Sit in your cell and your cell
will teach you everything. Sayings of the Desert Mothers and Fathers
As beginning preparations for the Soul of the Pilgrim online retreat I am engaged in, Abbey of the Arts Abbess and course facilitator, Christine Valters Paintner invites each pilgrim to prepare themselves -- mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually by following simple suggestions she provides to help each of us get ready for the journey into 'the desert'.
"The Desert Mothers and Fathers remind me that my monk's cell – which is really a metaphor for the inner cell of my heart – is the place I am called to sit day after day and be present to the mystery of myself and of God I discover there." writes Paintner in her introductory email.
In the cell of my heart I am wise. In each cell of my body, wisdom breathes life into my being.
Yesterday, after meditation I added a new modality to my experience. I opened up my sketchbook, drew a circle and inside the circle let my heart guide me in the creation of a mandala. It is an activity Paintner suggests engaging in each day of the course -- to deepen our engagement in our journey inwards by employing other modalities in our exploration. Movement. Chanting. Drawing. Whatever calls to our hearts, explore it.
For me, the act of drawing is fraught with resistance. Fears of 'not being good enough', ridicule by unseen critics (in this case, the invisible one's living in my head), and the numbing thoughts of -- but the page is blank. I don't know what to draw! -- arise as I contemplate the blank sheet of paper, the pastels waiting to be used, the space waiting in the tension of expectant grace to be filled.
Don't think. Be the page. Be the drawing. Be in your body, the voice in my heart whispers.
And I let go and an image appears. Hesitant at first, but slowly it emerges from the white space that looked so daunting when first I began.
No. It's not perfect. And it definitely isn't meant for 'human consumption'. But it is mine. My effort. My inner world brought forward on the page for me to express, experience and enjoy my inner journey into the cell of my heart in ways I never imagined.
And the wisdom of my heart breaks through my resistance to change and fear to create.
It isn't the 'doing' that matters. The gifts and wisdom do not exist in the product. They are not encompassed in the final result. They come to life in my being present in their creation. In their creation, I am blessed in the process of doing, of becoming one with the page, one with the pastel held lovingly in my fingertips as I set myself free to create, without expectation, without judgment, without knowing -- what's the outcome?
It's the being willing to invest my time, energy and talents that creates value. It's my willingness to not let fear drive me away, but to let courage draw me into the act of creating, of expressing myself so I can see with my very own eyes elements and shades and shadows of the mystery within me. And to experience the joy of finding my inner world through my hands, and my body, becoming engaged in the process.
I drew a mandala yesterday and in its creation, courage drew me out of my fear into my heart.