Archive for Abil-Kheir

The Binding of Isaac

Love came and emptied me of self,
every vein and every pore,
made into a container to be filled by the Beloved.
Of me, only a name is left,
the rest is You my Friend, my Beloved.
-Abil-Kheir (967 – 1049)

I am in the process of updating my art website and I wrote this about a couple pieces I did on the Binding of Isaac. I thought you might enjoy it:

The Binding of Isaac is a story that I have wrestled with for many years. When I first came to it, was overwhelming in its injustice. But now I understand that this is a story, not of God’s cruelty, but of God’s infinite love and kindness toward humanity. It is also a story of the power of surrender.

The Binding of Isaac is about being in an impossible situation, something that is so terrible that we think we cannot face it. This is a common human experience. It is not a question of the justice or injustice of a situation, it is a question of how we face a situation we cannot change or escape. Can we trust the Divine forces in our lives or do we fight and struggle? I have been in this situation over and over again with my health, how do you accept the unacceptable? But I have accepted it and learned to surrender as Abraham did and just as Abraham was shown such compassion and kindness, so have I. The Divine desires us to be creative luminous beings and if we won’t listen to this desire, the we will be forced to listen but in the kindest possible way that we can listen to. The act of surrender is the act of hearing God.

The first piece is Abraham’s Annunciation when he is told by God of his task. The second piece is the Binding of Isaac. There are two more pieces in this series to be completed, the moment Abraham puts the knife to Isaac’s neck and the unbinding of Isaac. These pieces are in progress and will be posted. 

Spiritual meaning of material used: These pieces are on sheep skin parchment representing the ram that Abraham sacrificed. The 22k gold leaf represents the spiritual perfection achieved by Abraham in his of of surrender. The pigments are handmade, for the most part from stones and plants representing the mountain Abraham climbed for his sacrifice. I also used bone black a pigment made from charred bones to represent the ram.

Image #1: Abraham’s Annunciation
The writing pouring into Abraham’s head is the Hebrew text from the Bible.

Image #2: The Binding of Isaac
The Hebrew lettering around his wrists is the text from the Bible, translation on edge of the box.18″x14″.
The Binding of Isaac, Abraham's Annunciation by Sybil Archibald

The Binding of Isaac, Abraham's Annunciation by Sybil Archibald

Some via negativa poetry

I haven’t posted in a couple days, I have a number of irons in the fire and been doing a lot of art which I will share soon. But I’m thinking of you and thought you might enjoy these via negativa poems:

God is pure no-thing,
concealed in now and here:
The less you reach for him,
the more he will appear
-Angelus Silesius

If in your heart you make
a manger for his birth,
then God will once again
become a child on earth.
-Angelus Silesius

Beloved, show me the way out of this prison.
Make me needless of both worlds.
Pray erase from this mind all
that is not you.
-Abu Saeed Abil Kheir

Thank the flame for its light,
but do not forget the lampholder
standing in the shade with constancy of patience.
-Tagore (Little Birds 64)

Where is the fountain
that throws up these flowers
in a ceaseless outbreak of ecstasy?
-Tagore (Little Birds 70)

On Not Filling the Vacuum

Ancient clay vessel

I am the one You created from dust,
A handful of dust moving at Your wish.
You planted this seed,
This growth is obeying that command.
-Abu-Saeed Abil-Kheir

I haven’t posted for a few days, but not for health reasons. I’m recovering well. The reason is, I’m holding my life open, trying to remain empty. A major cycle in my life has ended and this creates a vacuum. What I am doing now is stepping aside to let that space be filled by God and not by my own habits or ideas about what I should be doing.

This is very different for me. I’m used to charging forward with plan and making it happen. If there is one thing the last few years have taught me, my plan is nothing more than a worthless scrap of paper. I’ve been like a wild horse that has been broken. I am ready to serve so I am quietly waiting for the Divine to fill my vacuum. Holding that space open is drawing most of my energy right now. Operations are easy. This is more of a task!

Eckhart says:

If people find themselves in this way in pure nothingness, is it not better for them to do something to drive away the darkness and the abandonment? Should such people not somehow pray, read, listen to a sermon, or carry out other works that are virtuous so as to help themselves? No! Understand this truly that remaining quite still and for as long at a time as possible is the best thing you can do.

I guess again, I am seeking to be a vessel, but this time by surrendering in my life and not just during the process of creating art.

Thanks everyone who has though of me and kept me their prayers. It’s beautiful to remember how connected everyone on earth is and how we can help each other without ever leaving our homes.