Creativity is Part of the Journey

What does a creative person, a writer, sculptor, poet, musician, painter, photographer do to handle to stresses and disappointments along their path?
How to justify their lives, choices, the time given to their creativity? How to have a meaningful life and share their gifts with the world?

It starts with the development of a personal creed. A creative life must have meaning to the individual person and must continually produce a sequel into that meaning.

Men and women who seek to create meaning through their work are heroes and heroines in many ways. They have opted to matter. They know they can’t be ordinary and that their work can not be meaningless. This path is harder than most but it gives the world the gift of Divine beauty.

I believe that part of the creative journey is the interweaving of spiritual truths and creative necessity. The mind, heart, soul, and creative energies must be flowing instinctual. We are the sole arbiter of the meaning we choose to give to our lives. Accepting our human nature is a large part of the journey. The clue is not to accept meaningless lives. Our lives must vibrate with meaning. The trick is it may not mean the same thing to others as it does to you. But it is your life, so embrace it and run with it!

Painting by Barbara Mattio

Painting by Barbara Mattio

The Purpose of the Marginalized

Our society has two sections, the mainstream and the marginalized. What makes up the marginalized? Important components of our culture and country. Changes of thinking, prioritizing parts of American life, immigrants, artists, circus performers, writers, poets, photographers and anyone who pulls society screaming into new ways of thinking and living.

Initial reactions to accepting new ideas and priorities are often challenging to those who have walked solidly year after year, in the right way, the mainstream. In our age, we are still working on women’s rights, hunger issues, and the rights of people who disagree with the government. I am not speaking here of homegrown terrorists. just those who are willing to think outside of the box and disagree with the powers that be.

The edges of society call for justness and fairness. They won’t settle for less. History shows us the immense changes which have been instigated by the disenfranchised or marginalized. The edges of society eventually pull society forward into the place where they are more inclusive, more tolerant, and less willing to put up with dishonesty. The colonists who began the American Revolution were fringe, and yet they founded a new country based upon freedom and democracy.  In England, they were criminals. In America, they are heroes and heroines.

So as the fringe slowly becomes the mainstream, the artist becomes well-paid, the writer is finally published, the marginalized becomes the mainstream. New fringe elements appear to challenge the acceptable, the mainstream and so on and so on. A never ending cycle, in which the marginalized move us into our own future.  If we persecute the marginalized, then, we will cease to move forward.  This is why tolerance of ideas is so important.

” I am willing to put myself through anything; temporary pain or discomfort means nothing to me as long as I can see that the experience will take me to a new level.  I am interested in the unknown, and the only path to the unknown is through breaking barriers, an often painful process.”   –Diana Nyad

The Heart of the Divine

The heart is a receptacle on earth of the divine Spirit. When it holds the divine spirit it soars heavenward. The divine spark which is reflected in the human heart is love.

We need to seek God in the heart of mankind. When we recognize the divine in everyone, we have taken the first step. We also need to be considerate to everyone with our thoughts, actions, and speech.

As you meditate, and visit the inner landscapes, recognize in your own feeling the feeling of God. Know that every impulse of love that rises in your heart is a divine direction from God. This love is the divine spark in your heart which will ignite a flame to rise to illuminate your life’s path.

The living thing in the heart is love. It may show itself as kindness, friendship, sympathy, tolerance or forgiveness.

True spirituality lies in opening the heart, in widening the outlook, and in living your own spiritual path. Every sentient being on earth loves life above all else. The smallest insect, whose life lasts only an instant, tries to escape any danger in order to live a moment longer.

So if we now look at the world and the wars and hatred, bigotry and violence, we have to understand that the heart of humankind is created to be filled with the loving ecstasy of Divinity. Everyone has the same loving connection to Divine love within the heart.

“Because of the beloved my heart is happy,
my soul illuminated.
From the beloved’s greenery hundreds of
blessed rivers are flowing to the rose gardens.

In order to enter into your rose
the soul makes peace with the thorns.

