Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Gift Amidst the Abundance of Gifts

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My eyes embrace this picture. One of the five senses doing its miraculous job of seeing the objects, their color, their setting.  The sensory reaction of a softening of my eye in a duet with a knowing smile, opens up a door into the memory chamber of my mind.  Thirty two years ago, I brought home this young man, prepared to embrace his brand new world with the care and love he was so open to receive.  And now he is holding his daughter, his first born child,  prepared to do the same.

I know what I am experiencing what has been experienced by eons of grandmothers.  After all, we are about progeny,  but the heart energy takes on a new patina of color and generosity of being .  I am in awe of the babe that I nursed is now joyfully holding his daughter.  A daughter that has her own sense of being one with her brand new life.

And so, my heart is larger, wider and encompasses a whole new way of being.  And so it is.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Conversation I Gave at Carmel Valley Community Chapel, Sunday, September 27, 2009


Iris Brewster

Good Morning.

I think I was last up here about 6 years ago or maybe less, but it has been awhile. Rick has asked me to do this a couple of times and I was able to dissuade his charm, This time he had a cancellation, I felt sorry for him, what can I say. That and George Wilson taunting and challenging me with, “You are resisting.”

So, if I am boring or meandering you now know who to blame.

The theme of my conversation with you today is, ‘We are here to create and love’.

Clay and dance have been an integral part of creation and of love. This came to mind by the recent death of Patrick Swayze.

When I heard the news of his death I went back in time to two of my favorite film experiences; Dirty Dancing and Ghost.

I love the way my mind went from Patrick Swayze’s death, to reliving the experiences of seeing each film for the first time and revisiting two very poignant scenes and messages each film had conveyed to not only me but I suspect to many of you as well. There are distinct quotes from each film that made an impression on me.

From, Dirty Dancing there was the famous line, when Johnny says, “Nobody puts Baby in a corner.” In the closing minutes of "Dirty Dancing," after Swayze's character, Johnny Castle, had been fired from his dance instructor job for daring to have a relationship with a debutante member of the club where he worked, he came back during the club's end-of-the-season annual event to give his final performance. He walks up to Baby's family, seated around a table and utters those powerful words to her father before taking her up on the stage to show his true passion and respect for her in the form of dance, as her mother holds daddy back and keeps him quiet.

From, Ghost, there was a strong moment in the film just at the end when Swayze’s character Sam, was describing to his living fiance what it was like to be on the other side, just before moving on. He looks at Molly and says, “It's amazing, Molly. The love inside, you take it with you."

In the film Ghost, Molly as an artist and Sam as a Wall street Yuppie meld into each other when they sat together at her potter’s wheel and got lost in the clay creating something from their love.

Synchronicity happens when the universe conveys its approval of an action or a decision you make, it affirms it by bringing a person that leads you to pertinent

information or an article that reminds you of a pivotal book that revolutionized your way of thinking.

Funny how that works.

From Patrick Swayze, to two films with important lines, to a friend sharing her notes from a workshop she is taking with Angeles Arrien, emphasizing creativity and love, to an article about the 25th anniversary of Matthew Fox’s, Original Blessing, whose theme on co-creatorship, lead me to the theme of this conversation with you.

Mathew Fox writes, “Like God, we need to create.” Hildegard of Bingen, (1098-1179), a remarkable visionary and learned wombman of her time and a personal shero of mine, explained that God holds a passion for us, and how this passion is meant to “serve all the world” through our creative work. She had visions. She wrote, ” With my mouth,” God says, “I kiss my own chosen creation, I uniquely, lovingly, embrace every image I have made out of the earth’s clay. With a fiery spirit I transform it into a body to serve all the world.” p/184

You and I have a purpose, a purpose that has the potential to create nurturing, enriching and constructive communities from the most painful and

fear filled times we live by infusing it with the spirit of love.

We are here to create and love.

No matter what life has to offer us, we have the potential to take what Matthew Fox named Via Negativa, (the negative, the shadow side) and transform it through Via Creativa, ( creating and birthing) into Via Positiva, (the positive, light) and What Angeles Arrien in her book. The Second Half of Life, calls, “the need to bless those who challenge us to love more fully, for they are great teachers who show us when we are open-hearted and close-hearted, full-hearted or half-hearted, and strong hearted or weak hearted in our relationships. The shadow side of the open heart is closed heartedness.” P.7

We are here to create and love.

