As I have aged, I have become more appreciative of the vessel that is my body. As time and illness and injury have each taken its toll on my physical vessel, I have come to regard my body as an imperfect, wonderous miracle. It is with kinder eyes that I see myself now: lumps, bumps, bulges. I can feel how hard my heart works, scarred though it is, to supply enough oxygen rich blood to get me up a short set of stairs or across the street. It is an effort. I notice that. I appreciate it. I’m thankful for it.
Conversely, as a young woman, I led a busy and very physical life. Working. Raising children. Engaging in my favorite spiritual past times: hiking, swimming, kayaking, walking. The list goes on and on. I enjoyed using my body and I demanded a lot of it. In significant ways, I took my youth, my beauty and my health for granted. I was far to busy to THINK about it. When I was still, I was in nature, thinking about oneness and connection. I felt a great kinship with the land, the sea and the sky. That meant a lot to me. But I did not fully appreciate the vessel that allowed me to BE.
I imagine that my son and my husband, both of whom have had to contend with severe physical challenges, have long been more aware of their vessels. Imperfection, physical imperfection, was and is something that they have to confront in every instance that they live and breathe in this world. I will venture to say that I bet they never take their bodies for granted. But those of us with fully functional bodies usually do. Until we age or until something goes wrong.
Rumi says there are a hundred ways to kiss the ground. My way is through clay. I make clay vessels, one of a kind, unique. Each is meant to be a meditation on the beauty inherent in imperfection. Invite me into your story and let me make a vessel in honor of your beauty.
Clay in my hands makes me happy. Specifically, red georgia clay, dug straight up from the earth, right here in my state. This clay has body, has substance, has something to teach me. keeping my hands in this clay, forming, shaping, co-creating, keeps me close to the earth. Those of you who know me will remember that I love the ocean, love the Maine coast, love swimming, hiking, kayaking. When I lived in Maine, when I was younger and healthy, the land was my true companion and my joy. Now I lead a quieter life, a city life, a southern life, a life with health challenges. Balancing my fond memories of other years, other joys in other places, is my discovery of art, of making things and of the great joy of Georgia clay in my hands.
It has been a day full of fog. Do you like fog? I had a friend who said fog made her feel claustrophobic. I was so surprised, as I have always found fog to be comforting, enveloping, a bit like a cacoon, I imagine. But I am so glad my friend told me that. It serves as a reminder that we each experience life in a unique way. Today, as i enjoyed the fog, I was also aware of another perspective. I thought, also, about moisture made visible, be it rain or snow or sleet. That turned my mind to the humidity that is so much a part of my life when I am in Alabama. The cool tendrils of fog please me, but give me humidity as it forms in the south, and I am miserable. Both are air thick with moisture. Yet they are so different.
My maiden name comes from the words: sea farer. I imagine my ancestors sailing through the seas. I think of how many years I lived on an island and how the sound of the foghorn and of the bell buoys called to me. It is good to be home, good to know that i still feel at home here after so many years of living “away.”
I realize I have two homes now. Alabama is one of those. I have family and friends and history there now. Instead of choosing between, I am learning to add on.
Tell me about your homes in this world. What places call to you?