Monday, January 18, 2016

a message finally decoded

I confess: I get attached to things. I love pretty things like colored glass. I love inherited objects that remind me of my parents: pewter vases and candleholders from Scandinavia from my dad, and old glass bottles and vases from my mom. Sometimes I hold onto sentimental things, like postcards and cards from when people regularly communicated that way: some for the picture on front, some for the writing. I hold onto silly things: paintings of flowers from a calendar I had 10 years ago because I love the colors and the way they make me feel.

At the same time, I long to shed what I no longer need. That's true emotionally, energetically, mentally and physically.

Every few years, I purge some small corner of my physical life. About a year ago, a dear friend helped me clear my office at home; what began as a space for writing and doing distance healing evolved into my Etsy shop headquarters (photography, inventory, mailing supplies) and then into general household storage. For several months, it's remained in limbo, an hour's worth of work away from being usable space.

I dove into some piles of papers in there this week, looking for things to use in making collages. I found those flower painting calendar images, postcards I had bought in Norway and Italy as souvenirs, cards and postcards sent to me years ago. I found pieces of sea glass, postcards from the farm where I buy flower essences, Christmas cards from previous years.

As I expanded my search for collage items, in the gazebo I found seashells from my trip to Cape Cod last spring. In my office at the church, I found cards from parishioners, 4x6 prints of some of my favorite photos, and 12x12 photos from the past few calendars I've made.

Why this focus on collages? Last year, my friend Tricia and I did a creative Lenten project. Each week, we created two diptychs: one with her haiku and my photo, and one with my haiku and her photo. This year when we talked about a Lenten project, Trish suggested collages. I was all in, and since it's been years since I've made a collage, I decided to do a practice one.

I used one of the calendar flower paintings as the background and pieces of Christmas cards in three corners. I added bits of postcards and notes, and anchoring the bottom right, a mounted phrase in three languages: "never action-fruit motive should arise."

It was given to me by a beloved teacher in high school. I instinctively loved it — but didn't understand it consciously. This week, though, when I came across it, I realized I finally can explain what it means to me: don't take action with motive, or intended outcome. For me, this means living from my true self — making decisions from my soul, not from my ego or out of some effort to create a certain outcome.

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