It was August of 2005, and I was on my second vision quest. I sat in the shade of a old juniper tree in the Inyo Wilderness, across from my vision quest guide, Anne. "I don't know why I've been crying ever since I got here," I said. "I'm usually a really happy person and there's nothing I can think of to be so sad about."
From the minute I had arrived on that quest and looked out at the sweeping landscape of juniper and bristle cone pine, I felt emotional, overwhelmed. At first I thought it was normal apprehension about going out on a quest, but three days later I was still grieving.
Anne was kind and compassionate in her response, but she didn't try to comfort me away from my tears. "Go out on your quest, crawl into the lap of Mother Earth, and cry with her
as long as it takes," she said. "She
welcomes your tears." And I did. I cried nearly every day for the ten days of that quest. By the time it ended, I was wrung out and raw, but with a new found intimacy with my earth mother. It was as if I had stepped into a river of grief -- mine as well as the collective grief that runs under the surface of everything -- and Mother Earth soothed my sadness.
Something I learned on that quest: the other side of grief is love. We grieve deeply because we love deeply. When we lose something or someone we love our hearts get busted wide and there we are, ripped open and vulnerable.
Since then when I hear stories about species going extinct or glaciers melting or dead zones in the ocean, my heart shatters and I feel the tears well up again. I am reminded about how much I love this planet upon which we live. So much beauty! And when I hear stories about mass shootings and innocent people being persecuted at our borders, I feel angry and sad, hopeless and helpless. I wonder how many others of you feel this way, too?
The only thing I know to do is feel my grief and cry. Then, I go into my studio and make art. Art is my respite from grief and sadness. It allows me the chance to do something with my feelings, to take my broken heart and turn it into something tangible. I don't want to get rid of my broken heart. I want to transform my grief into loving action and make something beautiful from it. And, I want others to join me.
Coming together to create beauty is a balm for the soul. We
together and share our broken hearts, instead of being alone in our grief and have
it lurking at the edge of our lives to come out sideways, fill us with bitterness and keep us in a state of hopelessness. We don't need to be afraid of our sadness. Together, we can make beauty from our brokenness.Together, we can help one another heal.
Shrines, SoulCollage(r) and The Kintsugi Ceremony are all part of my love offering to help heal the brokenness, a place where grief, gratitude and beauty can co-exist.
I invite you to come into my studio, be with me, and create something that shows your love to the world.