She Began To Pray – Love Letter #32
We are writing the future
It is very early in the morning and the blue light is sprinkling her magical dust through the opening in the red and gold curtain. I have lit my candles and turned on my heater and curled up under my favorite faux fur blankie in my pajamas because I get to write to you this morning. The snoring kitty is laying one couch over and the streets are quiet. Before the world wakes up in your own neighborhood, is a good time to write letters.
I get to enter a conversation in some cosmic way, with you. If you were here I would want to know, how you are feeling about the world right now. How your plans are working out. How our economy and it’s blessings and challenges are changing how you live. I would ask you about your loved ones. Who is happy and who is not doing so good. I would want to know, most of all, about your heart. And what you are doing to nurture it.
Matters of the heart reside in a holy place in which we learn about two of the most important things. Well, ok, three of the most important things.
Even when our heart is full of sadness there is a complex depth in which we can dive and explore and excavate. Even when our heart is full of joy there is a buoyancy that lends itself to being more of who we are in each moment. And when there is unforgiveness, which takes up so much more space than we would like it to – there is even and especially something in there for us to look at; to examine and bring to our wrestling match with Creator. Let us LOOK at who we are and create about it. When we create about who we are and where we are, whatever it is can move, can breathe, and can make open spaces for love to happen in.
This month, I have been experiencing Lent. And one of the most significant things that has happened is my consideration, and deepening into love and how it lives in us. I have been amazed at the concept and experience of how much more love was available to me at any given moment, but that I had to BE the shape upon which that love could light. I had to BE the place where it could come to rest and do it’s work in me like cool waves of grace pouring over places hot with neglect and despair.
Thoughts like this one began to pop up:
It is by focusing on the openings, instead of the obstacles,
that we find our way through the impossible spaces.
And this one:
The presence of tragedy and bliss are like two old friends sitting side by side at the local café having a conversation about how to work together. How to improve systems. Decrease our Footprint. Improve our Possibility. These friends have worked together since time started moving her long body across the landscape of humanity. Bliss and Tragedy make their mark along her body like a series of tattoos, punctuating her existence with both the beauty and the pain which literally takes our breath away.
And the writing #99 Deep* (featured in part of the left) poured out after reading a wonderful new book, given to me by one of my most faithful collectors. The book is called, This Flowing Toward Me by Marilyn Lacey, a nun who works with refugees. In it she says things like:
“I resolved to put myself precisely in places where I could open doors to strangers even in a world full of danger.”
Her straightforward LOVE and willingness to do good sparked me to think things like:
In this life
I don’t know what else to do
and I don’t know what is true
but when I do good
I feel God.
I am here, to do good,
how do I do that?
One of the places I am working to do good, is in my own marriage. I have learned now, after these 15 years what a robber, “reactivity” is. I knew it about 12 years ago but it has taken this amount of time for me to really practice living as much as possible in non-reactivity. My husband Isaiah and I live a VERY active spiritual and conversational life. There is not much that goes unsaid. And because of that we are somewhat, AWAKE to the nuances of each and every exchange, which can “trigger” us to go to unneeded locations and exchange unneeded words.
Now, the thing I discovered through choosing to do good in my marriage is just this: My husband is as close to truth as I can get. This is still taking some time to gestate as I believe certain other truths, I am Christian, I am an Artist, God is Love, Art is Healing and so on. But the truest thing in my world is my husband and my mother. And after that, all the other loved ones in my life, and, you too. The PERSON in front of me, and in my heart is my truth. Sounds so simple it is almost lost in translation. Not that I believe I have to “see” to believe – but just that to HONOR what is real, the PEOPLE here in my life and on this earth, is what I am here to do. Did I mention how much I love my husband? (In fact I am reading this over right now, although doing very little editing, and he is out getting us a cup of coffee.)
This morning, at 5:32 a.m. I opened my secretary’s desk, and I noticed that it is now necessary to lift up on the hinge in order to close the desk part. It was not like that before – it happened over the past few weeks. Closing it this morning brought me into memories of Grandmother Eden because her desk had to be carefully closed holding hinges between two fingers…Funny how certain things, certain shapes made with hand, body or heart will bring a beloved to mind. It is at precisely these moments when I can shut that feeling off, or I can enter it, feel the loss, experience the sweetness of my grandmothers, and do some writing or painting from that place. I have heard it said that is harder to write when things are good – so since we have so many challenges that are conducive to getting writing done, I want to know:
Are you writing?
