Before First Light

Before first light, tea brewing, I pull an old and favorite friend from the book shelf: Centering by M.C. Richards. Holding it, the cover renews visions of my own history: clay, hands, pots, the teachers who taught me, the sideways and broken pieces, clay creating life and life-holding, art school, metal pots, fire and iron and hammers and life, and liquid silver cooling into leaf.

In the forward, Matthew Fox writes, “M.C. warns the artist that art can become merely a ‘trade’ if the artist too is not bent on a spiritual journey and has lost the sense of art as a ‘bridge between the visible and invisible worlds.’ Art serves. ‘Here the importance of centering seems emphatic.’ The artist is in touch with ‘the joyful breathing at our source.'”

This smallest room in the house, the room where I brew and drink tea, journal, write, read, think, stack books and papers, papers overflowing tables and stands and file folders as if my life, my words, my spirit overflowed in a continuing flood of paper, has a small bookcase above the desk, and so, on the edges of the shelves, wise sayings and bits of poetry, more words, reminders of words and wise reminders.

Romare Bearden said, “Artists are like mice. They need old houses where no one can bother them and they can just go about their business and do what they have to do.”

My mother’s experiments were always with jello.

Now work that into a story!

Time and again my work is to bring myself back to center so I can work again. These times seem to lend themselves to scattering more than centering, but right now, this day, the demands on my time, my teaching, preaching, counseling, farming, family-ing, have unfolded a quiet time to sit and brew tea and center in unfolding consciousness.

“A new age seems to be seeking birth. Much in the new birth will be rebirth of ancient vision; much will be still in the proportions of infancy. We are poems in the making: Logos at work.”

M.C. Richards 1916-1999


4 thoughts on “Before First Light

  1. “My mother’s experiments were always with jello.”

    Setting aside the fact that MY mother, the bohemian abstract artist could not make jello because she refused to follow directions…..
    I have to wonder if your Mom knew that something as basically mold-able as gelatin would offer the least resistance to her creative urges.
    Jello is…. meldable, cool, slick, transparent, wiggly, fun, fruity, accepting….

    1. All of which is a very interesting concept – however; my mother never molded jello. She was a writer and she left moldable things to the kids and playdough we’d make from flour. And something – I’ve forgotten that part. She put Jello in a bowl with whatever was on hand. Sometimes, left-over carrots and peas. Tablespoons of vegetables or food saved at our house. Sometimes, canned meat. Sometimes that went in – especially after Jello came out with a vegetable flavor. Mom was delighted. Oh, she’d do the fruit cocktail mix and the cherries with bananas mix (rarely, maybe for church dinners; bananas were expensive and we lived on the farm – lots of peas, beans, corn etc – and canned meat). But mostly, she did experiments to see if we’d finally finish off whatever was left over in the fridge. Bohemian? Not. A faux flapper. Yep.

  2. This is one of my favorites! I never think of myself as an artist, but this piece draws out the artist in all of us…my mom did wonders with jello as well 🙂 blessings, my friend

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