A good story- Dressing the Naked Truth

One thing I love is a good story. The story may be part of a film, or a favorite novel, or a biography or part of an inspiring talk – it may be a piece of outstanding journalism – but I do really love a good story.

A good story for me brightens my whole day,  it sends tingles in my brain, and joy in my soul. It may have been dramatic or moving and I would have had my emotions swept along with it, its just like a great rollercoaster ride at the fun fair – your with it all the way and once its done your delighted and want to hear it again.

Thats a good story for me

So, since I have decided i love stories so much, I especially love the spoken word and traditional tales told to a live audience. In a small cozy gathering often in comfortable surroundings with light refreshment and an inspired and talented storyteller, which we all listen to as a community.

I have explored religions through my life too and cultural frameworks of reality which holds what we feel we know to be true. These are all based on story – grand narratives and while there are many issues with religions, wars etc; one of the things I love is the talent of the priest or priestess or Buddha as storyteller, passing on their wisdom and insights in a way that makes better and more virtuous people, wiser, and more prepared for life and its difficulties.

I also enjoy telling stories. I tell stories in my work as an ESL teacher of Chinese children and I love to do all the dramatic bits and the funny voices to delight the children.

So as part of my work and also as a personal interest, I have started to collect little traditional stories as I hear them that are quite short and memorable and preferably have some sort of higher meaning or moral to them.  I have decided to share some of them here in my blog… obviously, in a written format, they are not fully alive, not like when they are performed or told by a teller – but I think it’s nice to share them with their bits of wisdom which others may appreciate in the online world.

One story I heard quite recently relates to my experience of church. When I went to church and heard the gospel about how we are all sinners destined for hell etc it didnt really sink in, I had previously been studying Hinduism and that says we are good with a divine nature, secular thinking also says we are all basically good people and after a while of hearing it and evaluating its truths, i did get a little angry with the idea that we are hopeless sinners in need of a saviour. Some people who hear those words stay angry or at least dismiss them as nonsense – but I never totally did that because while its true everyone is capable of good and if perchance we do any good we are the first to sing our own praises, it is also true, that we have a darker or shadow side which we hide and try to keep under control. Lack of awareness of this side of ourselves and refusing to admit that ok, we may be less than perfect can lead to all sorts of problems.

However, for the Priest whos job it is to present this truth to the people, with flourish and style, having the responsibility for the flock and their moral and spiritual welfare in his hands – he has a hard job to do, to present something that people may get angry about, dismiss etc etc

So I heard a story that could help with this. It’s a Jewish tale and it goes like this:

Once upon a time two very beautiful women met in the woods, they both had long luscious hair, big starry eyes, stunning figures and were both gorgeous in every way. So being a little vain they decided to have a competition to see who was the most beautiful woman. In order to test who was the most beautiful and the most powerful, they decided to have a competition where they would walk through the nearest town in all their beauty and see who would gather the most crowds

One woman’s name was called Truth, the other was called Story

So Truth went first, she was very beautiful and she walked through the town and people did gather at first, but not for long and mostly they then went away and carried on with their business – then thinking she wasn’t doing very well and that she would lose the competition she pulled out all the stops to appear more beautiful, letting down her long hair, shaking it in the breeze and still that didn’t gather the crowds – so feeling there was nothing more to do she decided to take off her garments and appear in the town completely naked

Although Truth was stunningly beautiful, she just still didn’t gather the crowds and instead, now she was naked – people ran away and locked their doors and hid from Truth.
So she went back to lady story and said sadly, I have been utterly rejected and even spat upon by the crowds, they even hid from me – I think I have lost this competition,  I must be very ugly
so Story’s turn came and off she went to the town – she was dressed in finery and when she went through the town the people all came out of their houses and soon there was a huge crowd gathered around her – everyone loved story and she had easily won the competition
So returned to the woods and the two women talked. Truth was humble – I have lost this competition – it must be that Story is more beautiful and more powerful than Truth
But Story replied is it not that I am more beautiful and powerful – it is just that people often don’t like the truth and they especially do not like the Naked truth even though you are indeed a very beautiful woman.
However, all is not lost because all that truth needs to be loved and accepted is the mantle of story and then Story took off her long feathered cloak and gave it to truth and she looked very fine indeed. So now when she went into town the people did gather to see her in her lovely long cloak and soon a big crowd appeared and truth was accepted and loved.
Moral – although Truth in itself is a beautiful woman people do not like her without adornment, they prefer in disguise – dressed in the mantle of story.

 

 

 

 

 

The white horse that carries us home

Death – the final journey.

This is something many of us choose NOT to think about, after all, if you are young perhaps there is no need to contemplate the finite nature of our existence.

