The Arctic Bomb Cyclone, oh my! I hope you’re escaping the worst of it, and on target with holiday plans? Yesterday my trip out to the icicle-bedecked bird feeder, where starving birds were grabbing the very last of the seeds, became a daring rescue mission. The driveway was a sheet of glass ice, and my footprints decorated the lawn, as I crunched my way across with the fresh seed.
I warmed up the studio and hunkered down to try out some crinkled masa paper painting. But I kept getting visions of homeless people trying to stay warm on the streets of downtown Olympia, of refugees fleeing humanitarian crises stalled at our border in freezing temps and without shelter, and of Ukrainians facing a winter of power outages and genocide from Russian invaders. My first painting got very dark and I found myself cutting out skeletons for collage! Luckily I also ran across a print-out of one of my favorite Rumi poems, The Guest House.
So I want to share the paintings and the poem that inspired them, turning the black funk that had settled on me into hope.
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
I was enjoying painting our snow covered Pacific Northwest forest scene, when a storm-tossed body of water appeared, and I thought of these folks at our border. . .all the hazardous crossings; mountains, jungles, desserts and dangerous bodies of water. Fear alone could not make it possible for them the survive the cruel journey. In interviews with refugees one hears that in the midst of all that sorrow there is hope, that “the crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house. . .may be clearing you out for some new delight”.
I’ll be sharing more about crinkled masa paper soon. I’ve cycled back to it several times over the years and am aways delighted with the textures one achieves with such ease.
At home here our Christmas plans have become more modest this year. Ben is staying in North Carolina and braving the sub- freezing temperatures. Thank goodness he didn’t try to get on an airplane! And Andrew is recovering from one of the not-Covid other viruses going around. So it’s just the two of us to stay warm and watch the birds mobbing the feeder.
Sending Christmas blessings for you and your family and good wishes for the new year! Thank you for being here with me. It means a lot.