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SPIRIT - Page Text Content



2: Happiness, 2012, 2' x 1' Combined media on panel

3: To take the first step to sing a new song-- is to close one’s eyes and dive into unknown waters.... Miriam stands at the edge of the sea, terrified that she will not be able to take a step, that she will be unable to find her voice. Like the artist standing before a blank canvas or an empty piece of paper, indeed like all of us who face the unexpected in our lives, Miriam must endure that place of unknowing; she must courageously wait, trusting that something will emerge. She, like the rest of us, must have faith in her spirit, her life force, her creativity, her capacity to move forward. She must trust that form will emerge from formlessness, that meaning will emerge from ambiguity, and that creativity will emerge from chaos. Miriam’s story, as depicted in Ruth Sohn’s poetic midrash, is the story of the human spirit. It is the story of giving birth to parts of ourselves that have been masked by fear, and of finding what is alive and fresh and vital-- a process that, in the best of circumstances, recurs in many ways throughout our lives. This show is a tribute to that process. Each painting in the show is inspired by a poem or a blessing that speaks to the triumph of the human spirit. John O’Donohue says, “Though your destination is not yet clear, You can trust the promise of this opening; Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning....” And from Rumi, "Dance when you're broken open. Dance when you've torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you're perfectly free....” The act of painting is, itself, a mirror of Miriam’s journey. I stand before my canvas, its empty whiteness filled with possibilities. How do I begin and find a voice that is authentic? I reach for a brush but freeze. I feel as if I’ve never done this before, as if every prior piece of work has been an accident. To choose the first color, to make the first mark is an act of courage and faith that something will come, but what? Soon the first mark leads to the second, and I find myself totally immersed, engaged and present. The painting which originated as a response to a poem or blessing takes on a life of its own, each brush stroke or material dictating the next. As my song/painting emerges and takes form, I feel pleasure, awe and gratitude. In a very real sense, every painting represents a little triumph of spirit. This collaborative show and musical program reflect the spirit found in art, music and, most importantly, friendship. It began with a poem (“I Shall Sing to the Lord a New Song”) written by Ruth Sohn, a Rabbi. Ultimately, the poem begat my painting as well as a sculpture by Tania Kravath and a musical composition by Roberta Kosse, all born of friendship and nourished by the passion of creation. Judith Greenwald January, 2013

4: I SHALL SING TO THE LORD A NEW SONG I, Miriam, stand at the sea and turn to face the desert stretching endless and still. My eyes are dazzled The sky brilliant blue Sunburnt sands unyielding white. My hands turn to dove wings. My arms reach for the sky and I want to sing the song rising inside me. My mouth open I stop Where are the words? Where the melody? In a moment of panic My eyes go blind. Can I take a step without knowing a Destination? Will I falter Will I fall Will the ground sink away from under me? The song still unformed- How can I sing? To take the first step To sing a new song- Is to close one's eyes and dive into unknown waters. For a moment knowing nothing risking all But then to discover The waters are friendly The ground is firm. And the song – the song rises again. Out of my mouth come words lifting the wind. And I hear for the first the song that has been in my heart silent unknown even to me. -- Ruth Sohn

5: I Shall Sing to the Lord a New Song, 2012, 3’ x 6’ Combined media on panel

6: FOR THE ARTIST AT THE START OF THE DAY May morning be astir with the harvest of night; Your mind quickening to the eros of a new question, Your eyes seduced by some unintended glimpse That cut right through the surface to a source. May this be a morning of innocent beginning, When the gift within you slips clear Of the sticky web of the personal With its hurt and its hauntings, And fixed fortress corners, A Morning when you become a pure vessel For what wants to ascend from silence, May your imagination know The grace of perfect danger, To reach beyond imitation, And the wheel of repetition, Deep into the call of all The unfinished and unsolved Until the veil of the unknown yields And something original begins To stir toward your senses And grow stronger in your heart In order to come to birth In a clean line of form, That claims from time A rhythm not yet heard, That calls space to A different shape. | May it be its own force field And dwell uniquely Between the heart and the light To surprise the hungry eye By how deftly it fits About its secret loss. -- John O'Donohue

7: For the Artist at the Start of the Day, 2012, 2' x 4' Combined media on panel

8: FOR A NEW BEGINNING In out-of-the-way places of the heart, where your thoughts never think to wander, This beginning has been quietly forming, waiting until you were ready to emerge. For a long time it has watched your desire, feeling the emptiness growing inside you, Noticing how you willed yourself on, Still unable to leave what you had outgrown. It watched you play with the seduction of safety and the gray promises that sameness whispered, Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent, wondered would you always live like this.