But here and there we get reminders, we see our grandparents growing older, their struggles and pains as they need assistance with their daily tasks.

Our pets may die and leave us bereft of their company

and as we grow older and older ourselves, some of our companions and friends leave this world, sometimes suddenly, it may be a murder, or a heart attack and sometimes in really horrible circumstances such as a long struggle with an illness like cancer.

For myself, I had a health crisis which came on quite young, it wasn’t a fatal illness but there were many times I thought I may die due to being sick – so this caused a change in me. I became religious, I studied the sacred texts of many religions. I experimented with meditation, reiki, studied and made mandalas, prayed long and hard, sat long in silence, and thought deeply. Then I rejected religion altogether when my health was much better and TRIED to go back to my old ways of just living but I found that I was different and changed by my experience and the sacred was with me to stay along with my wounds.

Now I make art and had just started an every day drawing art challenge, when I got a message from a friend, that another mutual friend who has a disability and had been struggling with cancer for a long time, many months wasin fact, is going to die.  First it had been breast cancer they beat that, then it had been leukemia, they battled that, and now it seems they had found another mass in her liver and it’s cancerous. So now the doctors say there is nothing they can do. Visitors requested for her last hours,  days or weeks to make her comfortable before she leaves this world.

So, this was also a moment in my life where I had decided I didn’t really want religion and in particular Jesus of religion in my life anymore – sickened and dismayed by the actions of many Christians and also in toxic shock over some of the more poisonous and difficult to swallow parts of this religion. BUT just the day I got the news about my friend, doing my art challenge, I had drawn a picture of Jesus with his white horse which indicated as a rider He was faithful and True.

jesus

My friend had been going to church before she got ill which is how i knew her and had dedicated herself as a Christian and had stayed with the faith during her long illness and now she was facing the final journey.

So I looked at my art and what I had drawn and decided that yes there would be a use for this – Not only had my art reignited my own faith in a way, but also I realized that this picture was for my friend to brighten up her room.

 

horse

 

I drew some more, just a white horse on its own no rider. The horse we ride to take us home. I scoured the internet for inspiring images and saw a beautiful picture of a single boat, and suddenly I saw it in my mind’s eye with flowers – so I used the image and drew my vision and then came the poem – about the lonely boat and our final journey.lonelyboat

A lonely journey

a lonely journey all alone
to a place that is just unknown
from the shore well wishing hands wave farewell
so many cheers and prayers and thanks to dwell
with us on our passage through the time
to the place of endless rest
and know there isnt any test
Just love and peace thats eternal too
although we will miss and think of you
sweet memories of a friend and her smile
Goodbye for now, until one day, we reconcile.

So, I realise now the benefit and need of religion in our lives…. it for these moments, to express the inexpressible, to appreciate life in all its ups and downs the dramas and the darkness and the light times, to find hope and meaning when there otherwise appears to be none to comfort. It may not be literally true but it certainly contains truth that is experienceable and felt by millions of people, enriching their lives and causing them to enrich the lives of those around them. Sometimes it does go a litle awry people fight and kill over truth, or threaten small children with hell – but otherwise religion, especially the Christian religion, and your following Christs instruction is all about guiding the misguided, caring for the sick, the elderly, the disabled, the homeless seeing people through major passages, birth, marriage, parenthood, death and providing wisdom that cannot be learned, that is just a little inspired and supernatural. Cures that defy all understanding, and soothing and bringing peace to the disturbed. The cries to God do not go unheard.

So yeah, I’m going to go visit my friend who is dying and bring her my pictures and help brighten up her room, tell her and weave her some stories and help her die in dignity with hope for the journey. Then when my time comes I too am going go peacefully into the night hopefully fully prepared.

Melting Ice

ice4In the past I have thought about the ephemeral nature of things, changes transitions we all have to go through. Sometimes this can be dramatic as life and death but sometimes it can be something smaller like moving house or thawing ice. Moments of time that were and are now no longer, and most importantly the in-between time before that transition, the moments in between and ending and a new beginning.

I have seen two such moments recently, I have over the last few months moved from a big three bedroom house in the suburbs into a tiny flat near the town. In the process I have had to get rid of most of my belongings and clutter – as they just don’t scale down well. Very cathartic to realize most of the stuff you owned and gathered and took delight in for a while wasn’t stuff you really needed or even used very much. However there was an attachment, now released, let go as I reside in a new neat clean minimalist space with my bare essentials. I feel lighter as I moved, the snow was beginning to fall down and was the start of the cold snap – but now today I took photos of all that cold and ice thawing away, returning to the water.

