Archive for April, 2009

To Music

To Music
Music: breathing of statues. Perhaps:
silence of paintings. You language where all language
ends. You time
standing vertically on the motion of mortal hearts.

Feelings for whom? O you the transformation
of feelings into what?-: into audible landscape.
You stranger: music. You heart-space
grown out of us. The deepest space in us,
which, rising above us, forces its way out,-
holy departure:
when the innermost point in us stands
outside, as the most practiced distance, as the other
side of the air:
no longer habitable.
Rilke-Trans. Stephen Mitchell

Happy Earth Day!

A beautiful and blessed Earth Day to you. Today I am honoring the earth by working with clay. What are you up to?

I am also thinking about my garden up north and how I formed a deep connection to that soil and how much beauty and joy was offered in return. I cherished that land and it loved me back. I felt it and saw it. I wish that everyone could experience that sense of harmony and belonging to a place. I believe much of the mindless destruction of our planet would be reversed with this experience of mindfulness.

Here are some pictures from last summer. I’m sorry about the spill over into my sidebar, but I’m anxious to embrace my clay and don’t want to use this precious day on resizing pictures!

Sybil's Garden

Casablanca Lillies

Sybil's Garden

Sybil's Garden

Pat Austin Rose
Poppy & Salvia

I’m sad to have left this garden that was nothing but a weedy patch of grass when I found it. I feel it waking and I am not there to tend it. So instead I’m turning to clay, temporarily my own patch of earth to tend, as it passes through my hands in transformation. I am entering into a conscious relationship with earth itself, a dialogue.

Here are 2 older posts on the relationship between the earth & spirit. This first is by Gartenfische (and is well worth a read for it beauty) and the second is mine.

Viriditas. Venite, Adoremus
The Spiritual Earth

Happy Earth Day!

Interview with Me & Blogs on Art & Spirituality

One of my favorite blogs on art & spirituality, Abbey of the Arts, has an interview with me today. This is the interview that prompted me post a photo of myself last week.
Self Portrait: Annunciation- Etching (c) Sybil Archibald
Self Portrait: Annunciation (Etching)

There are number of other wonderful blogs out there on art & spirituality besides Abbey of the Arts. Here are a few of my favorites in no particular order:

The Contemplative Photographer (A christian viewpoint)
Beyond Words
FEOTU (Sparse postings, but worth the wait)
Owl’s Wings (A pagan perspective)
The Tangled Stitch
Sacred Circle Mandalas
Heaven in my Foot
Peripheral Vision
Creative Everyday
Creative Juices Arts & Painting from the Wild Heart

Just on spirituality, here is an amazing post on gratitude and illness from Havi. I think you will appreciate it!!

My newest pieces were finally fired so I will post some pictures soon. I’m really excited about the new series of sculptures I just began this week. They are of mystics I admire. I’m working on Hildegard of Bingen now. Meister Eckhart is next. The best part is I get to delve back into their texts to prepare!

Blessings to you on this beautiful day.

Sybil Responds

I am utterly overwhelmed and humbled by the response to my last post. I received many lengthy letters from people, some of whom I have known for years and some who have never posted a comment before. If I have not responded to your letter yet, please know that I will and that I am just seeking words which are adequate containers for what I feel. There have also been so many beautiful and supportive comments both here and via email.

It is a great surprise to me that my words and journey have impacted people to strongly. This is a deep lesson about self-judgment and trust. I guess that none of us understand the wake our vessel leaves as we navigate through life. We may judge our contribution as small or meaningless, but if this has taught me nothing else, it is that we are not meant to judge ourselves.

We are meant to wade into the Light and embrace our path, trusting that if we pursuit our calling, we add to what is good and true in this world. Let us leave the judgments, good or bad, to others. In the end we may all be truly astounded, as I am astounded today, by how empty my own judgments were.

My heart is filled with love. You have filled me. Thank you.

A fish cannot drown in water,
A bird does not fall in air.
In the fire of creation,
God doesn’t vanish:
The fire brightens.
Each creature God made
must live in its own true nature;
How could I resist my nature,
That lives for oneness with God?
– Mechthild of Magdeburg

Sybil Comes Clean

It’s been a rough week. I haven’t posted because I have been in darkness. But, as always, darkness has it’s uses in pointing out the Light.

For the past 10 years or so since my face has really started change, I have hidden. I don’t post pictures of myself and I have avoided seeing people from my past. I’ve been trying to control something that is uncontrollable and it’s exhausting.

So, I’ve decided it’s time to show myself. My body is not what I hoped for, but I can’t hide for the rest of my life. I have to accept what I am. Next week Abby of the Arts is publishing an interview with me and a photo will be published. It’s funny that I have shared many intimate spiritual experiences here but this is what gives me pause. I don’t mean to be narcissistic, I am grateful for you bearing with me on this one! It’s a big deal for me to share this, deep breath…

Here is a picture of me in Paris at Notre Dame before I became ill in 1987:

Sybil at Notre Dame

Here is a picture of me now. Not a great picture, but I took it myself with a timer:


Here is my right hand fully extended:

Sybil's hand

That’s me, but only part of me. Maybe now I will be freer. Thank you for indulging me and being here to share this with.

Onto the next challenge…

The Cracked Vessel
Here I am

So hollow
that any knock
a gong in my ancient ear

Overpowering sound of the world
you demand entrance
but your demands are
slowly fracturing me

A fragile vessel
worn by time

Fill me
oh fill me up with Your Light
so that at least
from my fractured self
some honeyed Light may

from me
to you.
-Sybil Archibald

Update:Comments enabled. Sorry! I don’t know how I keep shutting them off!

I am You

I love this photo by Scott London:
I am You by Scott London

Say I am You
I am dust particles in sunlight.
I am the round sun.

To the bits of the dust I say, Stay.
To the sun, keep moving.

I am morning mist,
and the breath of evening.

I am wind in the top of a grove,
and surf on the cliff.

Mast, rudder, healsmen, and keel,
I am also the corral reef they founder on.

I am a tree with a trained parrot in it’s branches.
Silence, thought, and voice.

The musical air coming through a flute,
a spark of a stone, a flickering

in metal. Both candle,
and the moth crazy around it.

Rose, and the nightingale
lost in the fragrance.

I am all orders of being, the circling galaxy,
the evolutionary intelligence, the lift,

and the falling away. What is,
And what isn’t. You who know

Jelaluddin, You the one
in all, who say

I am. Say I
am You.

On Hands and Pursuing Your Gift

Over the past 6 months or so my hands have almost completely contracted into fists. I have limited movement in my two index fingers and a bit more in my thumbs and that’s it. I get along just fine, but from time to time I feel the loss of my ability to play the piano. Today I was a concert and I felt the twinge, just a seductive hint of self-pity. When I came home this video was in my email via Triumph of the Spirit.

I mean, do you think God is trying to tell me something? The joy and life in this woman is astounding for anyone, not just a person with disabilities. She embraces what she has, her gift, with gusto and joy. I loved playing the piano, truly, but I never had a gift for it. I am no musician, more like an amateur crafter filling a Saturday afternoon. I believe this video was sent to me to show me how to let go of suffering over my hands and embrace my gift. Each of us has a gift, perhaps not the one we would choose or perhaps we dislike the way it is given. But, wow, look what is possible if we embrace it.

“Come to the edge.”
“We can’t. We’re afraid.”
“Come to the edge.”
“We can’t. We will fall!”
“Come to the edge.”
And they came.
And he pushed them.

And they flew.
– Guillaume Apollinaire

The Healing Hand (c) Sybil Archibald