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 usual 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 chicken bones turned 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 
 is 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.

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