Monday, May 27, 2013

Strange Tale with a Moral at the End

I see a mother with her head bent forward, with one baby in her arms, one in utero, one clinging to her neck. I wasn't thinking about a Mother and Child as I was making this mixed media monoprint, but after it was done it seemed so clear. It is the same orientation, scale and stance as a watercolor Mother and Child given to me many years ago by Alfred Van Loen.  I had studied stone carving with him in my late teens & early twenties, and also a little wood carving.  His watercolor was representational, with just one baby in the mother's arms.  I wish I knew where it is now.  But every time I look at my Mother and Child I think of his.  Which I guess means I think of him...and our crazy crush that enhanced the sculpture lessons.

My friend Linda Dubin Garfield recently organized  this ARTISTS Against Hunger Exhibition.  I was very happy to submit Mother and Child to be juried for it, and pleased that it was juried in.

I was told that the juror liked it better horizontal, which I didn't think much about at the time.  I didn't make it to the opening or the show.  When I went to pick it up the show had already been taken down.  I was told that they had changed the wire on the back to hang it horizontally.  I was surprised and shocked at such an unheard of and bizarre breach of trust. It is unclear how it happened.

I still don't know.  Did it hang this way?

Or this way?

When I got home I looked at it horizontal for a few days, wondering if I had missed something.  Then I got a screwdriver and fixed the wire back to its proper spot on the frame.

 I'm very happy Mother and Child is home in its spot in my studio. It is not hanging vertically because that is the way it fits in its spot.  That is its spot because it is meant to be seen vertically.  I like the way it is enclosed by my bookshelf on one side, the doorway on the other, and my old caribou skin mukluks from Vista Volunteer days in Alaska above.

What I really like is that the ARTISTS Against Hunger Exhibition raised a substantial amount of money for The Food Trust!  That is the most important moral of this strange tale. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Counting the Omer with Visual Journaling - Day 49

Today is the 49th day, making seven weeks of the Omer!  It's 7 x 7, the last day of the count.  We made it!  Divine Presence within Majesty / Nobility of Nobility:  Shechina Sh'b Malchut / Malchut of Malchut. 

I'm so grateful to everyone who has shown their encouragement and support along this journey:  Elise Luce Kraemer,  Rex Sexton,  Sharon Parker,  Mark Hurvitz,  Lee Fowler Schwimmer,  Carol Fleishman,  Eugene Sotirescu, Roberta Milstead, Linda Dubin Garfield, Helen Redman, and all of you who have let me know that you have taken a look from time to time.  Your presence helped me to keep going, and to feel connected not only with all the people who have been counting in the present, but throughout the ages.  Thank you!


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Counting the Omer with Visual Journaling - Day 48

Today is the 48th day, making six weeks and six days of the Omer.  Foundation within Majesty / Bonding in Nobility:  Yesod of Malchut.  In 2011, by today I was off crutches for my broken foot and able to get to my studio, so returned to the template of circles on the watercolor background, with collage on the left page. 

It is interesting to me that whether I am consulting Rabbi Simon Jacobson or Rabbi Yael Levy, from year to year different passages regarding each day stand out for me.  In 2011 I wrote the line from Rabbi Levy for the 48th day, "We give thanks for what our lives have revealed."  This year I am struck by the preceding two lines:  "We give thanks for our teachers and guides.  We give thanks for all we have learned."  The big night of learning is the 50th day, Shavuot (Shavuos) - an all night learningfest.  Here we are giving thanks in advance, perhaps for the teachers and guides who helped to prepare us, for whatever openness and receptivity we are able to bring to a moment of Revelation.  

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Counting the Omer with Visual Journaling - Day 47

Today is the 47th day, making six weeks and five days of the Omer.  Openness within Divine Presence:  Hod Sh'b Shechina  /  Humility in Nobility:  Hod of Malchut. 

Here I wrote "Hod Sh'b Yesod" (whoops, wrong week), crossed out "Yesod" and wrote "Shechina".  In the smaller handwriting I wrote "OK - mistakes happen.  I am tiring of counting.  Ready for Shavuos.  Confusing that this week's sefirot is sometimes shown as Shechina and sometimes as Malchut."  I also noted Rabbi Yael Levy's thought for this day:  "The Mystery is revealed through patience."