In his book, The Invincible Embrace Beauty, by John O’Donohue (on my top 5 list of inspirational books- 1. The Phenomena of Man, Teilhard De Chardin; 2. Matthew Fox, Original Blessing; 3. Eva Piarrakos, The Pathwork of Self Transformation; 4. John O’Donohue, The Invisible Embrace Beauty; 5. Elizabeth Lesser, Broken Open), he writes,” The two longings deepest in your heart-the longing to love and to be loved-are not merely psychological needs; at a more profound level,

they are the stirring of God within you. Your capacity to care is God; it is your beauty.” P. 225

We are here to create and love.

Creativity has a source in a holy place. As O’Donohue tells us, “Creativity is holiness”. What we have dreamt, have left unfinished, transforms itself into experience, because we are constantly transforming. Every human experience we have that has as its only outcome, love, is a creative experience.

Even when you think you are set in your ways, change happens, and as the saying goes, “This too shall pass.” The individual imagination becomes part of a community of spirit. We as individuals create family, a circle of friends, a network of business contacts, a spiritual community and an outreach to those with similar interests. Thus the holy becomes active in our lives because we are not our own source of imagination. The source of our imagination is elsewhere. It resides with Spirit.

We are here to create and love:

When we experience tragedy, loss and betrayal, our beings bend over from the pain that hits our solar plexis. In my own life, I know that once I created the space for the pain to be present and that I was willing to

be an instrument of love rather than live in a haze of bitterness and resentment, the pain became

transformative and a never ending gift of love and compassion for another’s pain, another’s sorrow.

We are here to create and Love.

I am an artist, a poet, a writer, and a scholar. I am so in love with my partnership with the source of creation that it has led me to a place of peace and fearlessness. BUT I also know you do not have to be an artist, a poet, a writer to create. The very breath you are taking now is a partnership with the Holy and if each breath carries love and compassion you are an artist upon the world canvas of humanity.

We are here to create and Love

Living in this Paradise, near the sea we have access to

being a witness to the original primal conversation. A primal conversation that John O’Donohue describes, “the meeting of ocean and shoreline must be one of the places where earth almost breaks through to word.” P.116

What a delicious phrase to digest!

Words and the expression of words creates a picture between the reception of the word and the image it will convey to and within you can also be a powerful tool of

connecting the divine spark within us to the infinite possibilities of divine design.

And so I would like to conclude this conversation by leading us in a very lovely and useful exercise, introduced by the practice of Buddhism, and Eckhart Tolle’s teachings, which brings the co-creator out in you and places love at its original source, you:

Amidst the media frenzy focusing on all that causes a sense of universal melancholy, fear, panic and even apathy there is a space you and I can create and counter point with. I would like to ask you to take a moment, right now, to close your eyes, and take a slow deep breath counting to 5 and slowly exhale counting to 5. Allow your awareness to go to the center of your body and with your awareness create a space outside and directly in front of you; in that space put the bill you can’t pay, the sorrow that pulls at your heart, the heart break a child, parent is experiencing or you are experiencing your self, the fear that is keeping you from living life fully. Let your awareness acknowledge whatever is in that space, surround it with light and surrender it, acknowledging with gratitude that the highest outcome is already in place. Embrace the space you created with your goodness and feel the difference in the center of your being.

Open your eyes. Blessed Be.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Create and Let Go

As a little girl I was drawn to the canvas of blue above me, a painter's palette of whites, watching the divine sky walk artist create and let go. As a little girl I only had a small seed of recognition of a divine artist. I loved lying on my back and watching the myriads of shapes and expressions that drifted across my mind's eye. I also loved how it all changed in a blink of my eye.

As I grew older, looking up into the blue sky allowed me to escape, to muse, to ultimately allow my growing imagination to embrace the divine artist and co-create mind upon ether. The process taught me to go deep within and surrender the images unto paper and canvas.

Matthew Fox, in his Original Blessing , which is celebrating its 25th anniversary, introduced me to the concept of co-creatorship, that I am a living vibrant prayer of divine energy! What a revolutionary concept that was to embrace and contemplate. It also offered me an affirmation of the incredible joy I would feel getting lost in the creation of a poem or art.

Now, as I enter the second half of my life, sharing the day this picture was taken with a girlhood friend, I looked at this sky, with the deft slices of cloud strokes and my inner being responded to the clarity and simplicity of the sky above me. I became one with the clean, zen like, upward movement of slices of cloud and suddenly I understood. The motion between the divine creator within and the beauty of the present moment were one and the same. And it is goodness embraced by a lifetime of experience.

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Irony and the Ecstasy of Still Water Time

I took a photograph of this egret on a glorious day in Point Lobos. One of those days that a mysterious combination of the Divine and Nature reveals a magnificent sense of well being. A sense of well being that comes from the Still Water Time in my life.

