Monday, March 5, 2007

Homage to my Mom

Forty years ago today my mom died. I created a little altar space this morning with food, flowers and a yarzheit candle and an image of her from a piece of art I made.
Even though I have been working on the art piece, and planning the commemoration, when I awoke this morning I forgot. I just felt this sense of frenzy, like I had to 'get to work' right away! I sat down and journaled and I remembered. Forty years is a long time, much longer than the amount of time 'my mother' existed in my life. Yet for those forty years the relationship has continued to unfold through images. These images do not erase grief, sometimes they magnify it, but they hold a reality that has no other place in a culture of work and future oriented progress. The images let me participate in the incomprehensible mystery of life. Throughout the day I ate some of the beautiful tangerine and drank some of the sherry wine from the offering. The tangerine was a gift from my friend Aviva who came to paint yesterday. This little ritual is in my diningroom, not in a church or synagogue. I pass the altar as I go to put in the laundry, get up from my writing to pee, make lunch, and write a check for the guy who fixed my irrigation to water my new trees.
Above the sideboard that holds the altar is a painting called the Sabbath Bride.
It is a huge story painting about the return of the Shekinah, the feminine aspect of God. I believe these acts of making space in my everyday life for grief and honoring, for love and ritual create the path She needs to return. I think She is calling us to undo the separation of sacred and profane and weave them back together, to weave ourselves back together, mystery with the rational, self with other, with nature. I am deeply grateful to my own mother for teaching me how to intertwine the body with the spirit by honoring the soul, the simple, the true, the everyday mystery.


Jan's Art and Musings said...

Pat, thank you for this posting. In July it will be 5 years since my mom died and this December she would have been 100. We are planning a celebration for her birthday but thank you for reminding me that I can also "honor" the passing.

elizaBeth Benson said...

pat, thank you for this way you keep the life of your mother alive. my dad died last year--and in a little more than a week i'll go home to celebrate his birthday with my grieving family. it's a demarkation--for me--the year my dad died is also the year i started writing, blogging, every day. the blogging led to blooks that helped to chronicle the grief and give a bit of my dead dad back to my family. the everyday art that i make now is constantly informed by his presence, his urging, his insistence. where in life, he could not encourage me, for all the reasons he could not--what's the point? it's not useful? you'll never make any money at it? etc. etc. etc., but in death, and the dad i am getting to know through the fiction i am writing about him and the awakenings i am having about the who and why and how of his being (now that he is not) leave me constantly creating and re-creating, meeting and re-meeting more of the him--the encouraging him, the permissive him, the attending him, the present him, than i ever allowed myself to experience while he was alive. it is an extraordinary relationship at the spring buds of beginning--that i am now, finally, having, with this man that participated in my birth--and always loved me. i'm grateful for the way you talk about the everyday sacred ways you keep your mother's memory. thank you for your inspiration.

mim said...

I discovered your blog by "accident' while looking for mail art calls to share with my art students. I really appreciate this post. My father died the 4th of January 2000 & just this month, my son asked me to do a Story Corps interview about him. I was so happy to be able to talk about him and have this memory be preserved. Thanks for sharing your memory.