Sunday, January 17, 2021

We shall be strengthened














 

... for they shall be comforted.

Comfort:  From the Latin confortare "to strengthen greatly."












The Turning Point

(Gouache and watercolor from the late 1980s, revisited) 

Friday, January 15, 2021

Songs for the African Violet

 

An African Violet that was given to me last spring has been dormant for several months.  In recent weeks I noticed a few buds.  Today on the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., the first bud has opened, and there are many more blooms to come.

Songs for the African Violet

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Tomorrow is January 15, 2021 / Infinite hope


 





Tomorrow Martin Luther King, Jr., would have been 92 years old.  The message he carried does not die.  Last night I had a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep due to a flood of fearful thoughts arising from tangled roots in the past, strangling the present and threatening any peace of mind and heart in the future.  As I tossed and turned, I remembered being a child and having the same troubling experience of sleeplessness again and again without the hope that came into my life when I was nearly 40 years old.  

In an unforgettable moment in 1987 came the realization that I was not alone and had never been alone and that there was at least one person, a Lummi woman who was ten years younger than I was and who had experienced severe trauma in her life and who carried a message of hope, a woman who had come to know that she was not alone, that she was part of a community that I now think of as the beloved community.  

Last night when I suddenly became aware that I was not alone in facing fearful thoughts, I was able to fall asleep and stay asleep.  I dreamed that a man I know who is in his fifties and who has survived against all odds told me with deep joy that he was going to be a father.  

This morning I found these sustaining quotes from Martin Luther King, Jr.:


Our goal is to create a beloved community, and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives.

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We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope. 

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Courage is the power of the mind to overcome fear.

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I came to the conclusion that there is an existential moment in your life when you must decide to speak for yourself; nobody else can speak for you.

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This day before Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday is an opportunity to revisit this Lummi story of infinite hope:

(Note:  When you click to start the video, it will not start but will direct you to click on a link to YouTube)



Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Revisiting Mighty Mouse in the final days of a predator living in the White House




As a small child in the 1950s, before I could read and before I began to spend more time with books than with television, I was fascinated by what we then called Saturday Morning Cartoons.  Much of what was in those cartoons went way over my head, but that didn't matter because I understood enough about life to be caught up in the stories.  I certainly would have identified with the nine tiny field mice in this cartoon who were enjoying themselves in a field only to be caught in a violent storm and then, when they thought they had found shelter in a house,  found their lives threatened by a predator who turns into a superpredator with a green face like the Wicked Witch of the West when he puts together and swallows a mixed drink.  The resourceful mice do their best to escape the superpredator, but he outsmarts them and prepares to eat them as he watches them slowly begin to die.  

At this point, Mighty Mouse has somehow been alerted and is on his way to help them.  Mighty Mouse rescues them and fights the predator until the predator appears to be dead and looking something like the Wicked Witch of the West after water was thrown on her.  The house catches fire. 

Mighty Mouse then picks up the cage where the field mice are trapped and carries them away from the predator's house just in time before it is rocketed high into the air and explodes in a somewhat baffling and colorful fireworks display.  Mighty Mouse continues carrying the field mice back to where they were before the storm and releases them from the cage.  They cheer, thanking him for saving their lives.  He bows and flies in the direction of the setting sun as the narrator says,

"Off into the setting sun flies the champion of mice and men. What a mouse!"

Of course I loved the idea of Mighty Mouse when I was a small girl and wished that he would appear when I was in dire need of help, when my own efforts to protect myself were futile. 

For the most part, I forgot about Mighty Mouse until I was in a counseling session with a Gestalt therapist when I was in my late 40s, hoping to find healing from the traumatic events in my life that had kept me trapped emotionally since childhood.  I was telling him a story from my life that I don't recall now.  He asked me to let go of the story and simply focus on my body for a few minutes and to notice what I was feeling.  When I let go of the story, I gradually became aware of a heavy feeling around my heart.  He asked me if the feeling had a shape.  I had to focus on the feeling for awhile before I was able to identify that it was the size and shape and color of a brick and as solid as a brick.  He asked me what was inside the brick.  My first thought was, "Nothing is inside the brick.  It's just a solid heavy brick."  He asked me to look closely inside the brick.

Suddenly the brick I was picturing exploded into harmless pieces from the power of Mighty Mouse breaking out of it, and I began to laugh uncontrollably in delight!

The counselor asked what had happened.  I was laughing so hard that I wasn't able to speak for a few minutes.  Although he had worked with me for months, he had never seen me laugh before and said that I looked like an entirely different person when I laughed.  When I was finally was able to tell him that Mighty Mouse had shattered the brick from the inside, he laughed with me.

What saved me from something heavy inside me came from inside me, not from somewhere in the sky like the Mighty Mouse in the cartoons I watched as a child.

No Mighty Mouse in the sky is going to save us from the predator who remains in the White House for the next few weeks or from his followers or from anything else, but there is something more powerful than the predators or imaginary saviors like the Mighty Mouse in the sky, and it is found in diverse communities joining together for the good of our divided country.  

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

"Dark Eyes"



Cover by Maria Montagnini

"... Hunger pays a heavy price to the falling gods of speed and steel ..."


Friday, January 1, 2021

Sharing my 2021 Mandala Calendar in True Colors / Earth Mandala / True Colors













Having these 12 mandalas of mine professionally scanned this week allows me to show them in their true colors for the first time.  The first mandala is from a previous year and the remaining eleven were completed in 2020, most of them in the last two months.

I'm emailing these images to those who responded previously via email.  

If anyone else would like these 12 calendar images for 2021 emailed to them, let me know at:

ellamuir(at)msn(dot)com

This morning I opened my 2021 Sierra Club Engagement Calendar and saw the photo of our planet from space -- a beautiful multi-dimensional earth mandala.