We are writing the future, together. Whether we are actually writing it down, or thinking it, every single one of us is participating with our own lives. You don’t have to call yourself a writer, or an artist, although we all know, that I already believe that every bone in our body is a creative bone, and therefore we are all writers and artists. Period. It began that way with us when we first drew and first wrote, we were then born into our creative identity – but many years sometimes come between us and our original desire to express ourselves. I am asking you, right now, do you have 5 minutes you can pull out a napkin or your computer or your journal and write a 5 line poem to your heart?
Or from your heart? Or can you write back to me on my new on-line journal, Our Lady of the Red Thread.
Can you STOP everything for 5 minutes and nurture your own words? Yes. I know the answer is yes. You can do it right now and read this later.
As far as writing goes, I had planned to write every day during Lent – but I did not meet that plan, and you can read about it in my blogpost about Oxtail Stew* on the first day of lent. I could try to write even more about my Lenten journey – but this quote by Leonard Cohen pretty much sums it up.
“Like a bird on a wire, like a drunk in a midnight choir,
I have tried in my way to be free.”
So dear ones. It is time to do some writing and some loving. When we write, we reflect. We pull upon that which is hidden within, that we do not always have access to when thinking, or when talking. Writing creates a red thread of connectivity between our inner world and our “right now world.” When you sit down to write imagine a red thread of connection between your pen/keyboard, and a rich luscious deep interior world where your own personal infinite wisdom dwells. Then write.
I want to close with a writing that has recently come to my attention, which is the earliest known written prayer to the Virgin Mary from 250 ad. And with this prayer, I send you my own prayers – and wishes for wellness to be in your body, love to be in your heart and creativity to be in your spirit.
With Abundant LOVE and WELL WISHES!
Part II of Love Letters is now the Newsletter separates out updates about my workshops and happenings and projects.
Let’s just start with saying, that I have never been so happy to see Spring in my life. But my husband says that I say that every year. New energy is being freed up, and the blooming trees along my street are like snapshots of heaven.
I cannot even believe how many wonderful women and girls I have been meeting and painting with! And chanting with! And writing poetry and eating cake with! And having conversations about what is going on in the world and what WE can do about it!
International Women’s history month, and the day itself, has been a glorious “environment” for me. Putting into context all of the work I am involved in. This month, I have called upon one of my new inner character archetypes – my Higher Nun. I like to joke, that I don’t have an inner child, I have an inner hillbilly who likes to sit on the back porch, play banjo to Jesus, make jam, has chickens, and gets up with the dawn. Her name is Nelly. My husband’s counterpart is Vern. Their last name changes with whatever we are into – for a long time their last name was MacMiracle. But anyhow…
My Higher Nun showed up and gave me a big giant heavenly permission/command slip, made of cloud particle, stardust sparkles and copy paper, and it said:
It is good to be good.
Do good better.
Those are the instructions I got from her, and I gotta tell you. It feels so GOOD to be in space and time with, exploring doing GOOD better. What does it look like? Not in the goody two shoes kind of way – but really and truly raising my consciousness about my own ability to do good, make change, create possibilities. Hence, a new workshop was inspired in which I could share some love and paint and glitter with others for $10 or free, depending on what one an afford, it is called, Red Cowgirl Boot Café and it explores painting your personal prayers and visions for your life. Much like Café Gratitude making the Gratitude Bowl which only costs $7, or whatever you can afford, so they could, in essence take away the story of not being able to afford to go to Café Gratitude. I ate there last night with Dori and other women a the Delicious Diva Dinner Party, and it was FABULOUS!
