Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Context is Almost Everything

With the Shirley Sherrod, NAACP, and Tea Party stories, just to name a few, I’ve been emphatically reminded that context is almost everything. On NPR recently I heard a story about Art restoration that really made me think. As we’ve been learning about Ethical Values, how to unearth the deepest truths within us, to bring out the best always as our Being, we’ve talked a lot about truth and lying and about what it means to be “an original.”  A restoration of Thomas Eakins’ famous 1875 painting, “The Gross Clinic,” has been underway for a year in Philadelphia. The story of the restoration, the “ruination” which came from good intentions but perhaps a limited appreciation for context, and the energy (and money) that such attention can bring forth is a fascinating one, and to me it applies to every image we create of ourselves as well.

As some of the conservators say, it may be easy to say what’s “wrong” with a painting, but not exactly what is wrong, how can the damage be repaired, and what, in fact, has been damaged? Such knowledge requires a passion to Know, a passion for integrity and purity, and an appreciation of intention and the art of expression. At least I think so.

People have different opinions of what they like better – the painting before restoration or after. This reminds me of going to the ophthalmologist and the “is this better, or is this better” test. It’s important that we know what we like better, yet I also love those whose passion it is to restore the integrity of the artist’s intention. When we apply such an understanding of context to ourselves and our creation of life, of lives, it illuminates the value perhaps of opening our mind to our own greater eternal context as energy beings with an evolving consciousness.

Copying and truth relate to every level of our being and our actions. It is amazing to me to think about how we must reach a point in our own consciousness evolution to begin to think of ourselves as creators, beyond the miraculous creation of children, and then how each action that comes from each thought influenced by our emotions and senses can illuminate to us the color and feeling-tones that we are experiencing in that moment in Time and Space.

Conservators such as Mark S. Tucker, who restored Eakins’ painting, devote the time and attention to understand the effects of time (and aging) on a canvas. Think of ourselves as a canvas, a canvas made of layers of applications of color and grime which are truly energy fields which we’ve created through our experience as energy beings.

Interpretation may be relative to the interpreter, but patience and knowledge are an absolute necessity.

As we think about The Joy of Health in our Spiritual Philosophy classes and we are led to ask ourselves questions such as, Do we live our truth or with a veil of lies?, I now come back to this story of restoration.  Lying is forgettable, we heard on Sunday at our class. Why? Truth is memorable. We build lie upon lie, layer upon layer as time goes by, unless our mind is prompted to love more, to be true to its convictions as an energy being with the intention of growth and change, of love truly. Shirley Sherrod’s past came to light via another who took a snippet of a video to use for his own agenda. Since then, she and the person who began the journey this way have branched into new media journeys and more. Sherrod has been given a broader platform to illuminate her past, her values, her interpretation of her life and choices and their consequences. She has exhibits (people) that have come to light to supplement her story of her life and purpose in this focus. Whatever we think of different personalities, our energy reveals who we are. The interpretations remain for those we encounter and their own level of thinking and living. Love, compassion, honesty, change as change relates to the truth of ethical values always wins out over the shadowy agendas of those whose motives are not as clear (pure). Convolution clouds the mind.

I listen to Kathy Oddenino explain her own convictions as she remembers experiences in her life – with bigotry, with lying, with cheating, etc. – and I think about what such conviction means to a mind and heart. Brave heart, strong mind, a way of using our body as the energy temple that it is, as we honor ourselves and our creation, moment by moment, from sperm and ovum joining to the moment we lose “consciousness” as a physical human being and live on as an energy being, to create again.

Restoration is indeed an Art, no matter how we look at it!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Herbie Hancock: The Imagine Project...........


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Truth of Love, and the Art of Subtlety

Recently someone asked me if my parents talked much about dying, in the last few months of their lives in particular. I’ve thought about this a lot, and especially as I continue to learn what it means to a mind to think more deeply, to listen more intensely, to enjoy the intensity of “still waters running deep.” Our mother was famously subtle rather than overt in her expressions; to her, subtlety WAS overt. There were always ways of making your point to those who were willing to listen. Subtlety is its own art form. As her children, we appreciated this about her, and also adapted it in our own ways and personalities. We developed beliefs about communication, about listening, and share pleasures and the occasional challenges of similar interpretations because of this. Our Dad was also subtle in his way, and in some ways simpler than Mother. Their personalities were interesting, individually and together. I write this not to analyze their personalities, but to express what the question about their communication about dying prompted me to think about.

My mother seldom wanted to even talk about “being sick.” She teased me sometimes about my passion for organic food, and yet over time, when we would visit, she bought certain things she knew I would like, and “approve of,” as she said. I began to learn, through our interaction, even more about listening, about the energy of love, about the subtleties that mean so much. I didn’t intend to judge when I didn’t want to eat packaged sausage which had chemicals I didn’t want to ingest. Yet, over time I began to learn the difference in the energy of knowing my own “truth,” and how loving myself through my own free choices, when “true,” also flowed into the smiling way of live and let live, still, honoring all. I continue to learn this, as I learn to know my own mind, to grow my own mind, to love better.

