My father is an inspiration in my life, and a man of great spiritual awareness. Or at least he tries his very best to walk the path he talks. I admire his integrity deeply.
He is also a very inappropriately funny man, a religious studies professor, a Native American, a living AA success story, and quite the avid philosopher. If you have a philosophical question for him, you'd best also have a good 2-3 hours to listen. :-)
We have had many discussions about spirit, sacredness, life, relations, prayer, energy, ritual, and art over the years. His words have always given me something to think about - maybe even at times when he didn't mean for them to be taken to heart.
Some of those discussion have included contemplations about the ethics of accepting money for spiritual services for people. He is ordained to marry people, for instance, and never charges a fee because he feels it is a meaningful service and an honor to stand with two people who he truly cannot marry, but who are marrying each other. He is simply the one with the legal right to sign the paperwork as a witness to their deeper commitment.
I think, in some ways, this is a little bit how I felt with the Prayer Painting. First of all, I don't paint intuitively for commerce. That is not my intention, and probably a huge part why I feel so deeply connected to the process - the outcome has no weight or expectation for finance or outside approval. Secondly, I consider myself to have acted merely as a witness holding intentions for all involved on their own spiritual journeys - all prayers laid were between the woman and whatever she views as her Creator, Source or Higher Power.
The unique gift of this process was that the energy of the prayers could said to be amplified by the simple act of joining them alongside the prayers of others. At least that's how I like to think of it. It's simple and quite beautiful. And, I can say that it was quite a powerful practice of holding space.
Since making the painting, I have received quite a few notes of gratitude with stories about positive shifts, healing and change manifesting in the lives of participants. I am humbled and... without the appropriate words to express the joy that fills me that this simple process has offered such a sense of hope and connection to others. I receive each thanks into my heart and then offer it up to Source, where it rightfully belongs.
I have also received quite a few requests for prints of the painting - another unexpected outcome, and not something I have felt entirely comfortable with. But, you see, this painting wasn't just about me. It isn't mine, exactly - it belongs to every woman that submitted or intended to or wishes she had, for whatever reason.
Well, two things have helped me come to terms inside myself, and decide that yes, I will offer prints for a limited time.
First, when my dad viewed the Prayer Painting video I posted last week, he wrote this in response to me:
"I remember when you asked me one time what I thought art actually does for people, and being ever practical I said, "Not much for someone that has nothing to eat, or no place to live, and nothing to feed their children. Now,I think I was wrong about that. Art transcends the practical and can resonate within that structure of our consciousness that was deliberately designed to apprehend or recognize the Sacred. That is what you have tapped into, that is why so many were deeply touched."
If a print of this painting helps others remain hopeful, with a sense of connection, reminding them of their heartfelt wish or prayer and of a greater Sacredness, well then, I am obligated - and honored - to make it available. This is bigger than me.
Second, I have had several people who I deeply respect and love remind me that selling prints does not somehow de-value the process, but honors it. That there was an exchange of energy within the process, and that is all that money truly is - an exchange of energy that can help allow me to live, eat, paint, offer more, and offer my support to others through the same dynamic exchange. This is a view I agree with deeply, but still have to work hard to integrate into my thought patterns and practices.
So, thanks to the wise encouragement, I am happy to offer, for a limited time, prints of the original painting and of six different digital mandalas that were created from the original painting, that they might inspire and evoke a deeper sense of connection in those who choose to bring one into their personal lives.