Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Finally...back to the posts! Maybe :)

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a watercolor workshop given by Myrna Wacknov. We talked about a lot of things that week, and one of those things was painting tissue paper. I love tissue paper in collage, but I've been informed that commercial tissue paper isn't light fast, and, instead, fades very quickly. So, when she mentioned that she painted her own, I listened to how. Tonight, I spent a few hours painting tissue paper--made a mess and covered myself with acrylics and ink, but I've got some really fun, unique paper.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Asking the Questions

I’ve spent most of my 58 years knowing all the answer, and only valuing the answer, but it seems with the coming of the age of 40, there have only been questions. That unsettled me for so long—I thought there was something wrong with me, but I’ve come to know that it’s only by asking the questions that there can be growth. The questions are important, and they must be asked. I remember Sr. Mary at the Cenacle saying, “If there’s anything the Church must confess, it has to they that She hasn’t allowed the questions.” And so it is.

For too long I’ve been afraid of the questions, but at long last, I’ve come to love the questions, to look for them, to explore them—no longer looking for the answer, but instead looking for the next question. It’s not about the destination, but instead, the journey.

I’ve been reading everything I can find on Mary Magdalene—it’s been my “Christmas” assignment, and I’ve savored every morsel and loved every minute. This morning I finished The Secret Magdalene, a novel by K.I. Longfellow. It’s strictly a novel told from a totally different point of view, beautifully written, and raising tons more questions. Lots more possibilities!

There’s a short conversation recorded on page 341, that sums up what I’m trying to say. It’s a conversation between the Magdalene, Mariamne, and her friend Seth. They find themselves taking refuge in a “koinos bios, a place where lives are lived in common and in peace”, with the Carmelites. Mariamne asks Seth:

“Tell me Seth, how can you leave such a place?”

He answers instantly. “How is it my Queen Bee asks such a thing?”…”Can you, so full of questions, wonder that I, so full of questions, would come away from a place where there are only answers?” Only answers? I do not know what he means, and he knows I do not know. “They have found their answers here, Mariamne. Having found the answers they seek, they ask no more questions.”

No more questions? Impossible. I understand him now. (end of quote)

Sometimes I think that’s why I can’t find a home in institutional church—they have found their answers, and ask no more questions. And most of the one’s I’ve been in allow no questions. But questions are necessary for growth. If the questions aren’t allowed, our spiritual growth is stunted, and we eventually die. As for me, I plan to continue to question, expecting that each question will bring another and another, and so the journey continues. And finally, I’m no longer afraid that there may not be an answer. At least, I don’t think so.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

1-2-08 Poor Harry! Third Act Hangs Their Show

Can you just imagine being one guy among 17 female artist, trying to "decorate" walls and hang a show???
Our Circle has been meeting for one year on January 10. What a journey that's been! First working the Artist Way book, then sharing Crones Don't Whine--this group has really bonded and shared some great experiences. And yesterday was another one! Who would have know how much we would grow to care for one another! Life is full of surprises!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Following the Wind

Not a good picture, but you get my drift...

The wind blows where it pleases; you can hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit. Jn. 3:18

For years, I would receive a Scripture from Godde for the new year, but it’s been a long time since I’ve read the Bible and gotten any “word” from Godde, let along a verse for the year.

But it happened this morning. The wind has been blowing so much for a while now. In times past, I would have asked Godde what the wind meant, but I haven’t done that for a while, either. So a few days ago, I asked, “What’s with all the wind. It’s leaving such a mess behind (broken branches and fallen palm fronds everywhere!)…so, tell me, what’s with all the wind?”

This morning as I read in John, I came upon this verse in John 3:8, The wind blows where it pleases; you can hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.

And it was one of those synchronistic moments when heaven and earth seemed to meet, and I “knew” the word was from Godde and for me and for this new year.

One of my joys is to take note of the numbers used in the Bible, knowing that to the Hebrew/Greek writers of Scripture, many numbers were symbolic and were hidden numerical codes giving the reader “new light” on a passage. The number 3 is a number representing Godde and Godde’s presence, and the number 8 is the number for new beginnings, new birth, “newness”.

So the numbering of the John 3:8 passage and the synchronistic discussion of the wind, along with a “knowing” deep inside of me, helped me receive this passage from Godde for this year of 2008.

And the mess the wind leaves behind—seems to be the story of my journey. I know that my call for this new year has been to cut some ties so that I can be free to follow the Spirit wherever. People don’t seem to understand—especially church folk, but I can’t follow the Wind if I have obligations elsewhere. So once again, I seem to find myself “loose” and “on the move”. Where will I wind up this time? Who knows, but the Wind is refreshing; I recognize it, and I “know” that I’m once again journeying with the Spirit. And it feels good and “right”.

Monday, December 31, 2007

The Year in Review

2007 In Review

January – my first art show is hung, and the reception held. Actually there are 4 of us—the culmination of over a year of hard work. It is a beautiful show. Some of my favorite people are unable to attend, but, still, it is a beautiful show. I feel like Cinderella at the ball: glad to be here, but still not too sure it’s real.

