Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Living with Active Hope in the autumn

Greetings Everyone,

  Let's face it, after the leaves have burned into brilliant colors and fallen, embracing autumn is tough. Death and dying is all around us. The sun is low and weak on the horizon. Cold winds blow. Winter is coming and we rarely feel prepared enough to meet it cheerfully - unless you are a skier, I suppose!

   We remember the beauty of summer...

  and the brief floating feeling of drifting along in the glow of autumn...
but even as the color seeps out of the broader landscape, there are treasures to behold...
and even November has its shining moments...
and winter will bring us special gifts that can only be seen in the cold, clear days...

So, even though the late autumn sun burns weak and low...
we have a choice as to what to do with our time here.... and I choose to remain hopeful and be creative...
For spring will return again.
And when the creative impulse seems far away, we can sit by the fire and listen to inspiring stories, or read poetry or just visit with friends.
Recently I heard an inspiring interview by Krista Tippet with Joanna Macy who spoke so eloquently of many things; death, poetry, the Great Turning (our environmental dilemma), Buddhism and the meaning of Life. You can find the interview page here. I found Joanna's work to be so helpful because sometimes, (MANY times, truth be told) as an artist and as a simple human being, I often cannot bear the grief of what we as a species are doing to this beautiful earth. Joanna has some real words of wisdom about what to do with that grief. How to use it, actively. I am seeing the wisdom in this approach because if we do not allow ourselves to feel the grief of loss, then we deprive ourselves of knowing how special that lost one is to us, be it a person, a season or a species. Feeling loss lets us experience LOVE more deeply. It re-orients us towards what is important. And then we can move forward from that place re-kindled with purpose to engage in what Joanna calls "Active Hope". She has written a book on it which you can find here.

  All of this is to say, that sometimes I wonder if I am spending my precious days here on this earth to the best of my ability. There are so many ways we can engage with our home planet and to try and help humanity wake up to what we are doing, and change it while we still have a sliver of a chance. I do wonder and doubt about much these days...a human reaction to the enormity of it all. But, I also feel so blessed because I get to work with some truly visionary people, like the good folks at Amber Lotus (the beautiful producers of two new calendars) and Catprint (the good folks who print all my cards using 100% sustainable practices) and make art and products that just may help people to remember that we can LOVE this Earth. And when we love something, we want to take care of it. That for me is the bottom line.... and that is why I do what I do. So I'll finish with a bit of poetry by Rilke as translated by Joanna Macy. 

Bright Blessings all around you.

Go to the limits of your longing

God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are the words we dimly hear:
You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Embody me.

Flare up like a flame
and make big shadows I can move in.

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don't let yourself lose me.

Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.

Give me your hand.



claude said...

what beautifuls photos

Jennifer Star said...

This post really touched me with great beauty, Sally. Thank you.

Sally J Smith, Environmental Artist said...

Thank you Claude and Jennifer for taking the time to write and share. Your presence here on earth is powerful, magical and much needed. Keep doing what you do so well!

Welcome to the enchanted world of Environmental art and Faerie Houses sculptures created by Sally J Smith. Here you will find photos of the artist's unique art-forms and hear some of the stories from behind the scenes as she shares with you her creative process.