Painting/Collage from Sept. 9, 2022 Retreat for Spiritual Directors, Watercolor on paper, Cat Charissage (c) 2022

Dear Friends,

Happy New Moon, just two days after the Equinox. Here in North America, the light signals that fall is in the air. I love the way the light in September makes the leaves and the trees glow golden.

A couple of weeks ago I was at the fall retreat of the Lethbridge Spiritual Directors’ Peer Support Group, and I led a portion of the day with this art activity. I invited us to think of some of the “worlds” we live in, then to look at them, peer between them, and think of what is ours to do in this season of life. My four “worlds” were Family (including Chosen family), Sharing my Enquiry and Wisdom, Intentional Creativity, and Transformative Connections:

I painted a cross between a medicine circle and a Celtic cross, the purple circle to represent my life at this time, with the large yellow crossbars representing my soul life. The four “worlds” include words which describe the what and the how of each of those worlds, and the yellow curved papers uniting the circle with the outside of the circle describe how I wish to live in this world: “Focus”, “Respect dear body”, “Appropriate Boundaries”, “Drawn, not Driven”, “tonglen” (a practice of metaphorically breathing in the darkness of the world, offering what I can to cleanse the darkness, then breathing out clean, clear light), and an awareness of the presence of “Holy Ones and Ancestors”. All the flotsam and jetsam floating around the purple circle are all the things in the world that I find interesting and attractive, all the books I want to read, the movies I want to see, the new people I’d love to meet, all the disciplines I’d love to learn about, all kinds of ways I’d love to be of service, all the art classes I’d love to take, etc., etc. Alas, we are all limited beings in time, yet, to the extent possible, I want to be conscious of how I am living this blessed life, to be conscious of what I’m focusing my energy on.

After I finished this collage, I looked at it and had to laugh —- and here’s the simple, contemplative life I want to be living! Looks pretty busy and cluttered and oh so full —- so many words, so many colors!!! So I did another small painting: the blue background, the purple circle of self and the worlds I live in within it. When I went to share my artwork with the others, I said that the simple circled cross was what I aspire toward, as in my mission statement; the full-colored busy one is the way I actually live my day-to-day life.

So what about you? At this cultural “new year” of so many new projects starting, what worlds are you living in? Are there worlds that you need to move out of in this season of life? Are there worlds where you need to offer more focus? Can you come up with a simple image, or word or phrase, that encompasses your life these days? Is your life what you want it to be? If not, where do you have choices in order to change things here and there, or change things in one fell swoop!? We don’t control everything in our lives, but we can control our attention. What are you paying attention to these days?

Enjoy this transition time!

With much love and many blessings,

Cat

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