Paint With Sand [on KS Friday]

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Many years ago I was lucky enough to see a sand mandala created by Tibetan monks. It was intricate and vibrant. It seemed impossible to create something so complex with sand. The day after I saw the painting the monks ceremoniously destroyed it. The process, the painting, is a mediation on the impermanence of all things.

Yesterday was my birthday. I am now 58 years old. More and more the transience of all things is less a metaphor and more of a reality. If there is wisdom that comes with age it is at least partially attributed to the awakening reality of our transitory lives. As the monks remind us, we are, in truth, a beautiful intricate sand painting.

Kerri and I took a walk yesterday through our beloved and soon-to-be-passing Bristol woods. A sizable ropes-adventure-course is being constructed that will cut through the center of the woods. More than ever we appreciate our walks through Bristol because we know these are probably among the last. We stopped along the path to catch our breath and, laughing, found ourselves spontaneously rolling balls of snow to create a snowman. Permanence is not a high priority in making a snowman.

Later, sitting together in the nature megaphone, we were being silly and howling with laughter. I realized that, because it was my birthday, we’d granted ourselves a free pass for the day. Nothing need be achieved. Nothing need be created. We had no agenda so, therefore, no time constraints. There was no attempt at permanence or investment in importance or thought to fill-up-time and so, in the absence of a purpose-filled-day, we found great open space for play and laughter. Pure enjoyment of our fleeting moment and of each other. I found myself in the mandala, appreciating the passing moment of vibrant colored sand.

In TRANSIENCE, Kerri builds a snowman, she takes us on a stroll through the passing woods, a mandala of rich musical color, and, if we give over to it, she knows, we might just find that great open space teeming with play and presence and the simple enjoyment of being alive.

 

TRANSIENCE on the album RIGHT NOW is available on iTunes & CDBaby

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read Kerri’s blog post on TRANSIENCE

 

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transience/right now ©️ 2010 kerri sherwood

Give Over The Melody Line [on KS Friday]

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Spiritual teachers across traditions suggest that the reason we suffer is that we focus on what we think should be/supposed to be instead of on what is. The dedication to being someplace other than where you are will split you every time! The notion that you can be someone other than who you are (at this moment) will cleave you in two. And so, we have traditions of mindfulness (be where you are) and acceptance (be who you are) and forgiveness (be at peace with who and where you are). The cliff notes version: stop hewing yourself in two and you will stop suffering.

This is the seed-idea that inspired AS IT IS. This is what is supposed to be. All is as it is, as it should be.

I delight when Kerri tells me the story behind a composition. This morning, as we listened, she asked me to pay attention to the melody line. The flute mostly carries it. The keyboard – what she is playing – is in a support role. She said it this way: the keyboard gives over the melody line. The flute gives it back. The keyboard returns it to the flute.

No resistance. Relationship. AS IT IS. These, too, are spiritual suggestions for mending the hew. I’ll add to my canon as a practice for presence: give over the melody line.

 

AS IT IS on the album AS IT IS, available on iTunes & CDBaby

 

read Kerri’s blog post about AS IT IS

 

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as it is/as it is ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood

Meditate [on DR Thursday]

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It’s a universal theme that I’ve painted over and over throughout my life. Mother and child.  Sometimes the painting is inspired by a dear friend becoming a parent. Sometimes, like this iteration, I look up and find it staring at me from the canvas. When that happens I know I need to follow it.

img_3998I learned when I was a teenager that the act of painting was, for me, a form of meditation. Sometimes the meditation has nothing to do with the image that I am working with. The process becomes an exercise in presence. Sometimes, like this painting, the image has everything to do with the meditation. The image is the meditation.

So. Birth. New life. Possibilities. Life giving. A good meditation for the middle of winter. A good meditation for an artist surrounded by good friends retiring from work, becoming grandparents, asking what is next. A universal theme. A universal symbol.

 

read Kerri’s blog post on MOTHER AND CHILD IN PROCESS

 

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mother & child (in process) ©️ 2019 david robinson

Pause [on KS Friday]

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Interlude. A pause. Breathing space. The silence between the notes. The space with no name. Untitled.

It seems that we, like all the people in our community, entered the new year exhausted. Our season celebrating the return of the light has become a season of rush and dash with nary a moment to reflect. Kerri said, in a moment of exasperation, “The bears are sleeping through this!” Nature knows what we are supposed to be doing in these dark winter months. Resting. Quiet in the branches sends all the good energy to the roots.

Take a moment. Listen. Breathe. Send some good UNTITLED INTERLUDE energy to your roots.

 

UNTITLED INTERLUDE from the album RELEASED FROM THE HEART is available on iTunes and CDBaby. Purchase the physical CD here.

 

read Kerri’s blog post about UNTITLED INTERLUDE

 

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untitled interlude/released from the heart ©️ 1995 kerri sherwood

Choose Your Meditation [on Not-So-Flawed Wednesday]

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We found Peace Marbles in a basket at the door of Leap Of Faith, a small shop in Cedarburg. It’s one of our favorite shops for obvious reasons. Many faiths are represented in the shop so translate the accompanying lyrics/prayer/meditation accordingly.

The idea is ancient. What fills your mind-space, your meditation, is what you will create. Meditate on hate and that is what you will see. Focus on lack and that is what you will experience. Although it might not seem like it, what you think, what flows through your noggin on a daily basis, is a choice.  It is a placement of focus. It is a prayer. A meditation.

Peace comes when people collectively focus on peace. A community chooses where to place its focus as readily as does an individual. It’s all in the narrative, the stuff flowing through our conversation, our storytelling, on a daily basis.  It is a creative act – not something that ‘happens to us.’

It seems we could use all the help we can get. And, you never know, a fleet of little blue marbles rolling around in pockets and purses as reminders might be just the thing to help us choose to place our focus on the better things. It certainly couldn’t hurt.

 

 

 

 

read Kerri’s blog post on BLUE MARBLES

 

 

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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

 

 

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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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