Sneak Peek – Be Careful what I ask for . . .

My last life drawing post Nude No More I complained that the models were wearing clothes.  WELL!  This last model was nude AND geeeeeeeorgeous:  Tall, long, lean limbs, beautiful body, beautiful face, long blond hair and she was really nice . . .  I was soooooooo jealous.

2 minute warm-up, charcoal

10 minute pose, charcoal on back of cereal box

10 minute pose, charcoal on back of cereal box

Some of the models never talk to the students.  During their breaks they retreat to the dressing place or focus on their cell phones.  This model was personable, looked at the drawings and chatted.  

I was soooooooo jealous and told her not to come back until her body matched the lumps and bumps on our drawings.

Sneak Peek – Nude No More

I was soooooo frrrrrrustrated in the last two life drawing class . . . the models were clothed . . .  sensuous lines of flesh, shadows high-lighting skin tones replaced by FABRIC . . . arrrrrrgh.

Two different poses – charcoal sketches on same paper

I pretended they were naked . . . 

Conte Crayon, 2 minute sketch
Charcoal, 2 minute sketch  (my favorite)

UNTIL I COULD PRETEND NO MORE .

Pencil drawing on back of cereal box 

Back in the art saddle again . . . bare-back

Haven’t drawn for months as I stopped going to art class when I fractured my ankle (couldn’t drive).  The fall semester of classes just started and I was curious to see if I’d lost all the progress I’d made.  

I was even more curious to see how my energy held up since the fractured triggered the worst of all my fibromyalgia symptoms.  My arms hurt during the 1 minute poses – probably because I was drawing furiously, holding tight to the charcoal, trying to stay in the saddle.  

During these 5 -10 minute poses I slowed myself down to a trot. 

Charcoal

Charcoal (The model isn’t as volumptuous as I drew her)

Charcoal (See? She’s quite svelte)

With this chronic condition I’m continually weighing the pain & pleasure ratio, trying to decide if the pleasure I get from activities is worth the ensuing pain.

Today, I’m sore and exhausted . . .

Sunday Sermon, Part IV, Two Wings of a Bird

“Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light-years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual … “

Carl Sagan (1934-1996)

Hold up your hand for just a second.  Feel anything?

At any given second 100 trillion neutrinos are passing through your body  . . .RIGHT NOW.

The majority of neutrinos in the vicinity of the Earth are from nuclear reactions in the Sun. The solar neutrino flux for us on Earth is about 65 billion neutrinos, passing through just one square centimeter of area on earth, every second.  That’s a lot of neutrinos and we are not able to see them, sense them nor understand them.

There is so much, too much, that is not perceivable to our limited senses nor explainable by our reason.

I was a psychotherapist in private practice for 30 years.  Not only did people share their fears and sorrows but unexplainable encounters with spirits, near death experiences and life altering experiences with the divine. I admit I was sometimes skeptical.  Over time it became impossible, to dismiss what intelligent, discerning people shared.  

I now think of science as one wing and religion as the other wing of a bird; a bird needs two wings for flight, one alone would be useless . . .  

 . . .  and I circled back to my study of faith and my belief we live a domino life where when one falls we all fall, where one succeeds we all succeed.   I discovered two faiths I’d not originally studied – Unitarian Universalism and Baha’i. They not only complemented each other but each offered something a bit different.  

Baha’is believe in and share all the UU principles:  

  1. The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  2. Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
  3. Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth;
  4.  A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
  5. The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process;
  6. The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;

. . . and most importantly the 7th UU principle –

Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

The Baha’i World Faith brought me full circle back to childhood and to God but it wasn’t the God of fear but of love.

When I read the three core principles which are the basis for Bahá’í teachings and doctrine: the unity of God, the unity of religion, and the unity of humanity From these stems the belief that God periodically reveals his will through divine messengers: MuhammadJesusMoses, Zoroaster, Buddha, Krishna the Bab and Bahá’u’lláh.  It was an “ah-ha moment for me that all establishers of religion. the great religions of the world, represent successive stages in the spiritual evolution of human society. That religion is seen as orderly, unified, and progressive from age to age unexpectedly resonated.

Through decades of trials and tribulations I realize the magical thinking in my childhood, that the world revolved around me, wasn’t quite accurate . . . however,

. . .  perhaps some magical thinking persists 60+ years later.   Every morning I say a Baha’i prayer for family, friends, acquaintances,  past clients and a prayer for those who have passed.  The recitation of all the people grows longer each day and takes longer than the prayers . . . The difference between then and now is my prayers are steeped in love, not terror. 

