"I would love to live like a river flows, carried by the surprises of its own unfolding."
Rivers have been flowing through my dreams and conversations. They always seem to call to me, and in their powerful and mystical way, they always seem to be calling me home to myself. There is no definitive thought or tidy conclusion in the writing that follows. Perhaps, as you proceed, you could think of these words as a winding river. There is no end destination that you or I need to be aware of. Rather, we will move, flowing together. I suspect that we may still be in mid-current by the time the words cease to move across the page.
I once had a teacher who spoke to me of rivers. Pointing down to the flowing river and then pointing up to the sky she told me how, "as above, so below" is a truth revealed by watching and knowing the movement of the river and its sister river flowing in the sky - the air stream. They move along the same currents. Did you know this? A body with circulatory systems in the ground and in the sky.
I used to believe that I fell in love with rivers when I lived in New Mexico, however. I have come to understand that I have always been drawn to these winding fluid bodies. Perhaps, it is more accurate to say that the time I spent in the desert illuminated my love and longing. Interesting how time spent in a desert was the inception of my actively seeking the footpaths that follow their movements, always on my way to or in search of spots along the bank where I could rest myself and wait. Wait until I could begin to hear the song and sit in moments when time is intersected by eternity.
Each river has her own language and each river sings her own song. Movement over the rocks, the formation of the riverbed, the direction in which the waters run , the creatures who move within her waters, along the banks, all in relation to one another, all contributing a thread of the melody of each river's song. If you sit still and listen she will sing her song for you. If you ask, she can assist in carrying away heaviness and the worries which tug at the corners of your heart and soul. If you are patient, curious and respectful, she will reveal herself and her nature. When her movements are just so, and you see the light jumping across the surface of her skin and her shimmering scales, do you feel wonder? I do.
The Banks of My River
Will you sit by the banks of my River?
If I welcome you to my shores
Will you wait until you can hear the rhythm of my blood?
If my heart begins to beat in the knowing of you
Do you know your presence can change the banks of my River?
If I swell, if I recede, If I rise to meet you, If I quench your thirst
Do you wonder where I am moving to or where I am moving from?
If you look into me and see your own reflection
If you leave will you return?
When I am tired and the rains do not come
If you learn my song will you remember it?
When I no longer remember my name
Rivers have been flowing through my thoughts and through my body. I have been practicing noticing, becoming aware. Aware of the sensations that arise within me. Aware of where I have constricted the flow. Aware of where I have built dams and diversions. In much the same way as I have sought out the banks of rivers to listen and come to know their song. I am attempting to tune in and listen to my own.
You see, if it should be that there comes a time when I am called to your banks, to your river, I wish to know how to be in your presence. I wish to know how to hear your unique and beautiful song. This means that I must come to know my own. If I am welcome and you offer me a seat at the bank of your river and I look into the surface of your waters I want to have befriended the stillness that would allow me to see my reflection in you.
When I rest my head on the pillow tonight I wonder if I will again dream of rivers. I wonder if I will dream of you, waiting with me by the river. I wonder of we will be waiting for the rains to come.
I Am Carried by the River, The Saxtons River, VT,
The Language of Rivers Collection, Vision Shift Gallery
“Have you also learned that secret from the river; that there is no such thing as time?" That the river is everywhere at the same time, at the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the current, in the ocean and in the mountains, everywhere and that the present only exists for it, not the shadow of the past nor the shadow of the future.”
Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha
In Love, Beauty & Hope,
There is a Wind Horse that runs through my Soul.
I am learning to recognize the sound of its approaching hooves
by listening to the thundering echo that remains when yours passes by.
First, thank you for taking a moment, pausing your day and being willing to stop and step into mine.
I am blessed. Every morning I wake between 4 and 4:30am. I make my way downstairs, fill the kettle with water and go about the early morning business of feeding Pebble the cat and Sadie the golden retriever. If there are dishes that have waited overnight in the strainer I will often pad around the kitchen and the pantry returning cups, bowls, plates, pots and pans to their various locations. Next, I pour the steaming water over the waiting coffee and chicory and as it makes its way through the grounds, I prepare the morning meal for Disco Kitten who is patiently waiting in the studio, staring up from behind the most beautiful blind eyes that see more than most.
Once the coffee is ready, I make my way back upstairs and enter the studio. I sit at the old desk that was once my great grandmothers, I turn the light on next to the desk, light a candle and then I begin. There is always 3 pages of stream of conscious writing in the journal. Dreams, thoughts that are caught in corners and refuse to let go. Questions that continue to be asked. Cycles and rhythms. Stories of love, joy, grief and the everyday. Next is the writing that is done as reflection and self examination. This is the writing that allows me to examine my character and keeps me in touch with what I know to be my truth and, to the best of the ability, live a life of integrity. As I engage in this process, I ask that God continue to hover over me.
This time before the sun rises, and while the world is between sleeping and waking is my favorite time of day. The magical pause before the rest of the world comes to life. Sometimes as I am writing I can hear the squeak of the bedframe down the hall as my beloved rolls over and sinks deeper into sleep. Sometimes, the gentle snoring of Sadie who has followed me in and lays next to my feet on the floor keeps time to the rhythm of my moving pen. Sometimes Disco Kitten rolls between my feet and playfully sinks her tiny razor teeth into my toes and ankles. My extra fine point pen continues carving the lines that form the words that comprise my life across the page as I sip coffee. To me, this is a truly delicious life and I am poignantly aware that I am blessed.