Patience seems to be a big part of this Omer counting practice - and of life.  Maury died on September 25, 2012, and yesterday was the first time I was able  to write anything at all about saying Kaddish for him. Netzach of Malchut helped.  All I had been able to do previously was make a memory box for him, called "Kaddish for Maury":

Last night's program was so special. He would have loved it, it was right up his alley.  I missed being able to pick up the phone and tell him about it.  I miss laughing together...

My Omer counting journal has been single sided now for a few days, so that there would be enough pages to make it through to the end.  I spaced it so it would just make it.  The end is in sight.  


Friday, May 10, 2013

Counting the Omer with Visual Journaling - Day 46

Today is the 46th day, making six weeks and four days of the Omer.  Eternity within Divine Presence:  Netzach Sh'b Shechina  /  Endurance in Nobility:  Netzach of Malchut.  It is also Shabbat, the Sabbath, which has fallen on a Netzach day every time this year, as in 2011.

Being at services tonight was one more opportunity to say Kaddish for an indefinable relationship with Maurice Friedman,  How to describe saying Kaddish for the person who was my fiance in the mid-late 1970's, who became an ex before we ever got married, who remained a friend ever since up until his death the morning of Kol Nidre last year?  He was never very observant.  He would have found counting the Omer quaint.  I did promise him I would say Kaddish for him before I moved away from San Diego, and I promised it again when his daughter was holding the phone up to his ear in intensive care a few hours before he died.  He wasn't very observant, but knowing I would say Kaddish for him did matter to him...

 Here we are as fiances:

 and decades later as friends:

I can feel the anticipation of coming into the home stretch, the conclusion of the eleven month period of saying Kaddish (other than at the anniversary of death etc.).  It is at least within sight.  The ending of counting the Omer is only a few days away.  In both cases there will be a certain relief, along with a certain missing of the special connectedness both practices offer. Netzach of Malchut feels very Maury-ish.  He certainly endured and persisted with great nobility in his final months.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Counting the Omer with Visual Journaling - Day 45

Today is the 45th day, making six weeks and three days of the Omer.  Beauty within Majesty / Compassion in Nobility:  Tiferet within Shechina / Malchut.

Today was my fourth monthly meeting with, a quirky long time group of assemblage artists.  I am still very much the newbie, but am starting to get to know people.  I had friended one of the guys on Facebook so that I could see the photos of his recent two person show.  Today he asked me if this counting thing was going to be finished soon. I respect and admire his work, and feel I have much to learn from him, technically and otherwise, about assemblage with found objects.  I was surprised to realize that he was aware of my Omer postings. Thanks Jim!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Counting the Omer with Visual Journaling - Day 44

Today is the 44th day, making six weeks and two days of the Omer.  Discernment within Sacred Dwelling / Discipline in Nobility:  Gevurah within Shechina / Malchut.  Earlier in the Omer Count, it seemed like it was clearer to me how the quality of each day, within the quality of that week, related to my day and to my life.  I'm starting to wear down while anticipating Shavuot, so close now.  It will feel strange not to do a daily counting in the evening when this is all over, it has become such a habit.  I'm tired and I have no idea what Discernment or Discipline within Sacred Dwelling or Nobility means for my life.  I do know that today is the 44th day...

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Counting the Omer with Visual Journaling - Day 43

Today is the 43rd day, making six weeks and one day of the Omer.  Love within Divine Presence / Lovingkindness in Nobility:  Chesed within Malchut / Shechina.  We're in the home stretch!  The final week, this week of Malchut / Shechina, is a week of integration.

Rabbi Simon Jacobson says "Sovereignty - the last of the seven attributes - is different from the previous six.  It is a state of being rather than an activity... When love, discipline, compassion, endurance, and humility are properly channeled into the psyche through bonding, the result is malchut."

My system of visual journaling had to shift here in 2011, since I was doing it from bed, unable to navigate the stairs to my studio on crutches with my broken foot.  It was OK for my visual system to change and simplify. At the time, I was doing the visual journal just for myself and didn't imagine others would ever see it.  The important thing was to keep counting.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Counting the Omer with Visual Journaling - Day 42

Today is the 42nd day, making six weeks of the Omer.  Source within Foundation / Nobility in Bonding:  Shechina within Yesod / Malchut of Yesod.

