the flower-power stickers adhering to my growing-up wall and my sister’s volkswagen beetle were these colors. hot pink and orange daisies, yellows, greens, vibrant and happy. and you think that some pantone or pms chart somewhere was the place they originated. but it’s not so.
this is where they came from.
and the tulips stand – proudly but not arrogantly – in their color, in their field. completely present and at ease, they open to the world, giving it all they’ve got. stand in nature and try not to be humbled…it’s impossible.
belleruth naparstek guides you – inside and outside – to quiet. a place of presence, of ease. not trying to push out thoughts or streams of consciousness passing by, but allowing it all to flow. with practice, you can feel the roots growing under your feet, the steady breathing of awareness, calmness.
and, if you are fortunate, you are held gently, right in the middle of tulip petals, and you are reminded, once again, you are alive. “knowing in a deep place that this place is inside of you…that you are better for this…“
i imagined just that. staring at the flames flickering in the wind, taking in the perfect and imperfect of our lives. with the sun setting and the firepit column dancing, a rare quiet night in the neighborhood, it’s easy to lose yourself into the flicker.
the column just made its way into our backyard. it is not large. at merely 22″ it is portable and does not take up much room. there are not a lot of things i see while browsing that i lust over. this small tower-of-fire, however, was one of those things. it was not at a pricepoint i could justify, so i watched it.
sometimes when i watch items – or look at them time and again in a catalog – the yearning for that item goes away. as an artist, this is necessary, as buying whatever-suits-my-fancy is not reality. so it is convenient that my appetite for whatever-it-is is sated simply by looking at it over and over again. but the fire column didn’t fit under that category.
we don’t buy things willy-nilly these days. everything takes deliberation and an intention for the item’s use. and in my mind’s eye, i could see this firepit giving us countless hours of ambience on our deck – our sanctuary – the place we will spend most of our free time this summer. i started to give it some serious thought.
and then . . . there was a flash sale. thirty percent off. i stopped pondering, ordered it and picked it up at the store.
we really love it. funny how this tiny firepit elevated our space. we have surrounded ourselves with simple things out on the deck this year. inexpensive pillows – for the first time – on furniture that dates back and back, furniture that was handed-down, re-purposed, a wrought iron table and chair set i have painted time and again. an old door we pulled out of the basement storage room leans against the house next to a ficus we re-positioned from the sunroom. a couple old stepladders act as end tables. old barnwood and pipe hold our precious tomato and basil plants. there are a couple adirondack chairs on the patio and our wood-burning firepit; a chiminea is tucked over by the garage.
we read an article about a man who designed his outdoor space. it was pretty gorgeous. somewhere in the article the author shared the cost of this patio-deck-extravaganza: $550,000. five-hundred-fifty-thousand-dollars. seems slightly high to us; ours was just shy of that.
i seriously don’t know what we’d do if we had five-hundred-fifty-thousand-dollars to spend, but i’m guessing it wouldn’t be spending it on our outdoor space. though our grass isn’t perfect and the textures of our patio and pond and cement and stone pad don’t necessarily coordinate and dogdog has holes he loves to dig, we find this space brings us peace.
we gaze into the small flames of this tiny fire column and feel the darkness drop out of the sky around us. we are grateful for these moments of reflection, the moments when we see how perfect it all is, even in the midst of imperfection. we sit back, awash in the ahhh of having pillows behind our backs, watch the fireflies and a couple swooping bats, look at dogga laying quietly on the deck near us and take stock of our good fortune.
“…there’s something to be said about keeping prayer simple. help, thanks, wow.” (anne lamott)
the quiet simplicity of this painting SOFTLY SHE PRAYS draws me in. it makes me yearn to close my eyes and be softly in this moment, there, here. its invitation is clear. its message is universal. the location is unimportant. on top of a mountain, next to a stream, in the woods, next to your bed, on the kitchen floor, under a starry sky, in the pouring rain. all worthy.
