I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear. – Martin Luther King, Jr.
Beauty is when you can appreciate yourself. When you love yourself, that’s when you’re most beautiful. – Zoe Kravitz
All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt. – Charles M. Schulz
LOVE AFTER LOVE
The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
At the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility, we have a few different jobs. One is facilitator, one is writing instructor, and another is a support figure. We hope, when we go in an share our experiences through writing, that writers and facilitators alike get a sense of calm and a needed break from the prison environment and/or the business of our lives. We also hope that they skills we practice in group are practices we take out of group and use to take care of ourselves when we’re not together.
This week, we welcomed my mother and certified Zen Tangle instructor, Catherine Reynolds into our circle to share her skills with us. Zen Tangle is a meditative drawing practice originated by artist and buddhist practitioner Maria Thomas and Rick Roberts. The practice uses repetitive patterns to create woven images. The process is equally as important as the product – an often beautiful, black and white, pen and ink, nonrepresentational drawing. The hope is that the person holding the pen loses themselves in the process of drawing and finds peace in exploring the lines.
Another important tenant of Zen Tangle is that there are no mistakes. Whatever line a practitioner makes is woven in and becomes an opportunity for the piece to guide and surprise itself. Our writers described the process as both stressful and then calming. They were excited by each pattern and how each line organically brought their drawing into being. It was one of our most lively groups but in the end, everyone felt they had made and learned something entirely new.
The philosophies espoused in Zen Tangle are the same as those we use in our writing. As a practice, we lose ourselves in the marks on the page, letting them guide us as much as we guide them. The piece above is a cluster of the writer’s drawings from our shared experience. The tiles, when joined together, represent a unique moment in time and in art that we shared and each collaboratively created. We read the poem and quotes above to begin our night then lost ourselves in the tangle of lines we created, lovingly, for ourselves and each other.