The memory of day and past experiences guides me onward as I travel this  narrow human passageway in this immensity of night. My car is a tiny prison and yet a sanctuary from the unknown presences pulsing in the dark stillness.

I reach the house of my friend. The lights dispel that ominous pressure in my brain as my eyes searched for presence in the small space the carried me through the impression of nothingness I had been driving through. I look out the window into the darkness seeing the quiet lake as a dark shadowy promise waiting for the day. The dark is a quiet gentle stillness separating these moments of togetherness from the busy world. It has the quiet rocking gentleness of water lapping on the shore of my dreams there in the house of my friend.

When we go to the party at the local community center, the dark pulses with the dance lights and the soft glow of decorations. It is a backdrop for the laughter, for the conversations and music and movement filling the space. In those moments that my mind seeks rest from the noises around it is a net catching all the stimuli and weaving them into a dome of white noise and shifting shadows holding them around me until my mind has taken its breath and is ready to be with others again.

The time comes to drive home. There is a dimness to the day as miles again separate me from the closeness of my friend. Clouds mass with gathering participation. Though it is daylight there is a dark cast to the world. Dark is a foggy shadow cloaking the brightness of the sun hiding behind the massing clouds.

811Then night begins to descend. The hidden sun breaks through along the horizon opening a brilliance like a world beyond waiting to be discovered if only we could find our way to leave the rules and regulations of the given road and risk trespass on own land to find our way to some hidden gateway waiting just beyond the rim of the seen world.

But it doesn’t stop there. A rosy glow spreads across the sky so that it is present anywhere I look in a water colour washes. A huge pink wing silhouettes clouds in bold relief while dwarfing the shimmering moon as it drifts in and out of clouds. The dark conducts the sky in an orchestra of light and shadow as it 813bslowly hides the clouds in the silky folds of night.

The night falls softer in the prairie sky. The openness of the horizon holds the glow of the setting sun long after the clouds above are disguised by darkness. Along the road and in the distance pinpoints of lights herald the presence of homes. The moon plays among the clouds adding its presence to the light painting presence into the darkness.

Even my headlights seem brighter in the open expanse. Dark is simply a part of the conversation of being in that moment. It is its own presence, the canvass for light as it paints the signs and symbols letting me know I am nearing home.

It feels like home

I didn’t know what to expect. After having only lived here two weeks while finishing the school year and unpacking boxes, I left for a trip. For 19 days I would travel to Northern Manitoba, across country to Edmonton Alberta, fly to Victoria, B.C., ferry across to Vancouver, fly back to Edmonton and drive back to northern Manitoba where I would collect my car and come back home.

Leaving my vacation behind I felt unsettled driving back to my city. How would it feel coming back to this place that hasn’t yet developed the familiar lines of my space/?

I found myself worrying about what bills might have come in while I was away. Would I have late fees to start my time in my new place? Would the incessant rains that have fallen while I was away flooding areas just west of my city have caused any havoc in the basement? Worries tried to whirl in my brain until I reminded myself of mindfulness and the reality that all I would find when I got back wouldn’t be anything I could deal with until I got back.

For the time being, the sun was shining but it wasn’t so hot that I was roasting in my non-air conditioned car. Yes, I had to roll up the windows when I would slow neat the side of the road. The dark shadowy “bull dogs” swirled around my car like a tornado of hunger. I had heard they bite and I didn’t want first hand experience with that.

Then there was the construction that slowed down my return. All well in good. The drive gave me time to transition forward. Leaving my friend behind in his home up north and not having that surety of familiarity when I got here made it easy to take it slow.

I needn’t have worried. My hyper vigilance had left a credit in one bill for my apartment that was transferred forward to my new address. The other  ended up being due today so with a quick strike of a pen I was up-to-date. Things were in place ready to move forward when I got here.

It’s quiet though. The sound of the vehicles rushing by is my city stream. I don’t really hear it as more than the sound of life around me. There are no other voices to listen for, no conversations in this space. The silence pillows my mind in peace.

Yes, I loved the time with others in the past weeks. I look forward to the busyness of my volunteer shifts at the local Fringe Festival in the coming weeks. I hope not long will pass before I see my children and grandchildren again and for visits with friends to fill the days ahead. I look forward to Dave coming for a few days. His room stands ready.

But for these moments, my body sinks back in my chair while my fingers dance their familiar steps on the keyboard. I have yet to sort out all the corners of the town house that now holds my possessions and my hopes of what I  can make of it. That is okay. I have many tomorrows to figure that all out.

For now, it is a time for resting and reflecting. It is easy here. It feels like home.

Come in, my friend

Come in, My Friend
4 November, 1993

Come in, Friend Grief,
You who are a messenger of God
What is it you want to teach me?
What is it I need to learn?

Hold me, dear friend,
Wash me in your loving tears
Don’t let me run away from you
I need the cleansing you bring.

My heart is pain within me
My body bowed with throbbing ache
I cannot hold you in, dear friend,
I have to let you go.

Forgive me, you world around
If for this moment I break the rules of decorum
My friend is here to visit me
And I must hear the message she brings.

Come in, Friend Grief,
You who are a messenger of God.
What is it you have to teach me today?
What is it I need to learn?