Wednesday, May 28, 2008
I won't attach a picture of my pellet. It looks like any other. Grey hair, tiny bones from probably mouse and bird together. It looks like something that went through the washer and dryer in a pocket, by mistake.
And I said, "What shall I cry?"
And that is it, in a nutshell. That's why I write, paint, draw, sew, blog, talk, and perform most of the other tasks essential to how I conduct my life. The thing that always drives me crazy, makes me worry, makes me wonder and sometimes feel ashamed, makes me stay up all night, that makes me love and obsess and avoid -- What shall I cry? -- That's the continuous, never-silent ever-present question.
It isn't a void of inspiration, not that; I feel inspired quite a lot, though not always with my own aim in mind or to the effect I'm hoping toward.
So I sew and sew and SEW on this damned piece, this "Desire" piece, and in this act feel sometimes as though God must truly exist if for no reason other than that mere rough beauty is labor enough to achieve -- consider the lilies of the field. What sort of artistic talent can create a lily, and then breathe life into it? Never mine.
I won't let it go, though.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
It's a self-portrait really, and a tension between equally powerful compulsions -- love and possession, courage and destruction, the fire of the spirit and the depths to which we'll dive to find the pearl at the bottom of the ocean. It would be better off, in short, as a piece of writing. But too late now! It is instead a kind of painting -- only there's not much paint involved, since the entire piece is layers of fabric.
Communicating the self-portrait aspect of it without plunking a face or a figure into the piece is HARD for me to do. In fact, because of the text that is and will be included, it is a written piece in a way-- like a sketchbook page or a journal. It's the story of intertwined obsessions, in a sense. I set myself a deadline of mid-June. I have to get this done.
Epiqumew, that's its title. What a silly-sounding word for such a powerful human force.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Today's sermon at church was titled "What, me worry?" and encapsulated the usual list of human anxieties, from bad weather to avian flu to losing a job or a home. The lesson and the gospel was "take no thought for tomorrow," for tomorrow brings its own troubles. Consider the birds of the air, the lilies of the field. No birds or lillies in Hugo, at least not around 195th Street, and my husband watching the news tonight grabbed my hand and said "See why I worry?" He's the designated worrier in our family, always anticipating with alarm the worst in ever scenario. I can only be grateful that his fears don't materialize. But we have to take care of each other -- those churches near Hugo, and perhaps ours down here, will need to pitch in now to provide for those harmed and homeless.
The story airing on NPR's "This American Life" tonight was about proms, and a portion of the program was spent on a tornado that interrupted one senior prom in a Kansas town. They cut in and out with local updates on the Hugo scene, from MPR. None of the reporters mentioned the irony.
I'm reading a book called "The Undertaking," by Thomas Lynch, a poet and long-time funeral director. It's fascinating and lyrical, and the sort of thing I gravitate toward these days -- insightful and spiritual but easy to read, easy to move in and out of as need be. And, yes, a little grim but that's life --- life, and death too. Death ritual and funerals have always had an attraction-repulsion power over me; normal folks mainly don't go in for funerals, and for years I lived in fear of the next one I'd have to attend, but since coming to faith I've found there is such a thing as a "good funeral" and I've had occasion to attend a couple of these. Sadly, yes, but upliftingly as well. It's a simple service to your neighbors, really, providing care and necessary arrangements during a time of grief and loss. Like chaplain work in some ways, which is another occupation that interests me -- not necessarily to perform, but certainly to understand.
Two of the clergy I'm familiar with were called to seminary at or in proximity to the death of loved ones, and the funerals. The subject of "calling" still gives me a little trouble, but I'm living in a different faith context than were these two -- my first "call" was a loud one, and more basic. The direction I'm being led in remains to be seen. It's not a mystery what I'm doing, only whether it's where I'm headed. I'm torn; I want a clear direction, but don't want to feel I'm settling in to do the same thing for the rest of my life. I'm still locating the big "purpose" or "vision" for my work.
I do a great deal with art and outreach through the church, and certainly the ministry of basic needs assistance requires no further justification -- the poor are always with us. But the arts activities cause me to doubt in light of the loss of a child, such that those victims in Hugo sustained. Hanging shows isn't like feeding people -- or at least, it requires more faith in the unseen to believe it so. The substance of something hoped for -- that beauty and aesthetic dialogue CAN uplift, significantly, transformatively and for the greater good. Maybe even in Hugo. How does this all relate?
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Judy Coates Perez' blog has a link to a link, on a piece of impending legislation that looks problematic...intellectual property law and copyright laws add a layer of inscrutability that could adversely affect artists and writers. Check out the Orphaned Works legislation at the link above.
I bought a painting this weekend by Jonathan Hamilton, a friend and former co-worker.
Migration is the name of the piece; this picture doesn't do it justice (camera phone). And of course the pegboard doesn't help either, but you can see the clouds, birds flying (gum arabic print), the map, the cone of a volcano, other strata and images emergin beneath...it's very much in sync with the news and my thoughts of late. Really so lovely and evocative.
And after buying the swiss cheese chair for my husband, I am officially DONE.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Friday, May 9, 2008
Not tonight though -- after a busy evening of ups and downs, I'm up, though tomorrow too will be long and I shouldn't push it.
