Tuesday, January 16, 2018

It continues ...

I started the new year the same way I’d finished the old –
 thinking about energy; 
the positive, the negative; 
all that ebbs and flows around us;
all that we create and add to the ‘current’ running through society; 
how that energy impacts and shapes our health, 
emotional as well as physical,
on a societal and individual basis.

Thoughts obviously informed by all the chaos in our political life as a country 
but also impacted by the sharp increase in my inflammatory ‘markers’, 
an increase in pain and subsequent reduction of my stamina.

All leading to questions 
of how I want to ‘spend’ what feels like a finite amount of personal energy 
and what amount of control I can exert over forces and situations 
that feel draining and toxic.

At the end of the year, I went to Wisconsin to visit family.

 I’ve been ‘up north’ often enough in winter to know that the crisp weather 
(also known as ‘frigid’ according to my general, everyday winter benchmarks) 
would shake me out of my innate sloth like tendencies 
and that the topography would help restore some badly needed perspective.
Wisconsin vistas tend to simplify things for me; 
it must be all that ‘white space’; 
the reduction of visual and auditory ‘noise’ reduces complexities 
and helps me see more clearly. 
To break the trip from Chicago to Door County, 
we stopped in Sheboygan at my favorite museum, 
the John Michael Kohler Arts Center. 

I am NEVER disappointed with the breadth and accessibility of the work exhibited there. 
 This time was no exception.
The pieces by self-taught artists who, in the midst of ‘ordinary lives’,
create personal narratives and environments that are anything but ‘ordinary’ 
never fails to inspire me.
Narratives that include the re-imagining of a life to include royal lineage, 
colorful pulsating visions and reconfigured dry bones into thrones!

The main attraction for me though is always The Healing Machine.

 I was SO thrilled to see that portions of Emery Blagdon’s wonderful work were still on display. 
It made the whole trip worthwhile. 
 His pieces so perfectly capture and reflect all the thoughts flying around in my head. 

In a nutshell, Emery was unconventional. 

 Born in 1907, the oldest of 6 children in a farming family, 
formal schooling was never his thing. 
He finished 8th grade but spent much of his teenage years and adult life as a vagabond, 
traveling the country by freight train, 
returning home to his family’s farm home in the Nebraska Sandhills at age 48. 
 He returned home to care for his parents 
when his mother was diagnosed with cancer. 
Within a short time frame, he watched both his parents die of cancer, 
an experience that seemed to turn his own thoughts 
toward the magnetic fields that surround us, 
the healing properties of ‘elements’ 
and how to channel these forces and reflect them back into our lives for healing.
In a plain unpainted shed at the back of his family’s property, 
Emery gathered discarded bits and pieces, 
utilized scraps of wire, foil and bottles to create something 
which can only be described as magical. 

After his death, a local pharmacist, from whom Emery bought ‘elements’ over the years, 
purchased the entire contents of the shed at auction. 
Several years later, the work became the acquisition of the Kohler Foundation 
which extensively catalogued and preserved this treasure.
Simply put, I’m in love. 
 I have NO idea what Emery felt as he created his masterpiece; 
no idea what forces he felt as he worked inside his shed 
or what type of ‘healing’ he envisioned, 
for himself or those he loved and for whom he cared. 
I can only speak to what I feel when I stand in front of his work; 
how it moves and calms me.
The task, the decades long obsession, of taking all the detritus and broken pieces of our lives; combining and weaving them together with whatever material is at hand; 
balancing them in such a way that they reflect back to us 
the goodness and healing of unseen forces in our world 
is a task I totally understand. 

For me, Emery’s work is a physical manifestation of the work of redemption. 
Standing in its presence, viewing it 
and opening yourself up to its message 
 nothing short of a spiritual experience.

I’m tempted to suggest to the museum that they let people pay for the privilege 

of sleeping in the reconstructed shed. 
I know I’d be the first one to sign up! 

Ps. I’m including a
link in case any of you are interested in having more information. 
(You don't have to buy or subscribe to anything; just click on watch now)
The fact that years after his experience with the Healing Machine, 
the pharmacist can still be moved to tears talking about it speaks to its power.

Friday, December 15, 2017

It's Christmas time

and we were not made for this world.

The lights are twinkly and the cheese balls delish,
but those things can't complete us, perfect us,
or transform us into people with lives that never bend at odd angles.

We're homesick.
We know a shoddy replacement when we see one.

Maybe fudge balls and mistletoe are not high on your priority list
and you feel a little lost in the glare.
Well, Christmas belongs to you too.

Are you lonely today?
Missing someone you love?
Did you wake up to the throbbing reminder that life is just as messy today
as it was yesterday?
Emmanuel came. 
He came to walk in your sorrow and in mine.
He came to see it for Himself, to touch it, to redeem it and call it beautiful.
He came to be with us, 
and he came to stick around for the long haul.

Shannon Martin

These words are not mine (although I wish they were).
They are, however the words I needed to hear.
No one loves the trappings of this season more than I do
but underneath the tinsel and light bokeh
grief and loss throb  
refusing to be ignored.

So I don't.

Crying is as integral a part of this season for me 
as hot chocolate and mistletoe.

But the whole purpose of this time of year is to remind us 
that God comes in vulnerability
and smallness;
to remind us that there is light in the darkness.
That is good news indeed -
and reason to rejoice

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Has it really been over a month?

Ireland feels light years away.

I still have images I want to share -
gorgeous gardens, estates and how 'the other half' lives
as well as sacred places.
But that will have to wait.

Life intervened.

There was a first birthday

A trip to the other side of the state to see one of my favorite people
and eat at a favorite place
all while getting a jump start on the holidays.

BTW - 
You know if I didn't live in a cottage,
I'd have a whole string of globes!

There was a trip 'up North' to see family
 and a continuous stream of holiday prep and celebration!

No wonder I'm tired!