Meeting Marjorie Pope

Only elegant words would be adequate to describe Marjorie and I can’t find those as I sit down to write.  I met Marjorie through my beautiful sister, Grace.  Thanks be to God.  It would have been a sad thing to have missed this opportunity in life.  She is one of the most soulful and gracious individuals I’ve ever met.  But here I go…trying to use ordinary words.  I’m going to post a poem, a song and some images.  I hope that they will be enough.

The stories that Marjorie shared with me…told again and again…so, now maybe I can keep them and learn from them.  The following, metaphors.

 

 

A Memory of Youth by William Butler Yeats

THE moments passed as at a play;
I had the wisdom love brings forth;
I had my share of mother-wit,
And yet for all that I could say,
And though I had her praise for it,
A cloud blown from the cut-throat North
Suddenly hid Love’s moon away.
Believing every word I said,
I praised her body and her mind
Till pride had made her eyes grow bright,
And pleasure made her cheeks grow red,
And vanity her footfall light,
Yet we, for all that praise, could find
Nothing but darkness overhead.
We sat as silent as a stone,
We knew, though she’d not said a word,
That even the best of love must die,
And had been savagely undone
Were it not that Love upon the cry
Of a most ridiculous little bird
Tore from the clouds his marvellous moon.
ALTHOUGH crowds gathered once if she but showed her face,
And even old men’s eyes grew dim, this hand alone,
Like some last courtier at a gypsy camping-place
Babbling of fallen majesty, records what’s gone.
These lineaments, a heart that laughter has made sweet,
These, these remain, but I record what-s gone. A crowd
Will gather, and not know it walks the very street
Whereon a thing once walked that seemed a burning cloud

 

A head above the rest.

A head above the rest.

New Friendships Last

New Friendships Last

Measure

Measure

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Marjorie.  I will remember the prayers she said for my children.

Marjorie. I will remember the prayers she said for my children.

In noon hour light.

In noon hour light.

 

Wood!

That’s it…three sessions of scrubbing down my sanded furniture and I’m ready to apply the primer.  I thought I’d capture a photo of the living breathing wood before I seal its pores again with paint.

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After some discussion with daughter #2, I’ve decided to free-form the pieces for my bedroom to capture the feeling of autumn.  So…forget Marc Chagall.  Onward and outward, Kathleen Moors!

I used this furniture for healing.  It took me a long time to recognize that…but it is so!  Alzheimer’s disease steals layers of memory so incredibly slow.  My heart goes out to every reader who has had to find strength through years of watching your dearest loved ones make this journey…and I pray with everything in me for families who have just received a diagnosis and who need to find creative and accepting ways of taking this same walk.  I came to discover as I peeled back the layers of paint over so many nights and weekend afternoons that GRACE is what helped me…GRACE is what healed me and the quiet of hours picking away at paint in the warm light of my studio.  Mom, you remain, with all of your memories, inside of me always.

 

I picked up the green vanity on September 12 of 2011 and the other pieces August 22, 2013. The fronts and backs of every piece were totally suffocated in multiple layers of paint.  I will not be removing paint from furnishings again…let it be known!

Vanity Headboard Stripping Paint

 

 

 

Prayer Mandala

At times when I feel grief spill over me, for missing Mom, I take out her prayer mandala and spend time building upon the piece and praying, both.  One of those times came upon me this past weekend.  As recommended by my spiritual director and dear friend, I’ve connected my creative side and my spiritual side through this form of prayer. I know that mandalas are used in countless religious traditions and these are as varied and as unique as the people who create them.  As a practicing Catholic, I have used art for the past many years, as a way of drawing closer to God.  While I am painting or creating, I don’t feel as though I’m sitting outside, on God’s doorstep…I feel as though I’m spending time, sharing his kitchen…no rushing about…no distractions…quiet and restful.

