Posts Tagged ‘Angels’

VISIT FROM MY ANGEL

October 12, 2014

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Since losing my little dog, Star,

my attempts to depict

her dear and funny figure on a pot

have been futile.

Finally facing a particularly challenging bowl

in a particularly challenging time,

she came to help.

She came as she had always done,

as comforter

and gentle prodder when her human needed prodding.

Visit From An Angel Bowl 047 (1024x656) (2)Visit From My Angel bowl (detail) 037 (1024x683) (2)As in the days of her bright living,

her sweet presence came.

I only needed

to wake up and live…

to let the spirit move

on earth as it does in heaven.

Visit From My Angel 090 East Beach (1024x694) (2)I carried on with faith that carrying on

would get me somewhere.

Whatever gift or capability I had

would see me through the task

however arduous it proved to be.

My little angel’s plumey tail wagged happily

when I thought “beach” and drew a spiraling sun.

Pelicans and drifting clouds were fine.

Small waves and several “stars” were also good.

Star’s sensitive nose tipped upward in approval

at salt-scented air.

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Pearl thought she smelled a dog

when I brought the finished pot home

and placed it on the floor for her approval.

My own approval…

or acceptance…

was slow to come:

The glazes were not bright enough, etcetera.

But apparently, my little dog angel

was still whispering possibilities,

and what I heard

as clear as clear can be

was “BEACH”.

Take Music to the beach…

and take that blessed bowl.

Take that infernal camera, too.

Have “FUN”!

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We did have fun,

Music doing doggy things,

and me with my little camera

playing with my beach bowl on the beach.

My mind grew quiet.

My heart was softened by salt-scented air.

And back at home,

I brushed the sand off of the beautiful pot…

and placed her in the showroom….

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…where on that very morning

a woman recently bereft of her dog

purchased “Visit From My Angel” as a memorial

to take back home to Michigan.

Sigh…

   

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OUTPOURING OF ANGELS

August 30, 2014

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Sometimes Angels

wing their way into my mind,

reminding me

of my need to stay in the presence

of divine reality.

When times of physical frailty weigh my body

and vulnerability opens my sensibilities

to all manner of input,

thank Heaven the Angels come too.

They may come in the tender touch

of a gentle-eyed nurse

in the hospital where I am undergoing procedures,

or in the trustful lingering of a heron

as I gaze through my camera.

And in the Shearwater annex –

where I work among kind companions –

They can weave their way through the women’s laughter,

or waft their way onto a pitcher I have chosen to decorate.

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This angel appears to be of the mothering sort…

for two plump cupids frolic

in response to her dance.

One hovers close to her mother’s watchful gaze…

reaching frequently for reassurance,

while the other is set free by love…

cavorting fearlessly beyond maternal influence.

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As I hold

the pleasing weight of the pitcher

in my hands,

and accept the manifestation of angels

in my life,

I also accept my human vulnerability…

and my courage.

I know that the mothering angel is always near,

and I am free to go.

PRAYING WOMAN

June 23, 2014

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This praying woman

appeared on  a pot

not long before losing Star.

The little dog was fading

and other things were contributing also

to a pervading sadness.

I sat in the annex with the other women

and willed my hand to draw something other

than a female figure

weighted with what I was feeling.

Yet I found that I was rubbing out more

than I was drawing.

Surrender gave me the truth:

a sorrowing woman appealing for mercy.

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And mercy came in the form of angels:

child-shaped…

plump and earthy with determined love.

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Generous and wise

as children can be,

they danced in the woman’s night sky…

and with them came stars.

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Sweet natures,

whether in children or angels…

or dear little dogs  –

always and innocently –

bring comfort.

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And STAR-LIGHT…

WEATHERED ANGEL

October 13, 2013

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Even angels

reach a point in time

when one wing must be folded close…

retired from efforts to sustain a balanced flight.

 This angel’s weariness is clear to me:

The pull of gravity

is a gift she yields to gladly;

I sense a grateful leaning

into all that life has wrought.

This favored wing

has served her well

has brought her to the heights of glory

and beyond.