A Still Water Time defines our inward journey when it becomes the dominant energy in our lives. It is the settling place for the emotional waters brought forth by a junction in our spiritual journey that demands all the tools we have acquired so far to re-evaluate, redress, discard and acquire the necessary new tools for the next part of our journey. Still Water Time is the culmination of our darkest hours transformed into the realization, that it was , in reality, one of our shining moments.

I reflect upon my own Still Water Time. And, like the Egret that stands still and eats his prey whole, in a similar way I receive whatever life offers me, wholeheartedly. The major difference between the Egret and my self is that his still waters is a constant offering or denial to his survival. His survival imprint is simple and direct, the rules are encoded in his DNA and the relationship between the Egret and the water is predetermined.

My Still Water Time rules are not imprinted in my DNA. In order for me to recognize a Still Water Time, I know I have to allow it the space and time for the spirit within to stretch. I usually have to get there by forcing it through avoidance and ignoring the restless spiritual nudges within me. I read somewhere that in those times when I judge my self most harshly and I feel I have let my self down are the moments that enrich my spirit the most.

I look at the photo and step into the place of the Egret, taking a zen like stance and staring into the stillness, allowing Paul Russell's words wash over me as the stillness flutters and settles itself around me:

" I realize that meditation was not about chasing states of consciousness or
following a path but about letting go of the path, it's a long journey to realize
there's no path."

In the end, someone or something will throw a pebble or two in those still waters, causing circles to widen and disappear. That is the irony and ecstasy of a Still Water Time.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sophia Michele Cusimano

This was the full moon in all its glory which appeared on August 6, 2009. It is a fertile and shining light beamed upon a certain womb containing the power of eons of feminine secrets and mysteries, beckoning her guest's arrival a week early. The August Moon has always held a magical and meaningful hold on me and now I know why . It is the Summer Moon pregnant with life's profusion of her gardens, sea shores, and playful spirits, and raised above it all, in its purest meaning of joy filled delight, a baby girl named Sophia Michele.

Slipping in on a beam, Sophia Michele heard the call of this Full Moon and began her entry . Its details are a deluge of words, phrases, linked thoughts, rushing streams of adrenaline, anticipation, excitement, disbelief, apprehension, all flowing onto an invisible warm blanket of love ready to be wrapped unconditionally. Strangers met with a common genetic code melded into the DNA of Sophia and became guardians of our common love for our son and daughter, the soon parents to be.

Two mothers witnessed their babies having babies. Alethea's mother being lovingly vigilant of her daughter's discomfort and progress. My witnessing the unfolding of my son, Nick, a man in love, as a full partner overseeing his wife's comfort and making sure she had what she needed. I saw a man intuitive to his wife's pain when he looked into her eyes and let her know he was there for her. Two mothers, strangers until then, bonded over their concern for each child of hers.

Two fathers, each showing their love and support in their own way. Alethea's father sat until midnight and came back the next day for her birth. Nick's Dad cooked his special Italian breaded chicken and pasta salad for all of us waiting in the birthing room. That was his way to show his love. He came to welcome Sophia when she was born.

Witnessing Sophia Michele's entrance onto her stage of life is witnessing every generation that flows through her veins going back to the very beginning of all our being. The very beginning unknown of its identification but carried in her blood pumping through a brand new heart. The miracle within the miracle beyond all miracles. That is the organic nature of progeny.

And so I am now a grandmother for the first time.
My feet carry a lighter step. I hear a tune in my head over and over and it makes me giggle at 57. The tune is from West Side Story, " The most beautiful sound I have ever heard." Sophia, Sophia, I just met a baby named Sophia ..."and suddenly I found how wonderful a sound can be..say it loud and there's music playing..." . I recall reading somewhere of becoming aware of the heart space within and the song that emanates from it. My heart space has expanded beyond space and time!

Sophia Michele, you have captured my heart completely and irrevocably. An abundance of gratitude surrounds me, rich with the healing powers of reconciliation, unconditional love and revealing mystery of life.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Art Of Life is A Little to the Left

Fluid blue of water. Music notes reveal their melodious messages . The verdant green lies amidst a few bent Pussy Willows. A limp bird, wings listless at its side, becomes one with the image of the lady of the water against the colors of yellow and orange.

When I create a collage, I let the messenger within articulate the state of my inner landscape without censorship. In this landscape I melded into the background the colors of orange and yellow.

Warm, energetic, flamboyant orange is about change and transition. You find orange in the changing leaves of fall, the exposure and the intimate burst of skin revealing the meat of citrus fruit. It is the glorious transitional mediator between the heat of summer and the cool of winter. In this collage an inner voice guided the voice within to communicate transition and a bridge between two opposing natures.

