January 30th started at a doctor’s (they were so delayed that I rescheduled, to avoid being late for my next appointment), a visit to my church (amazing, details below), and a trip to the Unitarian Church to prepare for my upcoming show (it is hung and looks fantastic). Cleaning the studio and painting followed, of course, with this painting “Renewed Resolve” as a result.
After painting, I attended the very first “Creativity Collaborative” meeting, led by Jane Lavender (a true public servant/Artist). The group will catalog, and shed light on the 80+ artists in Bristol RI, in unison with the Governor’s new art initiative and Explore Bristol. It will focus on Bristol as an art destination, in cooperation with /not in competition with the other marketing promotions already in place.
When I owned Alta Luna Gallery, I worked hard to promote artists throughout 2012/13 in a gallery setting — on my own — so I appreciate this group effort and know that it will be worthwhile. Please comment (below) with the names of artists, art studios, theater/performing arts groups, and creative ventures that exist in Bristol, RI (only), so we can add them to the list (name/art type/location/phone/website). Art Night Bristol and Warren, Roger Williams University, the Bristol Art Museum, Explore Bristol and other institutions (to name a few) — as well as Alta Luna Studio — are part of this effort — thankfully.
About “Renewed Resolve” I dedicate this painting to Father Ruggiero from St. Patrick’s Church on Smith Hill in Providence, who sat with me for over an hour in confession (yes, confession; and no, the walls of the church are still intact), a real conversation to clear the slate and lighten my baggage. I don’t know why I waited so many years to go — it is just a conversation. He gave me a passage to read, “REVELATIONS, Chapter 12” (WHOA! heavy duty), so I read it and went to afternoon Mass (sweet,with a homily asking us to shake things up a bit… to throw ourselves (passionately) before God, rather than fall into a humdrum routine). He totally gets the spiritual stuff — not a man going through the motions. I love this Church, his leadership and that of our Francis,! Makes me proud to be a Catholic because (like him) I know I can be a good one, despite its (and my) sinful past! Yeehaw; life is good.
Father suggested that I do everything in my power to “avoid Sin”, going forward. That’s my focus. My sins are usually the things that I know are bad for me; and (historically) knowing how I get a kick out of being naughty, I will have to be more mindful. On confession: I suggest going to my pastor, if you ever want to join what I think of as the “Clean Slate Club”, in a compassionate setting. He has heard it all, I’m sure. As if we have “Firsts” to share… And with the church’s leader, Francis, encouraging the Church to be a place where the wounded find refuge… there are worse places to find yourself.
I justified not going (to confession) for years, saying “How is some going to tell me how to do my life better? (Who is he to judge?). It wasn’t ’til I learned otherwise, in a non-church support group, that a true confession is a great thing!
I had already started painting the Madonnas (without a clue why) and my screwed up life had rendered me the impression that I was not lovable. I joined the group and eventually I did a confession with a co-member– something that helped lighten my load. The woman I trusted most in that group suggested that I kneel in prayer every day (for 90 days) and pray to a higher power (created by me, as what I needed it to be). In this way, she thought, I’d end up with “a God of my understanding” — a perfect plug for all the voids in my life. I’d tried just about everything else and it hadn’t worked, so I listened. I wasn’t ready to go back to Church yet, so I listened… (actually, if it had been church-related then, I wouldn’t have tried it.)
I was skeptical, to say the least; and that woman encouraged me and listened to my very worst secrets. That “clearing” led to a correction in course that I needed. She was the closest substitute I had to a Priest back then. Encouraging me to build a “personal relationship” with God, she was the first person who told me a cut and dried way to get God (back) — my God, nobody else’s — a perfect “GOD”. I didn’t like the word at all; nor did I think I’d ever have a personal understanding of one. But I trusted this friend (and still do); I can do a perfect impression of her (she has a foreign accent).
She asked me (I was impressed by her surety) to write a list of all the qualities that would comprise a PERFECT God IF I had one… Okay, that didn’t sound so difficult, so I did; and the list included such words as “Unconditionally loving, nurturing, strong, humble, parental, forgiving, understanding, real, compassionate, fair…”. She said to kneel with that “perfect God” and talk to it every day on the floor before I did ANYTHING else). I felt ridiculous — but I did it. And I actually knelt with that list. I knelt with the list of words and talked to “It” for 30 days, hopeful.
Then at about 60 days, I was freaking out on my way to a counter-productive event, sitting at the longest red light ever, knowing that I was not supposed to be going that night. Then, without giving it a thought, I prayed (inadvertently) to that compassionate being from my list. I started talking to it as I would normally talk to myself; THEN (not kidding) I was (without any doubt in my mind) not alone in that car. The light turned green and I was good to go. I have never felt totally alone again, even when I’ve felt disconnected at times.
I need God more than ever right now, too; lots of challenges (job, money, daughter’s college bills, son now without work, too), so I thought I’d use the tools at my Church (the sacraments) for help in stepping (wholly) into that grace. Meditation is harder for me in the cold (ridiculous, I know) but that can be a great way to listen, as is painting (or walking or sitting at the ocean or just being still or breathing or all of the above), “Happy highs” — not being alone but, in fact, enveloped in the arms of God.
A funny aside about the “LIST”: A few months after I wrote that God List, I wanted to date, so my friend suggested that I write a list of qualities I deemed necessary in the perfect mate — and I wrote the list. I freaked out when she had me compare it to my other list — because it was nearly identical. The list I have today is still similar with a few additions, but at least I know a man is not a PLAN… I have a safer one. The list makes it to say, “Nah… that isn’t going to work.”
A funny about me and meditation… Once, when I told a co-worker to get a move on because I was late to lead a meditation — in my “perfection is the only option” pain in the *** way — he snapped “YOU are the LEAST serene person I know…” (I was wounded, of course, LOL) I said, “NO KIDDING! Why do you think I meditate?!” I am so NOT perfect. I am the LAST person in the world that should judge or pretend to be totally “Enlightened”. This is all a path, a process. While READINESS/ENLIGHTENMENT is my goal , The last person I would trust is the person that SAYS that they are… Glimpses are enough to keep me trying.
And the thing about the “Mary” process — and my year is dedicated to her — is that I can get closer to God through her, too. I know in my heart that she is conduit to God, the proof that “readiness” to be OF GOD is possible. That’s my take (and nobody has to agree) on things.
I ended the day by dropping off “Lady in Blue” to Joan, my dear Hindu friend (I love her ceremonies), and then had some male friend-time with Chris (platonic, we laugh out LOUD every time we meet), with whom I had a great conversation about sin and knowing when its time for confession. Thanks to my first ex (1 of 2) for paying to to get an annulment, I am now free to partake of the other sacraments, too. (The 2nd one didn’t require an annulment; and who gets married on Good Friday, anyway; jeesh.)
The day was (again) full; No job yet, and no clear picture of what will come next — but the path is the path. And if anyone sees my sister Dawn out there, tell her that I used the white Gideon’s Pocket Bible today — the one she gave me ten years ago (she won’t believe it).