One of Sue Monk Kidd's short essays -- I assume written first for Guideposts -- has really stuck with me this week -- It's actually a story from another great spiritual storyteller, so now I'm making it third-hand here with some helpful links if you want more background. She quotes a story from a Rabbi (sorry, I can't find his name right now) who told about a dream that he had about standing in front of the Judgement Throne and, contrary to his fears of being asked why he had not lived as Moses or one of the Prophets, he was asked, "Why weren't you Rabbi ...?" And so, Kidd knows her question is that same one: "Why were you not Sue Monk Kidd?" not "Why weren't you Mother Teresa or Thomas Merton?" For those of us on the artist's path, the question for me is a parallel, "Why weren't you Susie McAtee Monday?" not "Why weren't you Pablo Picasso or Dale Chihuly or Jane Dunnewold or Gwen Hedley or Corita Kent or Rufino Tamayo or Joan Schulze, well, the hundreds of other artists whose work awes and inspired me. (and that's just the artists -- I've got an entire lexicon of writers, thinkers, activists, all -- I no doubt imagine wrongly -- standing in line with their hands up: "You could be great if you were just like me!")
Finding our way to our true selves takes paying attention to our deepest longings. It means making choices about where we spend our time and energy and money and love. We owe it to our deepest selves to listen carefully to our guts, our impulses and our inner witness, the one who stands outside of the critic, the dictator, the people-pleaser, even the wild child who would like nothing more than to throw a temper tantrum and watch junk on TV all day, just to show you who's in charge.
The next El Cielo workshop on June 13,14,15 -- Creative Jumpstart -- is planned to help me, as well as the other participants to walk further with this question of being true to one's self. The exercises will include "formal" investigations-- ie, the natural sensory vocabulary that each person mixes and matches into a personal brew of style, genre, materials, methods and process. (This is the part of the weekend that will deal with one's own voice in line, shape, color, movement, sound, rhythm, space, texture, and light.) But we will also use journaling and reflective meditation to design strategies that get us into our work, building new habits of "being one's self," and in seeing and taking the next baby steps towards our creative dreams.
Fiber and mixed media artist Pat Schulz and educator/artist Julia Jarrell think and work during a previous El Cielo Workshop
If you'd like to join the group, there's still room for one or two more. And of course, the retreat/workshop offers the beauty of the Hill Country and time to talk, laugh, share live's pleasures, swim and soak, sleep, take a hike -- even a Saturday night outing to Lake Medina for a picnic and kayaking, weather permitting. See the workshop page for details, price and time -- and send me a shout if you're interested.