P1030399The process of creating a prayer mandala, one that is not intended for art, but for the focus and spiritual aspects of the prayer, may take much time.  As an example, the initial four concentric circles took somewhere between four and six weeks to complete, beginning in early September.  I think that more typical of a mandala, is a pattern that segments itself around a central point, where as my mandala has become a series of almost concentric circles.  I wanted my mother at the prayer’s center.

Many years ago, at a silent auction, intended to raise funds for the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, I bid on and won a mandala created by Tamarah Alister Rose AntaresShe creates exceptional works and is a beautiful woman.  I took a photograph this morning, out on my back deck, of Tamara’s mandala that hangs in my bedroom.

P1140703The process of praying my particular mandala, incorporates many of the memories I have of sharing times with Mom…but also, a bit of a journey through her life as little girl, growing woman and mother.  I am comforted through this process and while it is a deeply personal journey of prayer that I can’t share here, I think it’s alright to share that this can be a very healing possibility that might benefit readers going through similar loss.  If you’ve created a mandala, I would like to hear about it.

Four to six weeks of prayer...

Four to six weeks of prayer…

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Reading over Mom’s old letters to me…and incorporating them…remembering her teaching me the blanket stitch…of doing and undoing…of weaving…

I think it is important for the artist or spiritual being to not see or set limits to the experience of prayer.  I think that God opens up the heart and the mind…we are simply needing to be open to that.

I think this is a particularly wonderful exploration of a mandala by the Dalai Lama.

Meeting J. Bernard Bearshirt: An Exchange of Goodness

I had been looking for Jordan. I just had a drawing he did for me in 1980, reframed and wanted to get it back to him…or find out if he was still making art.

This meeting was inspiring and was so chucked full of wisdom and goodness, that I’m going to let the two photos I post speak for themselves.  I passed Bernard his son’s drawing in the Denny’s parking lot.  He passed me this beautiful feather.  I wept.  He kept saying, “Jordan did that.”  We shared a prayer, a meal and shared a world of ideas.  I am blessed.  This was proof again that a person’s life goes on.  Watch what the Creator God has for you today.  Try to notice instead of rushing past the lesson He has for you.

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Bernard and I shared tears about his son.  I continue to think about Jordan, an exceptional artist and I’m glad that I treasured his drawing for all of those years and that I was able to return it to family.

BEARSHIRT, Jordan Bernard – May 26, 1968 – May 29, 2013 Jordan Bernard Bearshirt of the Siksika Nation passed away May 29, 2013 to be with our creator at the age of 45. Jordan was known for his sense of humour and kindness. He is survived by his father, J. Bernard Bearshirt; Uncle Rodger (Patti), Uncle Victor Starlight, Terry Krueger, Aunt Elizabeth, Alice Spence, Auntie Pauline Little Chief; Grandmothers: Gertrude Turning Robe, Rosellam Manyshots, Irene Favel; Sisters: Sharon, Josie, Marie (Josh), Tammy, Robin, Loretta (Darin), Lori (Max); Brothers: Gordon, Sheldon (Jaylene); Traditional Siblings: Darcie Brertton, Jerry Hill, Jade McHugh, Jocko McHugh and numerous Nephews, Nieces, and Cousins. Relatives: Sunwalks, Manyshots, Breakers, Wolf Legs, Sitting Eagles, Yellow Suns, Crowchiefs, Many Guns, Little Chiefs, Sam Pelletier (Heather), Axes. We apologize if we have missed anyone. Jordan was predeceased by his Mother, Nancy Bearshirt; Stepmother, Linda Bearshirt; Grandparents: James and Helena Bearshirt and Uncle Ronald Bearshirt. The family would like to acknowledge The Grey Eagle Casino for their support. Wake Service will be held at Sister Celine Memorial Parish (Siksika Nation, AB) on Tuesday, June 4, 2013 at 6:00 pm. Funeral Mass will be celebrated at Holy Trinity Catholic Church (Siksika Nation, AB) on Wednesday, June 5, 2013 at 11:00 am with the Rev. Gerard LeStrat, Presider. Graveside Service to follow at Old Chief Crowfoot Cemetery (Siksika Nation, AB).

