You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope. Thomas Merton
I have been so disheartened this week, as have we all. The events of this past week have shined a bright light on the hardship, pain, anxiety, and collective anguish that our fellow citizens have lived with every day of their lives. I am a white woman I only know about the second class treatment endured as part of normal life by my black sisters and brothers because I have friends of color and I listen to their heart wrenching stories. Make no mistake, for all the strides we have witnessed in race relations, immoral behavior and outright cruelty is still common. We can no longer ignore the violence that has taken the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and many others. As a country, we must recognize that this violence springs from an atmosphere where presumption of guilt on the basis of skin color is allowed to continue. We must take steps to change this narrative. Here in mid-December, I continued to think about celestial events as I worked on these pieces. Each of the pieces presented here was worked on over multiple sessions, and days. Continuing to work thinking about celestial events, I varied the marks and left lots of paper to act as breathing room for the high energy of the strokes and marks.
In humility is the greatest freedom. As long as you have to defend the imaginary self that you think is important, you lose your piece of heart. As soon as you compare that shadow with the shadows of other people, you lose all joy, because you have begun to trade in unrealities and there is no joy in things that do not exist. Thomas Merton
Societal programming is very hard to escape, but escape it we must if we are ever to live as interconnected beings with our brothers and sisters. As I have said often, I maintain a meditation practice which helps to expose the habits of my mind and has opened in me a desire for oneness with all creatures. I recognize that everyone will not share my desire, but after this week I believe everyone will share the desire to do better than we have been doing. Everyone recognizes our common humanity. I have spoken in recent blogs about how the stories we have heard become part of our self definition, and the interior dialogue is so familiar we don't even notice it. Our families begin this programming defining us as members of class, gender, family, and clan in our early years. That programming is reinforced by our community. We dress a certain way, comb our hair in certain styles, to identify ourselves as someone who belongs to a specific group. What we present to the world as who we are is, in fact, already shaped by how people perceive and react to us. We do not question these stories until something happens that exposes the stories. Many of us were taught form early on that white people are somehow better than black people. Whites and blacks have been taught and internalized that false statement. We have heard some black people blame other black people for not behaving in a way that will allow them to move upward in society, we know what many white people say on this issue. I am reminded of a book I read when I was about 11, Black Like Me. The author, John Howard Griffin, had his skin darkened and shaved his head so that he could travel through the segregated south as a black man and record his experience. I remember learning of not just the hardships faced by black Americans but how the encounters he had with other people changed his perception of who he was. He himself changed as he lived in his black skin, responding to the actions of both blacks and whites around him. As I finished working on this piece, late at night, I wasn't convinced it was complete. I was so delighted to discover the nuances in the light of day and realize it was complete. This piece is mostly oil paint but also includes pan pastel floated in Galkyd Lite medium and oil pigment sticks on Arches oil paper.
Prayer and love are really learned in the hour when prayer becomes impossible and your heart turns to stone. Thomas Merton
I assume that your heart has been broken as mine has. In the breaking of your heart let compassion grow, be brave, look at what you need to change personally and what you can do in your community. Break out of your inertia to take even the smallest step. Start the ball rolling. This painting begun on 12/12/2019 wasn't completed until 12/15/2019. I studied it and proceeded slowly picking and choosing very carefully where to add color and marks leaving the blank paper as active.
Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in God's eyes. If only they could see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time, there would be no more war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, no more greed . . . I suppose the big problem would be that we would fall down and worship each other. Thomas Merton
I attended a march and rally in my little town the other night. I went despite my fears of Covid and my physical limitations because I thought it was very important to show my support. I was startled by how many people came out and marched. I tell you there were about a thousand people of all ages! I was encouraged. I saw that I am not alone in this desire to bring an end to the tragic injustice. These marchers manifested unity and concern, a desire for connection with each other and to promote peace among all. This gives my hope. While working on these particular daily pieces on paper I was also working on this large canvas in my studio ( 48 x 48") . I don't typically share that work here, as I am showcasing the daily painting, but this is an example of the work that is developed over time, through layers of applied colors the completed piece is foundhere.
This is a moral issue. We must stop the cycle, we must change the tide. If you are interested in researching the topic of racism here are some resources: https://www.notion.so/Anti-racism-Resource-Guide-ac6189613c6d49c09f40f7d2ee45e65b What can you do to lift up your brothers and sisters?