Now she must bless it’s failure to arise and fly…

bless pain and weariness…

bless molting feathers and fragility.

Beloved evidence of  countless dances with the clouds,

it is now time to rest.

I feel the weight of your surrender…

As I prepare myself for my own surrender – surgery on my own right wing (my shoulder) – this small clay sculpture of an angel appeals to me. “Look again at your creation from another life. Twenty-three years ago you lifted my warm beauty from the kiln and marveled at the work of your own hands. My soft pink glow was pristine then. Your dancing body – though not so young – was strong and vibrant. Dance was a way of life for you, while sculpture was a little something on the side. But the message was the same: Yield to gravity and accept the gift of rising. My message then – though my particular substance be forgotten – is reaching you anew. My aged form has stood upon the ledge surrounding your screen porch. Your glance has passed me by for years. Rains have blown through and I have softened in the humid air. Storms have threatened my survival. The summer suns blazed down relentlessly, re-firing me, re-hardening my surface. My original purity of surface is quite different from the surface you perceive today. The grime of years is baked into my porous self, and from the accumulated moisture of all the years, a green patina causes me to reflect the foliage of the great outdoors. You now admire my greenish glow and photograph me as yet another gift from nature’s bounty. Yes… I have gotten a little carried away. Perhaps I seem to carry a grudge. Actually, these words are simply a small reflection of your journey. Life has been hard, and you have weathered a variety of inner and outer storms, not to mention tedious repeats of the seasons.  The point is this: You have survived…as I have. Miraculously, our substance is still present…still capable of giving and receiving messages that bring life into focus. And life continues even as we let it go. Though we lie down – or sit on a ledge forgotten –  life is doing it’s little magic tricks. And we are still playing our part.”

Seeking Clarity

November 25, 2012

Seeking clarity,

I coax the wire to dance,

 surrender mental agitation

to the act

of pulling, bending, coiling, smoothing

yielding substance.

Surrendering my need to understand

produces dancing angels.

Blessedly absent-minded, I

can trust my hands to shape

the simple reality.

I watch the head incline toward

shoulder, arm and intricate fingers.

Minimal breasts give way to

curving ribs, waist, hips.

The pelvic tilt predicts the angle of the legs.

Yes, I remember this: Inevitably,

my feet are freed, my wings are formed.

The gesture of my dancing figure…and

my winged flight.

Love, Create, Share

October 10, 2012

This last weekend I made an angel for an angel. Margaret Britton Vaughn, Poet Laureate of Tennessee, was on the coast for a reading and signing of her new book: SHADES OF WALTER INGLIS ANDERSON.  On Friday I received a call from the lady, herself, asking if I had an angel in my studio that she could buy. She already has my “Angel with Fox”, but it soon became clear to me that this one must carry a book and in some way celebrate who “Maggi” is, to me and to so many others. I would have to start from scratch and complete it before the reading at the Walter Anderson Museum on Sunday.

I was already tired from a weeks worth of active going and doing. It had been about as social a week as I am capable of. So I wasn’t too thrilled with the project, couldn’t imagine summoning the energy. But there is something about Maggi that brings forth a generous spirit in those who share her orbit – even for a short time. Perhaps it is her own generous spirit: who she is overflows and affects. She inspires our adoration, while nurturing our own realities. Maggi has a great big heart.

So when I sat down in my recliner, doubting that I could even get the plastic wrapper off the new spool of aluminum wire, it could only have been Maggi’s faith in Walter’s dancer daughter that wakened the dance of the wire beneath my faltering fingers. It didn’t take long for me to catch on, to rejoice in the formation of yet another angel. My willingness – and the thought of the one who just might delight in the gesture – kept the wire uncoiling from the spool and threading its way through my hands. I simply cannot forget the dance I was born to dance.

On Saturday afternoon the angel was hung against the black drape where I could see to refine certain areas. I tweaked and photographed, not yet ready to think about any additions. I couldn’t yet see a book in either hand, couldn’t imagine how the words would fly or even what words would come. That would have to happen on Sunday – when I was fresh. It was time to let go.

