A painting commissioned by Heather Strauch A Different Approach PT Elaine Clayton copyright 2015
In autumn, do you find yourself reflecting on the past summer, and those spring days before summer? I do. There is something about falling leaves, they’re like letters written carefully, sentimental notations of days gone by. Each leaf twirling down in a blaze of yellow or red, a poem of something written somewhere in our hearts and minds, of time that was spent. I think, “How have I spent my time? Was it filled with love? Was it filled with learning? Was it filled with desire? Was it filled with sadness or regret?” I learned long ago never to let anything but love come between me and just about anyone or anything, and so I no longer feel a sickly sad feeling when I contemplate time I’ve spent upon reflection. I focus instead on the love or the gift in a relationship or situation. Is this easy to do? No, but it is better than watching leaves come down and feeling sorrow. There is no time for so much sorrow. Only time for clarity, joy and celebrating. Maybe the leaves coming down are actually confetti and there is a big party taking place.
Detail of a recent painting copyright Elaine Clayton 2015
I am feeling, lighting up and waking up more and more, to a sense that life constantly presents us with ways to see ourselves without ego, or false persona. What is a persona? Is it the things we tell ourselves we are? Is it the facade we present to the world? Through our choices and actions, we show who we truly are, and hopefully the responses we get in return will help us see who we are, and in that, there can be a chance for developing consciousness. That’s important because, otherwise we do things without really thinking or feeling–perhaps out of fear or out of the need to gratify the ego (the voice that tells who you it thinks you are: “I’m so powerful”, “I’m so sexy”, “I’m so smart” etc., whatever the ego wants to have us believe about ourselves). Living consciously is like going through darkness with a candle lit. Living without consciousness is stumbling around in the darkness, bumping into others who are also stumbling in the darkness.
Light the candle that will show you how to move, to choose and to see, rather than getting deeper into negative experiences.
Dreaming Under the Trees / Elaine Clayton 2015 at Art/Place Gallery “Fresh” Exhibition
Song of the leaves of time and shadow,
Written in the hearts of humankind
A Light, a Truth
A strange dream
a separation of self
Sleep, and wake
Wake up to Yourself.
Hidden in the Trees/ Detail from a recent painting/ Elaine Clayton copyright 2015
At Paideia School years ago, I remember smiling with a colleague while watching young children at play in the classroom. When they did something they should not, they had the idea that they were invisible, unobserved and could get away with what they were doing. It was kind of cute to see that innocent children did not know any better and we knew they would be learning to become conscious of what they were doing, sometimes through hard lessons, gradually as they grew.
It’s not so cute when adults hide, sneak, lie and live in deception, come what may and no matter who it damages along the way. Nothing is really a secret for long, someone always knows and in the end the truth always comes out. And hopefully adults who deceive and betray others will learn (probably the hard way) not to think of themselves as invisible, like a naughty child. It takes strength of character not to exploit others through deceit: ultimately it is a betrayal of self to the self. If our choices and actions dishonor others, we grossly dishonor ourselves.
Detail from a recent Spirit Painting copyright Elaine Clayton 2015
There is a small bird within you, can you hear it sing?
Elaine Clayton copyright 2015
This one was created for clients who have a baby on the way.
detail of a recent painting/ Elaine Clayton copyright 2015
Abraham Joshua Heschel, in his book, The Sabbath, writes, “What is the Sabbath? Spirit in the form of time.”
I have been thinking that time is what every interaction and relationship is founded on–we think we have lots of time with each other, with those we love, with certain situations—but we don’t. On earth, everything passes. Time has a preciousness to it when we realize that. But I have found that I did not always realize this. We are ruled by time, we rush here and there and let our sense of time run our lives through our schedules. But what do we do to sanctify or make holy our sense of “time”? In dreams, and in Near Death Experiences, there is often a remarkable feeling that there is no time–it is more that there is a presence of being, a feeling of “now” as in all-encompassing now.
I remember during a very hard time decades ago, I read about the Shechinah, the Eternal Bride who is welcomed at Sabbath. I knew inwardly that inside each of us, there is an eternal bride waiting to be greeted, celebrated and loved. A new beginning every moment, an everlasting essence within.
What do you do to bring yourself to a place of sacred time? Where do you go, or how do you find the peace that says not all time is about schedules and rules and goals and whatever else we’ve made it to be?
Elaine Clayton copyright 2014 Spirit Painting
Are we captives of time and space, and our perception of ourselves in relation to time and space, as Abraham Joshua Heschel asserts: “The higher goal of spiritual living is not to amass a wealth of information, but to face sacred moments.”
My quick study of the moment the Magician swan enters, stirring the tranquility of the sleeping swans
Elaine Clayton copyright 2015
My favorite part of Swan Lake is the dramatically dangerous moment the Magician enters, his dark and powerful wings triumphantly fan out in his menacing approach, fluttering the delicate feathers of the innocent.
Swan Lake is so archetypal, it reminds us and speaks to us of what we know to be true in life: It ain’t Paradise. We live in this world of shadow and light, positive and negative, where sweet guileless trust meets cunning and cruel manipulation.
Swans get ready. Don’t relinquish peace and grace because of evil deeds and intentions. Be a swan in your placid environment, and know that in the end, the magician gets caught in his own brokenness, his wing crushed and his flight permanently damaged ( Swan Lake Part 2: Broken winged Magician is sent to a nature preserve where 3rd graders get to pet him and this rehab softens his sickness and propensity for harming others before he dies a less bitter agent of ruin).
Detail of one of my recent paintings Elaine Clayton copyright 2015
Snow changes the acoustics, making a sanctuary of the surroundings. There is a hushed, majestic quality. As I stand on the snow, there is something present within it, spiritually intrinsic and obvious to me–it is an extraordinary something– might be that each flash of light from each crystal snowflake (though we cannot see that beauty without a microscope) reaches the psyche, the heart in winter. After snow has been on the ground for many weeks or months, there is a formidable sense of endurance that comes with each step taken across the cool whiteness. Wanting the bitter cold to subside, the shadows across snowy mounds that have known us for a while whisper that Spring is not too far away.