Today I set out on what I hope will be a beautiful ride.
No, not on a bicycle, in a comfortable car.
True, this year’s autumn color peak has come and gone. Even while here, it was only a “peek.” The weather didn’t cooperate. But there are still spots of brilliance out there, and as I travel toward the Lakes more of it may remain, because the water bodies temper the temperature.
I’m going off-line for the rest of today, then all of tomorrow and Sonday, at least till I get home that evening. I’m blessed to be able to attend a second silent retreat, my only one ever besides last January. This weekend’s retreat is in a totally different venue, and has a very different set-up and approach. So it will be interesting to compare. (I hope the travel will be less adventuresome than January’s!) But the main thing is the focus, which is the same for both: time with God, in rest and silence, alone with Him while in the company of others desiring the same communion.
After pouring out all these words, I really look forward to that. To me it seems there’s some insanity in purposing to write-and-post for 31 days straight, and so I made exceptions of Sondays, though still aiming for 31 posts with 31 collages. What you’ll see this weekend (and today, actually) will appear automatically, as I “scheduled” them for their particular dates and times.
Getting this post done ahead of time (it’s actually Wednesday as I write) makes my tense shoulders relax and my breath come more slowly and deeply.
I look forward to more of that, and hope you have a “beautiful ride” through your weekend, wherever that may take you, whatever your plans may be.
May we all be able to slip into God’s slipstream,* and enjoy His presence in it!
*slipstream n … an area of reduced air pressure and forward suction immediately behind a rapidly moving vehicle (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary)
Angst! Tense muscles! That sense of unrelenting pressure, of being in over my head!
That’s where I found myself about halfway through this 31-Days-31-Collages-and-Posts commitment. Heel of hand to forehead, and “What was I thinking?” predominating my mind. I wrote about the problem in a comment I left elsewhere:
I am getting distractions and hindrances to posting daily, especially with the qualification I’ve given myself not to flash-publish without giving a post at least a little sit time, then proofing for erroneous messages. Also, I’m slated to go away on a silent retreat this coming weekend, where I’ll be out of internet for three days...! I’d thought I could get posts prepared ahead and scheduled to publish automatically while I’m away, but lately I’ve gotten doubtful about even getting the day’s post up and out!
All this is making me tense, and that’s choking up the writing pipes!...
So what did I do?
Well, first I “happened” to get email notification of Kel Rolf’s post called “Permission.” I read it. I found lots of good sense in it. And I decided, as she, to give myself permission to do less than perfectly, miss a few days if I must, and catch them up later if I so decided.
Then I stepped aside to my prayer chair, and let down my nerves with God. And then…
I followed my heart, which led me into my creativity room, to my art table, and I started messing around with…
I just wanted to handle the papers, work with the patterns, use a process called “cutting and folding back,” and not create anything “significant.”
As I got immersed in this process, the angst fell away, my head cleared—and I even found myself with an illustration (or two—see below) for a coming blog post (this one)!
From there I went and wrote one of my most difficult pieces, touching on domestic abuse (scary subject).
I’ve gotten posts up and published daily, too—haven’t missed a one! (Yet. But if I do, I’ll give myself grace and not let it throw me out of the marathon. I’ll scramble to my feet and re-enter the race, quite possibly refreshed again!)
So, can collage be therapeutic, especially for stress? I have found it so. And you may, too. Give it a try! (Junk mail scraps, a glue stick, and some index cards or other pieces of paper to stick them to: That’s all you need. Lots cheaper than a therapist, and in such cases as above, just as good.)
The process used in the collages above:
It’s as simple as it sounds.
Take a piece of paper, preferably with different colors or patterns on back and front. Some scrapbooking papers are ideal for this. (Or, paste two different papers together, back to back. Let dry, then proceed.)
Fold it in half (or, as in the circles example above, just cut it starting from one straight edge as if it were the fold line), and flip back the cut pieces. (The second example uses a combination of the two methods.)
Paste the resulting arrangement on a background paper. Here I used black. The circle design ended up working well because I happened to cut circles to flip, and the underneath paper (page) contained several circles. Straight lines were more appropriate for the second example, with its straight lines and rectangles.
Broken hearts—and lives—abound in our world. Abuse that breaks them runs rampant. But things made to fly still can, once they regain their strength, once their lives revive. A butterfly just emerged from cocoon is exhausted and weak. It takes time for it to gather its inner resources and venture, little by little, to the end of a branch, and eventually into the air.
These decorative winged creatures now look, to me, like they’re gaining joy from one another’s presence. No longer smushed down into sodden lumps of near-death, struggling just to lift a wing from their bodies, they all hold wings wide, in full flight.
We whose hearts, even lives, have been broken by abuse can gain strength and life from the same kind of resource–and from another even greater source. (Read linked post.) I can personally testify that this source can enable us to rise and act far above our own capabilities. I could tell so many stories…
But today instead of reading more from me, please click and visitthis page on Denise Hughes’s website, and find out one thing that’s uniting and strengthening hearts wounded by abuse, one more way of raising awareness of a problem we’ve been touching on here this week.
[You may want to send a friend or two there afterward, too!]
Other posts in this “collage” series that touch on the subject of domestic violence and abuse:
“Only Words” is what I called this introductory collage of words, letters, and a lamp, which could represent light—though I can’t say I intended that particularly.
I didn’t make the collage for any Big Idea reason.
