How little I knew when I started this painting, Holding Space, in December 2019. I tested out some new markers and made a circular doodle that traced the yellow center over and over. My around-and-around marks created a protected space. They held a bright focus. The doodle felt good, safe, certain. I wrote the words "holding space" at the edge of the light. None of us knew a pandemic was coming.
Then Covid hit, and I pulled that doodle out of an art drawer. I wondered what to make with it. So many things were changing that spring-- the circle felt too small, too tight, too simple. I definitely felt less safe and certain, wondering what would come next. I sat with myself and the circle doodle, and felt that it wanted to break apart. (And no wonder, considering what was coming in the months ahead.)
But as I listened in the art process, this breaking wasn't just a destructive shattering, though it felt like it at first. The opening created by my uncertainty took the shape of the wise cottonwood tree in our back yard. That great, living being made of patience stood right in the middle of this art. I think it appeared to help make a little meaning out of so much falling apart. Once I welcomed her in, the Grandmother Cottonwood expanded the tight way I was seeing and holding the light. She made room and a home for the wisdom of Owl, who can see in the dark, too.
This year I return to winter with a less certain but more spacious sense of light in the darkness. I join those from so many spiritual traditions cupping our hands around the lights of candles and faith to keep hope alive-- and I hope we learn to find faith together in the darkness of mystery too. I pray we continue to encounter unexpected spaces for wisdom and create fresh ways to make meaning. I pray we shape new, expanded ways to take care of ourselves and each other when things fall apart.
May it be so.
From the Brave Joy spiritual practice** that goes with this painting:
Remember a time in your life or community when a plan or conviction broke open into uncertainty. Did some part of that process feel like a shattering? Or like permission, or freedom? What happened over time?
Blessings for the darkness and mystery that hold the Light. --Melanie
Related blog post: "This Dark Night," April 2020
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** This Holding Space image and spiritual practice were added later to the Brave Joy Art & Practice sets, as Mystery for May 2020. The first actual Brave Joy Collective image was Generosity, made in June 2020.
Art & writing ©Melanie Weidner 2021