Honoring the Answer

There are times in everyones life that, looking back upon them, we can clearly delineate the “before” and “after” of who we are.  Events that shaped us, people that influenced us, nuances and subtleties that made us change directions without a moments hesitation.  It’s that profound shift, the “Aha” moment, that can leave us breathless, hopeful and full of life.  

Since returning from New Mexico, I have thought a lot about this.  Exactly what part could I look back upon and see where the shift occurred.  I have been undeniably changed by my time spent at Ghost Ranch and yet, incredibly more myself than I have ever been.  And still I ask the question…….”When and how did the shift occur?” 

While talking with a friend today, just by happenstance, I realized the answer. Something that stood by, gentle yet bold, subtle yet incredibly profound, just waiting for my attention. It was the massively, beautiful eroding landscape. It’s like nature took a paintbrush and a steady, gentle hand and removed the rough edges. The softness of color – where each layer of sediment and rock melded into the next without effort.  The fluidity of shape – either influenced by the sky, the light, the weather or the simple passing of time.

One of my greatest aspirations with my work is to remove the sharp, jagged edges.  To evoke an overwhelming sense of movement and gentility with each piece. To simply create something beautiful, without rhetoric but with a sense of kindness about it all.  I realized, with its subtle profundity, that the landscape eased my pace and helped me to finally understand that the rush to complete a creation is a massive disservice to my work and to the clay itself.  Nature didn’t rush the birth of the clay so who am I to tell it that it has to hurry up and be beautiful?

It is with this knowledge that my best work is still to come.  That with each passing piece, I can let go of the fear of finishing and just enjoy the moment of creation.  That no matter what, I will honor the pace of the clay and of the vision that flows through me. Once again, I bow in reverence to those that have come before me, knowing that with a clear heart and a steady hand, I will honor my art.

Walking toward Stillness

There have been many “firsts” on this trip to Ghost Ranch.  Hand building my first functional mug (the handle looks like it was made by a five year old and it makes me laugh), my first tribal dance, my first view of the beauty that is New Mexico.

Today, I walked a Labyrinth for the first time.   I sat in silence for a few moments before I began and simply asked for clarity and wisdom.  It’s not so much that I am searching for answers, it’s that I am looking more for the appropriate questions to ask.  In my daily living, I tend to get distracted with searching for answers to other peoples problems, thinking that if I could help them, I could somehow help myself.  There are definitely times that that holds true…..and other times, when it is not only a disservice to them but to myself as well.

I walked slowly, mindfully, stopping frequently to look up and around me.  I breathed deeply into the present and thought of nothing else other than the next step.  When I reached the center, I sat for awhile.  As I was gazing up toward the mountains, the moon was rising clearly in the late afternoon sky.  A bird was flying effortlessly in the distance and as I was watching this majestic creature, I realized that what I was really in need of was stillness and space.  Stillness and space  to breathe, stillness in which to create more space and space to create more beauty. 

I think I will be walking this Labyrinth again……..