        *          *           *

I’m attending a sermon writing workshop led by Kent Doss, the reverend at Tapestry Unitarian Universalist Congregation – not because I plan to deliver sermons but because I’m fascinated how ministers, rabbi’s, priests and preachers write and deliver something inspiring enough to capture the imagination and stir humans to transformative right action. week after week after week which seems a daunting undertaking.  

To read Part I, The Interconnectedness of All Beings click HERE

Read Part II, Head & Heart click HERE

Read Part III – Stardusted, click HERE

 

 

Mini Sunday Sermon, Part III, Stardusted

Neil deGrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist, says it best . . .

“So you’re made of detritus [from exploded stars]. Get over it. Or better yet, celebrate it. After all, what nobler thought can one cherish than that the universe lives within us all?”

Not only are we synchronizing our heads and hearts, one with another, (Part II) we are interconnected with the Universe.  All is  from the same matter.

We are made of stardust. It’s like a line from a song, but there is some solid science behind this : Almost every element on earth, including you and me, was formed from the heart of a star.

Next time you’re out gazing at the stars, (all 5 stars we can actually see in a city) twinkling in the night sky, you are looking at the energy released by nuclear fusion reactions at their cores.

When a massive star explodes at the end of its life, the resulting high energy enables the creation of oxygen, carbon, iron, nickel, and all the other elements – the building blocks which make up the world around us and in us. 

The explosion disperses these elements across the universe, scattering the stardust through stellar winds which makes up planets including Earth, eventually some of it finds its way into our bodies.

There is so much we are not able to perceive through our senses:  The Earth’s electromagnetic fields that guide animals engaged in long-distance migrations, sea turtles and Monarch butterflies, birds, use Earth’s magnetic field as a navigational system; smells which compel my dog Freddie to lift his leg; dreams that portend the future. 

I admit I don’t understand science.

How do liver cells know how to make more liver cells and new heart cells know how to take up the beat?   We’re not fixed at all. We’re more like a pattern or a process, a transient body, cells continually dying and rebuilding all the time, and a continual flow of energy and matter being created . . . without my awareness . . .

Not only are our hearts synchronizing, our brain waves vibrating in unison but the very atoms of our cells are dying, being reborn and quivering in recognition we are all made of stardust.

Everything around us does this. Nature is not outside us. We are nature.

     *          *           *

To read Part I,  Interconnectedness of all Beings click HERE

 Part II, Head and Heart, click HERE

Part III – Stardusted, click HERE

 Part IV, Two Wings of a Bird, click HERE

 

Mini Sunday Serman, Part II, Head & Heart

As you read on my last Mini-Sermon post – I didn’t pray again for 50 years*.  During those decades I studied or was exposed to the tenants of many faiths and beliefs:  Buddhist, Greek Orthodox, Seventh Day Adventist, Catholic, Jewish, Lutheran, Baptist and even atheist. 

I discovered two things: First,  the bedrock of all religions is love, compassion, unity and the interconnectedness of all beings.  Second,  no matter what belief I studied something was amiss to me.  It just didn’t make sense (if belief could ever make rational sense) how each could claim to be the only truth, the true spiritual path.

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So scientific research became my focus and bolstered my belief in the interconnectedness of all humans  (and animals).  With newer and newer technology the science continues to be even more fascinating and compelling.  Here’s just a small sample**:

  1. Mirror Neurons – These are a type of brain cell that respond equally when we perform an action and when we witness someone else perform the same action. This neural mechanism is involuntary and automatic and with it we don’t have to think about what other people are doing or feeling, we simply know.  When I see you smiling, my mirror neurons for smiling fire up, too, initiating a cascade of neural activity that evokes the feeling we typically associate with a smile.
  2. Touch – When you hug another person, brains release oxytocin and causes secretions of endorphins.You don’t have to be in love, have sex, or give birth to get a boost of oxytocin (although these experiences certainly do that). Cuddling, hugging, making eye contact, and even shaking hands gets oxytocin, the bonding hormone, flowing
  3. Epigenetics – Scientists have long-known that parents pass genetic traits down to their children, current research suggests that life experiences like famine, trauma, stress can also produce chemical effects in DNA which shorten life-spans, appear as anxiety, depression and fear, inherited through generations and generations down the line.
  4. Neural synchrony –  Singing in groups triggers the communal release of serotonin and oxytocin, the bonding hormone, and synchronizes our heart beats.  When we pet an animal our blood pressure lowers and even more astounding their blood pressure lowers too. Studies of 3-month-old infants and their mothers have determined their heartbeats synchronize to mere milliseconds.