I was at a funeral yesterday morning, for the mother of a good friend, and somehow a good funeral is so uplifting. Sounds crazy to some, and selfish maybe; but D.'s mother lived a long, interesting and full existence, and she died quickly when the time came, and was even given some choices in the end about whether medical procedures to save her life were worth the increased risk of dying in a way she would not have wanted. She birthed five sons, all of whom were on hand, and the remembrances they offered were articulate and touching, making clear how strong and loving and alive she was. The church itself was quite lovely, an older Lutheran church in south Minneapolis, and the day was warm and sunny -- the only such day we've had all week. Made spring seem that much more real, in a season that has come to us only reluctantly.
One of her sons read from her journal, a recent entry that commented on her sense that time was short, and spoke of her concern for her family while acknowledging a sense that she had lived well and long. I was stilled myself by those words, and thought of how those few lines came to mean so much to her survivors. I don't journal much on paper anymore. How will I preserve what I've blogged? I've never come across a good means of downloading stored content. Certainly not all of what I've written is worth posterity (mostly not) but it's mine and I have a child. I do hope and pray that I live so long and well as Lannie did, and that I'm remembered by so many as those who felt adopted by her over the years. That I could do the same for those I'm touched by, more consistently. She left behind a treasure in memories.
Monday, May 5, 2008
This afternoon, as we left the house and headed north up our street, he said "Let's go to China and visit Kai-Lan." He was referring to a show he watches at daycare, a very hip-looking cartoon that teaches kids a little Chinese language and culture as well as all the standard behavioral lessons. We talked about how far away China lays, and in a few minutes he said "We can go to Radiator Springs. That's far away too, though." This time a fictional town in the desert, from the movie "Cars;" though in fact it's the American West in this case and the kid and I have already spent some time with a map tracing Route 66 through the real countryside. As we discussed the relative proximity of real places and pretend places, he casually threw in that "we shouldn't go to North Minneapolis though. We can't go there."
This really stopped me in my tracks, since it's a sentiment he probably did not hear around the house -- at least not as a serious travel restriction, though my husband and I discuss the news periodically and I suppose it's possible the kid has discerned some opinions of his own from all that. If not, I wonder where he picked it up -- he didn't seem to have a ready source for the quote when I asked, nor a reason to avoid that part of town. Something to listen for down the road.
The rest of our walk concerned itself with the potential for finding earthworms, the puddles on the baseball field, the way fallen husks from tree blossoms look a little like stink bugs, and other manifestations of the natural world. The weather was mild, and the walk really enjoyable. I'm glad we have time to take these walks regularly -- his attention span has really caught up with his aptitude, and I enjoy letting him choose our path and our subject matter. It's a relief on many levels just to converse with him.
Saturday, May 3, 2008
I think of his mother, what a gal she was -- she had taste in art, she had traveled the world, she stirred herself to many of Dean's events and was deeply involved in seeing him fulfill his dreams. I've done what I could to look out for two of her boys over the years, Dean and also Gary, and in this way hope to have pleased her a little. I hung some artwork in her home for her, once. It was a privilege to have known her.
It's been a wild week, in a string of strange ones; often there's been serious stress. I'm reminded again of the death of Chillon's family friend, which just happened Tuesday; he was just a college freshman. There have been family health concerns in C's life, I've been in and out of work with physical problems, my son has had a tough week, and of course while we know now that Ron's job is secure it's still apparently a period of tension to be recovering from. And then all the people I know who are struggling with various doubts and challenges. It's life of course; but it all seems peculiarly condensed somehow.
Never a dull moment.
And somehow, I'm afraid, there's no slowing down -- even if I had a month to linger on the beach somewhere, I'm not sure I'd find a still point. I hope the wheels aren't coming off the wagon.
Dean -- the month of April was too short. Tomorrow is already May 4, and that's 12 days until Art-a-Whirl, 20 days until Spirit opens. I spin so not to sink. Lanie Seal and William Jacobson will both be buried, and these days will tick onward.
"All people are grass, their constancy is like the flower of the field."
Thursday, May 1, 2008
In spite of all our works, our concern for the larger world, we don't have the street sense anymore, some of us. When there's laughter, it's sort of ironic -- we joke about having "too much fun" at a church picnic and annoying the neighbors with our noises. We rely on regional humor, Midwestern humor, food humor, kid humor. So safe.
Sure, Jesus was GOD on the earth. Jesus healed, he cast out demons, he turned men's souls (and women's souls.) But he drank wine at every meal, evidently. So at some point, being flesh, he must have relaxed. When I take that shot of wine at Sunday Communion, I'm reminded -- it's the blood of life, all right -- the fullness of ferment, the beauty of chemistry. We need a little more of this at our meetings, methinks.
It's hard not to juxtapose the feeling with this morning's news. They found the body of that young man from St. Paul, missing in Ithaca, and it turns out he is the long-time family friend of one of my newer friends -- a classmate of her daughter's actually, and just a freshman himself. It's the sadly repetitive story -- a young person goes to a party, drinks, leaves alone late at night and never reaches home. They've turned up several students in the rivers around here in recent years, that way, and this young man was just today discovered in a pond on the campus at Ithaca. It's a terrible loss, of course -- loss is mostly terrible -- and this more senseless than violence, in a way.
Springtime, when people fall in love (or pretend to), when the long winter finally yields, though this year seems reluctant to advance in that way. We whine and complain, but I can recall several years ago -- maybe 4, and I have the photos to prove it -- when we had snowstorms with our green grass as late as May Day.