A friend looses a grandson to this terrible war in Iraq—I hate this war; I hate all war. This was the closest that this war in Iraq has come to touching my own life. I feel some of my friend’s pain.

In January our Circle meets for the first time, never realizing what bonds of sisterhood will be created, what friendships will be made—or that we will be doing our own show a year later. Here’s to a beautiful group of sisters—what joy they have brought me this last year: The Artist Way Circle!!!

February – oh my…Valentine’s Day brings a real test this year. News that rattles my soul and unsettles me and my family. But life goes on, and the news becomes bearable. And we laugh again, and discover that love really is big enough to be so inclusive. This seems to be a year that will remove some of our rose-colored glasses. And we will discover that the world is still beautiful, that Godde is still really good, and that the All really is ALL, even what we’ve always called “not good”.

A few of my other “Sisters”, the Lace Sisters meet at the Land of Ease for a “girlfriend” weekend—and love on each other again. It is beautiful and needed.

March – Ken Hosmer does a watercolor workshop here, and it is a huge success.

April – The Artist Way Circle takes a day-trip to Houston to see a beautiful exhibit of the 18th-19th Century Impressionist Artists and winds up having a splendid lunch together. These women are treasures to my life right now. A bond is growing, and I find myself looking forward to our times together—like a healing balm those times are.

April also brings a little side-trip to Corpus to visit Jim’s eldest. It’s lovely when your kids grow up and invite you for a visit. Even lovelier when the visit turns out to be so good, and you realize your children are grown, and doing well, and have started to become friends instead of “your children”. That’s delicious.

Up, up and away! Riding in an airplane—and a hot-air balloon! Jim and I take a belated 15th anniversary trip to San Francisco and points north. It’s wonderful. I LOVE SF, I love California! We delight in the hairpin turns of Hwy. 1, spend a couple of nights in the mountains of Northern California, and make many memories. It is a lovely trip—and we survived! Only one little melt-down at the end of the trip. Pretty good for a couple who don’t normally travel too well together. Maybe there’s still hope??? J

May – SHE GRADUATES! Jim’s eldest daughter graduates from college—a huge step. We take a trip to Corpus for the great event!

And my spiritual direction classes come to an end. This has been a 3-year journey, with a wonderful group of people who have been so much a part of changing my whole life. I came into these classes so sure of so much, and they end with me realizing how little I know, and my whole world view changing. So what’s next spiritually? How do I incorporate all I’ve learned—and unlearned into my journey? Where do I go from here? So much has changed. So much has been undone over the last 3 years.

Then a weekend with the Lace Sisters at one of the Sisters’ new home. Another ”un-doing”. It iss eventful—and life-changing for me—and painful. Is it really all about me? Being pretty rattled, my second son plays me a song and sings me a tune, and life is beautiful again. I’m so grateful for my children—my friends who love me still and bear with me and lift me up when life has crumbled.

The next weekend another friend and I take a trip to San Antonio and paint on the Riverwalk. First time to paint “plein aire” and in public. It’s fun—must do again.

June – Life slows down a little. I finish up all of my spiritual direction assignments, continue meeting with my Circle – we’ve finished The Artist Way and started another little book called Crones Don’t Whine, and we’ve officially become The Third Act. We’ve been invited to do a show at the Gallery in January. My painting has dried up, and I’m not sure I can even paint anymore. Maybe it was all a dream and I’m not really an artist. Maybe it was all a dream and I’m not really a Christian. Maybe it’s all been a dream and life doesn’t really have a purpose and it’s all been a joke. But I keep waking up, and life keeps going on—life seem fragile, and a very close circle of friends seem so distant, and I’m not sure what’s hit me. It does seem to be all about me, doesn’t it.

July – My eldest grandchild, and my only granddaughter turns 13, with a pretty untraditional birthday party. My son loses his job, and mine and Ellen’s long-awaited day starts out quite shakily. I say things a grandmother should never say to her granddaughter—but 13-year-old wisdom prevails, tears wash garbage away, and Love grows stronger, and the day winds up being beautiful in spite of my fears and my blunders.

Mother and I head to Dallas to see my youngest and his wife and to visit them for the first time in their new home. A trip to museum, a musical, and a wonderful visit—but the wind changes at the very end, and questions are asked and answers bring disappointments. The rose-colored glasses come off again—life is different now. More decisions are made that wouldn’t have been my choice, but must be respected. My beautiful family has a “crack” in it that seems to have grown wider. What do I do now—can’t seem to fix this one.

And long-time friend’s marriage seems to have ended. Nothing much seems sacred. Real love seems to be futile. I discover a lot of anger still in me.

August – I graduate from the Cenacle’s spiritual direction program and my 3-year commitment is over. I really am at wit’s end. I feel so obligated to the Church who sponsored me, yet—I’m not even sure what I believe anymore. Still asking “Who is Jesus?” “Does all that I’ve experienced really mean anything?” “What do I believe?” “Do I believe in anything at all?” “Should I really even go to graduation—does it really matter?” But I go, and a prayer that I’ve been whispering for a couple of months is one of the themes:

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this, you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore, I will trust you always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. (Thomas Merton).