From Rabbi Yael Levy for today:  "We give thanks for all we have learned and pray to bring the blessings forward."

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Counting the Omer with Visual Journaling - Day 41

Today is the 41st day, making five weeks and six days of the Omer.  Foundation within Foundation / Bonding within Bonding:  Yesod within Yesod.

In 2011 this day marked a major shift in my visual journal.  I had fallen down a basement step the morning after I got home from the Jewish Mindfulness retreat in Arizona (on Chesed within Yesod,) - not very mindful of me! On the 41st day I found out my foot was fractured and ligaments were torn.  The image on the left is the outline of a flipflop.  Ironically, the quote for the day by Rabbi Yael Levy is "In integrity, I am supported.  In alignment, I stand before all that is hidden."  Psalm 41:13.  "Here we stand, with reverence and awe, our roots firmly planted within the Mystery."  I was on crutches.

This year, because of the synergy of the SoulCollage® Facilitator Training group at Temenos Retreat Center, I was able to make a Community Suit SoulCollage® card for my brother, who died 23 years ago.  I could not have done it if alone.

The image of the man is not actually him, but metaphorically conveys something about his essence.  It was made on the 39th day, Shabbat, Eternity within Connection, Endurance in Bonding:  Netzach within Yesod.  The grace of the moment allowed for a crack in the wall between us to let in a small beam of light, affirming our enduring bonding across eternity.  Our arms reach out for each other, and we affirm our continuing love and connection.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Counting the Omer with Visual Journaling - Day 40

Today is the 40th day,  making five weeks and five days of the Omer.  Presence within Connection / Humility in Bonding:  Hod within Yesod.

A long day today at Temenos - a retreat center on 56 beautiful acres.  The bird houses are all inhabited.  I can't remember the last time I observed a bird hovering in the doorway of its house and wondered if there were babies in the nest inside.  

Rabbi Jacobson is so pithy for today: "Humility is crucial in healthy bonding.  Arrogance divides people.  Preoccupation with your own desires and needs separates you from others...Bonding that is just an extension of your own needs is only bonding tighter with yourself."  Our group of twenty has had a day of deep bonding today, hopefully with presence and humility.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Counting the Omer with Visual Journaling - Day 39

Today is the 39th day, making five weeks and four days of the Omer.  Eternity within Connection / Endurance in Bonding:  Netzach within Yesod.  

I am writing from Temenos, a Retreat Center in the country outside of Philadelphia where our SoulCollage® Facilitator Training began this afternoon.  This morning already feels like several days ago.  We ended with a meditation tonight for tapping into the companion animals which are present in power points in our bodies.  I had to overcome the strangeness of only using chakra centers, when I have been working now for thirty-nine days with the sefirot, some of which overlap with chakra points and some of which don't... as if the chakras are the only power points.  It was a fruitful meditation though, and definitely Yesodish.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Counting the Omer with Visual Journaling - day 38

Today is the 38th day, making five weeks and three days of the Omer.  Beauty within Connection / Compassion in Bonding:  Tiferet within Yesod. 

The image on the left is a photo etching using the negative of a photo of my partner's back when the morning sun was shining through the blinds making a striped pattern on her back.  I superimposed that over a tractate of talmud, integrating a female image into territory traditionally male.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Counting the Omer with Visual Journaling - Day 37

Today is the 37th day, making five weeks and two days of the Omer.  Strength within Connection / Discipline in Bonding:  Gevurah within Yesod.

Maybe I should consider it strength, Gevurah energy, to have finally accepted that I needed to slow down today, cancelled several activities I normally enjoy, and took a nap.  My goal is to be well enough to fully enjoy the SoulCollage® Facilitator Training I will be attending this weekend at a Retreat Center.  I will be doing a "refresher" and sharing my experiences since become a Facilitator with the new gang of trainees.  I was able to put in some time in my studio this morning choosing which images and cards to bring, and realized that the primary "packing" is the internal preparation.

I finally scanned the card I made last Sunday:

It was made intuitively and it's meaning still is not clear to me, but today it feels connected in some way with Omer Counting over the centuries, and how counting connects us across time with all the other people who have counted...