9: Don't think: Look! -Ludwig Wittgenstein | Then the delight, when your courage kindled, And out you stepped onto new ground, Your eyes young again with energy and dream, a path of plenitude opening before you. Though your destination is not yet clear You can trust the promise of this opening; Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning that is at one with your life's desire. Awaken your spirit to adventure; Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk; Soon you will be home in a new rhythm, For your soul senses the world that awaits you. -- John O'Donohue | For a New Beginning, 2011, 16” x 60” Combined media on panel

10: For years, copying other people, I tried to know myself. From within, I couldn't decide what to do. Unable to see, I heard my name being called. Then I walked outside. The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you. Don't go back to sleep. You must ask for what you really want. Don't go back to sleep. People are going back and forth across the doorsill where the two worlds touch. The door is round and open. Don't go back to sleep. -- Rumi

11: Copying Other People, 2012, 18” x 18” Combined media on canvas

12: SONNETS TO ORPHEUS, Part One, XII Bless the spirit that makes connections, for truly we live in what we imagine. Clocks move along side our real life with steps that are ever the same. Though we do not know our exact location, we are held in place by what links us. Across trackless distances antennas sense each other. Pure attention, the essence of the powers! Distracted by each day's doing, how can we hear the signals? Even as the farmer labors there where the seed turns into summer, it is not his work. It is Earth who gives. -- Rainer Maria Rilke

13: What Links Us, 2011, 18” x 18” Combined media on panel

14: FOR FREEDOM As a bird soars high In the free holding of the wind, Clear of the certainty of ground, Opening the imagination of wings Into the grace of emptiness To fulfill new voyagings, May your life awaken To the call of its freedom. | As the ocean absolves itself Of the expectation of land, Approaching only In the form of waves That fill and pleat and fall With such gradual elegance As to make of the limit A sonorous threshold Whose music echoes back among The give and strain of memory, Thus may your heart know the patience That can draw infinity from limitation.

15: For Freedom, 2012, 2’ x 5’ Combined media on panel | As the embrace of the earth Welcomes all we call death, Taking deep into itself The right solitude of a seed, Allowing it time To shed the grip of former form And give way to a deeper generosity That will one day send it forth, A tree into springtime, May all that holds you Fall from its hungry ledge Into the fecund surge of your heart. | -- John O'Donohue

16: MAY The blessed stretch and ease of it – heart’s ease. The hills blue. All the flowering weeds bursting open. Balm in the air. The birdsong bouncing back out of the sky. The cattle lain down in the meadow, forgetting to feed. The horses swishing their tails. The yellow flare of furze on the near hill. And the first cream splatters of blossom high on the thorns where the day rests longest. All hardship, hunger, treachery of winter forgotten. This unfounded conviction: forgiveness, hope. -- Kerrie Hardie

17: May, 2012, 12” x 12” Combined media on panel

18: MIND WANTING MORE Only a beige slat of sun above the horizon, like a shade pulled not quite down. Otherwise, clouds. Sea rippled here and there. Birds reluctant to fly. The mind wants a shaft of sun to stir the grey porridge of clouds, an osprey to stitch sea to sky with its barred wings, some dramatic music: a symphony, perhaps a Chinese gong. But the mind always wants more than it has -- one more bright day of sun, one more clear night in bed with the moon; one more hour to get the words right; one more chance for the heart in hiding to emerge from its thicket in dried grasses -- as if this quiet day with its tentative light weren't enough, as if joy weren't strewn all around. -- Holly Hughes

19: Mind Wanting More, 2011, 30” x 30” Combined media on panel

20: Dance when you're broken open. Dance when you've torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you're perfectly free. Struck, the dancer hears a tambourine inside her, like a wave that crests into foam at the very top, Begins. Maybe you don't hear that tambourine, or the tree leaves clapping time. Close the ears on your head, that listen mostly to lies and cynical jokes. There are other things to see, and hear. Music. Dance. A brilliant city inside your soul! -- Rumi

