I have been reading the poetry of John Keats (17951821) again as the days get longer and the garden comes back to life. So much beauty! “A Thing of Beauty” quoted here is but the first part of a very long poem called Endymion. I likely miss a lot of what he intended as it draws heavily from the classics and I don’t know Greek mythology nearly as well as I would like but the language does speak to the heart…and how nature and beauty feed the soul. He writes: “in spite of all/Some shape of beauty moves away the pall/From our dark spirits.” For me, poetry is the language of the soul and it inspires me on a daily basis. It’s tragic that Keats died at only 26 from TB but he left us a stunning legacy. Today, we have poets like Wendell Berry, Mary Oliver, David Whyte, and so many others that give voice to the deepest longings of the human heart. I express my soul through visual art and wish at times—in the words of Hafiz—that “I could put the swaying splendor of the fields into words.” I guess I’ll have to leave that to our poets. Thank you to all our poets—past and present!
A Thing of Beauty (Endymion)
A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.
Therefore, on every morrow, are we wreathing
A flowery band to bind us to the earth,
Spite of despondence, of the inhuman dearth
Of noble natures, of the gloomy days,
Of all the unhealthy and o’er-darkn’d ways
Made for our searching: yes, in spite of all,
Some shape of beauty moves away the pall
From our dark spirits. Such the sun, the moon,
Trees old and young, sprouting a shady boon
For simple sheep; and such are daffodils
With the green world they live in; and clear rills
That for themselves a cooling covert make
‘Gainst the hot season; the mid-forest brake,
Rich with a sprinkling of fair musk-rose blooms:
And such too is the grandeur of the dooms
We have imagined for the mighty dead;
An endless fountain of immortal drink,
Pouring unto us from the heaven’s brink.
A special day for women seeking to explore the connection
between nature, spirituality, and creativity
Nourish your soul with a day where you can slow down and enter into a sanctuary of contemplation and creativity. Drawing inspiration from the natural world and the four elements of earth/air/fire/water, we will explore the inter-relationship of these elemental energies within the cycles of the seasons and the four stages of a woman’s life. Learn how remembering the ancient wisdom of our ancestors can deepen your connection to the natural world, open new pathways for experiencing your place within the web of life, and inspire your own creativity. Earth, or Gaia, will be our muse for the day as we journey around the wheel of creation and co-create in sacred circle.
Drawing from the earth-honoring traditions and the Four Paths of Creation Spirituality, the day will include group sharing, play, meditation, contemplative practices, and the creative process. Take away practices that can guide you on your soul path and provide meaningful ways for you to restore your spirit throughout the year.
amy[AT]sacredartstudio.net or 503.239.9671
Directions and what to bring will be provided upon registration.
Space is limited.
I have been more focused of late on my painting but figurative sculpture continues to be one of my great passions. I finished these—’Prayer’ and about ten of these earth goddess torsos—last year and only got to firing them this week. After spending nearly two years on a large sculptural commission, The Offering, I turned back toward an intimate encounter with the canvas that I experience when painting, which is a meditative process. This is in contrast to my working with clay which is a more visceral and embodied experience for me. With hands immersed in the warm and moist clay from the earth, there is a physicality in shaping and building up the clay that is very sensual and connective to the living Earth. I am also reminded that this is an ancient modality in which our ancestors once gave expression to their experience of the Sacred. Will archaeologists one day dig up fragments of my sculptures and wonder about this period in history? What will they discern of our time? That there existed a society of people and artists who had reverence for life and the earth, the sacred feminine, beauty, and peace? Let’s hope so!
This has been quite a journey of trusting in Divine inspiration and my faith in bringing forward this painting. Kuan Yin, Bodhisattva of Compassion, has been my muse throughout the process and I give thanks for her guidance. As she nears completion, Mary—the mother and Magdalena—have been calling to me. A natural flow born of the birthing energy that is building as we move into spring and this time of resurrection as the earth blossoms in all her glory after the dark of winter. See my last post for the amazing cherry tree photos!
My soul has been reluctant to let go of the slow rhythm and interiority of the dark winter days yet it is impossible to deny that spring has indeed arrived early in the Pacific Northwest. Unlike the copious amounts of snow that our brothers and sisters on the East coast have endured, our winter weather has been very mild. Blooming earlier than normal, I took these Cherry Tree photos in the cemetery today near my home/studio where I walk almost daily. They are so gorgeous and with the abundant birdsong, I was overwhelmed by the awe and wonder of creation. Over the years, I have come to know this cemetery well (new arrivals or new statues, headstones, flowers, and landscaping) as I walk among the remains of those who have gone before us, often prematurely. People sometimes find it odd that I walk amidst the dead, but for me it is a reminder of the fragility of life which encourages me to appreciate life more fully, to follow my soul’s calling both creatively and spiritually, and to not take this brief time I/we have on this beautiful planet for granted. Sadly, we need look no further than Haiti and Chile to remember that truth. On a personal level, I’ve written about my own losses here so this isn’t new territory but at times—especially during this epoch period of transformation and suffering for so many around the globe—it can be easy to slip into fear of the unknown or the future, so these walking meditations are a way for me to practice being more present to life, beauty, love, and gratitude. What brings you more fully alive? Feel free to share your thoughts or feelings around this.
I love the dark hours of my being.
My mind deepens into them.
There I can find, as in old letters,
the days of my life, already lived,
and held like a legend, and understood.
Then the knowing comes: I can open
to another life that’s wide and timeless.
So I am sometimes like a tree
rustling over a gravesite
and making real the dream
of the one its living roots
a dream once lost
among sorrows and songs.
–Rainer Maire Rilke
Translation Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy