Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Where Love's Light

Rachel: At Joseph's Birth
before babe's birth
is death
death to safety
to the womb's wondrous warmth
death to dear darkness

terror of tidal wave
a cruelty of light
an agony of air
a push of breath invading
listless lungs

Cry, sweet son, rage
at the indignity of birth
at death to safety
(and death of your mother's shame).

Be born, child,
into this brilliant, dangerous world
where love's piercing light
perfects darkness

where love's light
through all our deaths
shines us into birth.
—Madeleine L'Engle "The Ordering of Love"

Humor me, no seriously HUMOR me.

Looking through thousands of images tonight for painting sources, it rushed at me and surprisingly overtook me like a freshly minted driver on a twisting country road. I am in mourning, deep can't be changed, mourning—the awful type, a constant dull throb, without time for contemplation or tears—at least until tonight when I saw the photos of what I have lost and then exhaled.

Beyond the mundane realities, such as sagging jaw lines or working more than I play, humor me, here is my mourning list.
  • This week, the reality that Ray McCarthy-Bergeron, the EMC project manager, my colleague, my EMC right hand, my student, my mentee is leaving for real.
  • This month, the EMC lost Brendan Holt to his PhD Program (congrats to him, whoa to us). He was a true miracle to our art students on the UN project.
  • As a faculty member, every semester students move out of the EMC and into their lives. At the end of this summer, we will lose another key bunch of students on our game project to end violence against women as they fledge the nest and move into their lives. Students whom become my daily life and whom I care deeply for and may never see again!
  • Last month, my daughter followed suit, in a wonderfully painful accomplishment, graduating and then successfully beginning her adult employed (yeah!)life...however not here (boo!).
  • Every other week for the last 5 years, I lose my newly wed husband as he or myself departs—alone—for business.
  • In the last two weeks, my dear beloved 6 year old Mo, the cat who appeared on my doorstep (a wee 6 week old kitten traveling through miles of forest) like Moses in the reeds arriving in my darkest hours, has disappeared. Most probably fodder for fisher cats.
  • This year, my sweetest cat 15 year old Marlin, cried in the night—without my recognition, to die the next morning of diabetes.
  • This Spring, my wonderful, idealistic, dedicated, training for a marathon, talented architect, 40-something, mother to two teens sister-in-law had a paralyzing stroke.
  • After living for 20 years in the same supportive community, I moved, there is no longer the quick ability to be with lifelong friends.
  • And lastly every hour my parents get painfully older and I am not near them.
What I've come to acknowledge is that, in this point of my life, I am constantly losing those I love through death, through change, through life.

So is this a "death" stage that will shine me "into birth"? Is mourning the true proof for loving? A proof of the permanently changing nature of being alive?
What would be worse, never feeling the pain of loss or never having love to lose?

As a young painter, it disturbed me that I was, well, not disturbed. So many of my artist friends came from families of dysfunction but not myself. It fed and fortified their work. I wondered if I had anything truly to say as an artist. Now, having deeply loved and desperately lost, I realize that the important story to share, to give to the world, is not of the pain, but of the beauty, of the potential.

As an artist, the most dangerous thing to do is to fall in love with the individual elements of the beginning work. Digital photography has been my life saver. Now I can record and keep instances, the shimmering, momentary beauty. But as important as keeping is letting go, of taking the turpentine rag and wiping the canvas clean, of releasing the bright bits that held back the whole. It is far more important that the whole is one pure intent.

Tonight that's how I began, by r e l e a s i n g...
b r e a t h i n g

Away went the mother canary on her nest hidden in the safety of the weeds.

Tonight she is her true self, protectress upon her nest. The nest an open flower precariously afloat on a pond, a stream, a lake, a river...

The mother...
cognizant of the dangers,
aware that she may be sacrificed,
with total focus on the birthing, the safety, the future of her yet-to-fly progeny.

Is that not all our destiny? Is that not what love and loss prepares us for? The final release?

Be born, child,
into this brilliant, dangerous world
where love's piercing light
perfects darkness...

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