Choose love. Choose love.
Without this beautiful love,
life is nothing but a burden.”

photo by Barbara Mattio

The Mysticism of the Heart

There is a difference between religion and spirituality. Spirituality exists without a structure of dogma or fear.

To appreciate a painting you have to stand in the place of the artist. Assumptions can be made, but without entry to the artist’s heart, we can not completely understand what the artist intended.

Eastern poets and gurus or murshids, understand that ecstasy is being sensitive to the condition of the spirit of the universe. Something like placing one’s hand on the pulse of God. Thoughts that spring from a soul on fire, fill the soul with joy, love, and thrilling inspiration. The awakening; of the consciousness of humanity to the divinity in man, is our inheritance of the Divine immense perfection.

” When a glimpse of Our image is caught in man (or woman) when heaven and earth are sought in man,then what is there in the world that is not in man? If one only explores him, there is a lot in man.”

“I have loved in life and I have been loved. I have drunk the bowl of poison from the hands of love as nectar, and have been raised above life’s joy and sorrow.

My heart, aflame in love, set afire every heart that came in touch with it. My heart has been rent and joined again; My heart had been broken and again made whole;

My heart has been wounded and healed again;

A thousand deaths my heart has died, and thanks be to love, it lives yet. I went through hell and saw there love’s raging fire, and I entered heaven illuminated with the light of love.

I wept in love and made all weep with me;

I mourned in love and pierced the hearts of men;

And when my fiery glance fell on the rocks, the rocks burst forth as volcanoes.

The whole world sank in the flood caused by my one tear;

With my deep sigh the earth trembled, and when I cried aloud the name of my beloved, I shook the throne of God in heaven.

I bowed my head low in humility, and on my knees I begged of love,

‘Disclose to me, I pray thee, O love, thy secret.’ She took me gently by my arms and lifted me above the earth, and spoke softly in my ear,

My dear one, thou thyself art love, art lover, and thyself art the beloved whom thou hast adored.”

—- Hazrat Inayat Khan

Photo by Barbara Mattio

Photo by Barbara Mattio

A Woman Ahead of Her Time

Sometimes we think we have to belong to an established family to make a real difference in the world. Some women feel they need a PHD to prove they are good enough. I have a story here of a woman, Anne Bradstreet who came to America in 1630 aboard the first Puritan ship to arrive here in the colonies. Anne was a married woman who had begun writing early in her life despite the fact that she had eight children.

Being a published woman in the 1600’s Puritan community was not something which made her popular with some others in the community. Her literary endeavors were off-putting to some of her peers. They questioned her place and the propriety of a woman writing her thoughts and observations.

Anne wrote about the hardships of women in the New World, as well as the difficulties in her own life looking for recognition and acceptance in the American colonies at that time. I think many were similar to what we have faced since then as American women. She also wrote many mystical poems about her own religious beliefs.

Anne’s poetry was published in 1650, when her book “The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up” went into print. She also wrote about the raising of her eight children and subjects of import at the time. Many of her poems are gentle, such as her poem to her husband:

“If ever two were one, then surely we,
If ever man were loved by wife, then thee.
If ever wife was happy in a man,
Compare with me, ye women, if you can.
I prize thy love more than whole Mines of gold
Or all of the riches that the East doth hold/
My love is such that Rivers cannot quench,
Nor ought but love from thee give recompense.”

Anne was influenced by the work of Edmund Spencer and Philip Sidney. One of her descendants was Oliver Wendell Holmes. She is considered America’s first English-language poet.

Women Won’t Go Back

There is a connection between our spiritual lives and our lives as women. I am not speaking only of American women, but women across the world. We are not treated as equals; though there are some wonderful feminist men. In America, we are the only group of citizens who are not legally equal. It doesn’t matter what our race, religion or politics are. We are not legally equal.

Does it matter? Yes, it does. Politics has gotten very ugly the last few years. Congress is working to take away many of our rights, rights we worked very hard to earn in the 70’s. Sexists, of either gender, do not feel we are competent to make our own decisions about our finances, our health, our bodies or anything more important than what to make for dinner. Please, don’t misunderstand. I love to cook, garden, and even do laundry. LOL. I also have marched and picketed for women’s and children’s rights for 40 years.

