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The Soul’s Lost and Found
—Cat Charissage, July 2016

“Mommy, I found you!!!
“I lost you!
“I looked there,
and there,
and there — but I couldn’t find you!
“I lost you!”
My son, at two, was just learning to talk.
Those were some of his first sentences.
I never took him back to daycare, and he hasn’t lost me since.

I, too, know what it is to look
there,
and there,
and there,
for someone.
You were lost, and I yearned for you,
for it to be like before.
I thought I might die, looking.
Then I wanted to die, if I could never find you.
Every day grey.
Had I made you up?
If you’d never been, why did I long for you so?

I kept finding places where you’d been,
but now you were gone.
I searched the stories,
the myths,
I searched in other people’s lives.
Even when they said “There! See?”
I couldn’t find you.
Gone, forever? Never been?

Walking the hills, the sun and wind pushing me forward
I dug and dug into the earth, my earth.
Found not just dirt, but soil. And life!
Critters and worms and roots of small plants,
taking my garbage and making compost.

Down there, I found you.
I found me.

Dead? No.
Asleep? Yes, dreaming our new world,
the earth my body, my history turned to gold.
Swirling life, making treasure,
giving treasure all the time I thought you were lost.

Who are you, oh Mystery? And who am I?
Who are we?
Making meaning, making soul.

 

Hello dear friend,

What is beginning in your beautiful life at this new moon?  For me, as I processed what I had taken in during my training in June with Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, I realized how deeply frustrated I am that I cannot easily speak clearly about that which is most important to me, about that which is the core of my life:  my search for and relationship with Great Mystery.  Sometimes painting and poetry are the only way to approach anything like an accurate communication with others.  

As many of you know, many years ago I had a strong faith as a Roman Catholic.  Suffice it to say that as I learned more, my faith changed deeply, and for many many years I felt both deep loss and anguish with discovering more about so much unmerited suffering of so many in this world and throughout time.  In the past 5 years or so the anguish has lifted; now I know how much I don’t know about “life, the universe, and everything”.  At the same time I commit to living out of as much compassion as I’m able to, and to an ongoing curiosity and study of all the ways that humans have made meaning throughout time.   And so I talk of soul, and mystery, and love, and life, and solidarity, and compassion.

This painting started out without any words or clear ideas.  I loved the idea of a woman of the earth, in the earth, of Gaia, of underground treasure.

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As I continued to paint I followed an intuition here, a color there.  I adhered crumpled tissue paper to the entire surface (and forgot to take a photo of that step).  For me it illustrated that life rarely goes smoothly.  The Buddhists’ first Noble Truth is that All is Suffering, which actually translates more accurately as “Everything is sort of messed up; life doesn’t fit; it’s all out of sorts.”

Yet I’d just been at a training entitled “The Heart of the Wounded Healer”, and I realize how it is also possible for humans to develop increased compassion and sensitivity, and including other gifts, if there are enough inner and outer resources as well as the deep challenges present.  My physical body is often in pain, and the wrinkled surface of the tissue paper expresses this well.  And somehow, I have accepted this life I have, and somehow, the wounds can also be accepted as potential gold if they are portals to new worlds and understandings.  This is when I added the gold into the woman’s body, and spirals of energy into the sky and sun. I also added my everyday self as the tiny figure, searching for soul.

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As the poem began to form, I added spirals of energy into her large body, and formed the hills to look a little more like the coulees here in southern Alberta.  There is much more to say, but that is enough for now.  Here again is the final painting:

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Thank you for witnessing and hearing the story,

With much love,

Cat

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