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Sunday, March 13, 2011
Picasso, Impasto, Impossible NOT to Pray
Woman Seated in a Chair, Pablo Picasso, 1941
We started our weekend outing with lunch at a local cafe, followed by a visit to the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, NH. It's been over a year since I was last at an art museum. And there I was viewing this Picasso from a seated position in my wheelchair (Doesn't it look like her chair has little wheels too?) My height afforded me a view I would not have had standing up and so I took these macro photos to share with you! (No flash, don't worry).
I had not heard the news yet, Friday morning when we left, so I didn't even know about the earthquake and tsunami in Japan until we were settled in our hotel room later in the afternoon. Our hearts were heavy as we sat and viewed the impossible to comprehend footage on the TV. I visualized the broken woman on the chair. I know Picasso’s intention was not to portray a “broken” woman, but in that moment I was feeling the intensity of a world filled with human beings fragmented by sorrow, by the force of the earth coming apart at it’s seams, a wall of water devastating everything in it’s unstoppable path, and her fractured image filled my mind’s eye. I too am a broken woman in a chair after all. We are all One. I did what I always do when I am saddened or frightened, grateful or relieved. I prayed. I prayed silently as I turned the mala beads on my wrist (a gift I had received in the mail that morning from a dear, dear friend) while we watched the news unfold on CNN. As my fingers touched each bead on the bracelet, my heart released a silent prayer. As I inhaled I offered prayers for the dead and for the survivors, prayers for the families and the rescue workers, prayers that kept circling round and round as I contemplated all of the people suffering in Japan and all of the individuals who fill the whole earth who might also be in pain. With each exhale I released prayers of lovingkindness and compassion, safety and peace for all beings everywhere, including myself. Late in the evening I offered prayers of gratitude when I found that a blogger friend I know in Japan and his family were safe, then more prayers of gratitude even though so many people had perished and others were missing, because thank God, many had survived. That felt pretty miraculous.
Floods and fires, wars and hunger, illness and poverty, at times like this, suffering seems to have no beginning and no end, it is part of existence and has been since the dawn of time, and yet how can one NOT pray for ease for all beings, even if that ease lasts for only a single in-breath and a single out-breath? For me, that would be impossible.
The wheels of my chair… circles. The impasto on the painting… a pattern of small circles. The beads on my mala… smooth like stone marbles strung with care to form a circle; bead kissing bead. The earth is spherical and the seasons cycle round. Life and death shift seamlessly from the first inhale at birth to a final exhale.... until a new being is born and it all begins again; breath kissing breath.