Making Things

Raggedy times, like we are living in now, hold potential. I didn’t always feel this way.  I trust times like these more than repressed times when our cultural wounds are plastered over with denial. Breaking open is what happens in a healing process. It’s the same in our individual lives as in our cultural lives. Until we face what’s hurting, it continues to fester.
I lived through the upheaval of the 1960’s.  Tumultuous times are with us now. Open wounds are nasty looking.  I do my best not to tumble into them.  After practicing countless balance poses in yoga, I see that my focus determines if I fall or not.
Spiritual practices are tested at times like these. Forty-seven years ago fear flooded my thoughts. Me, a young mother, fretted over the world my children would inherit. My worried mind can still stir, but now it often settles with meditation, prayer and yoga. Acts like these keep our souls shining and are not “happy face solutions.” They cultivate steadiness.
A month ago the Dali Lamia said, “Action not prayer will brings about peace.” A powerful statement from an avid meditator and prayer enthusiast.  I am sure he’d say we need both.
Thanks to the League of Women Voters, I was an active member in my twenties, political discourse and action on social issues are important to me. Being a social worker has encouraged sensitives about the struggles many of us face. Reading about issues, ferreting out information and working for candidates is something I’ve done most of my adult life.
Still the bigger challenge for me is, how do I hold a place of peace when fear boils over?
My focus often turns to making things when my life wobbles.  Making things soothes me. It doesn’t matter what I make. It might be a pan of baked apples, a poem, a quilt, or a meal. Deeply engaging with words, paints, cloth or food taps into a part of us that can lay dormant during busy days. It might be just what we need to do. These acts, no matter how simple, feed our souls.
The creative process teaches us many lessons like these: Acts of creation pull us out of our familiar patterns. They ask us to trust something more than our intellect. We’re schooled in how to move using inner guidance. We learn to act when we don’t know what will happen next.  We practice entering the Mystery that is beyond reason. All of these are invaluable to living in the moment.
Creativity affirms life.
Recently, someone sent me Dr. Estes’ Letter to A Young Activist During Troubled Times. I believe Estes wrote these words over a decade ago. Her powerful lines are as true now as they were then. She says, “Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.”
Her sage advice helps me know what we are called to do.  This is why we do our spiritual practices. They keep us focused on higher good. This is why I pick up a paintbrush, spoon or pen when life looks dark. Something is waiting to come into form. I can help it along by keeping my soul lit.
I will stay informed. I will take action. I will keep making things. This is how I keep my soul lit.
I’d like to know…
How do you keep your soul lit?
How do you calm tumult?

6 thoughts on “Making Things”

  1. Nancy, loved your blog entry. To keep my soul lit and calm the tumult, I lose myself in arranging flowers. I tried to post my latest work of art but am unable to add a photo. I picked up two bouquets of flowers at Trader Joe’s on Sunday and I have that green clay that you can soak that allows you to stick the flowers in any way you want, and voila, I’m my very own florist. Bright yellows, oranges and reds greet me on my kitchen counter each day. I lose myself in creating the bouquet and my heart lightens each time I see it.

  2. Oh How I love your words. You remind me of the Japanese art flower arrangement. Goes back to the 1500’s It teaches that flowers bring harmony into a room and our lives. I love picturing you surrounded by flowers and lost in their beauty. Thanks for this post

  3. Your words washed over me this morning like a cleansing rain on a hot, dusty, dry day. I hadn’t realized just how thirsty I was ’til I read them. With our home remodel, I haven’t watered my creative soul. And I have felt the negative effect of that. Thank you for the gentle reminder. The healing balm of creativity is needed more than ever…for me and for our hurting world.

  4. Katie, I know what you mean. Dryness sneaks up on me. I start wondering what’s wrong. Then I remember I haven’t tended to my soul. I thought these words would touch you. Thanks for sharing.

  5. OMG, you made my day. That trip to Spain with you and others changed my life. I have such fond memories of you. What are you up to these days? Love to connect!

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