Everything Depends

Mar Jee 3
Mar Jee 3, from a recent series

I have been spending some time contemplating where working and mystery coalesce. Here are a few thoughts about that by way of some wise practitioners…

Shaking the Tree

Vine and branch we’re connected in this world
of sound and echo, figure and shadow, the leaves
contingent, roots pushing against earth. An apple

belongs to itself, to stem and tree, to air
that claims it, then ground. Connections
balance, each motion changes another. Precarious,

hanging together, we don’t know what our lives
support, and we touch in the least shift of breathing.
Each holy thing is borrowed. Everything depends.

–Jeanne Lohmann

Jeanne Lohmann is a Quaker poet in her 90s. Her deep respect for the mysterious parts of life is evident in this poem. But she also speaks to the fundamental nature of making art itself day in and out: “What is the spiritual practice of poetry? I think we fool ourselves with such divisions, separations. Practice is practice is practice, and requires us whole, body and breath that animates.”

“Practice is practice is practice.” Reading that line reminded me of yet another quote about the need to do the yeoman thing, this one by David Rakoff:

The only thing that makes one an artist is making art. And that requires the precise opposite of hanging out; a deeply lonely and unglamorous task of tolerating oneself long enough to push something out.

There is a tacit invitation to hold that taut point between the ineffable and the day-to-day necessity of practice, practice, practice. That pull is an ancient and essential tension, one that has been explored in every spiritual tradition both East and West. That is a pivot point many artists know about as well, one that defines their own very personal and often private wisdom path.

And yes, everything DOES depend.

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12 comments

  1. Stephanie Hobart’s avatar

    Deborah, this painting of yours has the look of beautiful illumination from behind the canvas. Glorious!

    1. deborahbarlow’s avatar

      Thank you so much Stephanie. I love your eye so that means a lot to me.

  2. Diane McGregor’s avatar

    Deborah, this painting stopped me in my tracks! So mysterious – ethereal – touching me across cyberspace “in the least shift of breathing.” I am made better for this painting.

  3. deborahbarlow’s avatar

    What kind words Diane. I think we are on a similar wavelength even though the form of our work is different. I am eager to see your recent work in person when I am in Santa Fe soon. Thank you again.

  4. Brianne Corbett’s avatar

    Paintings speak differently to each person viewing them. In the light of current events, this painting says something both terrible and profound to me. Absolutely outstanding work.

  5. artgardener10’s avatar

    I loved “Each holy thing is borrowed”. Thanks for introducing Jeanne Lohmann!

  6. Jill Fineberg’s avatar

    Particularly beautiful entry today, you artist you! Xo JILL

    1. deborahbarlow’s avatar

      Thanks JF!

  7. Ann E. Michael’s avatar

    What a beautiful painting!

    1. deborahbarlow’s avatar

      Thank you Ann!

  8. singingbirdartist’s avatar

    exquisite and throat-catchingly beautiful/sublime…wonderful!

    1. deborahbarlow’s avatar

      I love that phrase–throat-catchingly beautiful! Thank you.

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