Art as Prayer

From my October newsletter. Sign up here to receive the latest information about shows/events, new art, upcoming workshops, inspirational poetry, and more!

And so begins the turning of the wheel into the darkness. The rains return. All is silent at last. Preparing the landscape for the inner journey of the soul as we move into autumn, direction of the west, and the element of water. As a Scorpio, Autumn is my most beloved season and love rising early before the sun, before the world wakes. I start each morning in the studio with a ritual of lighting candles, with an offering of incense and a prayer for the healing of all beings and for the healing of the Earth. Art as prayer.

In Derrick Jensen’s brilliant and heartbreaking A Language Older Than Words, he writes: “Every morning when I wake up I ask myself whether I should write or blow up a dam. Every day I tell myself I should continue to write. Yet I’m not always convinced I’m making the right decision. I’ve written books and I’ve been an activist. At the same time I know neither a lack of words nor a lack of activism kills salmon here in the Northwest. It is the presence of dams.”  

I hear his frustration and feel his despair around the extinction of so many species and for the devastation that is occurring on our beloved planet as well as his conflict between activism (albeit quite radical) vs. art, in his case writing. With the recent adolescent squabbling about a shutdown of the US government, it seems like things will continue to be business as usual in Washington. I ask myself almost daily what is my role during this planetary time? What is the role of art in the face of climate change and environmental degradation? I believe deeply that we each have a role to play in what the late eco-theologian Thomas Berry calls the Great Work of our time and so many are now hearing the call to work in service to the healing of our world and to co-create new ways of being in community that are sustainable. This gives me hope when it seems our actions often fall on deaf ears with those in power. Yes, we must continue to take actions, write letters, “Draw the Line” against the fossil fuel industry, and make mindful choices around products, etc. but for me, like many of us, the underlying crisis is a spiritual one. (You can read more about this at my Facebook studio page under Notes)  
In an interview with Jensen in his book of interviews Listening to the Land, Berry said, “If nothing is sacred, nothing is safe.” The earth is not sacred to those who continue to destroy our rain forests, contaminate our water, pollute the air, and kill endangered species for sport. How can a society grounded in materialism and greed reclaim and remember that we are all interconnected in the web of creation? How can our religious traditions inspire their members to reverence the earth, “God’s Creation?” This consciousness is already occurring in many temples, synagogues, churches, and mosques around the world which is a great start. Since the beginning of time, humans have been giving expression to the Divine/God/Goddess through art as a way to connect the viewer to the Sacred, the holiness of our existence. Can contemporary sacred art re-sacralize our world and inspire new ways of being? My work is a prayer and a contribution to this conversation.   
How about you? What is your Great Work? 

For love of the Earth,