Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Courage of Tenderness

Matisse's chapel in Vence displays the courage it takes to create from tenderness. So much architecture is made from coolness, calculation and brute force. This has its place, but Matisse made a place that welcomes the whispers of the soul. It's a sacred space designed by a wise child. It's the art of a master who explored color and form until everything that wasn't essential was stripped away, leaving only pure, tinted light. In contrast to the dark, womb-chamber cathedrals throughout Europe, this radiant space invites gentleness in to play. The vulnerability, usually hidden in shadowy passages and armored by massive stone walls dances on a raised, glowing altar. Every detail shimmers with innocent openheartedness. This includes the vestments Matisse designed for the clergy here. Instead of the traditional black or brown robes, the artist fashioned ceremonial capes with festive colors and floral motifs reflecting the playful stained glass windows. In a world that celebrates heroic acts of explosive art, the courage to listen to the subtle, yet powerful, murmurs of the heart and the skill to translate that elusive strength into a compelling human sanctuary is astonishing.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Your Treasure Is In The Space Between

Life is in the space between. We focus on words, people, clothes, houses, cars, jobs, food, trees... Mostly, we dwell in pauses; we inhabit the openings between gestures and relationships. In traffic, in line, at the desk, at the table, on the path, we wait; we stare out the window; we muse; we worry; we laugh; we confuse; we clarify; we explore. Most of the time, we ignore the gaps. In our ignorance, we miss a major aspect of life.

If we do acknowledge the space through which our lives travel, it's usually to escape, to find peace, to get away from all the stuff. What we miss is this: the space between is filled with life. But the knowledge, laughter, beauty, practicality and poetry in the intervals cannot be recognized by our minds. It speaks in a language that is not hearable, touches us with caresses that at not tangible, offers us guidance with signs that are invisible.

Acknowledging the space between and allowing yourself to rest within it transforms your life. I'm not talking about retreating to the meditation cushion, the studio space or the forest. Here, now open to the opening... Let it in... A silent explosion rocks the visible world... "Lifeless" objects speak... Being blasts through all becoming... The hidden treasure you've been searching for is revealed.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Facing Change in Your Cave of Beliefs

Light cannot be seen without shadows. The brighter the sunlight the deeper is the shade. After the glow of the holidays and the effulgent hopes for a new year, Monday morning comes. Bright resolutions for a fresh start collide with the old patterns you wanted to leave behind. Yet, the path ahead is surrounded with the attitudes that structure your framework of perception. The new diet, exercise program, goal accomplishing routine or whatever transformational behavior you undertake passes through this cave of beliefs. Wishing it isn't so doesn't dissolve their limiting shadows. No amount of figuring it out or transcendent sidestepping will slip through their grip. Heeding the advice "the only way out is through" couldn't be more relevant.

The existing form of your life cannot be reformed until the solid images defining your world become transparent to the light of the consciousness that gives them substance. This can only be achieved by entering your cave of beliefs, engaging the play of shadows and seeing they are made of withheld light. This may seem spiritually romantic, but its scary as hell. Old limitations are more cherished then we admit. Otherwise, they would slip away like old skin sliding off a snake.

Facing them head on and shining your consciousness into hidden places takes courage beyond the everyday. Wanting to run is natural. Striding into the darkness sets your heart pounding, knees shaking, palms sweating. You know the rest. You've seen the movie heros confronting their demons, wielding their swords, slicing open the illusions of danger, revealing that the feared enemy is a reflection of oneself. Your task is to express those heroic powers on the yoga mat, facing the blank page, making the cold call, responding to soul's song while the mind is screaming its doubts. Then, gazing into your cave of beliefs, you may remember that attitudes are not cast in stone. They are merely forms of consciousness. They were shaped within you and can be reshaped there.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

To Grow, Your Shell Must Break

This video leaves me in awe. Sensing the power within the fragile form pushing its way out of the shell is an encounter with mystery. All the wisdom schools and books of insight pale beside this living teaching of how life grows through itself. For the bird to become what it is, the tiny creature shatters the shell that originally nurtured its birth. This being has become too big for its existing framework. Despite all odds, the bird's soft body presses against the hard shell. Its spindly legs flex; its soon to be wings expand; its head and neck stretch. The life force is unstoppable. Pressing, pushing, twisting, doing whatever it takes to crack that damn shell to be free, to move toward flight.

Every one of the countless birds around the globe come into the world this way. Again and again, life bursts the safety of its shell to set out on a great adventure. Some birds fly thousands of miles on yearly migrations. They soar above mountains, across rivers and over cities. They stop in unknown fields, find food in unknown forests. Back and forth, high and low they move, weaving the global web of life again and again.

In this new year time, you have the opportunity of this little bird. You have the chance to shatter the shell that once nurtured you, find your legs again, stretch your wings and set out on a fresh journey of discovery. You can cooperate with the life force pressing from within you to burst the shell of your worn out beliefs, routines and structures of protection. You can reach beyond the limits of the old year and enter the unknown possibilities of the new. Enjoy your journey. I look forward to seeing you along the way.