My Capstone Project

One of the things that gives me joy is creating journals with a blend of words and pictures.  As I never managed to finish my bookbinding course before the stroke hit in 2007 (I’d only attended the first class), I fill up handmade books others have made. My current favourites are made by Sara Jones – they are the right size (roughly 6″ x 8″), are sturdily made with hardback covers with lovely thick pages and the binding is just loose enough to accommodate images/photos, etc. She stamps every page with themed stamps, so every book is full of personality even before I add my own words and images 🙂

In this one, with a bee theme, I created ‘Reflections on Sisterhood’ (the section in Way of Belle Coeur that really struck a chord, and REFLECT is my Word for 2019). I shared the beginnings of the project here after I’d gathered photos of my dear friends (sisters to me, as I have no female siblings, just the one brother). I wrote about each friend in turn – rejoicing in the ones I still see, grieving over the ones I’ve lost contact with…

For the more recent friends, of whom I have no photos, I affixed images from magazines, junk mail, cards I’ve received over the years (I have drawers full of such papery goodness!). I also ponder the meaning of ‘sisterhood’ and why it is important to me, and the fact not all ‘sisters’ are human – I have special relationships with certain trees and animals, and the Moon…

Last week, it was my turn to lead the village book group – I’d chosen Ink and Honey 🙂 It’s not by design, but the group is all female, and instinctively gathers in a circle – I wrote about that, and people’s reactions to the book. It sparked much discussion, just as I had hoped! My previous choice – we take it in turns to choose a book for the month, very democratic! – had been The Handmaid’s Tale as it had just started airing on TV in England, and none of the group had read it before.

I end the journal with reflections of a dear, dear friend whose funeral was the day after book group. I enclosed the order of service, and wrote my own eulogy to Lilian, and all she meant to me. I only met her two and a half years ago, when we first moved to this village, but there was a deep recognition of soul sisterhood. She used to live in this house we now rent, we both loved Celtic prayer and we each wore a similar silver bangle (‘a good omen’ said Lilian, the first time I noticed it on her wrist 🙂 )julian bangle

So here is a selection of pages from the journal, made into a slide show (the journal itself has over 100 pages), where I hope you’ll get a flavour of what I was trying to create – I’m afraid the photos aren’t great, despite my efforts in Picasa to brighten and sharpen them. As I shared here in June 2018, joining Soulful Scribes felt like I’d found my sisters, a home-coming; and the feeling has simply deepened through my Spiritual Formation… Such rich, rich blessings through the joys, and sadnesses, of sisterhood!!

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And this poem by Stephen T Berg sums up perfectly what precious friends bring to our lives. Quoted with kind permission yesterday ❤ I plan to type it out and tuck it into the journal 🙂

Friends

There are people in your life (were they brought to you?)
who make you feel you were born at the right time
and in the right place.

People genuinely kind as to make you feel recklessly whole,
gentle as to make you welcome your imperfections
(which you know are many).

People who through the red wine of conversation
help you quit your habit of hedging moments of happiness
against their inevitable passing.

People with such soul-beauty as to give you the ability
to endure provocations, grievances, even betrayals.

People who’ve opened a window for you,
given you salve for your eyes,
led you to the edge of town above a river
where you paint things wrapped in light.

People that don’t invite praise or devotion,
just regular people living with their own troubles, griefs, fears,
things that piss them off,
but who are naked enough to help you shed
that self-referencing desire
and hear the living-hymn
within the grand human choir.

 

 

 

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Darkness

darkness giftSitting in the deep January darkness of morning, sitting with this mourning darkness, I’m willing it to feel like a gift… Ms Oliver’s words have saved me SO many times over the years – simply, I believe the solid, earthy truth of her clear poetic, or prosaic, words – but after this week, I am not so sure.

One dear friend told us over a cup of tea on Wednesday, her chemo and radio therapies have failed to halt the cancer in her lungs.

Another dear, gentle friend to all in our community died yesterday lunchtime after months of confusion and pain as tumours filled her brain.

And Mary O. herself died on Thursday of lymphoma.

The light has gone out, the darkness envelopes. I am wading upstream, reading her words, trying to get a foothold, as eddies of grief swirl…

For once, I am not seeking a glimmer to lighten the heaviness. I am trying (and currently failing) to receive this box full of darkness as a gift.

 

A poem for 1 January

To the New Year

With what stillness at last

you appear in the valley

your first sunlight reaching down

to touch the tips of a few

high leaves that do not stir

as though they had not noticed

and did not know you at all

then the voice of a dove calls

from far away in itself

to the hush of the morning

 

so this is the sound of you

here and now whether or not

anyone hears it this is

where we have come with our age

our knowledge such as it is

and our hopes such as they are

invisible before us

untouched and still possible

~ W.S. Merwin ~

 

 

My Word for 2019

**I posted this yesterday on my sister blog, then realised this morning followers of this blog may enjoy it.

Once again, it’s taken a wee while to reveal itself… Every year I use this and this to put myself in the space where my Word can come. I’ve learned it cannot be forced, and that it will come when it’s ready 🙂

I sat with several ‘good’ words throughout December… but none seemed to stick. So I pondered and I journalled – and I waited… Then last night, I picked up my new planner (which I shared here) to enter the coming week’s activities, and there it was, large as life – atop every other page…reflect-003.JPGSometimes our Words are hiding in plain sight! So my Word for 2019 is:

reflect.jpg
I added my Word to this photo of a favourite fabric journal cover from this artist bought several years when Conni had an etsy shop. I still use it – I simply replace the journal when it’s full. The original painting was called ‘Martha’ – I just love her soft backward glance.