SPEAKING MY TRUTH was so wonderful…
In honor of International Women’s day we had a
MOST EXTRA-ORDINARY day with about 30 women and girls. We painted, wrote letters to our body and read them aloud, wrote poetry, practiced breathwork, chanted and painted. All the teachers were Cosmic Cowgirls who came to share their work with these brilliant participants from age 8 to age 73. The grand finale was marching through Healdsburg, with our paintings held over our head, I led us, playing the drum and we made our way from Cosmic Cowgirls to Electric Rose Gallery. You could tell it was not a political protest, still, Healdsburg did not know what hit em’. Love hit em’. Our song, Speaking Our Truth, We Are Speaking Our Truth is still ringing with sweetness in our ears. We then hung up the paintings at the show and the students’ art was a part of the opening we had that night – we had hundreds of people through, and thankfully had a prosperous and pleaureable evening, which included a fabulous ritual of walking through the Door of Possibilities with a candle, led by artist Elizabeth Gibbons.
A video is in process, but for now, click here to see some of the photos
My brushes hanging out together afer a long days work
LONG BLOG SILVER
Well, I have finally launched my blog, and it is IN PROCESS to be sure, but at long last it is up. I resisted up to the last particle of my being, then I JUMPED IN! WHOOSH and now there is a space for my, what Ani DiFranco calls “urgent napkin poems”, only now, mine are digital and I have entered the cyber journal world with millions of others finding their voice. At least, we are rasing up a generation of writers!
Since the world of blogging and submitting articles and doing interviews I have heard more than once, (in fact every time) about keeping it short. One-two line answers, 250 word blog posts and so on. Well, in case you haven’t noticed – my love/newsletters defy those guidelines because it is about LOVE not about whether it is searchable, or if folks can read it in between Starbucks sips or not. (Yes, I have always been a rebel, in fact, my mother, bless her heart, encouraged me to be as original as I possibly could – see what happens?) Bless all of you who have stayed with me on this series, who have written back – and who include me on your list when you forward the letter to your friends…it usually says something about how much you appreciated this one, and yes, it is very long – but worth it – so thank you. Thank you.
And so my blog does not abide by the standards, and it is definitely
-IN PROCESS- so keep checking back. And I got a yummy computer,
a macbook pro called Silver Bullet, who like a good friend (JP) is making so much more possible….
LEADING a LEGNDARY LIFE
In fact, so many of your wrote last time when we announced the Leading A Legendary Life Mentorship asking for an on-line or long distance course – well –
when you first brought it up I said – NO WAY. But as the requests continued to come in from everywhere but the Bay Area, I allowed myself to consider what it would look like. Then suddenly, through meditation and writing, it came to me, how I could do it and give the value through conversations, partnering, some video, a network, conference calls and more, oh my! It starts in May and we are now taking registrations from all over the world! Leading A Legendary Life On-Line! We sold out immediately for the first mentorship, so we have added the next one starting in July. (FYI – the registration part of the calendar is not fully complete yet, but you can put a deposit on anything to hold your spot or just e-mail Mary at firstname.lastname@example.org
Speaking of Mary, I want to say how much I love her, and how amazing it is to work day in and day out with someone as truly wonderful as she is.
She is the one who helps make all this stuff we do, possible!
Since the mentorship began, I have had the pleasure of working with TEN Legendary women who showed up for the six month journey and I am completely blessed and amazed by what is happening in their lives, and in my own life. Each woman is creating a 3X4 painting of her legendary self, the sheroe of her saga. Then, she is writing the saga as well, a Novella to be exact, which chronicles the fictional and factual tale of her legendary self. In addition to that we have creative practices, themes for each day, and an on-line social networking platform for our daily((ha!) blog practice and to work with one another on the development of our character. The vision of discovering our legendary selves and giving voice to them, unleashes within us what Clarissa Pinkola Estes brought to light in our world, the Wild Woman:
“Each woman has potential access to Rio Abajo Rio, this river beneath the river. She arrives there through deep meditation, dance, writing, painting, prayermaking, singing, drumming, active imagination, or any activity which requires an intense altered consciousness. A woman arrives in this world-between worlds through yearning and by seeking something she can see just out of the corner of her eye. She arrives there by deeply creative acts, through intentional solitude, and by practice of any of the arts. And even with these well-crafted practices, much of what occurs in this ineffable world remains forever mysterious to us, for it breaks physical laws and rational laws as we know them.”
