Friday, March 14, 2014


Within the Orbit of Widening Circles - Photo by Katherine Minott
This season of Lent has me thinking of circles.  As we make another pass through the liturgical year I experience again the familiar rhythm of this season, its signs and changes, a closing of winter, an inkling of undefined new things.  The ancient road of catholic discipline brings me again to this place of anticipation.  My two latest paintings were called Ancient Paths to New Creation.  They were the expression of what it is to be led by way of tradition, discipline, and faith in ordinary daily-ness to discoveries that surprise and change me.  This is where I am God's art.

I find myself coming full circle in more than one area of my life.  Being a surrogate mother to 13 year old Chayo is an unexpected joy and a weighty responsibility.  I am drawn to motherless children and I know its challenges, joys and heartaches well enough to want to be tempted to bolt, but here I am

A young friend who is pregnant is sharing her life with us and again I feel this as another circle coming to ripen.  Nearly forty years after birthing my son at home I find that I still have the impulse, impetus and enthusiasm for midwifery - not just the aspects of delivery, the care and preparation of becoming a mother and nurturing a developing baby, but the wonder-miracle and mystery of welcoming life.  I have become aware that I still carry seeds of longing in my body - that people I know be birthed into their own unique giftedness.  I meet my pregnant-self again as my friend shares her growing-self with us.

I am feeling the changes of aging and wondering the wisdom of pushing my body, hands and stamina to the brink.  It is soul-work to distill my energies, funneling them more deliberately in the direction of being true to what is important rather than what seems urgent.  This is a closing of a circle in the sense that I am re-turning to what is essential, clearing away the inner obstacles to what is calling me, refining/defining/divining me.

Lent begins every year with this scripture from Joel:   
“return to me with all your heart,
    with fasting and weeping and mourning.”
 Rend your heart
    and not your garments.
Return to the Lord your God,
    for he is gracious and compassionate"

Turning back with a whole heart, re-turning to God - whole-heartedness - isn't that a circle with a pinch at the top?  We start off with a whole heart and then stuff happens and over time the wholeness is shattered.  There's a piece I hold back for me, a piece I show to others, a piece that doesn't fit anymore, a piece that sort of looks like a heart if you squint your eyes.  Like Humpty-dumpty we think what is broken can never be made right again.   It's hard to look at wreckage, to re-member it and accept the losses and the grief.  In honest acceptance, followed by liberal compassion, the pieces integrate.  Mercy and truth meet,  justice and peace kiss, the circle closes - it's stretched larger, widening.
 I live my life in widening circles
that reach out across the world.
I may not complete this last one
but I give myself to it.
I circle around God, around the primordial tower.
I've been circling for thousands of years
and I still don't know: am I a falcon,
a storm, or a great song?
Book of Hours, I 2 by Rainer Maria Rilke