My Lenten Journey

This has been an ‘other-worldly’ sort of Lenten journey.  I wonder if this is just what happens sometimes…where a person feels somehow ‘vacant’.  My prayers are not deeply profound or full to the brim with imagery.  They are of the ‘simple’ variety.  I know that sometimes writers and great spiritual people of history have experienced what they call the desert….perhaps I am in a desert.  I just don’t know.

In Le Petit Prince par Antoine de Saint-Exupery, the desert is a place where a huge narrative unfolds.  The story is child like in its flavour, but in its simplicity are found the profundities of life.  The taste of water, for example, is so much better with the hard work if one is collecting that water from a well.  Sometimes, at the turning of a tap, we have no appreciation for that water and can easily take it for granted.

Another insight, “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly.  What is essential is invisible to the eyes.”  In faith, there is so much that is not clearly evident to all.  This truth is echoing what the writer gleaned from  John 20: 29.  New International Version (©2011)
Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

So, the meeting in the desert between the Little Prince and the pilot offer the reader many inspired thoughts, meant for us to see our lives differently and to place value on ‘matters of consequence’ as they are…not as we, in this earthy experience, believe them to be.

Jesus meets his father in the desert.  He experiences ridicule and temptation.  He transcends and comes to acceptance in the desert.  Some days I know that I’m not so great at imitating these and think that this must be because ‘my desert’ is different…but no, they are one in the same.  And…the ball is in my court.  I have a will…I make choices…and it is in me to, without being self-righteous,  to do the right thing.

For me, a guide through the desert, is simply expressed through the five steps of St. Ignatius of Loyola’s spirituality. I collected this summary from a talk given by Dorothea Marie Epple PhD. LCSW.  I am most interested in her publications because she has explored the topics of senile dementia of the Alzheimer’s type and what this means for families, communities and our future together.  There is no desert that compares to the one where my mother and father find themselves, struggling together on a daily basis and seeing face-to-face the matters of consequence that I mention briefly above.

The Daily Examen in Five Steps

I assume that there are three kinds of thoughts in myself. That is, one kind is my own, which arises strictly from my own freedom and desire; and the other two come from outside myself, the one from the good spirit and the other from the evil.” (St. Ignatiusas cited in Ganss, 1991, p. 132) The daily examen is a simple prayer, with five steps, to examine your day for signs of God’s presence (Martin, 2010). The prayer is about finding God in your life and letting God find you. The first step is giving thanks for the good things in your day – gratitude. Savor the moment: the sunshine on a cold winter snowy day, the giggle of a child, the bloom of a flower, the kind word from a colleague, the unexplained and unexpected resolution to a difficult situation. To stop, notice, enjoy, savor and show gratitude slows us down. Martin (2010) quotes Anthony de Mellow, “You sanctify whatever you are grateful for” (p. 89). The second step in the examen is to ask for the grace to know where you acted contrary to better judgment. Martin (2010) states, “Today guilt may be undervalued. The voice of our conscience, which tells us we did something wrong and moves us to make amends, is a voice that can lead us to become more loving and ultimately, happier” (p. 89). He goes on to recognize that sins of omission or failing to bother to help another may be insights into a lack of responding to God’s invitation to grow. The third step of the examen is to review your day.  Recall everything, thoughts words, and deeds. The fourth step of the examen is to ask for forgiveness from God for sins or omissions of the day. Decide if you will reconcile with anyone you have hurt. The fifth step is asking for the grace of God’s help in the next day. There is no one right way to pray the examen. Dorothy Day revised her daily examen to the following steps: thank God for favors, beg for light and grace to see clearly, survey, repent, resolve (Ellsberg, 2008). The examen helps you to realize the presence of God…by asking you to notice where God already exists in your life, where your yesterdays were beautiful. With that awareness you will begin to notice God’s presence more and more in your day. (Martin, 2010, p. 102)

“God looks at me, and I look at God” (Martin, 2010)

Resurrection Tree

Gorilla House LIVE ART: March 6, 2013

Ryan 33 House 17 Ryan 8 House 25 Ryan 14 House 22b Ryan 18 House 20I had no choice but to paint Ryan last night.  Losing Ryan has left an open wound for the community that paints every Wednesday down at the Gorilla House.  Aptly, one of the themes was LIFE.  I painted LIFE.