This morning as I moved through my morning routine, I was both grateful and comforted by the ritual; the tending to the seemingly simple nuances of my everyday life. I also moved slower, feeling into the surrounding sadness and beyond. I, like many of of us in this country, slept tenuously last evening. We are such a deeply polarized and divided people. I sat at the writing desk that was my great grandmother's and I wondered what my ancestors would say...what they are saying. I wrote about children in cages separated from their parents. I wondered what my ancestors (only a very few of which came from this land and the majority of whom immigrated to these shores) faced upon their arrivals. I wondered about families and friends whose lives and configurations have been altered by a pandemic and who turn to face empty space where loved ones once stood. I wondered about many things (pepper spray, confederate flags, boarded windows and storefronts, climate change). I opened my most recently completed journal and reread the poet's words that have continued to remain with me throughout the last month.
I want to love more than death can harm.
and I want to tell you this often
that despite being so human and so terrified
here standing on this unfinished
staircase to nowhere and everywhere
on this night
we can live forever and we will.
Among the list of things that I thought about this morning is love. Truth be told, I actually think about love a lot. What does it mean to love your neighbor? What does it mean to love your fellow citizens? What does it mean to love those who are less fortunate? What does it mean to love this beautiful planet, our home? What does it mean to actively practice choosing love?
I wonder, what is the sound that remains after our lives touch another, once we pass by?
I will end this blog post in the same way that I ended my writing and prayers this morning.
God, please, hover over all of us.
Yours in love, creativity and art,
...the kind of change and transformation that you can feel occuring deep below the surface of your skin, muscle and bones. The kind that is like a wind which can steer the vessel that you move in in strange and unexpected ways. You know that you are being set on a course...
As I have mentioned in previous posts, I get up very early in the morning...before the Sun rises. I typically will go and sit outside for a few moment and take in those glorious moments before the dawn starts to shine her light. This mornng as I was sitting outside holding my cup of coffee, I was watching the play of light and shadow and remembering the dream that had come in the night. This particular dream came on the back of another dream that I had received two days prior. I have been "calling" for a dream. I did not expect to wake from that first dream gasping for air and desparately looking around trying to determine which reality was the one that I found myself in. It was a "shock" dream. One in which you have no choice but to acknowledge or "wake-up" to the message that the dream is trying to convey. I am usually very skilled at dream interpretation, especially my own, however, this one left me shaken and unsure of aspects of its meaning.
If you have been following these posts then you may remember the one in which I shared the story of the painting The Creation of the Firmaments. The dream that came the other night had some of these elements...a completely white building perched on the end of a vast and expansive sea. The arrival of a great whale...except this time the whale arrived transported in the arms of a massive and swirling storm. I am still unravelling the message that were sent in that night vision. The dream that came last night provided a clue or a further unravelling of the first one's meaning.
So...back to me sitting with my coffee, watching the veil between night and day shift and looking up at the night sky. As I was sitting there wandering in my thoughts and the waking of the world, it happened - a shooting star went streaking across the sky. In my life story, shooting stars have historically signalled that a large shift and/or transformation has begun. One night, a long time ago, as I laid on a pile of wooden boards in a small rural village in New Mexico, it was a shooting star that was the final determining moment that precipitated my move to that land of sky and sand. So, this morning, I watched as that streak of stardust tore acrcoss the sky. I have felt its coming for some time now - its arrival confirmation for what I could feel but struggle to have words for. What I still struggle to have words for. What I do know is that I am changing. Of course we are all always changing, for how could we not be, but I am talking about the kind of change and transformation that you can feel occuring deep below the surface of your skin, muscle and bones. The kind that is like a wind which can steer the vessel that you move in in strange and unexpected ways. You know that you are being set on a course. For me, this always simultaneously occurs with a feeling of uncomfortable restlessness.
My most recent painting, The Becoming of Persephone also speaks to this feeling.
This was not how I originally envisioned this painting. In some way, shape or form, all of the paintings are autobiographical - how could they not be. It is not unusual for the paintings to take on a life and/or will of their own, but this one snuck up on me. I am typically working on more than one painting at a time. This number can range from 2 or 3 up to about 9 or 10. At some point while I am working on all of them one will jump to the forefront and let me know that it is ready to be completed (at least in regards to my role in the process). If you would have told me that when I originally began this painting I would later title it, The Becoming of Persephone, I would have been extremely doubtful for I never envisioned it/her becoming what she did or having the feel that she does. This is not one of my facorite paintings. On the day that I completed her, I found myself choosing colors that I would not typically combine in order to convey the feeling of unease or uncomfortableness that I was experiencing as I watched her morph from the original inception that I had for her.
There are certain paintings that have marked a transition or a moment when my painting style shifts or changes, or when I am in the process of incorporating some new aspect of working with the paint, brushes, my soul and the images. This is one of those. She is what I think of as a transitory painting; a painting "in-between" larger movements of my life. What will follow...well...I do not yet know. I do understand that it is about rhythms and cycles that are at play. I do know that in order for her to return in the spring she must let the previous season sleep, become the compost that will nourish the new growth of the following season.
What will I do now? I will go after the riddle. I will spend time researching the images that swim through the dreams, I will research Persephone in all of her various forms throughout time. I will look for the clues that have been left for me to follow. What else will I do...keep painting and keep dreaming...
In Love, Gratitude & Art,
Heather J Geoffrey