Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday and henri

Hidden Greatness

There is much emphasis on notoriety and fame in our society. Our newspapers and television keep giving us the message: What counts is to be known, praised, and admired, whether you are a writer, an actor, a musician, or a politician.

Still, real greatness is often hidden, humble, simple, and unobtrusive. It is not easy to trust ourselves and our actions without public affirmation. We must have strong self-confidence combined with deep humility. Some of the greatest works of art and the most important works of peace were created by people who had no need for the limelight. They knew that what they were doing was their call, and they did it with great patience, perseverance, and love.

This one is Henri Nouwen again. I post this one as it has been something I have been struggling with a lot this week. Just feeling very much like a big faker with my dreams and the doing of 'my art' and having one of those stretches of time when I feel like everything I write or create or try and do is just pointless and dumb and too small and misdirected and this voice keeps yealling at me: "who am I to think of my self as any kind of artist when I'm struggling to really produce anything of real value" (how does one evaluate, really). It's strange as I thought I had kind of conquered this feeling since it hasn't reared it's ugly head in a very long time. I mistakenly thought I had killed it. So that is part of my disappointment. I think it was triggered by some comments I heard recently from a couple of completely unrelated sources talking about what constitutes a "real artist" and terms were being thrown around such as: emerging artist, producing artist, product, working artist.... There were others that I can't quite recall at the moment. I just remember feeling about 1 inch tall afterward, as I don't really consider myself "producing" much of anything - for the "market", anyway. Funny thing is, before letting these things get to me....I was loving just allowing myself to play around with things and experiment.

In writing this I know that I tend to get ahead of myself and also be hard on myself when I should be much much gentler. This quote reminds me that the little things do matter, that it doesn't matter if I am the only one who is aware of my awkward secret fumbling toward the dreams. What matters is that I do what I feel I should do, regardless of what anyone else thinks, or knows or says or whatever. Sometimes I just get so frustrated when shit like this gets to me.

I am thinking that this is a discipline to cultivate: "strong self-confidence combined with deep humility".

So this is my Ash Wednesday confession.
And now I am off to Kitchener.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The spiritual life as gigantic mystery....

"Truth Does not need to be defended, but there needs to be an openness to be a part of the dance. Meditation teaches us how to do this. We dive below the labels knowing they can't hurt us, we are okay with being offended, we don't just open the door to let some fresh air in, but jump out the door to find we have wings. We jump in, we dance, we stop looking at our beliefs to something deeper: The heart unified in Love."

-Cynthia Bourgeault

"For fifty years we should stop talking about God and call it the Holy Mystery, until we have a better, deeper understanding of what it is we are talking about."

-Karl Rahner

And here is the quote of the week (mine, anyway):

"My deepest me is God."

-Catherine of Genoa

Friday, February 13, 2009


Hey there,

So I started another blog dedicated to weird little comics that I have begun drawing about my life. It's pretty bizarre and random. I started drawing them as a kind of therapy to express things I couldn't or didn't want to write out or talk about, and also to make light of some of the hard stuff - or just draw you've been warned. Yes, in case you are wondering, these days I do have too much time on my hands. Anyhoo, it's kind of grown into something I do a lot of the time so I decided to post them just for fun and to share. As an old friend of mine once said "comics are for sharing"...oh no...whoops...actually he said "smokes are for sharing". Ah well. Same thing. (Please note: I am not a visual artist and I a lot of the time I can't spell.)

check it out:

It's like spring again in the city. Nice.
peace out,

Monday, February 09, 2009

Borderlands and the recovering creative mind

Hi there.

I steal the term "borderlands" from Max who was speaking of it so beautifully and eloquently this Sunday in his homily (or maybe it would be more accurate to say his "poem"). I was shaken with how much I could relate to the things he was saying. Borderland - the place of endings and beginnings. And sometimes you are right there on the edge waiting for the ending to end and the beginning to begin. It's the half-light at the end of the day and the start of the night...where everything is covered in a weird hazy grayish light and you can;t quite make out the form of things. It's the place I am finding myself in these days....figuratively and literally.
I can't say the borderland has been a bad place, though. Actually, maybe for the first time in my life, I've been enjoying it in my own way.

So I'm making my plans to leave Toronto. Thought I would be moving at the end of this month, and then plans went awry and turns out I will be here now until April. It was mainly disappointing as I was planning on spending time in Kitchener with Kate in her first month of 3rd baby motherhood to help her out and spend time with the family - and be the un-official "Doula". I guess it will just have to be put-off for the time being.

In the meantime, I have been working pretty rarely, picking up the odd relief shift at a couple of shelters and penny pinching quite a lot. It's funny as I keep making the decision to walk EVERYWHERE (instead of spend the 2.75 for the TTC) and then wonder why in the world I am so tired at the end of the day. I have the tendency towards impatience so it has been good training for me not to have all the answers right now and have to wait. I would get into more details but that would be boring so I'll save those for another time.

In the midst of biding time I have been going through the beginnings of a kind of creative recovery/exploration thanks to Lisa.L. and with the help of The Artists Way. In conversation with Lisa over breakfast 3 weeks back I was telling her that I wanted to start some kind of "creative group" to get together with other folks and talk things creative, and our creative journeys/dilemmas to which Lisa replied "oh, I already started one 2 weeks ago!". So a little group of us have been meeting for breakfast early Tuesday mornings to go through 12 weeks of Julia Cameron's book, The Artists way. Happening upon this has been incredibly timely for me - in Julia Cameron-speak, that's, like, total "synchronicity"! One of the many examples of random stuff I've been doing: Today I wrote a letter from my 80 year old self to my present self as one of my tasks...I was tempted to write it out here it was so super inspiring to me...but think I might wait on that. I also wrote a letter from my 8 year old self. Anyway, so far going through this process has been incredibly eye opening for me on many levels and I feel like I am finally gaining ground in terms of recovering my poor lost artist (I think I dropped her somewhere between the Catholic worker and the 108 homeless men I was looking after....d-uh).

It is also forcing me to face some things I probably would have left in hiding otherwise. The process of doing that has been incredibly freeing if sometimes uncomfortable. I am actually feeling comfortable with myself again, unapologetically. And I keep making cartoon strips of my life just for fun which I find quite hilarious and extremely fun. It's strange the surprising things that have popped up. It's been a lot of fun. I've just said fun a whole lot. I must be having fun.

Speaking up fun, I need to go to the gym. hip hip......not happenin'.
-jc (same initials as Jesus Christ and Julia Cameron!)