21: Dance When You’re Broken Open, 2012, 18” x 30” Combined media on panel

22: THIS WE HAVE NOW This we have now is not imagination. This is not grief or joy. Not a judging state, Or an elation, or sadness. These come and go. This is the presence that doesn’t. What else could human beings want? When grapes turn into wine, They’re wanting this. When the night sky pours by, It’s really a crowd of beggars, And they all want some of this! This That we are now Created the body, cell by cell, Like bees building a honeycomb. The human body (and the universe) grew from this, not this From the universe and the human body. -- Rumi

23: This We Have Now, 2012, 16” x 16” Combined media on panel

24: FOR PRESENCE Awaken to the mystery of being here and enter the quiet immensity of your own presence. Have joy and peace in the temple of your senses. Receive encouragement when new frontiers beckon. Respond to the call of your gift and the courage to follow its path. Let the flame of anger free you of all falsity. May warmth of heart keep your presence aflame. May anxiety never linger about you. May your outer dignity mirror an inner dignity of soul. Take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek no attention. Be consoled in the secret symmetry of your soul. May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven around the heart of wonder. -- John O'Donohue

25: For Presence 1, 2012, 40” x 30” Combined media on panel

26: FOR ABSENCE May you know that absence is full of tender presence and that nothing is ever lost or forgotten. May the absences in your life be full of eternal echo May you sense around you the secret Elsewhere which holds the presences that have left your life. May you be generous in your embrace of loss. May the sore of your grief turn into a well of seamless presence. May your compassion reach out to the ones we never hear from and may you have the courage to speak out for the excluded ones. May you become the gracious and passionate subject of your own life. May you not disrespect your mystery through brittle words or false belonging. May you be embraced by God in whom dawn and twilight are one and may your longing inhabit its deepest dreams within the shelter of the Great Belonging. -- John O’Donohue

27: For Absence, 2012, 40” x 30” Combined media on canvas

28: ASK ME Some time when the river is ice ask me mistakes I have made. Ask me whether what I have done is my life. Others have come in their slow way in to my thought, and some have tried to help or to hurt: ask me what difference their strongest love or hate has made I will listen to what you say. You and I can turn and look at the silent river and wait. We know the current is there, hidden; and there are comings and goings from miles away that hold the stillness exactly before us. What the river says, that is what I say. -- William Stafford

29: Ask Me, 2011, 18” x 18” Combined media on panel

30: HOPE It hovers in dark corners before the lights are turned on, it shakes sleep from its eyes and drops from mushroom gills, it explodes in the starry heads of dandelions turned sages, it sticks to the wings of green angels that sail from the tops of maples. It sprouts in each occluded eye of the many-eyed potato, it lives in each earthworm segment surviving cruelty, it is the motion that runs the tail of a dog, it is the mouth that inflates the lungs of the child that has just been born. It is the singular gift we cannot destroy in ourselves, the argument that refutes death, the genius that invents the future, all we know of God. It is the serum which makes us swear not to betray one another; it is in this poem, trying to speak. -- Lisel Mueller

31: Hope 1, 2012, 18” x 18” Combined media on panel

32: SO MUCH HAPPINESS It is difficult to know what to do with so much happiness. With sadness there is something to rub against, a wound to tend with lotion and cloth. When the world falls in around you, you have pieces to pick up, something to hold in your hands, like ticket stubs or change. But happiness floats. It doesn’t need you to hold it down. It doesn’t need anything. Happiness lands on the roof of the next house, singing, and disappears when it wants to. You are happy either way. Even the fact that you once lived in a peaceful tree house and now live over a quarry of noise and dust cannot make you unhappy. Everything has a life of it’s own, it too could wake up filled with possibilities. of coffee cake and ripe peaches, and love even the floor which needs to be swept, the soiled linens and scratched records. . . . Since there is no place large enough to contain so much happiness, you shrug, you raise your hands, and it flows out of you into everything you touch. You are not responsible. You take no credit, as the night sky takes no credit for the moon, but continues to hold it, and share it, and in that way, be known. -- Naomi Shihab Nye

