Skin Deep

So much work is online now for ease. I know, I know it’s easy! Just scroll through the pages and pages of pictures, quickly scanning them like a shopping list. What is the cost of this to our souls? Are we losing interpersonal contact by just staying skin deep??

Best case scenario is work is done and people physically come see it and be with it and feel it as another person entering a room. What is the energy and story of the work you are looking at? I am thinking back to when I was running a gallery and I had work on the wall from astronomically unique artists who had poured out their beautiful soul. It was an honor to sit with the work for a few months and keep seeing new things that made my heart ache. That is what happens when you connect with the artist , your heart aches a little bit from the connecting with the piece of the universe that you know together.

I think art should be shown in a chapel where you feel compelled to linger and think and be quiet with it. What if there was a gallery that was only one painting big and just had a chair ? What a gift that would be. Everybody has time for looking at one thing. The best thing about that is it would be impossible to be just skin deep.

A long time ago

I was looking at a painting I did 22 years ago when I first had a studio. For some reason when I started, I was just painting in black and white and did these big dancer paintings. It’s not like I had a market for them but I was just walking toward the light by renting a studio and just acting like it would happen. There was a nice big room and lots of light . It was my first real studio.

I had large canvases that I quickly did these big painting on, trying to get gestural strokes of paint to look like dancers moving. I don’t even know what happened to all those paintings. I remember getting this handmade paper from Daniel Smith that spoke to me because it was so heavy and ragged on the edges . Dipping my brush in white and black paint , I just started choreographing the paint around the canvas and the paper.

This was a totally euphoric experience because it sort of was like sumi but had the thrill of being able to ruin it at any time. Acrylic is not like ink so it was like moving spackeling around a wall. Anyway it was a wild free experience that I had forgotten about till I saw this painting. This one little ballerina is the last on left of maybe 50 that I did. Now I wish I knew what happened to the big ones I made and all the little ones that have been forgotten.

It is kind of achey in my heart to look at his painting . It took me back to where I just started to fly and that is always the most exciting part of life- just the first few seconds when you realize you have left the ground.

Vada

I had a friend who was so extraordinary , I have to blog about her.

I met Vada at church I went to about 25 years ago. She was like a sparkling diamond then and continued to be in spite of very difficult circumstances. I never met anyone since then who even comes close to her aliveness.

Her son was a drug addict and we used to pray for him every week for a long time. He eventually did die of a drug overdose in a park. Even though he was extremely handsome and talented and had the potential of a great life , it was over for him at a very young age. I went to her house before the funeral and she sat down with me and showed me the “Cupons” he had made for her when he was a boy. They were for hugs and promises to wash dishes and little chores that a six year old could do. Vada said well I will have the “Cupons” to remember him by. She was not devastated as you would expect especially as we had prayed so long for him and it seemed not to help. But you know I think it did because she did not lose her joy and that was a miracle

She helped my family move about three times and each time it was a party even though we had to move a million books over and over.

One example of Vada doing what only she would think to do is this little pink lamp in the picture. She found this lamp and thought I would like it as it was pink glass and she knew I loved pink things. Plus it was a lamp so I could light it too and that made it even better. I lived in Tacoma and she lived in Everett. She drove down to give it to me and I was not home. Normally if you drove through traffic for hours to deliver a gift and the recipient was not home you would be upset. She told me she was coming down for a visit and I just plain forgot which is pretty horrible in itself.

Anyway I came home and found the little pink lamp on my stoop, with a note that she thought I would like it. I felt awful for all the effort she did coming and going for hours just for that and then I wasn’t even there. I called her and she said that it was just fine and she hoped I liked the lamp. Vada never complained about anything in her life ever.

She went through many more things in her life , all without a frown. Even when she got stomach cancer at 70, she called me and said she was excited to see what the Lord would do . Well He took her home is what He did and now I look at that lamp and think of the profound light She was to this world. She volunteered as a Chaplin at Harborview Hospital and saw the people with the greatest needs there. I remember her stories about how grateful she was to be able to be there with people when they were at a crisis time in their lives. She used to say that it was sacred space.

Vada was sacred space . She was like being with being with an angel.

So my little lamp is reminding me of her every day and Im so glad she brought it down to me when she did.

The Mountain Top

Here is a thing that happened that I can’t even get my head around yet. It is such a big experience that I have to write about it and maybe it will unravel here.

