Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Art Show- Opening November 27th!

My husband and I are having an art show! We will be hanging a lot of new work, and the gallery is also full of wonderful work by other area artists and crafters! I hope you can stop in and support a great independent local business!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

St. Valentine, Patron Saint of Lovers

St. Valentine, Patron Saint of Lovers
mixed media shrine

I have been watching the struggle for marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples with my heart in my mouth. Every time a marriage equality law is passed I rejoice, every time that law is struck down I am deeply sickened. For one group of people to enjoy a basic human right, and then for that same group to very self righteously work to DENY another group of people enjoyment of that right is so small minded. So puny of heart, so limited of spirit. So scary.

Because people who allow themselves to exist in a small minded state of being are the cause of the world's suffering. They might be perpetrating violence. They might be buying into some ugly rhetoric. They might be standing by cheering while their neighbor is dragged into the street and shot. They might be lobbying elected officials to violate the constitutional and human rights of their fellow citizens. Persecution takes place the world over. Persecution is universally recognized as WRONG unless a person is really and truly some huge asshole (the word asshole here symbolizing a spiritual void which is really, really ass). For example: the persecution of the Palestinian people by the Israelies, the persecution of Jewish people by Christians, the persecution of black people by white people, of Southern Sudanese people by Northern Sudanese people, of Native American people by white people, of Mexican immigrants in the U.S. by white people. How about women, children, and people who are poor who are exploited and/or denied justice by fundamentalist religions or rapacious capitalism (Marshall Islands, Tom Delay, sweatshop slavery-Google it)? How about political persecution? The list could go on and on. All heinous examples of one group of people who have some power or advantage being total assholes to somebody else. The denial of equal rights for gay people is no different. There is no justified reason to deny gay people equality. There never is any rational reason for this sort of miserable human failing. There is only fear, ignorance, hatred of one's self turned outward, and greed.

And if I hear the phrase "defense of marriage" ever again as a rallying cry to rob gay people of their right to marriage, I'm going to throw up in my mouth. Seriously. Because that is the most specious argument I have EVER heard. A fifty percent divorce rate would seem to indicate that straight people haven't been doing such a hot job with their God given right to wed, don't even mention the statistics on marital infidelity. Domestic violence, substance abuse, co-dependency, failure to rectify family dysfunction and lack of self knowledge are all killers of straight marriages. Gay people? Not so much.

I will end with this beautiful passage from the Bible, first Corinthians, chapter 13. It reminds us that love is the way in which God intends us to exist. That love is expressed through our way of being, our intentions, words, and actions. It also makes very clear what love is NOT:
"If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.
And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing.
If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, it is not pompous, it is not inflated,
it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury,
it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails. If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing; if tongues, they will cease; if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing.
For we know partially and we prophesy partially,
but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.
When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things.
At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known.
So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

I believe that to deny gay people the right to wed is to work against love. I believe that to work against love is to work against God.


Monday, November 9, 2009

St. Dymphna the Protector

St. Dymphna the Protector
Gouache on paper 6" X 7.25"

I made this painting to thank St. Dymphna, and to honor her works in the lives those of us who ask for her help. I was moved to make this painting because of the following incident:

There is a person whom I am deeply concerned for. Being a recovering co-dependent, I have learned that worry is wasted energy, but that prayer is pro-active. There was a particular day several months ago when my sadness and concern felt so pointed that I prayed very intensely and with great focus.

I asked St. Dymphna to keep this individual in her care, to help them see their path, and to bless them with peace and joy. I asked her to help them see that their being is a beautiful miracle, and to not let them be overcome by despair. From nowhere, the scent of flowers wafted over me.

I glanced around me. It was not just the lovely smell of roses, it was the movement in the air, that it came from a direction, as though from a presence, that got my attention. It was not bloom time, the windows were closed, there was nothing near me-flowers, candles, incense- that would cause this scent. No one was home but my baby daughter (asleep on my lap), my dog (asleep at my feet) and I. I wasn't wearing perfume, and I have to use plain soap, but I sniffed my clothes just in case. Nope, not my clothes. I breathed in again. The scent was so present, yet so inexplicable. Then I knew: I was receiving a message, my prayer had been heard. Things like this just never happen to me, and I felt deeply grateful and very blessed. In making this painting I hope to share with others the peace and comfort I felt that day.

I surrounded the figures with oak leaves and branches, to symbolize the strength we need to overcome our wounds. St. Dymphna is guarding the person's light, making sure it is not blown out by the storm that surrounds them. The words around the border are St. Dymphna's message: " Heal. Live. Remember you are loved. Remember to take care of yourself."

The truth is, that I need these words, and I need St. Dymphna's help, just as much as my friend does. To love and care about a person with an unresolved mental health issue is a practice in faith, in turning it over to my higher power and letting go of fear every day.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Saint of Compassion

This shrine of His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, was a collaboration between myself and my beloved husband, Marcus. He painted the figure, and I really love how he captured the Dalai Lama's beautiful smile. I lined this simple shrine with a nubbly woven pink silk and painted the halo with the Buddhist symbol for world peace, lotus flowers, and my favorite quote from my favorite living saint - "My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness."

Marcus and I have been talking about compassion in relation to the debate over President Obama's health care reform proposals. I am struck especially by two arguments that seem particularly wrong headed and, if followed to their logical conclusion, inhuman.

The first is: "it costs too much." Now I ask you, what should we be spending our collective monies on? What is more valuable, more priceless, than good health? Ask any person who has had their life curtailed by a chronic condition or any parent who helplessly watches their child suffer. Ask a terminally ill person with goals, dreams, and people they want to stick around for. Ask them what good health is worth. Good health is the basis for living the lives we want to live and we should be putting our money into ensuring that everyone's health needs are met. As a matter of fact, along with good food and shelter for everyone I can't think of a more important thing to spend our tax dollars on. I hear "my children will be paying for this!" Yeah? So will mine. And I'm glad they will be paying for something so worthwhile. I find this argument especially ironic in the face of the two wars the United States is currently involved in, needless wars that cost billions of dollars and the lives and health of countless people. We will be paying for that mess for a generations. And yet people argue that good health care for everyone is too expensive? Even worse, that good health care for everyone isn't worth the expense?

The second argument I have been hearing is the worry that "illegal" immigrants will benefit from public option health care. I say, I wish they would. Because a person in need is a person in need, regardless of, well, of anything. A person in need of medical care being denied for any reason at all is a cruel and terrible thing. It goes against the basic tenant of all major religions, and of anyone who is a decent human being: compassion. And compassion in practice is the care of the sick, the poor, and anyone unable to help themselves.

I leave you with these quotes on the subject of compassion from the Dalai Lama himself:

"Compassion is not religious business, it is human business, it is not luxury, it is essential for our own peace and mental stability, it is essential for human survival."

"I believe all suffering is caused by ignorance. People inflict pain on others in the selfish pursuit of their happiness or satisfaction. Yet true happiness comes from a sense of peace and contentment, which in turn must be achieved through the cultivation of altruism, of love and compassion, and elimination of ignorance, selfishness, and greed."

"As human beings we all want to be happy and free from misery… we have learned that the key to happiness is inner peace. The greatest obstacles to inner peace are disturbing emotions such as anger, attachment, fear and suspicion, while love and compassion and a sense of universal responsibility are the sources of peace and happiness."

If the Dalai Lama's wisdom were to enter the United States Senate we would have a completely reformed health care system and a public option in a heart beat.