November 21, 2011

“… But enough is enough. One turns at last even from glory itself with a sigh of relief. From the depths of mystery, and even from the heights of splendor, we bounce back and hurry for the latitudes of home.”

-Annie Dillard, Teaching a Stone to Talk, page 28

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story through image.

October 13, 2011

In order for all of my classmates to come to know one another better, my professor requested that we each make a collage answering the questions “Who am I? Who do I want to be?” Because storytelling is how we make sense of life, and how we come to know each other, we each took a turn one Friday, sharing our images. We took the five hours of class time to listen, to piece together, to laugh. Because there is such a great diversity among the 32 of us, the stories had great depth, hurt, beauty, and humor. I came to know of people’s odd hobbies, travels, family traditions, and spiritual journeys. Everyone’s collage looked so different – some were hand-drawn, some just words, some on canvas, some on poster-board, some were digital, literal, abstract – all reflecting the intricacy of the human condition.

A friend and I gathered wine, cheese, music, and lots of magazines, paint, and glue – spreading out on the floor as the pacific rain came pouring down. We shared our own stories, quotes, and paths, as we pieced together our collages. Mine is pictured above, and I would like to share.

On the background of the piece is a map of San Diego. It is not only where I have physically come to, but the place where so much of my life has led me to – this place, with these experiences is both a place of arrival, and a place of departure.  There are a few literal representations of important aspects of my life – art, biking, baking, working with children.

I chose the ampersand to signify my journey to understand that life is much more about the “both/and” than the “either/or.” (I recall Waterdeep’s song And.) There is much more grey in life than black/white – most specifically when it comes to people. There is complexity and complication which create layers to every story. Giving people of the benefit of the doubt is a great gift. Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle. (Attributed to Philo of Alexandria.)

The human heart in the center reminds me of my own mortality. I am mind, body, and spirit – and the continued beating heart, pumping blood, breathing, thinking, feeling is a gift.

The hand holding the seeds says Food as Sacrament. A passion I have been given, and a talent I am cultivating, is the art of food. It is a way to be sustained, to love one another, share goodness, and connect with the earth. It is a daily, tangible experience of gratitude and abundance. I hope to serve thousands more beautiful meals.

The car load full of people speaks quietly to my hope for travel and a family of my own.

The plant life is taken from various California botanical sources. Nature is wise. Its growth is dependent on many sources, and it takes care to regenerate with the seasons.

The Annie Dillard quote says:

I am a frayed and nibbled survivor in a fallen world, and I am getting along. I am aging and eaten and have done my share of eating too. I am not washed and beautiful, in control of a shining world in which everything fits, but instead am wondering awed about on a splintered wreck I’ve come to care for, whose gnawed trees breathe a delicate air, whose bloodied and scarred creatures are my dearest companions, and whose beauty bats and shines not in its imperfections but overwhelmingly in spite of them.

reverb10: [let go]

December 5, 2010

I am a frayed and nibbled survivor in a fallen world, and I am getting along. I am aging and eaten and have done my share of eating too. I am not washed and beautiful, in control of a shining world in which everything fits, but instead am wondering awed about on a splintered wreck I’ve come to care for, whose gnawed trees breathe a delicate air, whose bloodied and scarred creatures are my dearest companions, and whose beauty bats and shines not in its imperfections but overwhelmingly in spite of them…
-Annie Dillard

Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?
[Letting go of all that hinders, binds – and of gathering all that is light, beautiful, and treasured.]

This summer, my family vacationed in Arcadia, MI, located on the serene waters of Lake Michigan. The common lore of the land includes the much coveted Petoskey stone. The stone is made of fossilized coral, and when it is wet, the coral forms a beautiful, sparkling pattern on the surface. Not being from Michigan, my Mom and I set out to go Petoskey hunting, hoping to gain our status as locals. We rolled up our pants, and wadded in the cold northern waters, turning over stones.

We quickly picked up a rhythm of gathering a handful of stones, examining, and then tossing them back. The progression only seemed natural then, that as we reflected about the story of hardship from the past year  we eventually were throwing our rocks back with much force. We began hurling large rocks into the heart of the lake, yelling a name or word, and letting go. The larger the rock, the better, as it took more strength to hoist the mass over my head, gather breath, and simultaneously let go of the rock and the burden.

The rocks that I threw on that summer afternoon carried perfectionism, disappointment, and the grief of loss, among other things. The physical act made the spiritual act of letting go more tangible, more real.

At the end of the day, the joy of letting go exceeds the initial feeling of loss. With the burden removed, I am free to grow and stretch in new ways. After all of our stone throwing, Mom and I both found Petoskey stones, something that many people spend years looking for. Hers was large, magnificent, and prime paper-weight quality. Mine was a small pebble-like stone, perfect to fit in my pocket. It serves as a reminder that letting go of the large rocks results in the beauty of a small stone, sought after and full of worth.

I hope that after a year of letting go, this next one is a gathering small Petoskey stones.

www.reverb10.com

Photo credit: ojoyous1