community reflections and grace

visioning feelings, art journal collage This isn't how I usually work in my art journal daily practice, but I seem to do it a few times a year - and each time a spread is created that will continue to whisper something delicious through time.

It works like this: First, find a page with some paint smeared on it (I have lots of those in waiting). Then, gather up some magazines or junkmail for fodder. Have a prompt you are working with in reflection or contemplation - typically something that is more about a feeling than about being able to capture it in a container of tight words. Light a candle or put on a playlist or movie that makes you feel good.

Sometimes, I time myself - like fifteen minutes - to keep it raw and fresh. That's a great way to warm-up to a visual, intuitive practice. Other times, like for this page, I like it to move slower. The timing usually reflects the feeling I'm trying to express.

Then, have at it. Trust the images and words that pull you in - don't over-think it. In fact, as little thinking as possible is best. Move them around and see how they talk to one another on the page... always coming back to a felt intimacy or resonance. How do the words play with the images? Or the images with the words in proximity, color, composition, and overall feeling? Always keeping it an intuitive response, creating lyric for the feeling.

Once the pieces are glued on, there may be finishing touches to add. They tend to somehow already be on the page before they are - like the stars and the birds in the tree on this one. They were just there, before my pens outlined them.

This spread is a response to some prompts in Hannah Marcotti's Community Grace ecourse. I'm appreciating the way her facilitation leaves space for my own rhythm - and also the beautiful souls that have gathered to connect and contemplate about this topic. I don't take a lot of online classes anymore because the energy and time I have reserved for the computer is spent making online experiences myself, or helping others make them. But I felt called to this one - as a gesture of my own commitment to stay aligned with how it is I want to feel inside my own skin when I'm holding space, and how it is I'd like the communities I create and participate in to feel. That's exactly the heart of what Hannah has us circling around and playing with - so it's been a good fit for my own soulwork this month.

The reflection becomes... What do I want people who circle with me to walk away with inside their own hearts? What do I hope we can begin to reflect back and forth to one another if we share space and intimacy? What helps me find my own sense of equanimity in presence as a guide or mentor?

My notion of community seems to extend beyond people-to-people... there is relationship and unity with nature and place, plants and animals, with creative source and energy, with my own body-mind-spirit. They all feed one another in the weaving of interconnection - and awareness of each becomes helpful for centering and tending. Yet at the core essence of how we relate, they are one and the same, the whole picture of how we show up, give and receive.

The conjuring of {the} feeling is a cycle of creative breath. The more aware of it I am, the more it seems to grace my awareness.