Mind you, it’s been a whispered prayer—not sure I mean it much, but synchronicity lifts my heart for a moment. I stumbled on it a couple of months ago, and taped it to my computer and I whisper it occasionally—and it’s read at the graduation ceremony. Maybe Godde still is speaking to me? One can hope, can’t she.

Still struggling when I try to paint. I come upon a photo of one of my sons playing his guitar. It stirs me, so I think, “I’ll try”. And woola! It works! And another—there seems to be some juice still flowing somewhere…

September – I decide to re-visit pottery classes. Maybe something inside me will jumpstart my art? And an artist I know and respect decides to teach a class at WAS-H—the human figure. I’m so drawn to paint and sculpt the human form—even though no one ever buys…why does that seem to be the only measure of success???

A friend marries in September—a Lily. What a beautiful reception, and something inside me stirs—it started with a wedding and now it ends with a wedding. There seems to be some closure inside—something for me seems to have ended. Amazingly, it feels “right”. Never sure what these “feelings” mean, but they are “true”, and I’ve come to learn to trust them.

October – my artwork begins to flow, kind of sort of, again. I thoroughly enjoy my pottery classes and my watercolor classes. We have a drawing workshop at the studio, and it’s great fun. I’m enjoying model drawing days at the studio. I can feel clouds lifting. But something else is stirring. I don’t want to go to church. I hate being “obligated” to perform. I can’t share my heart there like I can with my Third Act circle. Why can’t we talk freely in church—too many walls, and too much expectation. What do I do about the “obligation”?

November – I reimburse the Church the $1500 they have paid toward my classes over the last 3 years. I feel somewhat freer. No such thing as “holy obligation”. The only thing that keeps me going to church now is serving Eucharist. I know I have to resign that ministry as well. I need to be “free” for the next step, so I let the leader of that ministry know that I can’t serve anymore after the first of the year. A huge weight lifts.

December – The full weight of decisions made in July looms. Christmas is never easy for me, anyway—will I make it this year? One of us will be missing—a choice made. It hurts.

But there’s also something new stirring inside of me. For the first time in a LONG time. Who knows why, but I request books from the local library—books on Mary the Mother and Mary Magdalene. I find myself reading as much as I can, perusing through most books, and savoring many of them, especially the books by Margaret Starbird: Woman with the Alabaster Jar, Goddess in the Gospels, Mary Magdalene, Bride in Exile. I find my heart stirring again—for the first time in the last 3 years, I feel a “coming home”. The Bride returns—the Song of Solomon—the fires are burning again, perhaps just embers, but something is happening inside. I am captivated with the thought of Jesus and the Magdalene. The return of the feminine. The Bride and the Bridegroom. The other “half” of Christianity.

And the friend who’s marriage seemed to be ended? They are together again—just in time for Christmas.
And that’s where I am as this year winds down. The year has come and gone, and my family has survived a crisis. Only time will tell if the wound will be healed. But I made it through none the worse for wear.

And the Voice of the Bride and the Bridegroom stirs inside of me. What will 2008 bring? A year of “new beginnings”? Only time will tell.

I love “New Years”. I used to love empty journals, beginning books. I’ve let my journaling go over the last couple of years, but maybe this year some pages will get written. Regardless, the pages of my life will get written each day—some of them I write, some are written by others, and when synchronicity happens, I know that even Godde is still writing on the pages of my life. So I wait, with hope, expectations…perhaps even rose-colored glasses

Monday, June 11, 2007

Sattelite Gallery Move--Showing at LJ Library

I've joined the traveling Brazosport artists' "satellite gallery". I've had paintings hanging in the Dow Beutel Building for a couple of months now, but today it was time to move them to their new location. Mother went with me and helped me lug all the paintings into the local Lake Jackson Library conference room, where we spent about an hour hanging them. They will be on display there until August; then we'll move them again.

Our local paper did a write up on me and gave my blog address as the place to go view pictures of my paintings, so I figured I might should update this site at least for today! If you want to see other paintings I've done, check them out at http://www.smconner.com.

As you can tell, I've taken a break from blogging for a few weeks. Who knows, maybe this will get me jumpstarted again. Life seems to have gotten in the way, if you know what I mean! Thanks to those of you who've told me you miss it. I love you all for noticing.

Monday, May 14, 2007

And Last But Not Least...

Another new beginning... My youngest grandson celebrated his First Communion yesterday, so I went to church with is family. I took several pictures, most of which were blurry--don't know if it was me moving my camera or Eddy moving. He has a little bit of a problem being still :). I managed to get this shot of him, then the one below...
Doesn't he look like a little angel??? SURPRISE! Actually, he's a treasure, albeit a very funny one! He got to help carry up the gifts, and commented to his mom that "the bread really smelled good!" And he let it be known to his dad that the wine tasted good, too! The rest of us knew that by the way he kept smacking his lips when it was all said and done! No wonder Jesus said, "Let the little children come..." They're much more fun that we are, huh!