Trusting the last minute magic that is beyond one’s understanding is the only way to go as far as I am concerned. I cannot plan or manipulate the outcome. I may seem to manipulate the wire, but I never know ahead of time the result. It is all about sensing and following where the wire will take me. On Sunday, it was the same. Yes, I knew I would make something suggesting a book, because Maggi makes words that turn into books, but I didn’t know size or detail, or even whether it would fit in one of the angel’s hands. Only when I carried the vaguely book-shaped object downstairs and tried it this way and that, did I know where and how to attach it.  Even then I knew she was not complete. In a sense the angel would have to read or evoke the contents of the book (or the motto of the life). I went back upstairs, sat down in my chair and the stiff gold wire spelled out LOVE. I thought “Of course… Love has to be the beginning. Without love, where is the longing to create.” CREATE came next, as naturally as breathing. Delighting in one’s creation leads to sharing, therefore SHARE.  And Maggi’s angel was complete.

Later, Margaret Britton Vaughn, Poet Laureate of Tennessee and joyful angel in one, shared her self and her words. In the small exhibit room at the museum, she read, cavorted and drew her enthusiastic audience to her generous bosom. Maggi shared her world and our world was made new. Thank you, Maggi.

Angel Alarm

August 25, 2011

Alarm is not a word I would generally use in relation to angels. In fact I did my best to avoid the word when naming her: tried Angel Surprised and Startled Angel before yielding. At least alarm is better than Trapped Angel or Panic In Midair. I think…

I always think of angels as bearers of truth, and usually the truth they bear also brings comfort or reassurance – even affirmation. With this particular angel, it was three weeks before I could fully receive her message. (I still tremble at the prospect of hearing her out.) I began her somewhat blindly: picked up the wire while watching some movie on TCM. Apparently, neither the movie or the angel held my interest because –  for the next week or so – her  upper torso dangled over the edge of my work basket on the stairs to the storage loft. I tried to ignore the desperate look of her (Icould see her from my bed). Finally, during a heart to heart on the telephone with my dear friend, Kendall, I knew it would be in my best interest to give her the abdomen, hips and legs that would ground her and possibly relieve my own state of anxiety – bring my own scattered energy into focus.

Obedience to the artistic imperative – simply placing oneself at the service of art – can calm the clamor that overwhelms us in our daily lives. The thoughts that spin through our brains – intensifyng our reactions to natural occurences – can be stilled by letting our hands do the work that our minds have been stymied by. By giving the angel what she needed, I gave myself rest, and I really was pleased by the lively gesture of her completed body – her abundant wings. I placed her on the arm of my new relaxing chair. Her shine looked lovely against the blue. All seemed well.

Truth to tell, she was still on hold; I had not yet given her that crowning glory: the hair in contrasting gold wire that would complete her gesture and her message. For another week, I kept moving her from chair to bed according to my own requirements. She was waiting, as I was waiting for the demands of my life to be less absorbing, less disturbing, less demanding. She was so dearly patient as I let myself be pulled hither and thither by exterior forces. Yesterday, once again right after a heart to heart with Kendall (Bless her…), I heeded the call and took up the angel in my hands.

This time it was definitely not restful. Though I sat in my comfortable chair, we seemed to be engaged in a kind of wrestling match. The thin gold wire was inclined to tangle with different parts of the angel. It resisted my efforts to control – seemed electric and nearly dangerous to the angel’s already completed form. I must protect and free her as I went through the motions of attaching and shaping her rather surprising hairstyle. When I clipped her loose from the spool and held her aloft, her hair seemed to radiate – sunburst-like – from her head. But now as I look at her starkly highlighted against the black cloth, I can as easily think “hair on end”.

Oh poor dear angel – suspended in your truth that I might understand – I promise to continue this process of releasing us from conflicting forces. We will burst free if willingness has any power at all. I will find the courage to heed the message you have been brave enough to deliver.