The electrical neuronal activity of two people involved in an act of communication “synchronize” in order to allow for a “connection” between both subjects.  The rhythms of the brainwaves corresponding to the speaker and the listener adjust according to the physical properties of the sound of the verbal messages expressed in a conversation. This creates a connection between the two brains, which begin to work together towards a common goal: communication.

Scientists can find out if two people are having a conversation solely by analyzing their brain waves. 

There is more research but just these four areas alone reinforce my belief in the interconnectedness of all beings. Next . . . our inter-glactic connection on Mini Sermon, Part III.

    *           *           *

To read Part I,  Interconnectedness of all Beings click HERE

 Part II, Head and Heart, click HERE

Part III – Stardusted, click HERE

 Part IV, Two Wings of a Bird, click HERE

Mini Sunday Sermon – Interconnectedness of all Beings, part I

I’m attending a sermon writing workshop led by Kent Doss, the reverend at Tapestry Unitarian Universalist Congregation – not because I plan to deliver sermons but because I’m fascinated how ministers, rabbi’s, priests and preachers write and deliver something inspiring enough to capture the imagination and stir humans to transformative right action. week after week after week which seems a daunting undertaking.  

Our first workshop assignment was to brainstorm topics.  Probably because I spent a large part of my life as a psychotherapist, steeped in life and death matters, I thought up dozens of topics.  Thinking is one thing, writing another . . .  and sermonizing? . .  .

My topic choice was “selected” by two of the participants (who shall remain nameless in case my topic is a bust) as the one that interested them most.  Not sure about the title yet but the theme is the interconnectedness of all beings.  

Here’s the first 5 minutes:

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“This limitless universe is like the human body, all the members of which are connected and linked with one another with the greatest strength . . . “   –(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, pp. 245–246)

Sounds lofty but I’ve believed that since childhood.  Don’t know where my belief came from – it wasn’t from any religious leader because I didn’t have any.  Even as a child I had the notion – I hesitate to call it a knowing – that we are all connected. . . that we live a domino life where when one falls we all fall, where one succeeds we all succeed.

My belief probably originated in my own magical thinking.

I was in grade school during the height of the threat of nuclear destruction, the cold war between the United States and Russia. In 1950 the U.S. began the construction of the hydrogen bomb. Nuclear destruction wasn’t an abstract idea in my 6-year-old mind because I had seen newsreels at the movie theatre – (the days of black and white newsreels, two cartoons and a double feature for 50 cents)newsreels with pictures of hydrogen bomb tests and people digging bomb shelters.

During the school day I believed the drop-and-cover drills we regularly practiced would protect me . (How adults thought that going into a school cloak-room because there were no windows and covering our heads with our arms would protect us from nuclear attack boggles my mind today.)  

At night, in bed, in the dark I lay awake trying to decide where I could go in our tiny 2-bedroom house when we were bombed and I wasn’t at school.  There was no safe place, all the rooms had windows.  In our backyard there was an old, deep, dark cellar dung into the ground and covered by huge, heavy wooden doors.  Too heavy for me to open. The concrete steps were really steep and led into a pitch-black hole.  It smelled and I knew that there were spiders and maybe even snakes inside. The cellar was even more scary than the bomb.

The more I thought about being killed by a bomb, the more terrified I became.  

I knew nothing about prayer, not to mention God, but one night, having exhausted all the possibilities of safe places, I silently prayed.  Silently, so no one would hear me, I prayed for world peace.  The next night I prayed for world peace and my mother and father being safe.  Another night I added my younger brother.  I didn’t particularly care for him but I was as scared of my parents’ thinking I was a bad sister as I was of the bomb and the cellar.  Night after night I silently prayed, each night adding another relative.  Newly added was my fear it would be my fault if anyone was killed by the bomb because I didn’t pray for them.  It was my secret ritual and the only way I could stop thinking about that cellar.  One night I was over-whelmed with the responsibility of remembering to include everyone I knew . . .  . and I stopped praying . . . I stopped praying for almost sixty years.

    *       *       *

To read Part II, Head and Heart, click HERE

Read Part III – Stardusted, click HERE

Read Part IV, Two Wings of a Bird, click HERE

 

 

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