Painting and writing go deep when we do it as a real consistent practice. And this course is making me do it too. We have SO MUCH within us that is just not given to ARENA in which to COME to light. Our symbols, and songs, our totems and tomes, or ideas and illusions, our very possibilities.
The circus animals Yeats told us about, have not deserted us, and we do court them and feed them truffles and sprinkle their faces with start dust and promise endless love so that they will stay with us a while and lend us a line in a poem or line in a painting – we search out our own burnished chariots, and spend time weaving the legend of our own “rag and boneshop of the heart”
Yeats : The Circus Animal’s Desertion
I sought a theme and sought for it in vain,
I sought it daily for six weeks or so.
Maybe at last, being but a broken man,
I must be satisfied with my heart, although
Winter and summer till old age began
My circus animals were all on show,
Those stilted boys, that burnished chariot,
Lion and woman and the Lord knows what.
And the famous last lines:
I must lie down where all the ladders start
In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.
Anyhow, if you have not read it in it’s entirety* – please do so and consider your own circus animals. My mother once led a workshop for our family called the Essential Elijah and she brought this poem to our work, asking us to consider our own circus animals and what they might be… our own themes sought in vain. It has stuck with me for over 11 years even though it was a small part of the workshop, we never do know what it is that will spark us – so what are your circus animals?
My Mentor, Sue Hoya
This weekend I am excited to once again be teaching The Awakened Heart with my own Mentor, Sue Hoya Sellars. We are such a great team because we often share the opposite technique or teaching, but in the end, it creates the fullest writings and paintings because our approach seems to cover so many angles! The Awakened Heart is one of my most favorite classes because the theme is so central to my work: painting as sacred practice. Women leave the workshop with a painting, and a practice that contributes powerfully to who they are and adds to their own practice to bring the kind of fullness creativity empowers in our lives.
Speaking of Sue Hoya Sellars, I have exciting news which I will tell you more about in the next newsletter, but we are finally launching our Mountain Mama Retreats up in Anderson Valley. Some of the time will be with me, and some with Sue. Painting, Drawing, Visionary Thinking – combined with working on the land and walking in the woods. This experience is one only many women over the years have been able to enjoy – as this has been women’s land for over twenty years. But now we are opening it up in a new way – with only four women at a time. Did I mention we get to learn how to use a chainsaw? We will also be planting a garden together.
If you have not had the pleasure of working with this masterful artist, you are in for a treat. Sue, who is at the Wisdom House Gallery on Monday and Tuesday is one of the most amazing women you will ever meet. Her paintings, like the one above called Peace on Earth Good Will Toward life are absolutely enlightening!
And, it is because of her that I am a painter. She made me. Join us, so we can make you do art too! (just kidding, but we do make it easier!)
One of the amazing things that happened this month was that I got to be a part of launching something very sacred into the world – A Letter from Alice Walker to Aung San Suu Kyi. We have been working with Alice Walker through the Palm of Her Hand for a few years now and a part of that is sharing her latest words with the world through her blog and her website. Aung San Suu Kyi, once Democratic Leader of Burma, has been one of my sheroes for a long time so to be a part of a campaign to get a letter to her was my absolute delight. I cried a lot.
You can read an excerpt from the press release on the left.
And you can read Alice’s newest poems, just posted today at
Is there anyone you want to write a letter to? What do you want to say? I think letter writing is such a profound, and interesting way to self express, even, and sometimes especially, when we don’t send it!
A Writing Retreat!
Speaking of writing, I am VERY happy to share that my mom, Caron McCloud, Mary MacDonald and ME are hosting a painting Retreat in May called Legend Makers! Details about this adventure will be in the next newsletter, but how could three days with three women not spark a triple blessing for your inner writer to come out and play in words? If you want more information now, email@example.com
I wish I could have a cup of tea with you right now, so we could figure out together, what is next. What we should do. What we can do. I would like to read what you have written and to hear where you are going to create next. I would like to encourage you right now, if you are on the edge, don’t give up and don’t give in.
Fly if you can. And if you cannot, sit back and tend your wings a while so thy can become stronger. Peace will come again, and indeed is coming all the time. There is a time for our anger, and a time for us to sit quietly. There is a time to set boundaries and a time to open our wings. I send you courage, and love for your journey, and wings of strength…