Monday, May 28, 2007

Holy Faith I

Tuesday, May 15 ~ Santa Fe, New Mexico

It's Sunday morning. I'm sitting in Santa Fe's Church of Religious Science listening to the service and an image forms in my mind's eye...a series of angles, lines and contours that expresses the energy of Santa Fe and the notion of "holy faith," which is the English translation of the city's name.

I reach for a piece of paper and sketch what I see.

A few hours later, I'm at the dining room table with my colored pencils arrayed before a blank page. Propped up to the side is my rough sketch.

As what takes shape on the page begins to bear less and less resemblance to the sketch, I grow edgy.

Not because of the differences. Many finished drawings veer away from my initial concept.

No, my edginess relates to how much I don't like what is forming on the page. To be blunt, I hate it.

The emergent image, I say to myself, is just not very good. For a few minutes, I consider scrapping the drawing. After all, my judgmental self points out to my creator self, all artists have pieces they abandon. And for good reason.

Then I remember another drawing. Number 15. Titled Stepping into Your Power and Empowerment, I so disliked it that I almost removed it from my catalogue. It was hard to do, though, because people kept buying it. In the end, I didn't delete it.

In that memory, I realize what's going on within me today. My reactions to #15 and what is slated to become #116 (Holy Faith) have nothing to do with esthetics and everything to do with the theme/title of the piece.

In December 2004 I was resisting the next level of my empowerment. Today, as my pencil hesitates over the paper, I am resisting the next level of a faith that Santa Fe always demands.

The first demand on my faith is the drawing itself: Do I have the faith to trust the divine imperative that always guides my hand? Or will I let my judgment (read: fear) overtake my faith?

Faith wins out, as it always does in the end, and I complete the drawing (Holy Faith, pictured above).

Later, a client describes the image as "faith in the midst of chaos," which is perfect. For it's in the midst of (apparent) chaos that we most need our faith.

Demands on my faith in subsequent days, like all such demands, are similar to those I experience with the drawing and ask similar questions: Do I have the faith to trust the divine imperative that always guides my life and choices? Or will I let my fear take precedence?

So many demands on my faith in this city of Holy Faith: they revolve around finances (always a stand-in for deeper fears), around this publishing enterprise I have launched, around The MoonQuest itself, around where I will go when my current sublet runs out in a few weeks, around every aspect of my life that is steeped in transformation and uncertainty. And what aspect isn't, these days?

This morning, a new demand: Even as The MoonQuest has yet to leave its Michigan printing plant, a sensing emerges that its long-stalled sequel, The StarQuest, is calling to me.

If, as I realized in A Stunning One-Liner During Dinner at the Diner, publishing The MoonQuest frees me to move forward and stop wandering, that forward motion now appears to be an acceleration toward The StarQuest. In other words, my wandering will come to an end when it's necessary to complete the next book.

That completion will require all the holy faith that Santa Fe can send my way. Or maybe not. Perhaps all that's required to write the second book is to come to completion on the first, "to fix The MoonQuest on parchment," as the story itself demands.

For now, all I can do is remain grounded in this moment as I anchor all aspects of my beingness in faith -- Holy Faith -- and in that divine imperative that always guides me foward in love.

~ View a larger a copy of Holy Faith (#116) or order your own

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Monday, May 21, 2007

A Stunning One-Liner During Dinner at the Diner

Tuesday, May 8 ~ Santa Fe, New Mexico

I'm having dinner at Zia Diner here in Santa Fe, telling a new friend about The MoonQuest and about how it has been part of my life through all but the earliest months of my conscious spiritual journey.

"Maybe," he says, "once the book is out you'll be able to stop wandering."

A shiver of such intensity passes through me, I think at first it's the air conditioning.

Then I inventory the past 13 years of my life...

I began writing The MoonQuest within weeks of a move that launched more than a decade of wandering. Within six months of setting my first words to the page, I had sold everything I owned and moved to Nova Scotia. During my 14 months there, I lived in three different places (each hosting a different aspect of my MoonQuest literary journey).

My life has been largely unsettled ever since. Even the seven moves in my six and a half years of marriage could hardly be described as settled.

