Greetings PILGRIMS! Hallelujah for the bounty of FRIENDSHIP, the beauty of ART, and the boundless nurture of NATURE. On this PATH, Hallelujah finds herself ENCIRCLED by FRIENDS, taking ART as MEDICINE, and breathing in the musky scent of herbs, perennials, and vegetables.
Several weeks ago in mid-July, a group of us PILGRIMS met at sunrise on Sunday to make a CIRCLE to hold our LOVE and PRAYERS for a FELLOW SOJOURNER—Sally Wylde. We gathered in the Oakhurst Community Garden, the garden she created along with the help of her community more than 10 years ago. Sally was not physically present with us in the sweltering heat of this summer morning in Georgia, where she has lived now for more than 15 years. Instead, she was in a hospital bed far away in a cooler and kinder climate in her home state of Massachusetts, where she returns annually every summer for two months. This year she will not return to us southern PILGRIMS who have grown to love her.
(I made the crocodile and turtle block prints after Sally taught me how to cut images out of a hard rubber and glue it to wood blocks. I was experimenting with the words "play" and "pray." In some ways, it seems that living our lives joyfully, might be a prayer.")
PILGRIM SALLY is JOURNEYING to what is next beyond this MORTAL COIL. cancer. I cannot put this word in the same sentence with PILGRIM SALLY. In the past few years since Sally first became aware of her medical condition, she has PRAYED AND PLAYED with a loving intensity and presence to LIFE. Acting in improvisation classes, mentoring young and old artists (PILGRIM HALLELUJAH), singing, dancing, and growing green beautiful healing and nurturing plants. Writing. Seeking the spirit. Building community. Performing. Surrendering. Laughing. Loving. Art making. PILGRIM SALLY.
We met at the green HEART of Sally’s life, the community garden she envisioned and built. We met to hold one another’s hands, to speak out our grief about her PILGRIMAGE into the GREAT MYSTERY, to PRAY, to dance, to sing, and finally to speak to her by phone so we could send her our LOVE, our support, our LAUGHTER.
“ALL WILL BE WELL.” I was with PILGRIM SALLY in her studio when she made these block prints. She had invited me over one winter morning to show me how to make them. Using black rubber pool lining, we cut out our images and glued them down on wooden boards. She cut out her letters for “all will be well” and showed me how they had to be glued backwards so that when you made the prints the words would be going in the correct direction. She even showed me how you could check your potential results before gluing down the letters. We went to the mirror and approved of the image that was reflected back to us—ALL WILL BE WELL.
That morning, I made my Wandjina (an aboriginal creation god from Northwestern Australia, but Hallelujah’s animus guide). Sally thought the image was lonely and encouraged me to add more. I had Mother Snake join Wandjina. Sally, then proceeded to show me how to coat the image with ink. The first step involved smearing ink on a piece of smooth glass and rolling it out. Sally had me spit into the ink to make it roll more fluidly (great tip). We used humble brown paper to hold our images. “You can roll it up then,” Sally said.
(This is a print of my Wandjina and Mother Snake from the block that I made at Sally's)
In our PILGRIMAGE, ALL WILL BE WELL. As we sang, “Sally be well,” I thought of all of OUR SHARED JOURNEYS with her. For me, I know that Sally, like me, sees the JOURNEY expanding out beyond our physical human boundaries. SALLY WILL BE WELL. This I know.
HALLELUJAH FOR PILGRIM SALLY! Hallelujah loves you! Even though you are more than a thousand miles away, I hold you in my HEART, our shared experiences, and my PILGRIMAGE. HALLELUJAH SALLY!