This last year I’ve been acutely aware of the fact that I’m aging. What was effortless yesterday is not so easy now. My skin has alarming wrinkles, ones that weren’t there a year ago. At 73, I’m getting a wake up call, about my own dying.
I feel as if I’m living in a state of liminality, on the threshold of something big, crossing into new ground, not just of my own death, but also of the mortality of our civilization. I’m standing between two worlds, the decayed fractured world of greed and hyper individualism behind me and in front, a new world not yet born of love, cooperation and reverence for nature. I see myself in a waking dream, inside it but also outside at the same time, doing things but less often identified with the one doing the doing. But then again, maybe it’s just my sluggish thyroid.
The ancient Mayans say that in the latter days, even the oracle won’t be able to predict the future. Living in these times is like trying to find stability in a slow-motion earthquake. The ground where I stand emotionally and cognitively keeps shifting and everywhere there is the sense of a disappearing earth. There is a cloud of chaos everywhere, a sign and a wake up call that something important needs attending to.
It’s real effort adapting to a state of chronic uncertainty, alternating between anxiety and sleeplessness on the one hand and flashes of vision that hold promise of a Great Awakening on the other. In both instances, I am left stunned, like a bird that has flown into a glass window.
I paint to keep myself grounded, sane, and connected with my own creativity. It’s a way of making conscious the way I feel and what I perceive about this extraordinary situation we’re in. I paint where words fail, to create images that hopefully open a line of sight to where we might be going as a species. I paint about a wake up call that keeps reminding me of my long forgotten connection with nature.
More and more these days I feel urged to ask Spirit for help in accessing strength and guidance in how to navigate the uncharted waters of our collective transformation. Maybe it’s like the saying that “there are no atheists in foxholes.” Whatever the case, I’m sure my ego’s far too limited to help us out of the mess we’ve created for ourselves.
A while back I invested in an elk hide shamanic drum. I use it to invoke a meditative or an altered state of consciousness. It helps me be more receptive to the guidance I seek. I direct my drumming to the blank canvas before I start each painting and usually one or two times during the process. I imagine sound and light waves going into the painting, infusing it with life and healing. It’s a way of blessing the process, of making my own work sacred, if not to others then at least to myself. It’s my attempt to collaborate with Spirit, to make real the partnership that we humans have with the Unseen Intelligence.
In the midst of this time of the “darkening of the light,” where nations are governed by their most ignorant, least qualified and unprincipled citizens, where so much is being lost that it makes the heart cry out, my feelings range from rage, terror, and grief to wonder, joy and hope. Even in these dark times, there is a sense of illumination, of the dawning of an invisible light that can only be felt, blinding in its radiance, magically lifting us together even as it paradoxically plunges us into our own shamanic dark underworld.
Walking under the moon that has witnessed 5 major extinctions, I feel a wake up call that is too powerful to ignore. When I listen to young farmers speak of how they engage the spirit guardians of the land to learn how to regenerate the land and grow food during climate crisis, I feel a remarkable sense of Presence. It is like a vast Intelligence at work for billions of years, leading us to this precise moment in our evolution. It feels to me like the entire cosmos is evolving, not just our species, following an intelligent blueprint, a divine pattern yearning to be fulfilled. It’s inconceivable that this intelligence would want to abandon us, certainly not after all that it has taken to get us here. Instead, like a healing crisis, its intention must be to heal us, to activate our natural ability to self-correct. If anything, it wants to bless us, not punish us, to awaken us to its Presence.
The sense of an unseen Presence manifests for me as an ache to reconnect to something deep within myself that I barely remember, something I’ve forgotten for too long. It’s as if an inexplicable order behind the chaos is encouraging each of us to answer the fundamental questions of our existence: Who are we, why are we here, what is our relationship to this deep intelligence?
It’s hard to imagine the positive effect that collectively answering these questions will have upon our continued survival but I believe doing so will help awaken us to a new consciousness on earth. A new song wants to be sung, a new story wants to be told, a new image wants to be seen, a new dance wants to be performed. We are like midwives attending to the birth of a renewed human awareness, deeply connected to future generations who implore us to heed the wake up call, touched with the divine responsibility for co-creating into every aspect of our lives, the prime force of the universe, love.