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My Soul Will Glorify the Lord

I made this little video in collaboration with Kylie and Sammy Horner, with lyrics by Beki Hemmingway. Artwork is mine and is an amalgamation of older pieces, some from my ‘Angels and Archetypes’ collection from 2019, and a couple of paintings from my most recent series “Butterflies With Tattered Wings’.

I was participating in an ‘Introduction to Trinitarian Theology’ course with Baxter Kruger, and part of the content was to explore the Mary, the mother of Jesus and the very significant role she played in the story of redemption. She is the link between us and the humanity of the Christ. I hope you enjoy.

The Serendipity of Dreamwork

Something is calling me towards re-engaging more fully with my dreams.

What started as decluttering my house led to a kind of decluttering of the mind: holding on to the valuable, letting go of the things that had been weighing me down. I found long-forgotten treasures like dream journals, some from recent years, and others from many years ago.

I want to follow the staircase down into my dreaming world because I believe the unconscious has new and wonderful offerings there for me. Wonderful, in the sense of revealing both shadow and light. But it seems to me that one cannot feel joy unless there is a willingness to dive into the shadowlands too. After all, that is how we become fully human.

I’ve been researching, as is so easy for us, when we find a subject of interest. There’s a plethora of information out there to be had on everything, and dreams are no exception! I zeroed in on the work of Carl Jung. He’s always fascinated me, especially in the way he fleshed out the idea of archetypes and used visual art extensively to explore dreams.

According to Jung, dreams are revelatory. In other words they present content that we are completely unaware of in the daily chatter of our conscious minds. This may seem obvious at first to those who have dabbled in the practise of dreamwork. However, when you think about it, having an idea or concept presented to us, about us, which is outside of our inner dialogue feels miraculous. We are lifted away from the physical entanglements of our material existence into the unknown of the Divine.

Our dreams have an eternal quality- dreams from long ago can evolve in meaning. Rather than being like deadwood of the past, dreams are more like facets of a diamond ever revealing different aspects from the deep waters of the psyche. This is why it was so serendipitous for me to re-discover old dream journals and the artwork I did around them.

Feather

This piece ‘Feather’ was a collage around a dream character from more than 15 years ago, when I was studying counselling. When I found it, I felt compelled to do some more work around this drawing by asking questions and writing intuitive insights down. Not surprisingly, I found these archetypes just as relevant for me now as they were then, and the meaning has deepened and developed.

Interestingly, the owl-like creature represented God for me, which is comforting now as a mother who has lost a child. I see my heart being held in this picture. Not long after he passed, my angel son Jordan sent us many signs in the form of owls. Because of this, it speaks as reassurance that just like the girl in the picture (an aspect of me), his heart is also safe in God’s care. It’s hard to describe the utter wordless wonder I feel in my soul with these deep symbols. They tell a much larger story.

Our lives, all of our lives, are truly a labyrinth of treasure.

I wrote a short poem about this dream character, which illustrates one aspect of the Jungian way of dream analysis. Unlike Freud, who used free association to decode dreams, Jung’s method is a way of bypassing the logical mind by trying to examine the images and archetypes as if you had never seen them before. As if you are trying to explain something to an alien or a small child.

Feathers are light
They are lifted by the air
They are soft to touch.
With feathers, a bird can
fly and enter into the 
heavenly space.
They shelter and comfort gently,
so quietly.
God has wings, too.
We gather under,
allowing them to enfold us,
Like a Mother Hen.





Pond Days

On days that are cloying,
When my ears protest with ringing
When my brain has decided to
blanket itself with a heavy haze,
Blurring my vision
And
Aching my bones...
The Spirit and I agreed
We should sit together 
and watch fish swim.
And side by side there,
just try to be.
She tells me my scattered,
anxious thoughts
Will entice me 
To coil up all my energy
and release it like a spring;
Only to find I become weaker still,
Snapped and broken.

I tell her:
"I'm glad you are ok with weakness.
And I'm glad that's where you work best.
I'm complex like a fractal,
And you knit everything together so well
Even when it looks so feeble and fragile."
So, she sets aside these little pond days for me,
Where we spend some time gazing at the fish,
And I'm learning how to just be,
I in Spirit and Spirit in me.


My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.
2 Corinthians 12:9 MSG

Inspiration

Inspiration- a multifaceted word. On first glance it is defined as; “the process of being mentally stimulated, to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.” It also means “divine influence”, and “the act of breathing in, an inhalation”.