A year ago my husband and I found a secluded retreat center by accident. We were just driving around in a new place and we saw a sign along the road. The sign said St Andrews Retreat Center and we just drove in to see what it was. Because i have a Catholic background , I was wondering if it was like a monastery or something to that effect. We went in and the chef greeted us and was totally fine with us walking around and exploring. He told us groups met there for all sorts of reasons. There was a quilting group there when we walked around. The building felt almost intoxicating , like a place you did not want to leave. He said there was only one opening for a weekend the entire year. We told him we wanted it. Then we went home to figure out what to do with it, some kind of retreat , but we did not know what yet. First I thought the ladies retreat would be good there but the council nixed that idea. Ok so what kind of retreat?

We decided on a prayer retreat because you actually felt like praying when you walked in the door. There is a stillness there that feels like that. I had never been on a prayer retreat so putting one on was a little intimidating. I asked my Pastor if he had any ideas and he said he knew a guy that would be great. We asked him and he said yes right away. He had been to monastery and had actual first hand knowledge of such things.

It was not easy to get people to sign up ,as it was pretty expensive and we did not know what to expect. We got 8 but needed 12 to hit the minimum requirement. After a lot of announcements and emails and a good month we still had only 8. Then one dropped out. I was totally discouraged and wanted to just forget the whole thing, but the wife of the man who was going to lead it asked to just try one more time and see if we couldn’t get enough. So we tried one more time , even though I had a terrible attitude . That Sunday we got the other 4 and then later in the week two more. One woman even sponsored someone else to go unexpectedly.

I was very embarrassed at my bad attitude when I saw people come through like that at the last minute.

We went on our way to find out what it would be like. Everyone arrived and found their little bedrooms and then were congregating in the front room. The chef had dinner cooking so we could be inspired by that. We all got in line for dinner and had a fantastic fresh healthy farm to table type of meal that pretty much thrilled everyone.

Our first session was sweet with a fun opening ice breaker that actually was insightful as to where everyone was starting out emotionally for this retreat .

The leader started the session with a simple but profound talk about the Our Farther and we had one hour to go find a special place to answer questions and pray and be quiet with God. It was something I had never done before in this manner. Everyone came back after the hour and we talked about our experience in a small group.

That took awhile so it was about 9 thirty when we got done. One of the retreat goers built a fire outside and played his violin by it and several of us joined him to sing and be together in this new experience . It was one of the sweetest surprises that he did that.

The next morning some people went for little hikes before breakfast and some talked in the front room about their lives. Then they rang the bell for breakfast we we had another fabulous meal. I remember sitting by a friend of mine and just looking at her and we both said at the same time”Can you believer this food?”

One of the guests said they felt so special last night getting serenaded by angels . That was funny as we were the angels!

The next sessions were the same with a short teaching then one hour spend doing the teaching and thinking deeply about what we read. This method is very effective to make the retreat yours and your alone. The silences we did were a new idea too for me.

It continued like this till night when we finished up and decided to pray together as a group and sing and just be together. This was very delicious too as most of us were getting in the silence , read, ponder, write, groove. Everything started to melt together.

Sunday morning we had more good food and then we did our own Sunday Service. This was the first service I had been to where we all contributed to the order of Worship. We also contributed our two cents during the sermon which was very fun.

Communion was Port and fresh bread and at the end we all hugged and agreed that this was one sweet Sunday. Nobody wanted to leave so we stayed for lunch and then nobody wanted to leave again. We were full in every way you could be full.

All this prelude to this the actual mountain top experience which occurred after we got home. It was sort of like an onion unfolding. I started to not be able to talk about it. It seemed like a dream state after we got home. We floated off to evening service at our home church and everything was different. It was as if I could see past the service to what was happening in the spiritual realm . I know that sound spacey but I can’t thing of another way to say it. Then I felt as if I was coated in Gods love. Let me tell you that is a feeling you don’t want to every lose. It feels safe and clear. The great thing is that my husband felt the same way. I was glad I wouldn’t just sound like I was making this up. I still feel like this three days later and I don’t know how long it will last, but as long as it does i am thrilled to be here . Two other things happened. The words of the Bible seem to be jumping out at me in a way they did not before. Everything seems like it applies to me and it all makes sense. The other thing that is real is that nothing else matters to me. When you feel this close to God you feel complete and all anxiety is gone. My husband feels the same way.

This is the only time in my whole life that this has happened and I don’t know if it will happen again but it certainly was worth writing about . There is nothing i wish more that to have others experience this in your life. I don’t know if it was the prayer retreat or it just happened but it did happen and is still happening.