33: So Much Happiness 2, 2012, 48” x 30” Combined media on panel

34: THE NINTH ELEGY (excerpt) Why, if this interval of being can be spent serenely in the form of a laurel, slightly darker than all other green, with tiny waves on the edges of every leaf (like the smile of a breeze) --: why then have to be human - and, escaping from fate, keep longing for fate? .... Oh not because happiness exists, that too-hasty profit snatched from approaching loss, Not out of curiosity, not as practice for the heart, which would exist in the laurel too.... But because truly being here is so much; because everything here apparently needs us, this fleeting world, which is in some strange way keeps calling to us. Us, the most fleeting of all. Once for each thing. Just once; no more. And we too,just once. And never again. But to have been this once, completely, even if only once: to have been at one with the earth, seems beyond undoing. -- Rainer Maria Rilke

35: Being Here, 2012, 16” x 16” Combined media on panel

36: Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing there is a field. I'll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about ideas, language, even the phrase each other doesn't make any sense. -- Rumi

37: Beyond Ideas, 2012, 12” x 12” Combined media on canvas

38: FOR LONGING Blessed be the longing that brought you here and that quickens your soul with wonder. May you have the courage to befriend your eternal longing. May you enjoy the critical and creative companionship of the question “Who am I?” and may it brighten your longing. May a secret Providence guide your thought and shelter your feeling. May your mind inhabit your life with the same sureness with which your body belongs to the world. May the sense of something absent enlarge your life. May your soul be as free as the ever-new waves of the sea. May you succumb to the danger of growth. May you live in the neighbourhood of wonder. May you belong to love with the wildness of Dance. May you know that you are ever embraced in the kind circle of God. -- John O’Donohue

39: For Longing 2, 2012, 40” x 30” Combined media on panel

40: SOLITUDE Spiritual joys come only from solitude, So the wise choose the bottom of the well, For the darkness down there beats The darkness up here. He who follows at the heels of the world Never saves his head. -- Rumi

41: Solitude, 2012, 12” x 12” Combined media on panel

42: YOUR LAUGHTER Take bread away from me, if you wish, take air away, but do not take from me your laughter. Do not take away the rose, the lance flower that you pluck, the water that suddenly bursts forth in joy, the sudden wave of silver born in you. My struggle is harsh and I come back with eyes tired at times from having seen the unchanging earth, but when your laughter enters it rises to the sky seeking me and it opens for me all the doors of life. My love, in the darkest hour your laughter opens, and if suddenly you see my blood staining the stones of the street, laugh, because your laughter will be for my hands like a fresh sword. | Next to the sea in the autumn, your laughter must raise its foamy cascade, and in the spring, love, I want your laughter like the flower I was waiting for, the blue flower, the rose of my echoing country. Laugh at the night, at the day, at the moon, laugh at the twisted streets of the island, laugh at this clumsy boy who loves you, but when I open my eyes and close them, when my steps go, when my steps return, deny me bread, air, light, spring, but never your laughter for I would die. -- Pablo Neruda

43: Your Laughter, 2011, 18” x 18” Combined media on panel

44: You see, I want a lot. Perhaps I want everything: the darkness that comes with every infinite fall and the shivering blaze of every step up. So many live on and want nothing, and are raised to the rank of prince by the slippery ease of their light judgments. But what you love to see are faces that do work and feel thirst. You love most of all those who need you as they need a crowbar or a hoe. You have not grown old, and it’s not too late to dive into your increasing depths where life calmly gives out its own secret. -- Rainer Maria Rilke, Translated by Robert Bly.

45: You See I Want A Lot 2, 2012, 18” x 18” Combined media on panel

46: ORDINARY MIND IS THE WAY Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, A cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn’t clouded by unnecessary things This is the best season of your life. -- Wumen Huikai

47: Ordinary Mind, 2012, 16” x 16” Combined media on panel

48: For Longing, 2012, 40" x 30" Combined media on panel

49: Longing, 2012, 12" x 12" Combined media on panel

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  • By: Judith G.
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  • Title: SPIRIT
  • Poetry and painting
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  • Published: over 5 years ago