Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Hallelujah CYBER-PILGRIMS. Hallelujah for CHANGE as we travel on our journeys. The NEW YEAR is right upon us. Winter has already brought us the shortest day of the year, and now, each day grows brighter, illuminating our PATHS.

BEING on the PATH, TRAVELING, BEING in PROCESS is essential for me. No matter what! Today, I share with you “darker” images that have emerged recently. These cloaked women seem to be a departure from HALLELUJAH’S soulful, joyful journey to the Bahamas.

As you know, I teach international students English at Georgia Tech, and in the past several months, Muslim women have been sitting outside my office door on couches in the hallway chatting, eating, and studying. Cloaked in various colorful scarves and long cloaks, these modest women murmur, sharing food and drink even though they come from countries as diverse as Libya, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey.

The two women I have painted here are both from Saudi Arabia. My curiosity about Islam and issues concerning women’s issues always pulls me to standing in front of them asking questions. They like talking with a teacher. Our Language Institute students are infinitely practical and ambitious. Conversation with a teacher will improve their English.

The woman dressed in black is 7 months pregnant with her third child. This baby will be sent back to Saudi Arabia to be cared for by her mother who is already tending the other two children so she can work on an advanced degree along with her husband. Black is the traditional color of outer garb for Saudi women. The other woman, also a mother, is wearing just as much clothing (They conceal all of their bodies, including necks, wrists, and ankles—even ears.) but is dressed in white. She laughs explaining that she can wear this color while living in the United States, so she is doing exactly that. They are not encouraging about my going and living in their country: “It would be hard for you,” they say.

Why have their images haunted me? They are joyful, smart, and privileged. When they are in the privacy of their own homes, the outer clothing comes off and they dress, I am told, like everyone else in our school.

I can’t escape the MYSTERY they PROPOSE—an UNKNOWN WAY of LIVING. Hallelujah is on her pilgrimage and does not know WHERE she IS, nor WHERE she IS GOING. But I AM in the CANOE! Let me explain.

Twice weekly, I receive a letter from Robert Genn, a Canadian artist, who has a fantastic website called “A Painter’s Keys.” I suggest any art pilgrim wanting to get inspirational thoughts about the creative process to get on his email list. In his most recent email, Genn writes about the relationship between making art and staving off depression. It seems that ART MAKING helps keep us sane—even if you aren’t masterful. MASTERY isn’t even a part of it. Genn refers to an interview with Garrison Keillor in an issue of Time: Asked, "How did you master both writing and oral storytelling," Keillor replied: "I didn't. There's no mastery to be had. You love the attempt. You don't master a story any more than you master a river. You feel lucky to canoe down it."

Hallelujah for the RIVER, for the JOURNEY, for BEING in the CANOE. Fellow Sojourners, we may celebrate the coming of the NEW YEAR with this thought…CHERISH THE PROCESS. Happy New Year! That’s Coffee with Hallelujah!

Thursday, December 3, 2009


Welcome Courageous Pilgrim, Sojourner of the Heart!

Hallelujah has been struggling with the word, "COURAGE." What does it mean to be courageous? Is Hallelujah courageous because she is a VISION FOLLOWER? I do trust more and more what feels authentic to ME. If I feel like twirling and dashing across a field at a party--I do, and I bring others with me! If I feel like laughing in my ESL class, I do, and the students start laughing too! This blog feels natural to me as a way to bring together my images and ideas. I genuinely want to SOUL BLOG and connect with ALL of you who want to TWIRL in cyberspace with me.

As an ACT of COURAGE, I am also LISTENING to what Hallelujah WANTS to do ARTISTICALLY. Let me give you an example. Recently, I was asked to paint the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe on a wooden form for a fund raising project for the Refugee Women's Network. These wooden forms are about 12" x 4" and rounded, conforming to the shape of the cloaked Virgin with hands clasped in prayer. RuthTruth intended to convey the traditional image of the Mother of Jesus that is so dear to the Mexican altar. Her intentions were earnest, and yes, there was some fear about the outcome. After all, these Guadalupes are going to be auctioned, and RuthTruth wanted to be sure hers was going to make money for micro loans for refugee women wanting to start their own businesses.

However, Hallelujah wanted NOTHING to do with FEAR! She decided to OPEN the DOOR, to BE CURIOUS. What could I do that is part of my pilgrimage, my journey? Hallelujah decided that this image of the Virgin was going to be related to her Bahamas journey, so the Virgin became a mermaid! Hallelujah's friend Ron brought her a block of mahogany wood, so she could make a platform and painted it with a white tropical bird, a merman, hibiscus flowers, and fish! We felt PEACE around this ACT of CREATION.

When the HEART is LISTENED TO and ITS MESSAGE acted upon, there is a PEACE. Is this COURAGE? Does courage = peace? Is it possible to align our actions with that which brings us joy, pleasure, and happiness?

That's coffee with Hallelujah. Tell me what you know about the COURAGE to be yourself and how you express that courage. Do you FEEL peace?