Eagles, Ash Wednesday and a Collage

photo 27February is such a mixed bag of emotions for me. Two of my children bookend the month with birthday celebrations, which I love. It’s a joy to party and celebrate with them and enjoy their continuing maturing into who they are.  Sandwiched between is the anniversary of my Dad’s passing, six years ago. Wow, has it really been six years?  Much of life has happened, with many joys and laughter, along with other sorrows and simply plain and ordinary days as well. Even though I come into February ‘knowing’ these things, it doesn’t quite seem to get easier (in terms of missing my Dad); although it doesn’t surround and encompass me like it did the first year.

Today, in the Christian tradition, story and calendar, it was Ash Wednesday, a day in which we take time to remember that from dust we came and to dust we will return. Since scattering my Dad’s ashes in English Bay six years ago, this has taken on an entirely different meaning, memory and experience for me. I haven’t as yet attended a Catholic mass, nor put ashes on my forehead, but today I did my own journeying with this day through collage and a walk.

I’ve been wrestling with this word ‘nothing’ that has arisen for me and resonates somewhere deep enough within that I know I need to pay attention. Today I collaged with it. Collaging for me is a wonderful process and experiment in where I let go of my ‘thinking’ brain and simply collect images that speak to me somehow about the intention of the collage. I cut, and arrange, and re-arrange, and then paste, and sit and listen. Here’s what my nothing collage had to share with me: The movement of the water images, and the sand remind me of the desert journey which Ash Wednesday begins and leads into the season of Lent. There is movement in nothing. There is ‘light’ in this word, even though at first my gut reaction feels heavy, empty and dark. I love trees and in this collage they line the top left corner, standing tall, rooted and grounded, yet surrounded by mist and fog and mystery. The 2 cups on the bottom right remind me that I am not alone. They symbolize the cup of my life and although they may look empty, one cannot tell, and they are capable of holding much. The colors: red and green are symbolic to me. Red symbolizing passion and sacrifice and the green reminds me of the ‘greening power of God’ as described by Hildegard of Bingen in her work ‘veridatis’. The word ‘nothing’ takes on an entirely different tone and nuance when played with like this and I am thankful for the gift of time and space to create.

I carved out time as well today to walk. I am a much more grounded, thankful and grateful person (at least in my heart and mind) when I make time to get outside. As I was driving to my regular walking spot a very large, graceful and powerful eagle flew right towards me, about 25 feet up in the air. I saw it coming from a distance and my first thought was, ‘wow, that’s a huge seagull’. Then as it drew closer I saw that it was an eagle. I think at first I couldn’t believe that it might be. It was. I love, adore, am encouraged, amazed and in wonder whenever I see eagles – they  have that affect on me. I wanted to stop driving in the middle of the road just to watch it, but I didn’t. After getting out of the car and leashing up my faithful canine friend I spotted another eagle, this time sitting, waiting, watching, high up in a tree. I was so excited – 2 eagles, thank you! Then, 10 minutes later, to my absolute delight and surprise – another eagle. Perched in another tree, sitting, watching, waiting. Majestic. Beautiful. Thankful. Grateful.

And all of this beauty, on this one day.

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