Breathing With Both Lungs

meditations, photography, poetry, prayers

Lungs. A place of life and death and vulnerability…

Breathing With Both Lungs

I once heard it said
Our lungs are where we hold our grief.
When I inhale sharply, to remember
Why does it hurt to breathe?

Lament happened so long ago
Or has it been only a moment or so.

How fully has my memory constricted.
Can I locate the dull ache I long to forget.

Who’s counting? My breathing,
Your breathing, Our breathing. Exhale.

Is the level measured by exhales
Do our inhales even work anymore?

Can we fill our lungs with Presence
Or is it far too late for that now
Now that absence is all we know
Will it always hurt to breathe?

If I practice, will I remember how it was breathing with both lungs?

A few reflections:

This minuscule invader, the virus we are all shellshocked by, attacks the lungs severely.

The two people closest to me who I have lost, months and years ago, both succumbed in part to pneumonia.

My own lungs are the weakest part of me, bronchitis dozens of times as a child, often out of breath more easily than I’d like.

And this day of Good Friday, the crucifixion… this torture meant they die of asphyxiation. A horror many are living now.

Here we are, together in this great collective gasp. Anxiety is stealing our joy breath. Sadness saps our life breath. God whose breath once went out, You suffer with us and for us, and we suffer with each other. Teach us how to breathe again.

~ Janelle

Photo Painting Series No. 1 ~ 4

Janelle's artwork, painting, photography, the creative life

For a few years now, I’ve had this nudge to take photographs I have made, get them printed in B&W on watercolor paper, large scale, and paint on them using gouache and watercolors. I liked the idea, but never knew where to start.

Immediately after I returned home from a trip to rural France this summer, inspiration for creating my ‘photo paintings’ came back in full force. What was new were several incredibly concrete, personal themes which began forming in my head.

The themes revealed themselves in two series to start with: detail snapshots of ancient paintings of Mary (below), and an evocative series inspired by the French story ‘The Little Prince’. Many more ideas were swirling around relating to pilgrimage of the heart and this year’s actual Camino pilgrimage in Burgundy. Then throughout the autumn months they slowly developed into four distinct, solid narratives. As soon as I complete the project stories for each one, they will be linked to here:

Read about painting series no. 1: All Roads Lead to Burgundy

Early on, as I was daydreaming about getting a studio and imagining what the paintings would look like, I was floored at how giddy excited I was getting. What is happening to me?? I would say, a little bewildered. Yet this is the very same thing I experienced as I was preparing for my trip to France, so I figured I had better pay attention. Investigating local art studios, I quickly discovered that the right space is not so easy to find. In the meantime I have been creating test versions (see above) of the paintings on a smaller scale to see what works well.

This project feels more ambitious than anything I’ve ever tried, and truthfully – I’ve never made art quite like this before. Poignant and emotional and experimental. Over and over I have sensed that this is my project of the hour, the work that is for *now*.

I need your help to continue creating these works. I can’t do it without you! Here are some options: ~PATREON (crowd-funded art patronage!)~ or ~invest in one of my fine art photographs~

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meditations, photography, poetry, prayer

Throughout shadowed corners of churches crisscrossing Europe sit tiers and tires and trees of glowing candles. Icons of the voice of our longings, singing of our hope to recover what we’ve lost, to connect with beloved ones gone yet alive in our hearts.

Remembrance ~ Belgium, 1997

This image from my B&W film days calls to me every November, the month that has long been dedicated to remembrance of those separated from us for a time in this earthly life. The shorter days and the long shadows here in the North envelop me, bring me back around to the memory of my gentle father, each of my vibrant grandparents, my dear aunts and uncles – even ancestors, those who I have met only through the pages of history and yet feel connected to me.

Losing a parent, I would say, is the most surreal thing one can go through. Nothing can prepare you, and it remains forever a journey through uncharted wilderness.

I wrote this poem years ago for my boyfriend at the time, who had just lost his elderly father. For all those missing a parent, this is for you…

lament the separation
yet even more give thanks 
for his life, and for the gifts... 

life, love, faith.  

grieve with all your might, 
and may Mercy bring comfort to your heart.