Happy, cheerful, hope filled yellow often is associated with sunshine and happy daffodils . A source of warm, bright, and intoxicating rays of awareness. Contrary yellow is present ; on the one hand it denotes happiness and joy and on the other it denotes cowardice and deceit. It warns us with its high visibility used in hazard signs and emergency vehicles. In the color world of duality it works best as a companion to other colors. Mellow Yellow.

Why did this collage become a message of, "The art of life is A little to the left"? Life imitates collage. The collage relays the existence of duality and our desire for oneness or harmony. Present is a a feeling of life's equanimity. Happiness and sadness; judgment and non-judgment; love and hate, once poured into a body of water, they become indistinguishable. What is evident is what has flourished from its life experience. Like the limp bird we must often bend into a space where any loss, betrayal, or hurt can soften itself into another form of life. Dealing with life's challenges and heart breaks is the foundation of what will make the inner heart of lightness , life's art, a little off balance, a little to the left .

(After reading , click on the link below, close your eyes and allow your inner landscape speak to you in whatever images or words it translates itself to you. )

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Flight of Sandcastles and Day Dreams with A Song in My Heart

I created this collage thinking of the child we all carry within us that lay on sand or green grass staring up into the sky seeking clouds that made pictures of our minds. Bird feathers, sea shells, sand, acrylic, an eternal organic heart out of wood on the left, a sand castle in the middle, flights of fancy fanning out providing a safe place for the child to day dream in.

As I was the only child in the world that had ever done this, I told my mother of all the fantastic pictures I had created out of the clouds, to which my mother replied , "Dear, you were day dreaming. I use to do that when I was your age.". Deeply disappointed, I realized I wasn't the creator of day dreaming after all! The first ego disappointment for the child within.

Daydream. It was love at first sound for me. Daydream. From then on I would create a daydream out of whatever I could until I discovered I could actually create something viable out of a day dream. Sometimes the day dream stayed a day dream, safely residing in a sandcastle built in my mind. Those that became a reality sometimes were better off as a daydream. Others were better than my daydreams; my boys were even more wonderful than my daydream of the children I was going to have, my husband more complicated, loving and less placid than my knight in shining armor day dream. My life messier, richer, more painful and wonderful than I ever could have day dreamed.

My daydreams had the awkward teen stage. They took on a hue of self doubt, fear of rejection, and the doomed landscape of secrecy. I shared them with only a very carefully chosen few and even then experienced some ridicule. They were elevated to new heights of emotions by the songs like; California Dreamin', The Mama's and The Papa's, When a Man Loves a Woman, Percy Sledge, Come Back When You Grow Up, Bobby Vee and The Strangers, Society's Child, Janis Ian, Baby, I Need Your Lovin',Johnny Rivers, Hurt so Bad, Lettermen, (It Looks Like) I'll Never Fall In Love Again, Tom Jones, adding a delicious angst to the boy that got away daydream. All rich fodder for the day dream factory of a teenager of the 60's culminating with my first broken heart, singing to Barbra Streisand singing, "What Now My Love", a hundred times, alone in my father's living room. Music and day dreams went hand in hand were inseperable in my day dream landscape.

At this stage, my day dreams were introduced to poetry and creative writing and in turn took on a whole new level of existence.

My daydreams had the blossoming bridal stage. The daydreamer had fallen in love with love expressed in the man who had won her hand in marriage. Songs like My Love, Paul McCartney and Wings, Danny's Song, Anne Murray and Me and Mrs. Jones, Billy Paul, fed the embers of new love and a bright future.

And so the daydreams became daydreams of their own. Children were born, my daydreams took on an aura of a spiritual quest, art and the enrichment of friendships. And now in my 57th year, I feel nostalgic and grateful that the day dreams of my childhood have become an intricate part of my being and reality. One of my favorite memoirs is Sidney Poitier's, 'The Measure of A Man'. He wrote this about his day dreams, "Daydreams were guaranteed to please. They had it all over facts and reality when it came to getting groundwork done and foundations laid. However, daydreams were burdened with what in years to come would be revealed as their major weaknesses. Every ounce of the hard, grueling, exhaustive work necessary in the conversion from promises made to dreams fulfilled was the sole responsibility of the dreamer."

I still day dream. I will always daydream. In creating my collage which inspired me to write this blog made me realize how important music, art and memory is for me. Their engagement pour emotions that found their way into my daydreams whether writing, creating art or having heart to heart conversations. I thank the Ultimate Creator for all the artists, writers and musicians that have enriched our lives to new heights of the daydreaming experience!

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