“You are being called, we are all being called. We stumbled upon the Hero’s Journey and now there is no turning back. We know too much, overcame too many trials and received initiation into the Great Mystery, the river will not release us without a struggle. We asked to be conscious, we cannot become unconscious…it is too late for that. We are reluctant heroes.
TheEmpty Handed Offering
What does an Empty Handed Offering consist of?
I am not sure, but my gut tells me it looks something like the walking forward of this photograph. No idea what it actually is, or if it even exists. I hope to attempt an answer over the next eight months. A series of synchronicities has allowed me access to a small loft over the winter that is located on a remote island a few ferry rides away.
I have taken to calling it “A Room of One’s Own”. Full disclosure, I have not read in its entirety “A Room of One’s Own” by Virginia Woolf but now have a copy in hand and will finish it before the first departure of my solo journey. Books, art supplies, camera and hopes for inspiration will travel with me as I move back and forth every few weeks from ‘home’ to ‘room’ with the question of the “Empty Handed Offering”.
I was born on the Winter Solstice, each year there is comfort in knowing that the days become longer, the light returns slowly from that day forward. This year I enter another decade of life, more decades are now behind than in front.
This opportunity is the perfect gift, a room of one’s own and a question that can only be answered walking forward with hands and heart open… into the ‘Great Mystery’
It is a negligence of the mind not to notice how at dusk Heron comes to the pond and stands there in his death robes, perfect servant of the system, hungry, his eyes full of attention, his wings pure light.
A photographic series….
This beautiful creature allowed me to sit very close and still while it ‘fished’ I witnessed the catch, the positioning as it prepared to eat and most disturbing to me the final look of the fish as it peeked over it’s bill and prepared to enter the gullet of the Heron.
The cruelty and beauty of nature on a late summer evening.
” In a world where everything is ridiculous nothing can be ridiculed. You cannot unmask a mask.” G.K. Chesterton
A DAY IN A LIFE
And then there is this……travelling back from town my eye caught the blur of a motorcycle coming up on the left. I asked my passenger to attempt to catch the image as it passed, here is the result. Clown? Skeleton?
He was social distancing and wearing a mask, following all the guidelines. Nothing to see here. The reaction of the three occupants of the car ranged from laughter to horror and affected us individually as a piece of impromptu performance art.
Later, walking in the wind and rain on a deserted beach my thoughts strayed to the masks we all wear. Recently I attended what was billed as a Public Information Meeting for a controversial development project. It was hardly ‘public’, tickets obtained online, twelve people to a sitting, masks mandatory and cut off for tickets five days before the ‘event’. Covid used as a mask to prevent an actual public event. The ‘public’ attendees were masked the presenters were not, but we were all masked in one way or another.
Speaking during the question period, my words muffled through the mask, I felt a strange comfort with only my eyes revealed and facial expressions hidden. The anonymity and calmness that it provided was in stark contrast to the verbal attacks that came my way. I realized that even if we had not been physically masked our daily mask(s) would have been our armor.
“You cannot unmask a mask“
We live in strange, tragic and interesting times, clowns on motorcycles, clowns in power……. where the majority of us put on our physical masks and wait for the opportunity to be able to remove them and breathe deeply again. Finding it harder to ‘breathe’ to find our personal authenticity to find that place where we can see ourselves and others naked, maskless and all vulnerably human clinging to the illusion of Control.
The Sweeper. Banksy
If you want to say something and have people listen you have to wear a mask. If you want to be honestyou have to live a lie.
“A life that is truly lived is constantly burning away the veils of illusion, gradually revealing the essence of the individual.” Marion Woodman
Wandering almost always takes me to the edge of the ocean, especially if I wander alone. These days that seems to be my preference. The last wander brought me to a beach that was deserted except for two young girls who appeared to be about ten years old. Close to the shore they had fashioned a structure out of driftwood and returned to the water’s edge to find something to use as siding.
Seaweed, thick, wide and long proved to be the perfect material. I watch as one of the girls held two strands, one on each shoulder. It gave the impression of a veil from my vantage point. Her companion followed her lead and they both squealed in delight as they headed back to their ‘house’ trailing their gifts from the sea unaware of anyone watching in the distance…..I was the congregation, they were Brides of the Sea.
