Hello dear ones,
I’ve been in a weekly online group since July of 2021 called “Soulful Life” with my grief mentor Francis Weller and another grief warrior, Holly Truhlar, along with about 70 other participants.
It’s become a healing balm I look forward to each week, especially now with the war in the Ukraine added onto the layers of the pandemic, systemic racial injustice, late stage capitalism, and the climate crisis, etc…
How do we keep going?
It’s simply too much and I’m finally feeling my capacity.
And I’m curious—how’re you holding up these days?
Each month in the group with Francis and Holly we have a theme. The theme for March is about living an Artful Life.
We’re diving into how to keep our creativity alive even when we’re in crisis.
Francis told us about a man imprisoned at Auschwitz who recited poetry out loud to the others. Even the ones who spoke a different language and didn’t understand the words kept asking him to recite more poems.
Just the sound of his voice and the cadence of the words touched their souls and gave them respite and a sense of hope.
It made me think about how great art is often created during dark times.
Art becomes an oasis in the middle of horrible tragedy.
Art is like the bread and butter for the soul; the arts become a form of nourishment.
In this way, art carries us forward in times of crisis.
Have you seen the bittersweet videos coming from the Ukraine that speak to this?
There’s a little girl singing “Let It Go” from Frozen in the underground bunkers of the subway, and a young man playing the piano at the train station where people were gathered to flee the country.
I’m sure there are many more.
Art is so much more than expression—it’s a way to stay connected to your soul and it becomes a life line.
Francis went on to ask us—how are you re-creating yourself right now (playing with the word “recreation”)?
And is it possible for you to put your art and creativity first or is there a way to have more of an artful life right now?
Can you respond to the world through artful living?
He invited us to respond to the grief, trauma, and fear of these times with creativity.
And so I invite you to do the same.
Here are some suggestions:
Create an altar to your personal grief.
Or create an altar to the collective grief.
Or create an altar to what’s happening in the Ukraine right now. What would that look like?
Perhaps you create an altar that encompasses all three.
Gather things that are beautiful to you—start with a piece of cloth with a color that has a certain meaning for you. I’m going to use green for peace.
Then go gather some items that also have beauty and meaning to you—you could gather items from nature-stones, crystals, branches, and twigs. Or they could be things that you already have in your home.
Gather items that have special meaning to you or are symbols of strength, love and hope.
If you can, go buy some flowers and add those.
Find images that are inspiring AND find images that are horrifying. There are so many images that we are bombarded with these days on social media and the news—let’s use them.
Find an image that really speaks to your grief and honor it by placing it in a beautiful frame or glue it to a piece of paper that’s a healing color to you.
Or you could collage it with an image that is its opposite. For example, I found an image of a bomb exploding, and I want to rip it up and combine it with pieces of a hopeful image such as the green growth of the spring plants.
Let that image become the centerpiece of your altar.
Your altar can be both full of hope and the harshness of what’s happening. It can be both dark and light.
You could do this alone or with your family or community.
And if possible involve the children. Each time we share and process creative ways to be with our grief with them, we are teaching the children a beautiful lesson about how to be with grief.
And if you’re a parent and want to know what to say about all that’s difficult right now, here’s a great video I found about just that:
How to talk to your kids about war: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cz73tP_JxGg
Here’s another video I found about dealing with our collective grief by Thomas Hubl. I’m sharing it with you because I found it to be so helpful right now.
If you create an altar, please send me a photo—I would love to see what you create.
I would like to find a way to post and share these because I believe that sharing it with each other helps spread the message further and deeper.
Afterall, art is what keeps us human and it connects us all.
Grieve well, be well my dear ones.
Remain rooted, stay grateful, and be humble.
These are intense times.
These are grief-full times. There’s so much to digest and process. Be gentle with yourselves, have compassion and curiosity. Keep your grief moving. Be kind to yourself and all others-human and non-human. And remember to grieve well, so we can be well.