Warming sunlight now fills my flat, winter is leaving and spring will come soon, another ending and beginning like endless cycles but in gentle transition. I went for a walk this morning to my new park which will be where I can now go for relaxation and nature, art and poetry and walks. I have frequented my new local – Zincos Lounge, its a lot better than my old one. I feel this transition has been a little painful, but overall positive, better health, fewer belongings, closer to a community, easier to see my relatives and those I care about. Years of history swept away apart from a few souvenirs, clear out the old and make way for the new.

It has caused me to reevaluate my relationship with stuff and belongings as well, we live in a consumer society. It screams by more stuff from every advert on every street corner and screen, but I have decided I’m not going to do that so much anymore. In my parents generation they made things last, our culture makes things to break, but I have realised I have had a bad habit of hoarding and this just won’t be possible in my new place, so this should save some cash as well in terms of not constantly being things we don’t need because an advert or trend says so. Will our friends still love us if we don’t have the latest iPhone, the latest flat screen tv or gadget? I would hope so

My new beginning is letting go of the past, reducing clutter, reducing waste, recycling, making more time for positive life-enriching activities, art, poetry, performance, writing, dance – all of which are mostly free but are essential human activities long forgotten in being a passive consumer, watching tv, eating, buying things. I don’t want to be just an employee or a consumer, a robot in a suit. I want to be free to be me and this requires less stuff to be free.

The winter changes, the ice melts, new pathways emerge, spring is coming and may 2018 continue to be the best year yet. (photos Rosehill quarry Wales UK 4/04/18)

 

Wisdoms root

white

Inspired by Robert Burns poem the Bards epitaph. I’ve been reflecting on wisdom as a tree of life described in books like the Bible and what it means to be wise. Self control and prudence is her root and shes truly beautiful a white reflection of something glorious and greater than ourselves. I wrote my own poem and made some art(above) in honor of Lady Wisdom. The gnostics believed lady wisdom and the Bride of Christ were one and the same 🙂

Wisdoms root

Silver lady standing tall
whos the fairest of them all
moon maiden bright
white goddess of light
no image is found of the woman renowned
shattered mirror, lost dreams
beauty is not as it seems
but thats how you learn, cause you just cannot earn
a place in the hearafter
fairy bells and laughter
an island of song there to rest.
A serenity of heaven the place, thats the best
Wisdom divine is the luminous woman so fine
self control is her root, and her graceful foot
a reflection to sigh of the Glory on high
Prudence her name and she gives gifts of fame
and old age ripe and healthy, and probably wealthy
a sure sign of Grace on the old human race.

EDIT

Since I wrote this post i have had news that im going to be part of an exhibition with a group of artists called the Last Foundation – the exhibition is on Last Foundation – New directions. So basically the new directions all of us ex-students are going in since passing the course. The ex-students that make up the group Last Foundation have gone onto various fields – fine art, fashion, textiles. For myself I have developed my poetic and storytelling voice, writing short stories in a creative writing class and performing my poetry around Swansea and also being creative in training to be a copywriter – but I have decided I really want to explore the amazing world of new media and digital storytelling. So, Im going to apply for the New Media Degree in Carmarthen and learn everything about videos, film, animations, apps, UX design and so on. So the exhibition will reflect this – im going to do a digital storytelling version of my poem on wisdom and a semi-animated video using after effects and my digital art will be displayed in a cut up mosaic form like a smashed mirror. Ill also include my artwork in the semi-animated video along with royalty free images and sounds I’ve collected from the internet.

I did some further free writing on the project to see what else my poem and artwork could tell me

Wisdom is a tree of life and all those that hold on to her will be blessed (proverbs 3:18)

wisdom is alluring – but she is not to be enjoyed or partaken of by men she is chaste and a reflection of the divine, her gifts are a measure of His Grace – she does not act independently

mirrors reflections – smash the mirror for looking at self – selfie culture, lost in broken dreams and unwise living – beauty is not found in self reflection its found in being the mirror reflection of the Greater Glory a spark eminating from the source of it all. Its in reflection on Him that we may become beautiful and wise – joyful, clean, holy, white with hair like wool

wisdom as a moon maiden
The moon is a reflection of the sun, and so too is true beauty but a reflection of the Creator and its His light that gives delight in the an otherwise barren and bereft form. So it is for the Christian, our job is to be reflections of the Light of the Great Light – the source of all illumination and Glory. Without Him we have no light, we are not radiant or beautiful in ourselves but by cultivating the gifts of the holy spirit and turning our faces to greet the Sun of Righteousnes we too can be beautiful and reflect the His light in an otherwise dark night of an unbelieving sinful world.