Mihrab and Tree of Life

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Good day in the studio yesterday. Putting the final details on the ‘Mihrab Tree of Life’ (working title) painting inspired by the Sufi/Islamic tradition. I so appreciate all the meaning and symbolism behind each pattern of sacred geometry. It’s no wonder the works of art from this region feel so holy. To quote the late poet John O’Donohue: “God is beauty.” ‘Arabesque designs, or islimi in Persian, are complements to the geometric patterns. They aim not to imitate the plant kingdom naturalistically but to distill visually the essence of rhythm and growth it manifests, recalling the archetypal Gardens of Paradise.’ (from Islamic Designs, by Daud Sutton). The five pointed star, or pentagram, crosses numerous spiritual traditions including Islam (as well as Wicca!) and embodies numerous interpretations. It also appears on mosques and in their religious icon. It’s amazing to me that we humans share more similarities than we are often aware of, if we could only look beyond differences and dogma.
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there. -Rumi

Mystic Awareness and 9/11

From my September Newsletter:
On the eve of 9/11, I feel called to share again this painting inspired by a mystical vision that I experienced following the “Day of Remembrance” ceremony that took place in the wake of the terrorist attacks. It feels relevant in light of the controversy surrounding the current threat to burn the Qur’an and the building of a mosque near ground zero. Both of which fuel more divisiveness at a time when we need to come together as a people in order to best serve the healing of our world–this beloved Earth and her creatures (human and non-human) which are in peril during this evolutionary time.

There is a long history of mystics from all our religious traditions and many books written on mysticism, with an equal number of definitions unique to each individual. For me, the few moments of mystical awareness that I have been blessed to experience have included a feeling of non-duality and oneness with all creation: opening the heart to love and compassion for all beings. In The Mystic Heart, Wayne Teasdale writes:

“Mystical spirituality is also unitive; it seeks integration with the infinite. All theistic types of mysticism are interested in this integration, for the goal is to be invited into a permanent, divine union with God. This unity is the heart of all mysticism. It is awareness of non-duality and non-separation, of no distance between ourselves, the ultimate mystery, and all other beings.”

The last sentence, especially, speaks to my experience. Such was the case during the “Day of Remembrance” ceremony facilitated by leaders from our local Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, and Native American communities. There was such love present in the days and weeks following the tragedy of 9/11 and people of all faiths (and no faith) came together as One. That was the world I wanted to live in. A world with heart and compassion for all our fellow citizens. I had a vision of this painting, of holding the love, while riding the MAX home that night. It is a reminder for me of the love that we all felt during those dark days–and a vision of hope for the future.

My heart has become capable of every form: it is a pasture for gazelles and a convent for Christian monks, a temple for idols, and a Ka’ba for the pilgrims; it is a tablet of the Torah, and the book of the Koran. I profess the religion of Love, and whatever direction its steed may take, Love is my religion and my faith.
-Ibn Arabi, 12th c. Sufi

As always, I welcome your comments.

Love is my Religion


My heart has become capable of every form: it is a pasture for gazelles and a convent for Christian monks, a temple for idols, and a Ka’ba for the pilgrims; it is a tablet of the Torah, and the book of the Koran. I profess the religion of Love, and whatever direction its steed may take, Love is my religion and my faith.

–Ibn Arabi, 12th c. Sufi