Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Memories of my quiet retreat

Well, I've been back for a few days now. Seems last week's rest and relaxation was months ago! But, there is something magical about taking the time to sketch and paint. I'm feeling it mostly like a deep meditation, where I get lost in the hues, shapes, colors, etc. In the midst of that journey, thoughts are suspended and I feel deeply connected to the 'All'....

 Driving through the sweet town of Upper Lake I was mesmerized by the beautiful fall foliage.
 And, while reading Matthew Fox's book on Hildegard of Bingen, her thoughts on Veriditis... the 'greening' of God... Inspired this leafy mandala. Here, I got lost in the many, many layers of green within each leaf.
Here is a rough sketch of my World Mark Resort at Clearlake as viewed from the dock.
And finally, here is some of the bounty I found at an antique shop in Lakeport. So many beautiful, delicate, delicious laces to create with! Looking forward to getting started!

 In this picture, you can see close ups of just a few of the amazing Victorian collars and cuffs I found!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A book review that MAKES SENSE OF IT ALL!

The Making of a Postdenominational Priest
A book review that 'makes sense of it all!'

I had the good fortune to be raised in the Catholic tradition. However, I always ‘blurred my eyes’ (by squinting through my eyelashes) and discerned what the priests and nuns ‘really’ meant. Sadly though, I wasn’t permitted to be an alter-girl, since the church dictate was only men, made in His image (so the priest told me) could go beyond the communion rail. I thought for a while I’d be a nun, but then, I did like boys. So, by the late seventies, I found a home in the Episcopal Church and attended a series by one of the first thirteen ordained women, Laura Frasier (RIP). Fearless and passionate, she was known to push the envelope, inviting us to look at the history of spiritual consciousness in an evolving, Earth centered way. She had us gaze into one another’s eyes, to see the Divinity in each one. Not only did she open my heart, she was my gateway to the mystic and visionary, Dr. Matthew Fox.

Having many fabulous years as a lay minister in the Unity Church, and later dancing my way through 20 years of my own ministry ‘Conscious Connections Community,’ Matthew Fox has been a spiritual hero, guide, and proof that there is life after the Catholic Church.

Currently submerged in the life and teachings of Hildegard of Bingen, I took a break to read an early release of Dr. Matthew Fox’s ‘CONFESSIONS: The Making of a Post-denominational Priest.’ Of course, I met up with Hildegard throughout his often witty but deeply humble autobiography. Throughout his book I found spiritual nourishment in recurrent themes, both from what I thought the nuns and priests ‘really meant,’ to all I’ve come to understand in my almost seventy years. An experiential understanding of the Divine resonates from his soul to mine.

Fox tells us about his early inspirational years with his family and church. So ‘ordinary’. So easy to identify with.  Then we find ourselves plunging into his not-so-ordinary travels through the years, trying to integrate spirituality back into religious practices. He states: “Without spirituality we, all of us and especially rationalists, fall back on piety. The soul shrinks. The heart aches. We become cosmically lonely. Cosmically afraid.”

I found my soul so soothed, my heart hopeful. I face the work I do with Suicide Prevention and Hospice Grief Support with more courage and conviction with Dr. Fox’s words: “It is not silence we are bound to observe, but listening. Listening to God. In others, in ourselves, all about us. How many talks I have heard on silence which themselves betrayed the act of listening. For silence is for listening. And to listen is to love.”

I am especially enthused by these words: “Meanwhile, the need for a spirituality which can heal Mother Earth and usher in an era of a global renaissance goes on. I am proud to be part of that movement. I encourage those who have found a spiritual home in creation spirituality to continue to speak out from a place of ‘inner wealth,’ as Eckhart says.”

I so highly suggest this is a must read for those who want to go deeper in their own spiritualty, to see into the life, works, and thinking of a true modern Christian Mystic.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

More on Self-Care

So happy and blessed to own a Worldmark timeshare. Here is our Clear Lake resort. You can see my unit right in the middle, ground floor. A sweet, huge studio, for a whole week! Peace, quiet, time to be still.

With this exception! I've been visited by a sweet mama and her four semi-wild kittens. Yes, I fed them. We'll see later this week, I'll research animal shelters to see if mama has been missing. In the mean time, I'm blessed to be entertained by their antics!

Even though the weather has been chilly, my patio is quite sheltered and I've enjoyed some very simple watercolor sketches in my 'Midori' art kit. Planning on making some alterations, and then a pattern. A very handy little traveling art kit!

Feeling so blessed! Also, I'm enjoying several of Mathew Fox's books, two about Hildegard and also reading his revised autobiography 'Confessions'.

Sweet blessings to you.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Self-Care - Personal Retreat Time

Hello friends... 'Self-Care' has been much talked about lately. If I may get on my soapbox for a moment... how many of us take Self Care seriously? There is so much burn out, especially for those in helping professions, or those of us who multitask, or some of us who just have so much on our plates at any given time.  I used to think that self-care was selfish...putting myself before caring for others? nope.

If I may, please consider Self-Care as a high form of prayer, prayer of gratitude and thanksgiving. For me, Self-Care is how I honor all that the Creator has given me, starting with my health. For me, Self-Care means daily morning and night journaling; it means taking time each day to meditate; it means keeping up with a regular exercise routine, in my case, aqua aerobics three times a week; it means following the hour in the pool with an hour meditating at the beach, feeling so fortunate to live so close to the Pacific Ocean. Self-Care also means taking time each week for creating art. Art dates, says Julia Cameron in her book, The Artist's Way, are vital to creating. So, I picked up a sweet cruiser bicycle, put together a tidy mobil watercolor field box, and bike myself to some pretty awesome spots to sketch or paint.

Somehow, it all fits in to a very busy, active, and responsibility-laden life. If I were to not keep up with one of these things, well, it would start with rising blood pressure, not to mention bouts of depression. My version of Self-Care has been working for me, I'm not going to challenge nor question it!

Reading is another one of the activities I include in Self-Care. Currently I'm reading Mathew Fox's 'Illuminations' and 'Hildegard of Bingen: A Saint for our Times. So, here, I'll introduce you to Hildegard of Bingen.

Hildegard of Bingen has been called by her admirers one of the most important figures in the history of the Middle Ages, and "the greatest woman of her time." Her time was the 1100's (she was born in 1098). She was was a remarkable woman, a "first" in many fields. At a time when few women wrote, Hildegard, known as "Sybil of the Rhine", produced major works of theology and visionary writings. When few women were accorded respect, she was consulted by and advised bishops, popes, and kings. She used the curative powers of natural objects for healing, and wrote treatises about natural history and medicinal uses of plants, animals, trees and stones. She is the first composer whose biography is known. She founded a vibrant convent, where her musical plays were performed. She was also an artist, inspired by the Divine.

I am in awe of her and her work. It is my intention to develop several pieces of art, perhaps a series, inspired by Hildegard. Here are just three of her mandalas.

It's my intention to post here more often.

Sweet Blessings dear friends.