With love to blog friends, near and far, in the new year and always.

Friday, December 25, 2020

The Magi, a multigenerational family gathering, a little baby, a Sufi dancer / Leonard Cohen / Michael Blumenthal on the value of art


"Dylan said that, although he was born and raised Jewish, he never felt left out of Christmas during his childhood in Minnesota. Regarding the popularity of Christmas music, he said, "... it's so worldwide and everybody can relate to it in their own way."

Ever since "Christmas in the Heart" was released in 2009, this video has been part of my December experience which includes World AIDS Day, St. Nicholas Day, Bodhi Day, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Christmas, Kwanzaa and, in some years, Ramadan, as well as numerous beginnings and endings in my life and the lives of those I love.

Reading Sabine's post today, "Be Kind," for some reason reminded me of "The Little Drummer Boy".  I had not watched and listened to it yet this year.  After watching and listening, it occurred to me once again that the family gathering with the children and the little baby and adults from several generations might well be an interfaith gathering.  In past years what had also caught my attention was the presence of the Magi at the beginning of the video and a single Sufi dancer at the end of the video. 

With a little Googling, I re-read the lyrics and see that Bob Dylan changed:

I have no gift to bring
Pa rum pum pum pum
That's fit to give our king

to:

I have no gift to bring
Pa rum pum pum pum
That's fit to give a king

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I remembered what Leonard Cohen said in 1988:

"I'm very fond of Jesus Christ. He may be the most beautiful guy who ever walked the face of this earth. Any guy who said "Blessed are the poor. Blessed are the meek" has got to be a figure of unparalleled generosity and insight and madness.. . A man who declared himself to stand among the thieves, the prostitutes and the homeless. His position cannot be comprehended. It is an inhuman generosity. A generosity that would overthrow the world if it was embraced because nothing could weather that compassion. I'm not trying to alter the Jewish view of Jesus Christ. But to me, in spite of what I know about the history of legal Christianity, the figure of the man has touched me".

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Thank you to Sabine for drawing my attention to Michael Blumenthal's poem, "Be Kind," which led me to his talk on the value of art. 




With love to blog friends, near and far. 

Monday, December 14, 2020

Something I need to share with R today


"Grandson, I want to shake your hand.  That was pretty damn powerful what you just did."
(Elder speaking to Supaman)

This is where R and I met on December 14, 1966, when we were 17 years old.  None of the buildings you see were there then.  The only building there in 1966 was the old Miramar Hotel which burned down not long after I met R.


Supaman reminds me of you, R.  What I see in him is what I saw in you from the beginning.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Robinson Jeffers and Ocean Vuong / Mid-December views with local music

Robinson Jeffers walking near home on the California coast with his twin sons, Donnan and Garth



"... In the autumn of 1934, Jeffers received a letter from Sister Mary James Power — principal and teacher at a girls’ Catholic high school in Massachusetts. A lifelong lover of poetry, Power had endeavored to edit an anthology of prominent poets’ reflections on the spiritual dimensions of their art and their creative motive force. She invited Jeffers to contribute, asking about his “religious attitudes.” His response, originally published in Powers’s 1938 book Poets at Prayer and later included in The Wild God of the World:  An Anthology of Robinson Jeffersis one of the most beautiful and succinct articulations of a holistic, humanistic moral philosophy ever committed to words — some of the wisest words to live and think and feel by ..."

(to read the entire essay, click here)

"Response to Sister Mary James Power

Tor House, Carmel, California
October 1, 1934

Dear Sister Mary James:

Your letter should have been answered sooner, but there have been so many visitors and other events the past fortnight.

As to my "religious attitudes: -- you know it is a sort of tradition in this country not to talk about religion for fear of offending -- I am still a little subject to the tradition, and rather dislike stating my "attitudes" except in the course of a poem. -- However, they are simple. I believe that the universe is one being, all its parts are different expressions of the same energy, and they are all in communication with each other, influencing each other, therefore parts of one organic whole.  (This is physics, I believe, as well as religion.)  The parts change and pass, or die, people and races and rocks and stars; none of them seems to me important in itself, but only the whole.  This whole is in all parts so beautiful, and is felt by me to be so intensely in earnest, that I am compelled to love it, and to think of it as divine.  It seems to me that this whole alone is worthy of a deeper sort of love; and there is peace, freedom, I might say a kind of salvation, in turning one's affections outward toward this one God, rather than inward on one's self-- or on humanity, or on human imaginations and abstractions -- the world of the spirits.

I think that it is our privilege and felicity to love God for his beauty, without claiming or expecting love from him.  We are not important to him, but he to us.

I think that one may contribute (ever so slightly) to the beauty of things by making one's own life and surroundings  environment beautiful, so far as one's power reaches.  This includes moral beauty, one of the qualities of humanity, though it does {seems} not {to} appear elsewhere in the universe.  But I would have each person realize that his contribution is not important, its success not really a matter for exultance nor its failure for mourning; the beauty of things is sufficient without him.

(An office of tragic poetry is to show that there is beauty in pain and failure as much as in success and happiness.)

-- There is nothing here that has not been more feelingly expressed in my verses; but I thought that a plain question deserves a plain answer. -- Of course you are welcome to photostat this at pleasure.

Sincerely yours,
Robinson Jeffers."

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As I read Robinson Jeffers' response, I thought of the quote that Sabine posted a few days ago:

"Do you remember the happiest day of your life? What about the saddest? Do you ever wonder if sadness and happiness can be combined, to make a deep purple feeling, not good, not bad, but remarkable simply because you didn't have to live on one side or the other?"

         Ocean Voung








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Looking east in mid-December:



And if you have time, listen to this music from the county where I live  (population 229,247 in 2019).  Whatcom County took its name from a Nooksack word meaning "noisy waters."