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When Life happens – and a nod to Pope Joan.

6 Sep

The worst sin is ingratitude, which is a forgetting of the greatness, beauty, truth and goodness of the Source that is constantly creating us – in other terms, a forsaking of Being, and the Good.

My favorite Leloup quote today, from The Gospel of Mary Magdalene.

Today I had my day all planned out, my hours spoken for, so I sat down to my desk to focus on the geometries of the Josephine knot. Which I still haven’t grasped. I found a vesica, but that is a story for another day.

I was deeply in my head, probably frowning with confusion,  when all this carefully arranged bliss was loudly interrupted by Rosie, next door’s 11 week old beagle, escaping her yard,  Ellen and I chasing around like crazy people trying to corner her. Eventually, Rosie was found, the escape route blocked up, and I returned to the drawing table, my perspective blown wide open.

And this leads me to the legend of Pope Joan.  And really, just how often do things lead you there? Well, once upon a time (during the early Middle Ages to be precise), it is told that a woman, disguised as a man, rose through the church hierarchy and was eventually elected Pope. Life went along smoothly, more or less, until during one particularly solemn processional,  all hell broke loose as the Pope went into labor and produced a child on the spot. Whoops.

Forget wasting time arguing whether it’s true or just another urban legend. That’s not the point. It’s never the point.

For me, today, Joan happily reminded me that even with the best laid plans, the most carefully arranged rituals, Life still happens, unplanned, unannounced, unexpected and often showing up at the most inconvenient time.

When the Divine came crashing into my carefully constructed schedule,  disguised as an exuberant beagle wanting to play, I had the opportunity to allow everything-as-it-was to become Life-Happening-In-This-Moment. My attention, my intention, my blood, my body, unified in a way my habitual/’usual’ self has never been fully conscious of before; opening me to an idea of another way of being fully present. It’s like a huge breath of fresh air expanded into my complacent habits, my structured ideas of how things ‘should’ be and reminded me again, that I am alive.

So now when I am here typing, I am also being aware of being alive. Of being animated by a Mystery I will never understand, flowing through me with an agenda that I can only guess at, holding me closely in gratitude and delight.

The take away for me?

Life is not meant to be ‘convenient’, bent and warped to suit us and our crazy made-up lives.

Life is meant to be lived, to be wondered at, to be expressed through us. To be experienced consciously, as a tremendous gift. Life holds us tightly so that we may live wide open, allowing it to flow through us unrestricted, out into the world.

sketch for mary magdalene

 

 

sketches for mary magdalene

Banished

10 Oct Banished janetbalboa
Banished janetbalboa

Banished c.janetbalboa2015

Roberto (my darling husband) posted my finished picture ‘Banished’ -on FB last night. Which has prompted me to write about it a bit sooner than I had intended.

I usually take time to sit with my work after it’s done. In a way, I meet my picture for the first time in this way. Before, it has always showed up to our meetings in a state of incompleteness. This in-the-process-of-being-finished stage of my art always has a lovely feeling of potentiality and possibility. Things can still creep into the drawing, it is still very much in process and dynamic. When I see my work framed and behind glass, it is finished. Complete. An object now, something I can observe in its final state.

I form opinions, observations, see it differently than when it was a work-in-progress. My work starts with a curiosity, a wondering about something and then over the course of months, I literally draw out my answer. It unfolds and reveals itself to me in the forms and colors and images that present themselves while I work. So I never start with a complete picture- I always have an image to get me started. Then I watch it unfold. I suppose it is similar to when characters begin to perform actions and demand scenes that surprise and delight their parent writers.

It’s because of this that I reflect after the picture is done- what was the answer to that question I had so many months ago? Have I changed to accommodate this answer? I believe with Rilke that we must be able to live our answers – and until we can, be content with loving the questions themselves. Often times the answer comes slowly as understanding born of research, insight and conversations are composted and turned over in my mind.