“…you might shout at the top of your lungs or whisper into your sleeve…” (anne lamott)
the words, the thoughts, the imploring, the confusion, the shouting, the gratitudes. all worthy.
the fresh simplicity of this painting makes it feel scandinavian to me, clean lines, blues, yellows. i recognize it. its warmth. its less-is-more-ness.
i also recognize the image. the moments we stop, head down, turning inside. pondering, wondering, musing. the palette of our hearts, our lives, a mixture of emotions, we try to wrangle a few minutes of quiet to sort it all out.
this painting – INNER LIFE – is a breath of fresh air for me. a reminder of what a few silent minutes can offer.
we walked past the store window in ridgway, colorado and i stopped to laugh and take this picture “dear brain…please shut up!” i’m not sure i can count how many times i have wished my brain would just stop talking to me for a few minutes. as a detail person, it is always engaged in figuring something out, sorting or strategizing. there seems to be always something i am wondering, worrying about, thinking-thinking-thinking-through. even while hiking, in the middle of the woods or on a trail of bountiful beauty, i ponder.
now, there are times i have managed to ignore it – moments sitting on a precipice staring out at mountains, sitting on the rocks staring at the lake, sitting on the beach watching the waves hit the shoreline, sitting and warming up by a bonfire, sitting on a pew absolutely silent. all those involve sitting still. in those rare moments of slower breathing and meditative peace, i can feel my whole body let down. more of that, please.
wishing you – wherever you are – a few moments to sit. for your body to be still, your thoughts to be quiet.
i visit this place everyday. the place of contemplation. of pondering. of remembering. of dreaming. of silent conversational prayer. this morsel of david’s painting CONTEMPLATION speaks to me and my need to sometimes go inside…to sort, to be grateful, to relinquish a hold on something negative, to wonder.
SOFTLY SHE PRAYS
there is a similar painting, based on a similar image…called SOFTLY SHE PRAYS and i adore this for its monochromatic approach, its gentle existence. conversely, this piece CONTEMPLATION is filled with color – the colors of life and vibrance, saturated with the palette we live in every day, the colors we don’t always notice as we walk by, missed in our efforts to move into the next moment. ahh. yet another reason to sit and rest and contemplate.
my poppo would sit in the chair and gaze out at the lake behind their house. in the house before that, he would sit out on the lanai and gaze at the pool. in previous houses, he had chairs or his workbench, where he would sit or stand and gaze, clearly thinking, thinking, thinking.
now, when you’ve gotten to 91, there’s plenty to think about, many memories, many stages of life, many ways the world has changed. my poppo was a POW in world war II, escaping and coming back at a time that PTSD had little to no attention given to it. the atrocities he had experienced were his alone to process, with the help of my sweet momma, if he felt that he could burden her with it. my parents lost a child, a little girl named barbara lynn, who would be my oldest sister – even older than my sister sharyn! – while my dad was still missing in action, a little person, a part of him, he never met. i know that as they established themselves as a family, there were challenges that befell them, joys that they cherished, times of much sorrow, small moments and large moments of laughter and goodness. plenty to think about.
i always wondered what my poppo was thinking about, quietly sitting or puttering. sometimes i would ask, but other times i would respect his quiet-ness. now that i am getting older, i find myself spending time quietly thinking. memories, moments, decisions, good things, sad things, questions, things that make me cringe, things that make me laugh aloud. i think about what’s coming up…what is planned, what will remain a mystery. i wonder. i give thanks. i pray. pondering is a good thing. it’s necessary.
each time now when i sit outside or inside curled in a chair and find myself just staring off into space, i can’t help but think about my daddy. and i kind of feel him right there, quietly staring with me. pondering.
president jimmy carter was being interviewed by stephen colbert on the late show. stephen asked him (words to the effect) how he could love all people. president carter, absolutely sweet at “almost-94”, responded he “let go of the animosities he had cherished.” wow. although there were many moments in the interview that reinforced the respect i have for this man as a positive force in the world, this one really struck me. -let go of the animosities you cherish-
for who among us can not relate to that? how tightly do we hold to those things? and how do they prevent us from living right now? life is layered and our history and everything, from small slights to life-changing wrongs that others have done to us or our loved ones to -worse yet- all of our own wrongdoing, piles up like dark layers of sedimentary rock. weathering, weathering, weathering. how can we possibly be zen in all that?
president carter also said that he “forgets about them”…the people who have caused him undue pain or stress, who have been perhaps, i think, a dark layer of sedimentation in his life. now, at almost-94, my own sweet momma would have agreed with him. he reminded me of her. two peas in a pod. leading with kindness and generosity. forgetting about the rest in all the ways that forgetting is a good thing. who really has room in their life to hang onto all that and still make headway toward goodness?
from david’s painting MEDITATION, this morsel of painting – called LAYERED MEDITATION – makes me think of these layers of sediment, layers of life. the darkness on the bottom -not necessarily because it is buried but because it is overruled by other layers- the fire of passion and earth-life in the middle and the effervescence of light on the top. sedimentary layers of life. a picture of letting go, of transforming dark into light. a layered meditation.