Mutual Flight

July 10, 2011

I am always surprised by the “message” each angel brings, but this one in particular – begun in an aura of resistence (mine and the wire’s) – truly startled me with the effortless flight she eventually took me on. By the time I formed the little bird to accompany her, I felt myself rising to hover blissfully in an aura of creative fulfillment. A moderate satisfaction  is  a fairly frequent reaction to a job well done, but rarely does the whole thing come together with such a sense of “this is what I am here for”. I am not as surprised when it happens through my dancing. For years I have practiced that sort of release of self that can lead to whole being soaring. Everything clicks and you are who you are. I am not speaking of perfection, certainly not of technical precision in the dance. It is something greater than that. One participates in something beyond one’s understanding.  And here I am, trying to explain  the inexplicable.

As I hung this angel before the black drape to photograph her, I meant to record her existence. But as I stepped back – camera in hand – her delicate motion in response to the studio fans so entranced and invited me that the whole process felt like play, I touched her to still her and she almost laughed at my foolish attempt. She was meant to fly, and if her own airy flight is in doubt, I need only look to the small airborne creature above her head. I looked, and the creature was definitely in flight, no matter that she seemed attached to the angel’s hand. They were obviously one in their expressed reality, and as I was present and participating, we were three in one.

 It is of particular delight to me that this joyful motion can arise from my own near reclining position in my new chair. The chair is meant for comfort and rest, and to provide support for my upper torso to minimize acid reflux. Yet even as I surrender to my human condition, some part of me is realizing quite the opposite. Can it be possible that the spiritual flights of the soul are released in our most human moments? Perhaps we can only know this when we manage to combine our human need with the act of creating. Perhaps the soul soars free when we are least aware of the possibility.

Angels and Foxes

June 19, 2011

It continues to be a time of rehearsing and preparing for this and that performance. I am doing my best to embrace the activity, the sharing, the anticipation. Doubts visit me at times, especially when I think of singing for an audience. Yes… Once again the voice is called upon to dance its way into existence. In the coming performance at the Mary C, which is to be a celebration of America (the 4th of July), I shall be singing – re: the vietnam war era – “Where Have All The Flowers Gone”. I shall need angels to buoy up my confidence  and to clear the conduit from soul to sound.

The angel in the photograph was finished this Monday. In the midst of all the involvement, I found some evenings to re-acquaint myself with the wire and to summon a confident and soaring angel. Thankfully, she came willingly to my awkward hands, easing my struggle by her readiness to be. By opening her arms, spreading her fingers, and allowing her torso to flow into dancerly legs, she convinced me of my own readiness to soar again. But not with out a balancing  element.

I guess, for me, the balance comes from daily life: The often tedious business of living where I am, the endless tasks that can distract but also ground one for the less tangible reality of making art (in whatever form). Tedium and sweetness come from these tasks, and though they sometimes leave me depleted and having to summon the will for creative projects, they serve that old necessity of yielding to gravity’s pull that I might rebound.

After seeing my wire angel lifting free – nearly dissolving into the ether of infinity – I decided she needed a balancing element, a little extra weight to balance her flight. I thought of a dragonfly, but no: a dragonfly is surely more of the air than of the earth. Think, Leify… What creature is clearly of the earth: at home in the glory of created matter, yet fleet of foot – mysterious in its nature? Is there such a creature in your own environment that attracts your interest on a daily basis, coming and going in a fascinating and unpredictable manner? What creature can you imagine hitching a ride on the large spread-fingered right hand of your soaring angel? A fox, of course…

There are indeed foxes afoot in the woods surrounding my house. I first became aware of them as I walked the dogs at night. An unearthly scream pierced the air and – not knowing its origin – my imagination created a banshee, with me in mind for a feast. It seemed to be matching our pace, coming closer, getting louder. My heart quickened and bounced in my chest as my own pace increased and I yanked the dogs from their fascinated sniffing and their urge to pursue. It was some time before I discovered who this infrequent and frightening visitor was. By that time I was catching glimpses of the sleek russet body, the distinctive pointy nose, the marvelous tail so like that of my orange cat. Ah yes… The cat… Sunny seems to have made some agreement with the fox, some sort of mutual admiration – at a distance, of course. I have seen my fat orange cat recline on the bricks of the entranceway to my home, while the fox sits only a few yards away. Their gazes are joined in an unfathomable communion.

