Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Sunshine and Shadows: Filling the Bowl

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Spirit bowls have many names and many uses. But in principal, they have one thing in common, they symbolize the holding and nurturing of one's spirit, while we face the challenges of life's journeying.

Journeying can be as simple as bearing witness to pain, loss, anger, jealousy or conflict or it can be as deep as a search for truth, meaning and understanding. Journeying and journaling go hand in hand. Both share common roots in meaning and both allow experience and an opening to change and transformation.

Some journeys last but one brief moment in time, while others seem endless and without closure or end. There are days when our bowl is filled with sunshine and other days when we can only see and feel the shadows. This past week has seen some hard, sad, deep and dark energies come out from the shadows to be witnessed and to be given the chance for healing.

Nationally, we mourn the death of the Virginia Tech students and the pain, anger, depression and loss now unleashed upon our consciousness by the young man who felt somehow vindicated by his own inner angers, jealousies and rage to attack others. There are times when the darkness of these shadow emotions seem to overwhelm the beauty and grace of the light.

We all have days, or weeks, and sometimes even years, when life overwhelms us and the need for release from the pain seems worth any cost to ourselves or others. There are times, like last week, when a friend passed away after a 7 years of battling cancer that I was very, very sad. But there are also days, throughout that very same week, when I laughed at the top of my lungs, or wrote an 'off the wall' post to 'lighten up.'

When we are the saddest, the maddest, or the gladdest, we are given the opportunity to look inside our bowl, to journey with our own spirit. We look at the sunshine and we contrast it with the shadows and we get to choose we one we want to walk in. Somedays, we just 'stitch in the ditch' and other days we 'meander' all over the place. Both are good things, and both are also 'necessary at different times' things.

As quilters, we all share a love of creativity and things which bring us joy and happiness. As my new friend Su B has said, she spends her day job dealing with "blood, tears, depression, anger, sadness". We all long for a little sunshine , we all "crave simplicity and silliness and happy creative thoughts." We quilt because quilting makes us happy and also because it has the power to release our shadows by the simple act of actively creating.

I feel deep sorrow over the loss of those beautiful young lives at Virginia Tech, just as I can mourn the loss of my own sweet friend that has died. But I also know that I must acknowledge the joys and beauty in my own life. So, today, I can still feel happiness inspite of deep, deep sadness. I can still be filled with the joys of spirt and gratitude and be grateful to have a good life, to have my own children well and safe and be grateful to have dear friends in my life.

And now, Su B ...if I am still included on your favorite reading list...and I haven't given you a headache today by making you think...why aren't I on your 'Places I like to visit' list??????

4 comments:

  1. You have put the complexities of the mix of feelings aroused by this tragic event so well. Thank you.

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  2. Ahhhh, I'd forgotten about my spirit bowl. Yes, that's just the thing. I have one a patient gave me several years ago. I am so sorry to hear of your loss, (((hugs))) Writing the way you do must, has to, offer a way to compartmentalize those shadows, and bring you a good bit of solace. I know it certainly does for your readers. Thank you for putting into words what we can't (or are just too lazy to!)

    (PS - check the Places I like to visit *VBS*)

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  3. U wrote that so well.......im sorry for the loss of ur friend, that must have been so hard....my heart goes out to all those affected by the Virginia shooting.........living in tasmania, i know the feeling (after the Port Arthur Massacre)it affects everyone!!!
    take care.

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  4. Greeting from the east my friend, a very lovely, deep and thought provoking post. Good to be reminded of the sunlight/shadow aspect of our existance. And of stepping more and more into the light and enriching existance into so much more!
    Please accept my heart felt sympathy for the loss of a friend.
    Do you recall the quote from one of Hemmingways books?..."if something goes out of your life it leaves a space. If it wasn't a good thing, the space will fill itself. If it was a good thing, the space can only be filled by something better". Across the years I have always remembered that and find it to be a truth. Sending hugs and sunshine energyj, Finn

    I think it might have been in "A Moveable Feast", not sure tho.

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Michele Bilyeu blogs "With Heart and Hands" as she journeys between Douglas, Alaska and Salem, Oregon.