Releasing The Soul-Bird

When all the preparations for the exhibit and performance at Saint’s Retreat were going forward, I started an angel sculpture to accompany my drawings. No time to complete her before the hanging of art on Thursday, so yesterday – with the performance joyfully behind me – I faced the sweet emptiness of Sunday and the angel hovering incomplete. I changed my bed and started laundry, delaying the gratification that I felt was imminent. I wondered at myself for the delay. Yet doubt had been left behind when the dance was released from my body with ease. With my Saturday flight so recently accomplished, faith was strong, anticipation delicious.

Usually, when I realize the gesture of the figure, the completion of the sculpture follows. This one eluded me, as the dance had prior to its actuality. This one seemed a question that would not be answered.  The figure seemed destined to lack its completing element. I kept walking past her where she hung, perplexed that the pleasing parts of her did not add up. I loved the profile I had given her: strong, assertive, and even hum0rous.  Ahhh, the nose… It seemed to hint at what it could be. The rest of her waited, unsure – as I was – of the answer.

Now, on this Sunday – with my bed freshly made and the laundry in the dryer – I looked again. I looked also at other unfinished bits: a goat begun, a heron closer to completion. The heron with its lighter weight gold wire seemed worth my attention. I sat down and gave it a second wing. Even this simple contact with the wire released my mind, which drifted back to the dance and recalled the soul-bird released from my body as I danced. Courage – surpassing fear or physical limits – had released that bird, and her flight had carried others along for those moments in the light-filled space of Saint’s Retreat. The soul-bird flew, and the soul-birds of those who watched tasted freedom also.

I held my heron up to the light and saw that it was good. I took it downstairs and placed it on the palm of the waiting angel. Maybe this could work. But would it weigh the figure too much? I must take the risk, but first I would give the bird legs and feet to trail behind her and balance her forward surge. She was not meant to sit quietly on the angelic hand. Her feet must drag and release simultaneously. I gloried in the problem I had set for myself, trusted the mystery that would emerge from my fumbling fingers.

It is always a challenge to attach a separate element and make it one with the existing element. As the figure of the angel was already hanging before the black cloth for better visibility, I must reach above my head during the attachment. I must carefully weave the thinnest wire around and through; discerning the right places for attaching can be tricky. The angle of the heron’s flight is important; continual adjustments must be made for the sake of balance.

When I finally let my aching arms drop and stepped back, I couldn’t help laughing, delighted at the transformation that met my eye. The weight of the bird caused a tilt to the figure that gave her movement, releasing her instantly from her static waiting. The diagonal motion is undeniable; from the angel’s toes to the heron’s beak is one long line of ascending flight. They are one. We are one. Released…

That seems such a perfect ending, but I can’t help sharing the frivolous act that followed the sculpture’s obvious completion. As I came down to earth from that transcendent moment, I looked again at the large, very human nose on the angel. I looked at the nipples and pubic patch, aware of the liberties I had already taken with a spiritual icon. My next action was positively impish. I took up the thin wire left from the labored attachment, and gilded nipples and pubis, giggling all the time. All by myself with my surprising creation, I laughed and I saw that it was good.


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2 Responses to “Releasing The Soul-Bird”

  1. Kendall Says:

    I am laughing with you at her gilded tender buttons, flying with you along that diagonal line in which the woman and the angel and the bird are one. And it’s all good.

  2. leiflife Says:


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