So I follow my cat’s example, have decided that acceptance of this frequent yet somewhat ephemeral visitor – albeit at a respectful distance – is the way to go. I have even grown accustomed to the screams that penetrate my nightly slumber. I can lie there in drowsy awareness as she makes her way through the underbrush and onto the path to my house. I listen as she lingers, sending her cries forth in an agony of wanting. My heart seems to recognize these cries, and in my mind I speak to her through the darkness: Dear little fox… What do you long for? What do you cry for night after night? And why do you search my woods every night, yet seem almost content when I see you in the light of day?

So as I have allowed the fox to hitch a ride on my daily life, I have invited a foxy image to accompany this moment of creative soaring. I have decided that foxes and angels can be compatible – in life and art.

Angels And Truth

December 12, 2010

I have been drawing angels. After months of wrestling winged beings out of wire, I assembled a stack of cotton-based typing paper and went to my drawing table with brush in hand and angels on my mind. It had been some time and the weight of the ink-dipped brush was unfamiliar. My initial strokes barely marked the page at first, then the line was too heavy – too glaring a black to evoke a spiritual being. In the beginning was the wing. Wing followed wing onto the waiting page. In the air around my seated form the angelic voice of Susan Boyle provided a rhythmic accompaniment, and my hand danced the dance that my body was too still to dance. I prayed as I drew and the pages  gathered in drifts upon the floor.  Susan’s song had slipped into silence by the time the angel I sought flowed forth from my brush. As I gazed at the effortless lines, I gave thanks for the gift, then woke to the ache of my protesting knees and thought about lunch.

Later in the day, I sifted through the discarded pages and found a few that came close to pleasing my more relaxed perceptions. On several, the angel was joined by a child, and she appeared to be teaching, guiding, or protecting the child.  The angel seemed less other-worldly than my first choice; there was something almost human about the connection between the two, and something mysterious about my own participation in this dance.

I find myself thinking of my mother – and the dance we danced in one another’s company for nearly fiftly years. I sometimes think that my mother was an essential ingredient in my life as a dancer. When she died, some part of me died with her. I felt lost upon the huge stage that we had envisioned together. When I danced it seemed that I danced with half of a heart, and that half was far too fragile to brave the world I had dreamed of braving. As often as not, when I faced my daily practice, tears flowed on the breath that should have brought movement. With my mama gone, where was the dancer?

Oh, I still danced. With an audience present, the dancer came forth like magic and pleased the expectant ones. The teacher, too, inspired and guided the ones who still felt the effect of an earlier momentum. She carried on for several years, until menopause made pretending nearly impossible. Teachers should never weep in front of their students, nor should they reveal their vulnerability to those who stay after class wanting more. Needless to say, I couldn’t carry on forever with half a heart and that half broken and childishly seeking comfort in all the wrong  places. It was time to withdraw and remember who I was.

Not surprisingly, I began to write down my story. I wrote in the present as I had always danced, and through words relived the first fifty years of my life. The process may or may not have been healing in effect, but it certainly gave me an excuse to set up the boundaries I needed in order to grieve my mother’s passing out of my life. I learned to live with myself – to become my own partner, so to speak, and perhaps my heart grew into a wholeness of its own. I may be confused at times by the shifting desires of my newly made heart. It’s longings are far more modest than the heart I shared with Mama. No big dreams of fame and fortune, and certainly no obligation to save the world – except for the microcosmus within myself. Oh sure… The child my mother guided onto the path called dance still reaches out at times for the hand that isn’t there. She looks around and wonders where the old life went. The word “Mama” slips involuntarily from my lips like a tiny wail. But these days I know that I am the child’s best comforter, and, possibly, I manage a much more thorough embrace of my small sad self than my weary, overtaxed mother ever managed. And the child doesn’t have to dance to win anybody’s love. I love her as she is – exactly as she is…