I am often asked what my pictures mean. And as you now know, they are personal answers to my personal questions. My experience and work with the symbols and images gives them meaning. But because my questions are similar to questions that many of us have, they also have a universal answer – and therefore we share meaning. The meaning resides in you, in how active the same symbols and archetypes that activate my questions, are present in you. Your life experience will bring different interpretations – are these any less valid? Anything that stirs the heart, moves the soul, causes us to wonder is a healing balm in our world of concretized dogma and instant answers.

Learning to trust ourselves fully and allowing our hearts to soar, far out on their strings – or on our sleeves –is letting our vulnerability touch and be touched by the world. We are big enough, encompassing enough, wise enough to enfold ourselves in our own healing embrace. Internally strong we come from our center; our unbreakable connection with the Mystery of our Being as it moves through time and space in the intricate and lovely vehicle called ‘me’.  You. Us. One of a kind magic.

This is what I wrote this morning on the information card I include with all my work. Each card relates to a specific picture. This is the card for ‘Banished’.

banished info card

It says:

banished As a culture, our inner masculine has devoured the action oriented Hero archetype- forgetting that the journey finishes with a return if it is to be a true journey. After the deeds are done, the lessons learned, the actions taken, the hero puts down his weapons, leaves the field of action and returns home- ideally giving back to the world the hard won truths. If everyone is off on this hero quest- who is keeping the metaphorical home fires burning? Who is there to welcome us as we return? We have overlooked- banished- the feminine; the receiving aspect of ourselves. Our inner feminine; the receptive, intuitive, inclusive and mother (an entire half of ourselves) has not been allowed a conscious or empowered place in our bodies or minds for thousands of years. The goal of the hero’s journey is the return – to society, integration, relationship – the world of feminine nature. The achievement of balance between both aspects of our nature allows us to become fully, beautifully, incredibly human.

New Work -fall leaves. Mainly.

1 Dec

work in progress

 

New work! Don’t even have a working title for it yet. Something about life-in-death and death-in-life. And how as things are ‘dying’ – returning in various stages to the earth from where they came – they are breathtakingly beautiful. The unbelievable colors of fall, the rich greens of spring and summer, and the golden brown of winter -all part of the same eternal process of life. to which, it seems, most obviously, death is an integral part. So why do we treat it otherwise? The Muslims have a beautiful saying that death in its approach is terrifying, but when it comes, that moment is actually sweet. wanting to see my life -all life- as a totality, not a sum of little disconnected parts. one great big song. With the going out as beautiful and natural and mysterious as the coming in. this picture is helping me cultivate that wider, more inclusive view. I try to come into rhythm. I am trying to honor the ebbs as well as the flows.  Each day includes at least a small letting go as well as the ushering ins of the new.  Trying to allow both the space they require, without judgment.

work in progress Nov 2014

 

 

 

a rainy day with prismacolors

2 Jun Janet Balboa,Anam Cara detail, marker and colored pencil, 19" x 24" c. 2013
Janet Balboa, Anam Cara detail, marker and colored pencil, 19" x 24" c. 2014

Janet Balboa, Anam Cara detail, marker and colored pencil, 19″ x 24″ c. 2014

Janet Balboa, Anam Cara detail, marker and colored pencil, 19" x 24" c. 2014

Janet Balboa, Anam Cara detail, marker and colored pencil, 19″ x 24″ c. 2014

Janet Balboa, Anam Cara, marker and colored pencil, 19" x 24" c. 2014

Janet Balboa, Anam Cara, marker and colored pencil, 19″ x 24″ c. 2014

 

A rainy day put to good use. I’m headed out for coffee…and some friendly faces. Bought a new burnisher, colorless. Don’t know if I like it as much as burnishing with a pencil itself, seems to leave   a lot of wax.

Full Moon : the phases/faces of a woman’s life

25 May
Triple Goddess

prismacolour – markers and pencils. a few copic markers too. pen and ink outline. on my favorite- marker paper. it always amazes me how flimsy, yet strong this paper is! finished size is 12 x 17

Maiden, Mother,Crone!!

My celebration of the wise women on this planet who are entering the full flowering of their being.(In plain old english, those of us turning 50 and beyond) It’s a full moon today too, and I have just finished. How’s that for a little synchronicity? Have a inspiring, creative and fruitful day…

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