Brides of the Sea
Partially formed Mermaids Oceanic without curves trailing seaweed veils skin of the sea, from small bare shoulders unable yet to carry the weight of the world.
My heart calls out… Be Brides of the Sea ride the swells surrender to the crest the trough, the holy trinity Earth, Moon, Sea
No paper hearts No man-made veils, love, honor, obey all that isn’t spoken, one deep dive Body, Heart, Soul.
“I want to unfold.
I don’t want to stay folded anywhere
because where I am folded,
there I am a lie.”
Rainer Maria Rilke
“I want to unfold”
I have retreated to my garden. ‘Social distancing’ in a garden introduces a whole new social order, a separate society carrying on totally oblivious to the chaos and trauma being lived out by the human species.
This shy fellow and I have been playing hide and seek for the last few days. I would disturb his sunbathing and he would retreat into the log he calls home. Today I caught him sleeping and ‘folded.’
I feel my folded parts unfolding day by day. This moment in time has given us all much to consider. How we treat and care for our fellow human beings and the more-than-human-beings will determine how our shared future unfolds.
Holland House Library London September 1940 morning after an Air Raid
“Order in the midst of Disorder, Outside but also Inside”
This photograph, taken the day after an Air Raid on London in the Fall of 1940 has lived as an icon on my desktop for a few years.
I click on it intermittently to remind myself how resilient we are as human beings. Story-telling animals who in the midst of chaos and uncertainty keep moving forward. Reading, writing and telling our story as part of our survival.
Split screen, calm and chaos, our story being written day by day.
“Fashion is the armour to survive everyday life” . Bill Cunningham
Most evident as he rounded the corner was the fact that ‘Shit Happens’.
The message permanently tattooed into his upper arm, left no room for argument.
Glancing at the design of his outfit it initially appeared confused and disheveled, on closer inspection it became obvious that each piece was meticulously chosen and assembled.
The Fred Flintstone style capri belted in white plastic linked chain, topped with a studded and carefully pinned denim vest, accessorized with a green patched messenger bag and shades well positioned on the animal print cap. Street fashion captured on an urban concrete runway.
‘Shit’ will indeed ‘Happen’, best to be prepared and dress for the occasion.
“Time is an Ocean, present and eternal. We are adrift on that ocean of possibility, you and I , and the miracle is that we find each other at all. Maybe it’s age that keeps me scanning the horizon, looking for you, waving, bobbing in that sustaining current, because I want to hold eternal moments closer now. We move through time and space separately, and the mystery of our meeting is time’s gift to us. Swim with me now. We have no other chance.”
Richard Wagamese “Embers One Ojibway’s Meditations”
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Anais Nin
We tend gardens in Spring under the illusion that we somehow affect the outcome, that our careful placement of seed or plant has anything to do with the eventual opening of the buds of May.
No credit given to the artist and unknown creator of the fragile petals that unfold, we proudly display our garden, rarely acknowledging that we are just the temporary curators of an impermanent living gallery.
“Everyday a new picture is painted and framed, held up for half an hour, in such lights as the Great Artist chooses, and then withdrawn, and the curtain falls. And then the sun goes down, and long the afterglow gives light.”
Henry David Thoreau
Every night they come, the watchers of the sun-set, drawn down by the need to see the light extinguish behind the islands and the sea.
I want to share with them as they slowly rise and disperse that the setting of the sun is only a prelude to the experience they had been called to witness, but I stay silent.
It is this time between the setting sun and rising moon, this short extension of the day, this in-between-time when my heart and mind settle for just a moment.
I watch as the sky paints itself with each night’s original palette, wanting only to share with those who can look out from the same place and feel the colours as they appear, understand the need for silence.
In these moments when I am neither here nor there, anything is possible, magic is afoot and I am caught in the afterglow of another original creation as it slowly fades from sight.
The darkness takes the light, the starlings swoop once more in perfect unison over the water, I share with all who stand watching… being neither here nor there, a silent good night.