Contemplate [on DR Thursday]

 

I do more than my fair share of contemplating (just ask Kerri. My incessant contemplation drives her bonkers). For instance, years ago, it occurred to me that every thought we human-storytellers have IS a kind of meditation. It’s a fair question – a necessary question – to ask: what are you meditating on? Your pain? Your troubles? Who you blame? Your grudges? Your obstacles? Your joys? Your opportunities? Your privileges? Your love? Your losses? Your list? All of the above?  Keep in mind (where else would you keep it) that most of your thoughts are repetitive. The majority of what you think today is a repeat of what you thought yesterday. Your thoughts are not passive. They are also not truth. They are patterned, mostly made up, and a powerful lens through which you define your experiences. The good news is that you can change your meditation if you want to.

Listening to the news it will make you gag when you stop and realize what actually populates our national meditation and how our angry narrative permeates your personal mediation. We are not as separate as we like to pretend. That’s good news. That, and, we can change our meditation. We can tell a better story.

 

This morsel comes from a painting that recently returned to the stable. It is, quite literally, a blast from the past. What I find most amazing about this particular return-to-the-fold is that, just a few months ago, I uncovered the old drawing that inspired Contemplation and sourced it again for another painting, Softly She Prays. And then, in a fit of good timing, Contemplation arrived at our door.

Paintings are like journal entries. It is not often that happenstance provides such a rich opportunity for comparison. Comparison of contemplation. What was my meditation 15 years ago? What is it now? Horatio told me my body of work is a study of stillness in motion (not a direct quote H, but I love the reflection non-the-less). The deep river story remains. The top layer meditation has shifted.

Ah. Do you see? Incessant contemplation.

 

 

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Contemplation, circa 2004

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Softly She Prays, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

read Kerri’s blog post on CONTEMPLATION

 

 

babycatContemplating website copy

 

contemplation/softly she prays ©️ 2004/2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood

 

 

 

Realize It [on KS Friday]

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Years ago, at the retreat center on Whidbey Island, Kendy talked with me about her budding meditation practice. She was having difficulty quieting her mind chatter. To help, a teacher gave her a mantra to use in her meditation. The mantra gave her busy mind a focal point. It was a simple phrase: I Am. I Am. “It’s the craziest thing,” she said, “I feel like I need to add a description, I Am…what? I am happy? I am fulfilled? I am a loser? I am bored? And then it occurred to me that it’s the descriptor I’m trying to quiet! Why do I need to define everything? Judge everything? Assign a score to everything? Isn’t the whole point to realize how profound it is to be alive? I Am.”

There is a photograph of my uncle Al, just months before he died of cancer, fulfilling a dream of flying on a trapeze. At the moment of letting go of the bar, he reaches into space. The catcher is not in the frame. Al’s face, wracked with his disease, is shining with the joy of his moment. The simple pleasure of his moment of I Am.

There is a lyric in Kerri’s song, I Am Alive, that brings me back to my conversation with Kendy and the enormity of her realization. It makes me miss Al. The lyric goes like this: we are bonded by the power of this dream that is I Am.

Cut through all the chatter-of-the-day and it’s plain enough. It’s simple enough. Add the final descriptive word to the I Am. Realize, as Al did in that gorgeous moment of flight, of not-here-or-there. I Am Alive.

I AM ALIVE on the album AS SURE AS THE SUN is available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post about I AM ALIVE

 

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i am alive/as sure as the sun ©️ 2002 kerri sherwood

 

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Take Another Step [on KS Friday]

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In the past year I’ve been reading books a few pages at a time. Some days I only read a few paragraphs at a time. I’m not reading to get through a book. I’m reading to ponder. It’s become a form of reading meditation.

A few weeks ago, I began a slow read of my own book, The Seer. I published it nearly five years ago and immediately abandoned it. Today I read this: change never comes from the direction of what you know. It is a prerequisite of learning, growth and change to step away from what is known, from what is comfortable. From what feels safe. Learning and change are always in the direction of the unknown.

Kerri’s IN TRANSITION is a musical mantra for stepping into the unknown. As is true of all transitions, it is a yearning in two directions. Yearning for what was. Yearning for what will be. But more than yearning, it is a river of determination. Take another step. And another. And another. Discover.

If you are in transition, as we are, stand still for a moment and listen to the yearning, steep yourself in the simple encouragement of IN TRANSITION.

 

IN TRANSITION on the album RELEASED FROM THE HEART available on iTunes & CDBaby. The physical CD is available here.

 

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read Kerri’s blog post about IN TRANSITION

 

www.kerrianddavid.com

 

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in transition/released from the heart ©️ 1995 kerri sherwood

Pray In Opposites [on DR Thursday]

 

I love this painting and for some reason have never included it in a show. An early version of it hung for a few years in the undergraduate offices of Antioch University, Seattle. After returning from Bali I took it down, hauled it back to the studio and repainted it.

On my gallery site I wrote about this painting that paradoxes and oppositions are lively topics for me. Truth is always found in the “in-between” spaces. Truth is connective tissue.

Separation is only the beginning of the life-story. The rest of the story is a search for connection. It is lived as a quest to find the common center – through a prayer of opposites. As the Balinese would say in shorthand, many faces, one god.