In addition, there is another symptom that feelings about women are worsening. Domestic Violence numbers are increasing and this horrifies me. There are those in Congress who want to end the legislation which protects us at this time. I helped to start a Domestic Violence shelter back in the 70’s. I know women die every day at the hands of the significant male in their lives.
It isn’t confined to any demographic group. Abusers are Congressmen, pastors, mailmen, actors, policemen and even possibly your neighbor.

I am encouraging people to look at the women in your families as equals. And ourselves as equals. May we not be forced to return to the days when we were owned and controlled and restricted. Blessings to all.

Women’s Quest for Her Own Story

Photo by Barbara Mattio

I have a secret passion. I love to read the journals that have been published hundreds of years ago. Especially, before women’s rights and our obtaining the vote with the passage of the nineteenth amendment. This is where you hear the truth in women’s stories, uncensored and unfiltered. In these  journals and diaries are the words the tears couldn’t express. Women’s lives so often are filled with silent screams. Feminism means to be able to articulate a self-consciousness about women’s identity.  An Identity not defined by the man, husband or father in her life. Not identified by how clean her house is or how quiet and well-scrubbed her children are.
In these journals I have found women’s stories to be presented only as  they relate to the events of men’s lives. In truth, these stories are tales of courage and strength we can only imagine since things have changed since the 1890’s.

Deborah Cameron has written, “What does it mean to be unambiguously a woman?” It means to put a man at the center of one’s story  and to allow only what honors his prime position. At this present time, many men are looking to put women back into this role. It is a role we must not accept, as we have our own stories to write as much as they do.

Autobiographies of women too often show images of denying both accomplishment and suffering. Yet these are the meat of women’s stories. Now that there is a growing wish to silence women once again, and put us in our place, I believe we need to speak up without hesitation. Our words will be the light shining forth to future generations of women and men.

Photo by Barbara Mattio

” The Moon is always female.”—Marge Piercy

The Grandmothers Songs

Photo by Barbara Mattio

The Grandmothers Songs – Linda Hogan
The grandmothers were my tribal gods.
They were there
when I was born. Their songs
rose out of wet labor
and the woman smell of birth.

From a floating sleep
they made a shape around me,
a grandmother’s embrace,
the shawl of family blood
that was their song for kinship.
There was a divining song
for finding the lost,
and a raining song
for the furrow and it seed,
one for the hoe
and the house it leaned against.

In those days, through song,
a woman could fly
to the mother of water
and fill her ladle
with cool springs of earth.

She could fly to the deer
and sing him down to the ground.

Song was the pathway where people met
and animals crossed.

Once, flying out of the false death of surgery,
I heard a grandmother singing for help.
She came close
as if down a road of screaming.

It was the terror grandmother.
I’d heard of her.
And when our fingers and voices met,
the song
of an older history came through
my mouth.

At death, they say
everything inside us opens,
mouth, heart, even the ear opens
and breath passes
through the memories
of loves and faces.
The embrace opens
and grandmothers pass,
wearing sunlight
and thin rain,
walking out of fire
as flame
and smoke
leaving the ashes.

That’s when rain begins,
and when the mouth of the river sings,
water flows from it
back to the cellular sea
and along the way
earth sprouts and blooms, the grandmothers
keep following the creation
that opens before them
as they sing.

Mother’s Day Proclamation of 1870

Mother’s Day Proclamation of 1870 – Julia Ward Howe

“Arise, the women of this day!
Arise all women who have hearts,
Whether your baptism be that of water or of tears!
Say firmly
“We will not have questions decided by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking of carnage,
for caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We women of one country
will be too tender of those of another country
to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”
From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes with
our own, it says ‘disarm! disarm!’
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.
Blood does not wipe out dishonor
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them then solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
whereby the great human family can live in peace,
each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Ceasar,
But of God.
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
that a general congress of women without limit of nationality,
be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient
and at the earliest period consistent with its objects,
to promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
the amicable settlement of international questions,
the great and general interests of peace.”

Photo by Barbara Mattio