I took a photo last night.
As dusk sloped from the sky, slowly creeping onto the city in its ash gray shadow, I stood at the side of the road hypnotized by the dazzling beauty of the vibrant fuchsia creek above the horizon, reflected by the setting sun and the wind that has been blowing us off our feet throughout the day. It seemed as though the sky was split halfway through by the sharp pink toned streak, dancing graciously into the night with rhythm set by the song of dozens of tiny birds. I closed my eyes, and took a picture with my heart. The lasting kind.
Isn't it strange how in trialing times we often give up right before the miracle? What if the sun was afraid to rise when seeing the darkness? Instead it glows into it and lights up the world.
These weeks taught me true patience. Mostly with myself, my own rhythm, slowly leaning into the stretch and waking every morning to a new step into growth, however tiny, peeling off what no longer serves my life, instead of leaning back into what I have once known to be true, safe and comfortable.
Aside from patience I learned the essence of being truly open. Similar to the clay between the palm of my hands and among my fingers...The softer it is, the easier to mold and shape it into what I want it to become. The tougher it is in texture, the less likely it is to endure the alterations and very possibly crack at some point along the process of creation.
Contrast is essential for the soul.
The rain was dense and the air so moist, that a few meters walk soaked her clothes almost throughly. She carefully rolled up the improvised cover on the primitive greenhouse and looked under it to see what could already be harvested. The feeling of picking the food one grows, regardless of how simple a selection it may be, could never be topped by any of the fancy, exotic ingredients that can be found on the shelves of a shop.
Nourishing. Grounding. Liberating.
In the very simplicity of such moments she found new breaths of life...
I grew up with Pink Floyd playing on tape in my father's car. My mother despised it. I loved it.
The other day he received their latest ('14) album The Endless River from a friend and bewildered and enchanted as I expected him to become, he asked me to just listen to it and see for myself. When I opened the cover and went through the titles, my eyes stopped at the very last one. When I get to know a new record I like to play it through from start to finish, but this time, I just felt the strange internal urge to play the last melody. The entire album is instrumental, except for this last song. I did not know that. As I sat with my eyes closed, the music entered every cell of my body and the lyrics penetrated the deepest of my heart... Isn't it strange, magical would probably be a more suitable word, how answers come from the -seemingly- most random corners of our human experience? I feel like my week was building up to this very moment in time.
That time of year when magnolias blossom and the grass smells of such a pure green even in the midst of urban pollution, that one can do nothing else but to surrender to the moment and stop, breath in, smile and walk on securely. I walked today. Felt the need to be among people, yet not exactly be with them. It is comforting to regress into solitude. Addictive even. I've always enjoyed it. To most it is a form of refuge, to me it has always been a realm of peace and freedom. And yet, there are days - few, it's true, but there are some days- when being among a crowd of people is essential and healing, and this form of presence offers peace.
I look forward to the first Monday of the month, all through the year. Because it takes me closer to where I very much enjoy being. It takes me to a place I feel at home. It reminds me clearly of a space I dwell in my heart. Steadily.
A time of change and rebirth... a day to celebrate renewal.
As life unfolds, I feel more and more aware, awakened to and grateful for the depths of God, and in the same time I come to recognize how very often people mystify God. In the beginning it was done to understand that which is unseen, so people began putting faces to stories, sculpting statues, painting icons and murals and have developed theories based on holy scripts in order to share knowledge (and by knowledge I mean exactly that, tangible information, resulting more from understanding and less from faith). We've made a box to hold God, each major group its own, and we drew a religious, dogmatic picture of a distant God who stands above and rules our lives with an insistently strong will.
Today at church service I heard the line "God wants us to...", and it felt like suddenly these words got spoken in a loudspeaker right next to my ears, amplified and so, so very... human.
God does not want us to... God does not want.
In our soul. That is where we will hear what we are invited to do. Each to their own calling. And I truly, truly hope, today more than ever, that we are able to undress tradition and preconceived ideas to seek the God of presence, mercy and love and surrender to this wonderful journey open heartedly.
For many, this time of year bares a sad taste dominated by sacrifice, suffering and death. To me, it is uplifting. Death is part of life. And does not necessarily mean the end of physical existence. It can also mean the end of so many things that are toxic in our lives to eventually be resurected in freedom by abandoning our external will to surrender to our natural inner flow of love and light.
Honesty is crucial. Whether we make it, show it, write it down or say it out loud, it is essential to dwell in a place of honesty in order to be the truest version of ourselves. And truth may not always be pretty. Or happy. Or even balanced. But transitioning through a heap of different emotions brought forward over the course of various stages in our lives it is essential to embrace it all with honesty, and observe it, rather than becoming an active participant.
A couple of weeks ago, I met up with my best friend for lunch. We were strolling the streets aimlessly, chatting time away. We have the gift of bouncing between silly and deep subjects seamlessly, so no discussion has ever become awkward for us. She is my person. Out of nowhere, in the middle of a random conversation I looked at her and said "I am not sure, if this is really what I want to continue on doing!", to which came the rather predictable answer of any best friend in the world: "Are you entirely out of your senses?". She is one of the few amazing blessings in my life who always supported me at my best as well as at my worst, without feeling the urge to drown me in caring advice, because she knows better, and most of all because she knows me better than that!