I want 2019 to be the year I make time to Be, not just Do. The year, when each and every week, I REFLECT on how I feel about the past seven days – what I enjoyed, what challenged me, what I learned, for what I am thankful – and this planner does just that. Clearly, I ‘knew’ what I needed for 2019, and while it took a few weeks to come to my conscious mind,  the Word (and the new planner!) were there, just waiting…

 

Sometimes, another’s words…

… express everything you want to say.Welcome-Mother-Light-bw-lores

Welcome Mother Light

Burn all the clocks,
set light to the solstice bonfire,
hang the season’s wreath
as we pause between
dark and the return of light.
Let the passing of time begin,
lay down the year
gently, like a new-born child.

Set your lantern high,
above the excess of Christmas,
curl up in a comfy chair
and let the full moon solstice
shine into your heart.
Sink down into nature’s lap,
warm yourself
by the midwinter flame.

Let us not hurry to spring,
gather winter’s cloak,
rest in the arms of the Mother
who carries the weight
of the world between her hips.
Hibernate and dream
beside the roaring fire
that is winter set upon us.

Listen to the silence,
wait for the inner door to open,
welcome Mother Light
as she offers her child
to the world.
May we all see Her light,
may all circles of celebration
radiate with love.

©Deborah Gregory 2018 at The Liberated Sheep

A poem…

Amy Abshier
Art by Amy Abshier

They speak of a well of grief.

To me, there’s no well,

just a lump, a clod, a weight

where my heart should be.

I don’t even know why.

It’s not an anniversary,

I’m not missing a certain someone.

Just this weight, I can’t shift.

This clod, clogging up

my thinking, my feeling.

Maybe it’s the weather –

the grey dampness

soaking into my bones.

Maybe it’s the dark days

of this dark month..

Maybe it’s the heaviness

of being human,

in this so sad world.

Surely, I don’t know.

So I sit in ignorance

with this weight in my chest,

where my heart should be.

 

(written at 5.15pm)

Gathering…

… fallen gifts from the garden with my handy grabbergifts-001.JPG… while watching frantic squirrels scurrying to bury walnuts from the farmer’s tree next door, while others boldly pause to crack open and eat the odd walnut or three 🙂 How I adore the beauty and joy of Autumn!

New September Moon

Several people have asked about my moonboard practice, and the naming of the moon. I like to use this Celtic tree calendar, simply because I love trees and the Native American moon names don’t particularly resonate with me.celtic tree moonsBut as nothing about the Celts is hard and fast, I also refer to this list, especially in the latter part of the year: celtic tree listSo this September moon, I refer to as the Apple Moon, especially as I am surrounded by laden apple trees 🙂 orchard-001.JPGFor information, and inspiration, I like to refer to this site each month, and I note in pencil words, phrases, images on the next blank double-page spread of my moon journal (an unlined A4 Moleskine). Then I gather images from my collagey-stash (words and images clipped from old magazines, catalogues, junk mail, etc), sift and sort, arrange and stick… It’s a very meditative, silent process, barely engaging my rational mind, allowing my other senses to come to the fore – sight, touch, intuition…

So here’s my board to celebrate today’s New Apple Moon on this nineth day of the nineth month: moon-001.JPGThe apple tree speaks of love, fruitfulness, abundance. The writing in the centre is clipped from Toast‘s free Autumn-Winter lookbook, which I picked up in their Oxford store last Sunday, it reads:

Creativity stirs within us all. At times joyfully abundant, at others nowhere to be seen. We walk the city streets, chasing its return. We close our eyes, we drift and dream. But when emptiness reigns, and the page remains unmarked, what next? Should we be still, silent, allowing thoughts to ebb and flow? Or should we venture like Turner into the eye of the storm, pursuing something wild, something visceral?

As a ‘both-and’ rather than an ‘either-or’ kind of person, I prefer getting out into Nature (stormy or otherwise) and being silent… letting the wind, the trees, the birds stir my creativity. Indeed, letting my thoughts ebb and flow, but in rhythm with the ‘something wild’ all around me.

I’d love to know what you think – about Creativity, the Moon, the changing Season (Autumn for us in the North, Spring for friends in the South), anything really 🙂

Every day…

… I visit this blog. It never disappoints, and I learn so much!

history girls

The breadth of knowledge displayed by the various post-writers is a wonderful, daily learning experience, and satisfies my quiet passion for history and the many ‘lost’ women.

Last month, they ran a competition, to win a book, and I won – it came in the post last weekblack snow.jpg

What a beautiful object… a neat A5 hardback, beautifully designed front and back with shimmering silver candlesticks and tangled thorn branches, a sheer delight to hold in the hand!

Now I know one cannot judge a book by its cover but now, only having one functioning hand, the physical weight and dimensions of a book, do matter. As does the colour of the pages (these are a perfect soft ivory – bright white honestly hurts my eyes after a short while), and the size of the print (believe me, get to a certain age, and this does make a difference!)

So. it’s a beautifully handsome book and I’m looking forward to reading it – I’m saving it for the dark winter months, which are approaching apace, the golden daylight fades earlier and earlier each evening.