The Source of Inspiration

But where does inspiration come from? Our brains? Or somewhere deeper? According to Neuroscientist Dr Caroline Leaf, the brain and the mind are separate, in the sense that our brains are a problem-solving organ: The brain thinks just as the heart beats, and the lungs breathe. She explains that our brains and bodies are the way we experience our mind- and our mind is far richer and more complex than our brains and bodies. She says, “The mind is energy and it generates energy” (ref: Podcast 306: How to balance your brainwaves + The difference between the mind & brain). In other words, the mind is the driving force behind our brain. It’s helpful to make the distinction by referring to the mind as the ‘wise self’ or the ‘wise mind’.

Imago- Dei

Based on this, our inspiration and creative energy comes from a deeper source than just our brains. If you think about the sheer volume of creative expressions in the world- things that have been agonised over, lovingly altered, thought about and experimented with- it’s overwhelmingly immense. It’s like the Earth holds a constant shower of creative things, a rain of ideas and thoughts sinking into the ground and eventually, most likely, lost. I used to find this thought really discouraging. However, the unrelenting urge to create is built into us as humans. It’s is part of our Imago Dei, or who we are as image bearers of God. We create as a true expression of our being. I think the reason we struggle with the thought that our creative endeavours may be unacknowledged or lost is because we live in a world that values productivity and data. It is bent toward rigidity over flexibility, reductionism over possibilities, utility over worth and meaning, judgement over grace, certitude over nonduality and exclusivity over acceptance.

Authenticity

If we view the ‘wise mind’ as the seat of inspiration, and the brain as the vehicle through which we experience it, our perspective is transformed. We are no longer dictated by the the overarching values of culture or society. We become more authentically who we are created to be. Inspiration is not stingy or withholding. It is not the exclusive property of a sacred few. As mentioned above, it is like a constant rain, or a river that flows endlessly, available to all.

Our upside down world….means that to nurture or make room for inspiration requires a commitment to authenticity. Putting our inspiration out into the world comes with a price: we give up control over where it will land. This lies is the hands of the Spirit. The true value of what we create lies not in the thing itself, but the essence of the thing as an expression of our divinity- as co-creators with God.

I’m reminded of a Bible verse in Philippians: “I will rejoice even if my life is poured out like a drink offering”. If we pour out our lives, which includes everything we do or create, it follows that we give up concern over how it is received, since everything we have to offer has first been given to us by a loving and creative God. What we accomplish in our own strength can be so self-conscious and focused on external responses. It’s a temptation to present oneself according to the upside down values of the world- even for short term accolades. We want to appear clever and successful. Part of the antidote to this mind trap for me at least, lies in reminding myself of who I really am: deeply flawed yet deeply loved. Created in the image of God. I have within me the mind-boggling capacity to reflect back a unique one-of-a-kind facet of the nature of God. One with God in union, I am also a particularity. Another antidote is realising that all those around me carry the same spark of divinity, are equally loved, wonderfully unique and therefore communication with others is sacred. We reflect God back to one another.

Art as Communion

We are all an original, and part of something much larger than ourselves, something we cannot fully understand. I need to remind myself of this often.

Back to some thoughts on making art. For me, when I think of my arts practise, and in particular how it produces so much joy and healing in my life, I can see the principle of inspiration – or the wise mind- at work. In painting, drawing, writing poems….I am aware of being pulled away from the endless chatter and problem solving of the brain into a more expansive space of grounding into the life of the Spirit. (I say this with the firm belief that we are all creators in some form or another).

The more I pursue inspiration, this creative force within me, the more I become aware that God is closer than my breath. Creative expression is like a loving dialogue or prayer going back and forth. This is why the definition of inspiration- as respiration or breathing- is so beautiful.

If inspiration was personified it would be accepting, childlike, compassionate. It values process over product. May we all joyfully and with gratitude, breathe it in.

Wild Goose

She is untamed chaos
Fierce in her protective gaze.
An enigma,
A paradox,
A joyful mystic,
A volatile conductress.

Surrender to the wild Goose
Melt into her terrible embrace.
She beckons you to cast off from the shore.
Your feeble tin boat bobbing in the wind,
the humming splash of water it's keeper.

Let it float untethered.
Let it drift and wobble.
Toss aside your anchor;
Abandon it, discard it, into the waiting sea.

Surrender to the Wild Goose.
'Till the land becomes a distant haze;
And you are given over to the spiralling adventure,
the swooping whirlwind
Under her Great Wings.
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