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.
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.
Those of us who create do so for a multitude of reasons, and what we ultimately end up with is a gift, whether for ourselves or for others. The world is thirsting for all us artists have to give through the experience of what we create – hope, beauty, joy, encouragement, healing, connection to one another and to our hearts, a vision of the world as it could be… but we need to be filled up ourselves in order to be this life-giving water for others.
come Holy Spirit, bring the gift of your Presence
As someone whose idea of fun is spending time at a monastery, the retreat experience is one I have for years tried to share with others. For myself, as an artist living in a very urban area, making retreats has more recently turned into doing them at home.
And so came the notion a few months ago that other artists might need the same thing – a time set aside for a pause, to allow space for rest, refreshment and connecting with God. Creative people need spiritual retreats just as much as anyone. Maybe even more so.
What I am crafting this year is a series of self-guided retreats for artists and creatives that can be made at home, centered around the theme of water as the very Presence of the Lord, which is everything we need.
I’ll be sharing more in the coming weeks. Tell me, what is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a retreat?