An exploration of the creative process through art, poetry, and community.

This week at Airy Knoll – every week at Airy Knoll – ads a rich layer to my life, taking me out of my routine, and feeding me with nature, art, new and renewed relationship, and space to experience it all fully.

I think the trick of living in the layers is to honor them all – not dwell on the dark layers nor ignore them but to step back and take in the beauty of the tapestry that is our life. Yellow shines brighter against black. Soft tones may seem dull when living in them but they make a beautiful back drop. It’s taken me many years to understand this and accept it. I wonder how often I miss the joy of a moment because I was focused on the wrong things.

I love how returning students cherish the farm class and are eager to work and help Bill and Elizabeth. Lord knows, I don’t know how these two do all that they do. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the farm class continued long after each of us has passed through this life, nurturing future artists, shaping future lives. The gift of acceptance is even more important than the art of a week away to focus on art. At our very core, we all long for acceptance – especially those who claim to not want or need it. We are social creatures who happen to need solitude, rather than solitary creatures who need socialization. I think we tend to get it backwards.

Refreshing rain followed by a triple rainbow. Beneath the rainbow’s arc it was brighter than the areas outside the arc. We can choose to see the rainbow as just another rainbow – or we can choose to be in awe of it. I hope I always choose to be in awe of it. I hope I am always in an emotional and mental state that a rainbow still feels like a gift and a blessing.

One of the many things I admire about Suzanne is her sense of awe over things most of us walk by and never even notice. Who knew earthworms stretch out of their earth homes in the darkness of night. Who knew that the location of their dwelling determined who they would mate – next door neighbors make more than good friends.

As tiny as a grain of sand, a dark speck in a drop of water, yet under a microscope as it comes into focus. I am awed by the detail and complexity of this creature. It seems impossible that the speck I pulled from the pond water and this alien creature I am peering at are one and the same. I am in awe of it. I feel ignorant and simple in light of this knowledge.

Gazing to the sky in a painful craning-of-my-neck way, I am humbled by the magnitude of infinity. Within my sight are satellites and airplanes, planets, and shooting stars. Things I can grasp and comprehend. Beyond it are starts and galaxies and space, so much space. I feel small and insignificant in the vastness of it all.

We are ignorant and simple. We are small and insignificant. But also – we are fantastic and unique, we have the ability to love and show compassion, to create and grow, and to make life better for each other. When we fully unfold – like the fern – our face is pointed to the sun, to what is positive, our arms are stretched out wide, reaching out in love and compassion with an open heart that is eager to give and grow beyond our small insignificant selves.

Notes to the universe are piling up in the worn wooden bowl – waiting patiently to be released into the cosmos. Dreams, prayers, wishes – waiting. I miss this ritual: Sitting around a blazing fire, a circle of glowing forms; the passing of the bowl, a small light illuminating the bowl, paper and face of the reader; the hush as we contemplate the depth of a prayer; the stumbling as the reader attempts to decipher another’s writing; the laughter when the comradery as those sitting close by try to help; a funny note lightening up the moment; watching the fire reach to the heavens and the embers glow white hot and cooler red.

As I got ready for bed last night I marveled at Elizabeth. “I’m just going up to say goodnight” she said. She cannot resist the fire, encircled with this beautiful community she has created. And who can blame her. This moment in time will not come again – sleep can come later. But for me, sleep must come now.

The bowl in the center of our circle sits silent. Last night we set free the voices it held – the prayers, the needs, the longings that have been accumulating all week. An ancient ritual made new. Sitting around the fire, passing the ancient bowl with its sacred contents, giving voice to each prayer and then watching the paper burn and send its smoky remains to the heavens. I feel a stronger connection to each of you. Something happens when we perform this ritual that feels holy.

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