I am the Earth these days, baked brown and tired. The grass is wilting and turning crispy in the Sun's baleful gaze, except for today when the clouds have rolled over and there is just enough rain to crank the humidity up to "Sauna on Mercury." We've already had record breaking temperatures in June, and there's still a good three months to get through before Autumn meanders into the spotlight, assuming it hits its cue. You never can tell anymore.
Heat saps my strength. I am a child of Fall, and this time of year is always hard for me--I crave early sunsets and dragon-breath frost, long sleeves, trench coats. The photosensitivity I mentioned in an earlier post, from my antidepressant, only makes this worse; Summer makes me tired.
I remember, as a child, loving it--it was cooler then, and the prospect of weeks of vacation made me willing to brave the heat. I ran barefoot over the blacktop and cherished the late evenings. Barbecues, picnics, swimming lessons, Vacation Bible School, the ice cream man, snow cones...Summer has so much to offer children.
Twenty years later I am parched and cracked and dizzy from the brightness. You know that feeling when you walk out of a movie theater and the sun's so bright it hurts? I feel like that every time I go outside, whether it's dawn or noon. My head swims, my joints ache. I want to hide in the cool darkness of my bedroom and hibernate through the Summer like a seasonally-dyslexic bear.
My spiritual depression, too, seems bound up in the season and the Earth. The roadsides here are scorched in long patches where idiots flick their cigarettes out the window and the tinder-dry grass goes up like a Roman candle. My spirit feels like those blackened stretches of Earth. Blasted down to the roots, burned to ash, phoenix extra crispy with a side of "why bother?"
After a forest fire the land comes back more fertile and lush than before, as the undergrowth is cleared away and weaker plants no longer compete with fire-tolerant plants for resources. There are some trees, like the Lodgepole pine, whose seeds are only released during fire. Fires are a part of the forest ecosystem, and are integral to the overall health of the forest (when the cycle isn't screwed up by humans, at least). Nature has in Her hands many forms of renewal, from the slow erosion of mountains to the blazing conflagration.
My apartment bathroom is decorafted in shades of blue. (This isn't as much of a non sequitur as it sounds, just bear with me.) I've been changing a few things there: new shower curtain, getting rid of a few old dust-catchers, that sort of thing. I had been feeling the urge to paint lately (unusual for me; the tremors in my hands make it very frustrating for me to paint in any detail), so I bought a rectangular canvas, thinking I might paint some sort of blue treeish thing for the bathroom.
The first attempt went badly. (This is what happens when I try to wing it.) I re-base-coated the whole thing and decided to flesh out the design with Prismacolor, one of my favorite artistic media. I liked what I came up with--bright, pretty, sort of calm, with some freshness. I wanted to darken the color palette just a little for the actual painting. I sat down surrounded by colors and brushes and went to work.
Here's what's significant about this situation. Normally when I create something, it's presentational, not representational. It's a picture of Isis, a drawing of Green Tara, a plaque of the Goddess surrounded by food. You can of course take all sorts of meaning from those things, but when I created them I didn't do so intending to make a symbolic artistic statement of any kind. I let the viewer take whatever he or she wants. That's why I've never really thought of myself as an artist; not due to a lack of talent, but a lack of intention.
Halfway through the painting I realized there was both meaning and intention in what I was doing. I had recently been reading old posts on Breathless Noon, and one called Hope in God in particular stuck with me, as did the idea that when you don't know what to believe, and you no longer feel you have the knowledge you once did, you can still live in the hope of the Divine. That is what I feel I have now, maybe all I have. I am a tree standing alone on a windswept monochromatic landscape, my soul a willowy thing, still beautiful even though its branches are fruitless and bare...all but one. One blossom, such a little thing, remains. It is the vibrant red of a soul on fire with passion for the Beloved. It is the hope that the fire, kindled once, can be rekindled. It is hope in God.
And for a moment, as I signed my name to the bottom of the canvas, I felt the tiniest spark of the old magic, as if I'd set a spell I didn't even mean to cast, gently and softly letting energy flow through blue paint and a trembling left hand, my hope...the thing with branches, the thing with petals, the thing, ultimately, with wings...fluttering away into the Summer heat, looking for Autumn, looking for rain.
(click on the image for a larger version)