Mother wasn’t a complainer. She had a high pain tolerance, did not appreciate whiners, and always preferred that people “get on with it,” rather than belabor anything. This does not mean she did not appreciate the subtleties of one gesture, or the right word placed just so. She certainly did. Less was always better, but only when appropriately so – the truth will show itself and be known, simply.

We children would try to find out more from her about what her doctors said, after she had appointments. We would ask how she felt. We were concerned about her, didn’t want her to “suffer.” Even this word, “suffer,” has its associations so intensely from religious belief. Middle English, French, Latin – the words “to bear,” have a different connotation than to “suffer” in my mind. “Suffer in silence,” is a familiar phrase. As time passed, and we all lived the day to days, we helped each other to pay attention to the nuances, to support as we could, as we knew to do. My brother wrote a beautiful poem in honor of our Dad which included these words: “because I am his son, I go, called to attend to, Perhaps witness/the black presence of illness…  his world is breaking open, mine as well…. Do you see this? He points, because I am his son, I see these things…” Dad was not a complainer either, which explained why his confusion at incapacitation at the end was what did him in. He was a lover of life, of people. He loved birds, he loved the simple pleasures of cornbread in milk, fresh tomatoes and salt, even instant coffee as long as it was the right temperature for his palate.  To Dad, life is through when you couldn’t DO. He would marvel at “things” as they revealed themselves to him – feel this, he would say, pointing to a knot on his head. It would hurt, and he puzzled over what caused it. He would smile when given answers. Once I asked him, many years ago, are you afraid of dying? He looked at me horror-struck. No! he said. Why would I be? He lived the truth of his convictions. There was no room for fear. Mother’s faith was equally strong, though her mind explored thoughts differently, I think. They had both grown up in families whose work ethic was strong and whose communication about emotions was more physical than verbal. An orange and a new pair of dungarees for Christmas on a good year, Dad would say, smiling at the memory. There were intimacies expressed in ways only that family unit might relate to, until told. The time, the environment, the beliefs, the scenarios invite opening, appreciating, acknowledging the growth as we live. Dad constantly expressed how we had so much to be grateful for, especially a loving family, the sharing of lives. Not long before he died, when I was visiting him in the Nursing Home, he told me he had been talking to God – this meant dying. He said it in relationship to being ready to “go.” I’ve been talking to God about it, he said, with utmost humility, and that little smile.

I have thought about what it means to die, and what it means to live. As I live and learn, particularly with the guidance of Spiritual Philosophy which builds on and around the religious foundation our parents taught us to illuminate the deeper roots of “thought made flesh (matter)”, I feel the strength of knowing more and more what it means to live, and therefore what it means to die. As energy, we live on – our memories live on. The idea seems simplistic, and yet the most beautifully simple and complex divine idea ever created. The original creation is life? How do we define life? As Kathy talked about her memories of nursing and asking patients what their beliefs were as they lay on their deathbed, I thought about all of this again. I have introduced myself again and again to the subtle and absolutely profound nature of change as the constant in our life, and the overt message does not escape me now: In Change we trust!  True thinking requires a motivation deep within us whose roots are love, and I understand more clearly than ever how we grow through the levels of fear-to-love as we live our many lives, even our mini-lives days and nights. How do we feel about “energy”? How do we feel talking about “energy”? Not just the solar power, wind power, turbine and nuclear, oil and the spill. The overt subtleties are there for us to appreciate, enhance, change, share as we become more aware. These are the gifts that keep on giving, despite what we do for a living, how many children we have, how much money we make or lose, what losses or gains we experience.

The dignity of life asks for honor, reverence, appreciation, love, which means communication, but not only in the ways we might want, or expect. Messages come in all ways. The key, I’m learning, is to know what message I’m sending, and to express consciously, beautifully, elegantly. Even if silly! The truth of love will be felt, and remembered forever. What’s left is there to build on, to shape as our own, to sculpt as we think, as we share, as we grow, as we think on our own.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Happy Independence!

Two days ago I went for an early morning walk around the neighborhood before the summer heat really set in. The breeze was gentle and the busy birds were fun to watch, as always. The shades of green in the thick underbrush as well as the tall canopies of trees were beautiful, and the dry ground and leaves caught my attention as I passed some places. A few dogs panted, a few managed some faint barks. Mostly I think they were hot, and curious. As I walked I thought of my Mother and smiled at her jaunty way of jumping into action sometimes. She would “gear up” to go, and then full steam ahead, tireless until her job was complete. A few tears slid down my cheeks as I smiled at the memories, and suddenly I felt her presence beside me in that same mode, just as she was, eager to be moving and with me. We laughed as we talked. She was delighted to be moving, free, and I am delighted to know we are energy beings and always “stay in touch.”

Also, we have another funny family story which relates to the saying, "I'm nearly dead"! I'll leave that one to your imaginations...Thanks, Mom!