Archive for Acceptance
The artist on Break
A tattered glove
lays in wait
for the fiery hand of
This is how I feel today. Some days are for working. Some days are for patiently waiting.
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″.
With all the chaos and turmoil in the world it is easy to be overwhelmed with despair, to feel there is nothing that can ease the world’s suffering. Perhaps the truly gifted and great can transform the wide world, but most of us can make a difference just by transforming our families and friendships.
The last 5 years have brought tremendous upheaval to my life- from health issues and financial changes to a major long distance move. I made it through all of these changes because of the presence of one person: my husband Barry.
He is a dear, kind soul and his support has been everything to me. Over the 16 years we have cobbled together a beautiful life from two very different cultural perspectives. My husband is Jewish and from a religious family. Although I was never brought to church as a child, my family has a strong Christian heritage that includes ministers and missionaries stretching all the way back to Elder William Brewster on the Mayflower.
Barry’s family is oriented to the group. They have large family parties that include 2nd and 3rd cousins. They are close-knit and care about keeping everyone together. My family, on the other hand, is scattered to the wind. We were raised with the idea that the individual was most important. There is never even pressure or expectation that we should be home for holidays. Our families are the complete opposite.
Barry & I fell in love and then we spent the next 16 years figuring out how to mesh these two disparate viewpoints. I learned to keep a Kosher kitchen and Barry learned to dress a Christmas tree. But the deep learning came by discovering how to respect each other’s culture. I went in with a healthy admiration for Judaism, but had my openness severely challenged by the clash of cultures. How does the individual, the one who prides herself on being different from everyone, interact with the group? I was like a square peg in a round hole. In the beginning I blamed Barry’s family for me not fitting it, but I came to realize the problem was in me. I wanted things my way, the way it had always been.
I am deeply grateful for this experience. I was a fraud. I thought myself so liberal and open, but when it came down to it I couldn’t accept that people did things differently from me. This experience has softened me. After all these years I can truly accept and honor our differences. I love that I get to celebrate Hanukkah and Christmas, Passover and Easter. I love that I am constantly forced to be open and accepting. And more than anything I love the dear man, who has challenged me to keep on living, to forgive, and to live up to my own lip service about who I am.
In the beginning of our relationship, there was so much conflict and upset because of these cultural differences, but we surmounted these differences. Over the past 5 years we have been through upheavals that would have torn many families apart in relative peace. This gives me great hope for the world. Cultural differences can be overcome, but not necessarily by changing the outside. When we can’t change the external situation in the world around us, we can look for the darkness inside, root out the judgments against others and our own attachment to having things our way. We are not powerless, we can create true peace in our own lives. This familial peace is like stone falling in a stagnant pond. The waves will fan out through the world.
All that matters is to be at one with the living God
to be a creature in the house of the God of Life.
Like a cat asleep on a chair
at peace, in peace
and at one with the master of the house, with the mistress,
at home, at home in the house of the living,
sleeping on the hearth, and yawning before the fire.
Sleeping on the hearth of the living world
yawning at home before the fire of life
feeling the presence of the living God
like a great reassurance
a deep calm in the heart
as of the master sitting at the board
in his own and greater being,
in the house of life.
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
Debra Ann over at Tangled Stitch had a recent post about accepting yourself that really got me thinking. Here she is talking about Thomas Moore’s Dark Nights of the Soul:
Well I am up to the chapter on Temporary Insanities and I think this is the chapter that best describes me at this time in my life. I have to decide whether I am willing to accept the eccentricities of myself or whether I am going to hide them. This one sentence made me cry” Without the zany persona, you might be condemned to darkness, and that would be a tragedy”. End quote first paragraph Page 259.
I got to thinking about how much I modify myself to please others and how it shuts down my creative process. Then a friend sent me the inspiring video below of Vanessa Hidary “The Hebrew Mamita”. I find that I can’t stop thinking about it. The video is a little off my main topic in subject matter (confronting prejudices), but bear with me. It’s more than just the importance of confronting prejudice. Hidary displays a radical acceptance of herself, an absolute and fearless facing of who she. And she defiantly displays it to the world. Her abandon is truly breath taking and courageous. It’s an inspiration. Watch this and imagine if you felt this way about yourself what kind of work you would allow yourself to make; what kind of nourishment you would provide the world.