• evansph2




I am still engrossed in creating these “Morning Altars”. – and especially in the process of “letting them go”. Often they begin to be destroyed as soon as they are made – a puff of wind moves a feather or a leaf, a flower wilts before I finish making the altar, upon closer inspection one element is missing a leaf or has a black spot and on and on. This practice again and again confronts my need to control how things go!


Day Schildkret, the author of the marvelous book. MORNING ALTARS has this to say about the process;


“Impermanence is like the guest you never wanted. He enters without knocking, tosses all of your neatly placed things around, eats everything in your cupboard and leaves your home in shambles. No maker how much you try, this guest will somehow find his way inside and will have his way with all the things of your life. This is just how it is.” (from MORNING ALTARS by Day Schildkret The Country Man Press, pg. 192)


Well darn! That’s not the life I wanted! That’s not the life the gurus told me I could have if I just worked hard enough. That’s not the life I counted on. I counted on; order, plans, predictability, and a happy ending.


Letting my carefully planned altars “go” is something like I am feeling about letting the whole last year “go”. I finally managed to figure out how to cope with being isolated, and now I have to let that go and figure out how to re-engage. Everything about last year and now this has been a PhD in learning to let go! Even though I know in my head that “everything changes” – my heart seems to be lagging behind. In some cases, I seem to still want the safety of masks and 6 ft distances. I want the ready excuse not to attend committee meetings and other commitments. At the same time, I want to get on an airplane, eat inside a restaurant and go to a theater. Trade-offs are the hallmark of being alive I guess.


The lesson from the soul?? Day Shildkret goes on to ask; “But what if you didn't resist this guest? What if you not only invited impermanence in but even offered him the best seat in your home, the best food on your table, and treated his as the honorable guest you've been expecting. what if you treated him as a teacher who came to remind you that impermanence underwrites the very nature of your life and life itself?' What if impermanence arrives to teach us to deliciously, unabashedly, brokenheartedly fall in love with what is here right now because that’s all we have”. (from MORNING ALTARS by Day Schildkret The Countryman Press pg. 192)


To that I can only say. AMEN

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  • evansph2


I have been having a lot of fun with one old magazine, a pair of scissors and a glue stick. It is amazing the wisdom one can find in old magazines. With your morning cup of coffee, take a magazine that is lying around (or raid your local laundromat collection!). Leaf through the magazine, back to front. Cut out any word or phrase that appeals to you. Place them on a table. Re-arrange them to find the wisdom you need to hear. Glue down this "found poem" on a page in your journal. Date it. Repeat as necessary -- daily? weekly? occasionally?


I love working with my hands and often find that they know things "my heart knows nothing of" as some famous person once wrote! It's fun to see how the little pieces that I cut out somehow make me feel peaceful. Sometimes we can't question what our soul is drawn to. If it gives me a sense of ease in my body, I'm pretty sure it's good for my soul. Though it can sometimes seem "silly" to my mind. Nevertheless I persist!!


I am so appreciative of this "Artist's Creed" which came from Jan Phillips. Click HERE to go to her website.


THE ARTISTS CREED. By Jan Phillips


I believe I am worth the time it takes to create whatever I feel called to create.

I believe that my work is worthy of its own space, which is worthy of the name Sacred.

I believe that, when I enter this space, I have the right to work in silence, uninterrupted, for as long as I choose.

I believe that the moment I open myself to the gifts of the Muse, I open myself to the Source of All Creation and become One with the Mother of Life Itself.

I believe that my work is joyful, useful, and constantly changing, flowing through me like a river with no beginning and no end.

I believe that what it is I am called to do will make itself known when I have made myself ready.

I believe that the time I spend creating my art is as precious as the time I spend giving to others.

I believe that what truly matters in the making of art is not what the final piece looks like or sounds like, not what it is worth or not worth, but what newness gets added to the universe in the process of the piece itself becoming.

I believe that I am not alone in my attempts to create, and that once I begin the work, settle into the strangeness, the words will take shape, the form find life, and the spirit take flight.

I believe that as the Muse gives to me, so does she deserve from me: faith, mindfulness, and enduring commitment.


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  • evansph2



I am writing this as I am on a personal retreat by myself in a little cabin I have rented in “the middle of nowhere”. It is a practice I recommend. In the past I have borrowed the homes or cottages of friends who are away, camped in my tent, and this year I just went on Airbnb and hunted for a quiet place with a kitchen. Even though I live only with my husband and can pretty much spend any day as I wish, I still find this deep yearning to be absolutely alone, quiet, undisturbed in any way. Even if I lived alone, I might still want to make a retreat where I am away from my usual distractions and where I can see the world with different eyes. Where I can see if I’m living the life I mean to be living – consider if I might need to reset the sails in any way.


When I arrive, I cover up the clocks and vow to eat when I am hungry, sleep when I am tired, and do what I am moved to do at any given moment. I bring books, my journal, art supplies, poetry – but I don’t promise to use any of them. I bring my hiking shoes and food I like to eat. Mostly I prepare to have long stretches of unscheduled time. I stare at the night sky, go for walks, etc. I do not let myself check email or Facebook etc.


My “intention” or vow for this particular retreat was “to pay attention to the mood in my heart and try to match it.” It takes a day or so to settle fully into the freedom of the silence, the lack of commitments, the lack of distractions. A few days on my own offers me a doorway to bring me back to myself. To listen to my own yearning, to write my deeper thoughts, to listen to the birds sing. But, I also know that even a few hours away from one's ordinary life can be restorative.


I hope you might find a way to have a “retreat” of a few hours or a few days at some point in the year. I try to do it twice a year when possible. It is richly rewarding, though a bit hard to describe.


This quote fell out of a notebook I had brought with me. Serendipitous things happen on these retreats!


“Within each of us there is a silence,

A silence as vast as the universe…

When we experience that silence, we remember

Who we are, creatures of the stars,

Created from time and space, created from silence…

Silence is our deepest nature, our home,

Our common ground, our peace…

Silence is where holiness dwells. We yearn to be there.

The experience of silence is now so rare,

That we must guard and treasure it.

(adapted from Gunilla Norris, Shared Silence)


I try to savor that kind of silence during my retreats. Here is a poem I wrote about this retreat;


Retreat:

for the love of being in the middle of nowhere…


Every crop began in an empty field.

A place that was fallow.

I look for that place in my life.

An unbusy plot, a place to breathe,

To let sun and rain fall unimpeded.


A place to soak in what comes,

Without needing to protect or hide,

Merely to let fall what falls.

To be idle, fertile, silent.

A place where questions can be asked

Of the wind.


You can’t live in an empty field,

But you can remember what it is like

To feel unhurried, whimsical, loose.

A place to inhale fully before

Exhaling every last bit

Of whatever you cling to.


~Penny Hackett-Evans



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