Then I think of the opening lines of The MoonQuest, which have survived virtually unchanged since the second draft:

Na'an came to me in a dream this night. It was early. I had not been in bed long and the night was newly dark.

"It is time," she said, "time to fix The MoonQuest on parchment."

Toshar, the main character, is then told that until he tells this, his story, he will not be free.

"It is your story to tell. It is for you to fix it in ink, to set the truth down for all to read."

My friend's one-line insight (his name is also Mark, which adds a certain twist: as though the revelation comes from within me!) reverberates through me long past dinner at the diner.

What if I, like Toshar, cannot be free to truly end my MoonQuest until I have shared it with the world? What if my life path will not be fixed until this aspect of its story is fixed in print?

It's a humbling and explosive concept. But it makes sense.

Whether we're writers or not, we're all called to share our stories. We're all called to break through the silence of fear that has stilled our voices.

In the film Catch and Release one character asks the other, "Who do you tell your stories to?"

"I keep them inside," he replies.

By keeping them inside, he keeps everything inside and that's what holds him back.

In Q'ntana, the fear-strangled mythical land in which The MoonQuest is set -- a land where storytelling is banned and storytellers are put to death -- it is said that "all people were bards once upon a time."

One of the purposes of Toshar's quest is to restore that once-upon-a-time to Q'ntana.

Clearly, I carry a similar purpose in a similar time. All the work I've done over the past 13 years -- be it through my words, sounds, art and teaching (writing and otherwise) -- has been about empowering people to experience their highest potential and to share that passion out in the world.

It doesn't have to be through writing, of course. Yet I continue to be amazed by the number of clients, friends and acquaintances who tell me they're feeling called to write a book.

For some, the creative act itself is the release into the new. For me, apparently, the release comes in empowering myself to take the next step by publishing it doing all that's necessary "to set the truth down for all to read."

Until I do that, I can't move on. Until I do that, I can't take the next step in my writing, teaching and inspiring. Until I do that, I won't be free.

Monday, May 14, 2007

A Horse (or Two) of a Different Color

Tuesday, May 1 ~ Santa Fe, New Mexico

I open my email this morning to a message and image from British artist Courtney Davis. The image is The Chariot card from his sadly out-of-print Celtic Tarot deck. He has sent me a copy so that I can write a caption for an upcoming retrospective of his art.

The card, as I mention on the acknowledgments page of The MoonQuest played a significant role in the book's birth...

It's March 1994. I see The Celtic Tarot in Toronto's Omega Centre bookstore and it so seduces me that I can't not buy it. Days later, I use the deck in a writing class I'm teaching: With eyes closed, each student draws one of the major arcana cards and then, with eyes open to the chosen card, is led through a guided visualization into writing.

Generally when I teach, I don't write. I watch the students and hold space for them.

But this night's group is different. These five women are a subset of a larger University of Toronto class that I have just led through 10 weeks of creative awakening. They don't require my usual overseeing and so, once they're settled into writing, some inner imperative has me draw a card of my own: The Chariot.

That same imperative has me pick up a pen and push it across the blank page. What emerges is the tale of an odd-looking man in an even odder-looking coach that is pulled by two odd-colored horses.

Next morning, I'm drawn back to the story. I add to it. I keep adding to it daily, almost obsessively. And a year later in Amirault's Hill, Nova Scotia, on the anniversary of that Toronto class, I complete my first draft of The MoonQuest.

When I see The Chariot this morning in Santa Fe, for the first time in a decade, I'm startled. Even though the cover designer never saw the tarot card and knows nothing of The Celtic Tarot or how it inspired me, there's a definite connection between the two.

Today, many drafts and many years later, the manuscript is a book. And although the book's opening has changed and the odd-looking man has been superseded in importance by other characters, I realize that The Chariot's inspiration is still evident throughout The MoonQuest.

I no longer own a copy of The Celtic Tarot. I gifted mine to a friend in 1997. And so today, reinspired by its energy, I will scour the internet for a replacement. Maybe its magic is still potent enough to launch The MoonQuest's two projected sequels.

Art: The Chariot tarot card by Courtney Davis; The MoonQuest cover by Angela Farley.