I’m just nuts about words. So when I saw the study lamp in my junk mail travels, I suppose it made me think of study, reading, and so, words in print. That sent me off to the kitchen, to the old defunct dumbwaiter now become storage for catalogs, throw-out magazines, newspapers, and books. (Treasure trove for a collager, huh?) There, in the piles, I’d permanently stashed some old dictionaries. Out of one I ripped a couple pages, and proceeded from there. Words clipped from magazines and typewriter-letter stickers finished off the composition.
And that was that. Until…
…I learned that right now is the key week in National Domestic Violence Awareness Month (October). …I mentioned it in this post, then got a comment quoting from a Jackson Katz speech on “violence against women.”
Wanting to know who this man was, I searched, and found him giving this TED talk—and indeed, it included the same quote, but went further—and it really made me think about how poorly we use words, and sentence structure, when speaking about “violence against women.”
Himself quoting linguist Julia Penelope, he started with the basic, simple sentence,
“John beat Mary.” Subject-verb-object. Very simple, direct, active. (I emphasized the subject, like we used to do in school…)
Then he showed what happens to that basic fact in our culture.
That sentence quickly becomes…
“Mary was beaten by John.” (Active verb changed to passive; Mary becomes the subject of the sentence, on whom the attention falls. John, meanwhile nearly falls off the side of the paper.)
This morphs quickly into…
“Mary was beaten.”
which soon tends to become
“Mary was battered.”
which in turn changes to
“Mary is a battered woman.” Now this has become her identity!
And what happened to John? He’s been out of sight for some time now!
Jackson Katz’s campaign is to get through to men that violence against women is not a women’s but a men’s issue that they need to take responsibility for, especially male leaders in our culture—particularly to change the prevalent passive mindset.
Applause for him!
But I’m a woman, and I’ve been focusing on what I, and other women, can do about it.
One thing I’ve already explored is the need for us to 1) get better acquainted with abuse tactics and how they’re used [which needs lots of further discussion], and 2) train our ears, and hearts, to stop and listen if someone starts to confide about abuse she’s had happen to her… Er, rather… about the abuse some other certain individual perpetrates against her.
See how I/we’ve been conditioned to word this situation? It’s true: that’s the kind of thing we say. But realizing this helps us see what else we can do that could really help turn the tide: Quit phrasing these things this way. Rephrase into active simple sentences; no passives; no Mary as the subject with an invisible “problem,” like a hidden, inexplicable disease: Someone hit my friend! Her husband abused her!
Just words. But how we use them can either obscure or acknowledge the truth about perpetrators being perpetrators! It may be just a beginning. But it is a beginning.
[Another good thing that is happening is the push for bystander intervention to prevent violence before it happens. There’s really more that we can do as bystanders, without jeopardizing our own safety, than we realized. And sometimes that can be just “a word fitly spoken,” too.]
Or… whatever you do that seems to arise from some invitation inside that says, “Come on! Let’s do this!”
It’s about how we’re made. Wired. Designed. Created.
A recent blog comment in this series asked me what my intended life metaphor was in the collage that post displayed.
I caught my breath. I hadn’t realized I’d attached “life metaphors” to so many other collages until I read that question. But, then, coming up with such metaphors seems to be part of how I’m wired, too.
Does how I’m wired make others tired? I hope not! But it could. Maybe I need to keep my metaphors to myself more…
Anyhow, there wasn’t one for the collage in question. In fact, I couldn’t even think up one!
Likewise the two collages above. Their great message: There is none! It’s just fun! (Or… Maybe that’s the message.)
I rip or cut out bits of color, texture, shape, line movement, and images or words that just appeal to me—for unidentified and unreasoned reasons. I start “playing” with the pieces of paper, sorting out similar and contrasting ones, pushing them around on a little 4 x 6 card, trying different arrangements.
Why? I don’t know, really! Except that’s a bent I believe God built into my pre-conceived makeup.
Some people run, and end up in marathons; some climb mountains, higher and higher; some sing; some build… (My husband, for example, loves to build buildings! He’s got them all over this property of ours!)… some draw intricate pencil renderings or slap paint onto canvasses. And some collage. What’s inside comes out—if unhindered—like butterfly from cocoon.
True, in areas of creativity, whatever the medium, the expression sometimes reveals thoughts, desires, and emotions in the heart’s hidden parts. Often these revelations surprise the artist/creator as much as anyone. But sometimes there’s no big message, no Great High Truth.
How did “Round on the Ground” come to be?
I saw circles. All through my scraps. Different textures, a few subdued colors. Clippings that invited me to underlay the circle arrangement with gravel and brick. The collage is simply a composition of “repetition with variation”—round stuff! I just liked doing it, and I just like looking at it. And I guess that’s really the bottom line in any kind of visual art. It’s something to look at. Period.
“Books and bottles” came together because a catalog happened to have a bunch of both in their displays, and the subtle colors went together nicely. I arranged the objects in a pattern, but it looked too stiff and static and lifeless. That prompted me to add the (quilted?) curves, lively round flowers, and curved black fabric with white circular designs.
The composition still looked fragmented with the different shelves too cut off from each other. On the catalog spread was a polka-dotted ottoman or two. I cut the dots into rows, echoing both the shelf rectangles and the circular shapes of black cloth and flower patterns. I used these rows to connect shelf to shelf and move the observer’s eye through the whole collage. Why’s the mortar board there? Just because of its color, and because it goes with books.
Just design. Just experimenting. Just fun…
Like God must have had when creating His flamboyant universe! [But there I go, bringing in extra meaning! Oh, my! Oh, me!]