Photo Credit: Wendy Lees

Photo Credit: Wendy Lees

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From Le Petit Prince par Antoine de Ste.-Exupery, these words…

But he did not answer my plea. He said to me, instead: “The thing that is important is the thing that is not seen…”

“Yes, I know…”

“It is just as it is with the flower. If you love a flower that lives on a star, it is sweet to look at the sky at night. All the stars are a-bloom with flowers…”

“Yes, I know…”

“It is just as it is with the water. Because of the pulley, and the rope, what you gave me to drink was like music. You remember– how good it was.”

“Yes, I know…”

“And at night you will look up at the stars. Where I live everything is so small that I cannot show you where my star is to be found. It is better, like that. My star will just be one of the stars, for you. And so you will love to watch all the stars in the heavens… they will all be your friends. And, besides, I am going to make you a present…”

He laughed again.

“Ah, little prince, dear little prince! I love to hear that laughter!”

“That is my present. Just that. It will be as it was when we drank the water…”

“What are you trying to say?”

“All men have the stars,” he answered, “but they are not the same things for different people. For some, who are travelers, the stars are guides. For others they are no more than little lights in the sky. For others, who are scholars, they are problems. For my businessman they were wealth. But all these stars are silent. You– you alone– will have the stars as no one else has them–”

“What are you trying to say?”

“In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night… you– only you– will have stars that can laugh!”

And he laughed again.

“And when your sorrow is comforted (time soothes all sorrows) you will be content that you have known me. You will always be my friend. You will want to laugh with me. And you will sometimes open your window, so, for that pleasure… and your friends will be properly astonished to see you laughing as you look up at the sky! Then you will say to them, ‘Yes, the stars always make me laugh!’ And they will think you are crazy. It will be a very shabby trick that I shall have played on you…”

And he laughed again.

“It will be as if, in place of the stars, I had given you a great number of little bells that knew how to laugh…”

Light

I lit the three candles on the Advent wreath this morning, while I made my coffee.  I also played a Mennonite tune that my father had sent to me via Youtube…and I felt so warmed by the love and the light, that I just sat down on one of my yellow chairs and prayed.  I am grateful.

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Afternoon in the Garden

 

Fridays spent relaxing…walking the hills that overlook the city…wandering book stores, experiencing the wind as leaves do somersaults down the road…it’s all so wonderful.  My mums…the last of the plants to bloom.  Good-bye beautiful summer…hello frosty mornings.

To Grow

Human Growth

“The hardest step of all human growth may well be that from the child’s dependence on and aggression towards its parents, to a friendship and dialogue with them, which recognizes their grace and gifts.”

Jean Vanier, Community and Growth, p. 236

Thank you, dear Hollee!

Old Stepstone: Cold Speck

Oh, ’tis sad to be parted from those that we love
Strange faces we see every day
Each heart string of mine is broken in time
When I think of those dear ones at home

Goodbye dear old stepstone, goodbye to my home
God bless those I leave with a sigh
I’ll cherish fond memories when I’m far away
To roam o’er this wide world alone

I stood on my doorstep one evening and morn
The wind whispered by with a moan
The fields may be whitening, but I will be gone
To roam o’er this wide world alone

Goodbye dear old stepstone, goodbye to my home
God bless those I leave with a sigh
I’ll cherish fond memories when I’m far away
To roam o’er this wide world alone

And I stood on my doorstep when school time was o’er
And I wished for the time to go by
Now it has passed, and I stand here tonight
To bid this old stepstone goodbye

Goodbye dear old stepstone, goodbye to my home
God bless those I leave with a sigh
I’ll cherish fond memories when I’m far away
To roam o’er this wide world alone
To roam o’er this wide world alone