I woke at four o’clock to a sultry morning. Rain falls. Steady. Soft. Somnolent. Birdsong wanes when rain begins. A lone bird calls to another sheltered in branches and leaves. My apartment is more tree house than apartment. All windows look out upon woodland and wildlife. With my morning mug of freshly brewed Assam tea, I hear the first sounds of life; see the first muted light of day. A cherished, quiet hour.
Following my February Journal post, I plunged into writing my book (planned debut in 2018), undertook a photographic study of the Life of a Rose in Black & White, and knew I needed, no ached, to paint again. I turned to a form I merely played with many years ago: the Zen spiritual practice of ensō painting.
Ensō: The Way of the Brush
Traditional ensō paintings are circles on rice paper using sumi-e ink. Some circles are open; others closed. They’re executed in one stroke of the brush on the final out breath, the ah, of the artist’s breathing meditation. The circles need not be perfect and are defined as emptiness and fullness, infinity, the womb—and more. Painting ensōs is called, The Way of the Brush: the title for the genesis of my ensō series.
While I bonded with the ensō those many years ago, today I’ve brought color, texture, and abandonment, rather than discipline, to the brush. Painting, like writing, is essential to maintaining my peace and ease of heart. The ensō symbolizes ‘perfection in the imperfection’ of all things; all nature.
The Life of a Rose in Black & White
The rose bud was long, elegant: a prelude. Then, a measured unfolding into the glory of full bloom. She lived a day, maybe more; her inner life revealing unsolvable mysteries of creation. Though still beautiful, her petals wearied; she surrendered to transience—L’ah final.
The Blossom on the Road
On an early walk one sunny morning, she lay on the road—a sole, whole blossom among sisters and brothers already perished. I slowed my walking pace, carrying her home in cupped hands like a new born being.
My work is heartfelt: a form of service and a gentle, steadfast activism of love. Be love. Be loving awareness, says one of my spiritual teachers, Ram Dass. If I can create communion through words and images; stir something within that helps another recognize life as an unbearable beauty, rather than a dusty, wounded world, perhaps, just perhaps, I will have done one small thing right and good.
In lovingkindness. May all beings be free.