Archive for Garden

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!

On Clay

Clays are extraordinary, layered, crystal structures which have, built into them, what amounts almost to an innate tendency to evolve…Clay has plans.
-Lyall Watson, from An Introduction to Clay Colloid Chemistry

I started as an artist at the age of 6 in clay. The altars I built from clay I dug directly out of the earth are some of the most satisfying pieces of my career. There is an innate connection between God and earth. Clay is a meeting place, a doorway to Heaven.

I have been an avid gardener for years. I began to garden for the fragrance and color of flowers but now I garden for soil. It is easy to miss the Divine is the humble trappings of dirt. There is something about soil that is just afire with the light of God. It is the lowliest of things, we tread on it, ignore it, sweep it away, and yet it sustains us all. The soil pulses with life that we cannot or will not see. There is no more satisfying feeling than seeing what appears to be a barren, wormless plot of land transform into a teaming mecca of life.

Dirt

Working with clay gives me the same satisfaction. Clay itself is very dense, like the material word itself. It takes effort to move it and to see in it the true reflection of the Divine. And yet it is responsive. There is something in clay that wants to grow and transform and which responds to that same impulse within the artist. Clay is a partner in the creative act, not a submissive servant.

In the biblical story of the creation of man, God chooses to blow the breath of life into clay to create Adam. I have discussed this from the perspective of the gilder who must use breath, but the clay’s perspective is just as interesting.

That God chose clay to receive his direct kiss, should illuminate the central importance of Earth. By gardening or working with clay we engage the Earth. And if we empty ourselves and enter fully into the present moment something amazing happens. The artist becomes the physical vessel for Divine creative energy, holding it, that it may be translated into, fused with matter. The particular way in which an artist engages matter allows for greater concentrations of Macrocosmic energy to enter the world.

But that is not all. All matter, to a greater or lesser degree has consciousness of its Source. Clay is like a sponge that actively seeks to draw in Divine fecund energy. It and Earth itself has its own active spirituality and deep connection to God.

Contemporary theologian Thomas Berry argues this persuasively.

There is a spiritual capacity in carbon as there is a carbon component functioning in our highest spiritual experience. If some scientists consider that all this is merely a material process, then what they call matter, I call mind, soul, spirit, or consciousness. Possibly it is a question of terminology, since scientists too on occasion use terms that express awe and mystery. Most often, perhaps, they use the expression that some of the natural forms they encounter seem to be “telling them something”.- Thomas Berry, The Great Work: Our Way into the Future, Page: 25

He also says:

“Gardening is an active participation in the deepest mysteries of the universe.”

Medieval theologian St. Thomas Aquinas wrote that

All things love God. All things are united according to friendship to each other and to God.

And mystics such as Teilhard de Chardin and Hildegard of Bingen see it everywhere:

Crimson gleams of Matter, gliding imperceptibly into the
gold of Spirit, ultimately to become transformed into the
incandescence of a universe that is person- and through all of this there blows, animating it and spreading over it a fragrant balm, a zephyr of union- and of the Feminine.

The diaphany of the Divine at the heart of a glowing universe, as I have experienced it through contact with the earth- the divine radiating from depths of blazing matter.
-Teilhard de Chardin

Hildegard of Bingen says:

God’s Word is in all creation, visible and invisible. The WORD is living, being, spirit, all verdant greening, all creativity. All creation is awakened, called, by the resounding melody, God’s invocation of the WORD. This WORD manifests in every creature. Now this is how the spirit is in the flesh–the WORD is indivisible from God.

So let us not discount the importance of our physicality and out Earth in a reckless attempt to find a higher spirituality. Spirit is not up there, it here in every atom and molecule, every glowing and vibrant speck of dust. Let us be present and embrace the bounty God has offered us by entering into the unceasing flow of Divine Creativity on Earth. By embracing the Earth we embrace the Divine.

Eden illumination (c) Sybil Archibald

Ice

I got a lot done in ceramics today. I glazed the second in my series of woman cracked open like eggs and finished the sculpting on the third. It felt great. The teacher in the class asked me what my plan was. I answered her with complete honesty that I had no plan. I am letting the work flow through me. I’m working on letting go of control. I think she thought I was a bit cracked… maybe like my sculptures! (See here for the first finished piece.)

As I was leaving for the ceramics studio, everything was covered in ice. It was tremendous. Here are some pictures of my front garden:
Garden covered in ice
Drooping tree
Garden covered in ice
Ice-Coated Tree Berries

Garden covered in ice
Red Twig Dogwood

Garden covered in ice
Sunflower