It was not a thought that I had premeditated. It was just a thought. A whisper that suddenly appeared and hurtled into air making a sound. I am not even sure what it means. What it refers to.
I have been witnessing a change to my workdays for a quite a while now. And when I open up the door of my kiln, I just stand and unload. I don't jump. And I don't dance. I used to. Exultantly. My work is still honest, though. It tells the story. My story. It projects feelings, highs, lows and the in-between. And the beauty of it all is, my truth changes and I am very grateful for having a form of expression through which I can therapeutically document it all. At times loud and clear, at other times more silently, absently even.
For now I have been guided to ground myself, both internally as well as externally, by digging my hands deep into a different, more forgiving clay body. The type that allows for a lot of maneuvering, twisting, turning, pinching, building. What will become of it, I do not yet know. But it feels right. And true. And real.
It is so easy to rely on our past convictions, returning always to some box of knowledge filled with what we've learned, experienced and gathered. But in an internal world (a spiritual world), which is continuously changing, evolving and progressing on its own special journey, feeling the need to move forward is inevitable and surrendering to the unknown becomes the only possible path to wander.
I don't claim to know much, but there is one thing I know to be true.
Responding to negative actions with hatred has one possible outcome: even more hatred. This very simple truth has been recognized in the world probably eversince it exists, and yet most of the time we are still unable to encrypt it into our hearts.
The purpose of terrorism is not killing people. Mass-killing is a tool, as well as generating a very high level of fear, but it is not the purpose. These terrible acts of violence crave our response. They stir up the entire population of the world, and live on through our general persisting reaction to them. They aim for our feedback, and the more mediatised these events are, the better they seem to hold everyone in a fear-based world. What better (and more radical) political tool then that is there? Not fair-play, but hey, it's politics after all.
All this is, of course, not to say, that we should stay passive and ignorant. How could we? It is our nature to react, and that is exactly what should be done. But instead of feeding a state of despair, which shortly closes us up in frustration and leads to becoming bitter, hateful, distrustful and incapable of real compassion and love, the only way we can contribute to a positive change is, by opening our heart and showing compassion through prayer and positive vibrations.
Shock and grieving are part of this process. These initial emotions point to you actually having a heart. It's a good thing, allow yourself to be shuddered. Acknowledge your fear, it's there. But walk past it. And open your heart in prayer or meditation (whichever silence resonates with you more, you do that). Please remember, always: love is the one reaction you can have, through which you can actually change anything in this world close to you, as well as far away. Open your loving heart! Compassion is not in your Belgian-flag profile picture on Facebook. Compassion is in your heart. Search for it within you!
Y'all might want to read this article here. Kai is a peace worker; he was running PATRIR for years, and is now the director of Department of Peace Operation. He has a clear vision and an open heart, revealing reality in a couple of paragraphs.
If you've been following me along here on this space, as well as on my facebook page and elsewhere, you have probably heard me say a number of times how important functionality is to me, with regard to the vessels I make (and with pretty much everything, in general). When a one of a kind hand-built dish is born and completed, I like to close my eyes, and imagine some of the uses the future owner may find for it. I believe that it is very important to be able to use that which you own. Completing your everyday life with heartfelt objects that brighten up your mealtime, coffee-break or random moments is in the end the purpose of my work. If Jasmin Blanc tableware had feelings (and in a certain sense they do...), they would sure as hell be very sad to sit in a cupboard or pantry behind closed doors, waiting nostalgically on their turn to come at Christmas time. That is a very lonely life, that I hope my pieces will never have to experience!
So I would really like to encourage you to use them, combine them with your vintage china, your glassware, style them, mix&match them, do what you've got to do to incorporate them in the general aesthetic of your home! I'd love for you to share photos with me on how you style your Jasmin Blanc ceramics, so don't be shy, share, folks, share! You guys tend to take photos all the time, so push that share/send button. See you on Facebook or Instagram. Can't wait!
It has been two years since this gentle soul stepped into my life. And exactly on this very day, two years ago, I could finally see the end of the tunnel, and the beginning of her new life; and though I didn't know that at the time, it was a new beginning also for me...
She is my pet person, bless her wild and stubborn, gentle and cheerful soul! She loves her freedom. And I know how that feels...
You can read about part of her story here and here. We (well, I) sort of developed this habit of taking our annual photo together to mark her day, but this year the studio gang was very keen on stealing Zsemi's thunder and happily sabotaged our photo shoot. I suspect it was due to the delightful smell of doggy treats in my hands.
The first person I ever lost was my grandfather, the father of my mother.
We say we lose them, like they could turn up in the next moment. It took me years to pronounce the words, that three of my grandparents are dead. Instead I used the words, they moved away to the angels.
Today someone very dear to me said goodbye to someone very dear to her.
I used to wonder what can be said in these times, that would truly mean anything; words, which are more than what people say in these cases; words, which offer comfort, hope and love.
But such words in the very moment of utter numbness do not exist.
The only thing that can be offered in between the silence that hurts and the silence that heals is presence.