Listening - watching
taking a moment
drawing the world
finding the way to connection
again and again.

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Thursday, July 27, 2017

Two Brush Books

Last week I was teaching The Calligraphic Line at Women's Studio Workshop in Rosendale NY.
We made books out of brushstrokes and then added some text to invite further insight.


This is a lively book form I learned many years ago
from the wonderful book artist and letterpress printer Clifford Burke.

Here is how it works -
First we wrote a large word with brush on a sheet of paper 18" x 24" .
When the ink was dry we turned it over and wrote another word filling the page,
then folded it down three times into a signature, cut the side edges open,
sewed the pages together along the spine and read our accidental sequence of marks.

I have added on to this process by inviting words - responding to the strokes in an intuitive way - placing the text to balance the marks - letting the narrative unfold mysteriously until
you reach the end. It always seems to resolve and reveal the moment.

Here is my accidental book . . .


We made some big brushstrokes and let them dry overnight.
The next morning we cut small windows in cover stock and picked out fragment squares
from within the strokes. These were pasted onto the panels of a folded strip of paper,
a cover was added, and then some words landed . . .

How I love to watch the creative process emerge
within a community of makers - food for the spirit . . .

Saturday, February 11, 2017


I traveled to the Middle East in January to be part of a Nonviolent Communication intensive
in the West Bank with 40 Israelis, 40 Palestinians and 15 internationals.

We lived together for nine days, listening and speaking deeply, while the Inauguration
and the Women's March and the wild first weeks in the White House unfolded on the
other side of the world.

The power of this gathering for me was being in the room together.
There is so much separation encouraged and upheld in this Israeli Palestinian dilemma.
Being with the other and feeling ourselves - taking in the other side of the story -
all of us holding the pain - inner and outer - sensing the same deep need on both sides
to be respected and safe and feel they belong on this land.

Perhaps it is strengthening the inner sense of home -
belonging to ourselves - that is the place to begin.

In the end I realized that I couldn't ask Israelis and Palestinians to reach out across
the divide and trust the other if I couldn't do this in my own life - a humbling insight.

I also was inspired by the deep capacity of this group to bridge and connect in spite of it all.

I stayed in Jerusalem for a week after the NVC gathering.
It is a city of complex faiths, intermingling worlds and intensely separate perspectives.
Somehow, beneath it all, I felt its deeper name - City of Peace.
In Arabic it is Al-Quds - The Holy Home.

I opened the sketchbook in the midst of the intensity
and practiced being with uncertainty on the page.

On the eastern edge of the Old City I visit the Temple Mount, one of the holiest,
most contested religious sites in the world, sacred to Judaism, Islam and Christianity.

I draw the towering walls and arches of the Second Temple
with the dome of Al-Aqsa mosque high above.
As I sketch I listen to drums, guitars and voices singing Hebrew songs nearby.

I wander down the Southern Wall and find another corner to study.
Balloons are floating high above Al-Asqa's dome.

Farther along the Southern Wall are Huldah's Gates.
Huldah was a Hebrew prophetess, seer and healer living during the reign of Josiah.
She is remembered as upright, righteous and wise. Now her portals are blocked, bricked over.
My friend Roberta Wall and I stand with the gates at our back and speak about wholeness,
healing the feminine, feeling the spirit of Huldah warming our backs, allowing truth and bravery
to still come through us and speak.

I spend a day at the Israel Museum drawing ancient objects slowly, precisely,
listening to voices wandering by speaking Arabic, Hebrew and English.
Then there are moments of quiet, and it's just me in conversation with the thing itself.

(click on image to enlarge) 

I draw the church towers - cemeteries - stone walls - cypress trees . . .
Far in the distance is the Mount of Olives and the Palestinian village of Silwan.

At the end of the week we visit the Garden of Gethsemane full of 2000 year old olive trees,
darkly creviced, craggy, sprouting and fruiting since the time of Jesus.

(click on image to enlarge)
I listen to my friends tell stories of bombings and body parts
and speak about the life of the Soul, the wisdom of the Torah, the sacredness of the Koran.

All of this

with us now

in the Garden of Peace.