 

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read Kerri’s blog post about A PRAYER OF OPPOSITES

 

www.kerrianddavid.com

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a prayer of opposites ©️ 2002/2018 david robinson & kerri sherwood

Have Wings [on DR Thursday]

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This painting jumped to the canvas fully formed. It announced itself and I simply opened the door. It was not what I’d intended  to paint when I entered the studio. I had a wholly different idea In Mind. I’ve learned that the best work has very little to do with what I have In Mind. The best work comes from the other place, the place available when Mind steps out of the way.

Meditation, prayer, inner reaching….is a theme I loop back to again and again. Lately, I’ve been pondering what happens when we cease searching for peace and instead simply bring it. What if prayer/meditation was not a quest for center, a search for inner peace or quiet mind? What if there was no separation? What if prayer/meditation was a bringing to the surface of the peace that already exists? What if you need not search for it because it is already here? What if, like this painting, that place is available when we stop listening to a Mind that tells us the center is lost, that peace is somewhere over there?

I suspect my pondering produced this painting. Kerri calls it Winged.

 

 

read Kerri’s blog post on WINGED

 

www.kerrianddavid.com

 

winged ©️ david robinson & kerri sherwood

 

(Y)Our Earth [It’s Two Artists Tuesday]

Take a moment to take a look around you. A thought to ponder and share from the melange.

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Tibetan monks have been in residence this week at a local technical college. They are creating a mandala sand painting. For the monks, creating the mandala is a spiritual practice, a meditation. As they construct the design they contemplate the meaning of the symbols within the design. In other words, they are in a constant state of prayer while they create. They invite the community to enter the prayerful space and contemplate with them; the “space” is, of course, the essential part of their creation. More to the point, the shared space of peace, an intentional communal tranquility, is the creation. And, to make sure we grasp the point, the final step in their creative process is to blow the design away. Nothing is permanent. Beauty is passing and so are you and me. It is, we are, energy in motion. The process, rather than the product, is the meditation.

our earth SQ PILLOW copyWhen Kerri drew this design it immediately reminded me of the Earth’s currents, a perfect sentiment for the coming Earth Day celebrations. The essential convection currents that create our wind, our weather. The currents in the earth moving layers of magma, the transfer of energy in the heating and cooling of the ocean. Motion creates life, tosses up forms and pulls them down again. Motion is life, life is motion. And, in this mandala we call Earth, there is a deeper meditation found within the sand and the impermanence: it’s all connected. We are all connected. Blowing sands. The process, the quality of our participation in impermanence, is the art.

From studio melange, an earth day meditation: this is your/our earth.

THIS IS (Y)OUR EARTH reminders/merchandise

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our earth TOTE BAG copy

OUR EARTH MUG copy

our earth IPHONE CASE copy

iphone cases

OUR EARTH BEACH TOWEL copy

a beach towel!

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(Y)Our Earth Leggings

read kerri’s blog post on (Y)Our Earth

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kerrianddavid.com

 

this is (y)our earth ©️ 2016 kerri sherwood & david robinson

Surrender And Surrender Again

I’ve grown accustomed to this sanctuary. I come here when Kerri has meetings in the church. It is quiet. As I sit here alone, I easily become quiet. The evening sun pours through the stained glass, the symbols shimmer.

When I met Kerri I told her that, if we were going to have a relationship, she needed to understand two things about me: I don’t sing and I don’t pray. I imagine that was stark news for a woman who works as a minister of music. I imagine she rolled her eyes. It is a running joke with the folks that know the story of my proclamation that I now sing in the church choir and band. I love to sing. As for the praying, well…, I’ve always been a meditator and that counts. Quiet is a delicious form of prayer. I was hung up on definitions. I talk to the universe all the time. To-mAaa-to, to-Mah-to.

I have, all my life, believed religion most often gets in the way of a true spiritual experience (life). “Prayer” was for me, at the time I met Kerri, a word of religion while “meditation” was a word I associated with a spiritual life. One night, not long after my move, Kerri and I had dinner with Heidi. She asked me about my faith and laughed at my reflections, saying, “You are one of those many-paths-one-mountain guys.” Yes. And, to truly be a many-paths-one-mountain guy, I’ve had to challenge some of my long held defenses, walk into some of my long held prejudices.

Yesterday, Bill said a simple, beautiful thing about faith, grace and spiritual journeys. It reinforced something I have known (for myself) for years. He said, “The problem with religion is it is heavily invested in having answers. It becomes invested in being right (righteousness), being “the way” as if there was only one way. A true spiritual life,” he said, “is about walking into the questions.” Life, the real crackling, shimmering life, is always experienced in the questions. Awe is rarely experienced in something so constructed and contained as an answer.

I brought to the sanctuary an outline/book of a class that I intended to teach years ago but never got around to offering. In the introduction a previous-version-of-me wrote this: The premise is simple and ancient: when you change your story you change your world. All stories of transformation begin with an attempt to control the uncontrollable: transformation in a story happens when the main character surrenders their illusion of control, strips their armor, walks into their fear, and meets their dragon. There are many variations on this theme. What is important to grasp is that empowerment follows surrender….

Were I writing that today I would never use the word “empowerment.It is an overused and abstract word like “presence” and generally misunderstood as something to achieve (or sold as an answer). Power is irrelevant after a dragon is met.

When I met Kerri I was terrified to sing. I’d been shamed more than once for opening my mouth, thus my proclamation. I learned, as I sang the fear from myself, that the only thing that follows surrender is more surrender.

And, in surrender, there is shimmering quiet.