Thursday, October 20, 2011


Great Feminine Mystery (All Art by Hallelujah Truth)

Hallelujah for the JOURNEY! Hallelujah for being a PILGRIM. Today, I wept as I listened to Patty Griffin’s 2004 album, Impossible Dream, for the tenth time in three days as I’ve been making the images you see here with this blog. I’ve had this Patty Griffin album for years and loved Griffin’s wailing plaintive voice but never really listened to the lyrics. Yesterday, my PILGRIM ears perked up every time the “Rowing Song” came on:

As I row, row, row
Going slow, slow, slow
Just down below me is the old sea…

Nobody knows, knows, knows
So many things things so
So out of range…

Sometimes so strange
Sometimes so sweet
Sometimes so lonely…

I have been blogging as Hallelujah Truth, SPIRITUAL ART PILGRIM, for more than two years now. Sometimes, I write about art, death, science, teaching, or just daily struggles and how ART heals, but ALWAYS, I am writing about JOURNEY.

Recently, there have been events in my life that are so HUGE and PAINFUL, that I have been unable to find an appropriate way to blog about them. In August, my young nephew Thomas committed suicide two weeks before he turned sixteen. This event deepened my commitment to JOURNEY of AUTHENTICITY, yet left me even farther from the HOME of the familiar that I left once I decided I had to be ME and I had to HEAL and GROW.

My family members, who are experiencing collective pain, are slowly finding individual ways to lessen the intensity of their grief surrounding Thomas’ death. I, too, find that to keep moving on my SOJOURN, I must go to the SOURCE of the anguish and allow my feelings to BE. Perhaps, I will write more about Thomas at another time when I KNOW more about the BIRTH and DEATH cycle.

At this moment, my Chiboogamoo is at the University of Georgia in Athens to give a talk about his Australian research. I could not go with him because my feline companion of 17 years is dying, and I can’t bear to part with him. My ATTACHMENTS—large and small—don’t matter, for I am alone—we are all alone on our JOURNEYS. I must eventually release my dear kitty Misha and in doing so might find some resolve to accept Thomas’ premature departure from this EARTH.

The rest of Griffin’s “Rowing Song” expresses my sentiments:

The further I go
More letters from home never arrive
And I’m alone
All of the way
All of the way
Alone and Alive
You just have to go, go, go
Where I don’t know, know, know….

My PILGRIMAGE to be my AUTHENTIC SELF has taken me deeply into the UNKNOWN. This is what JOURNEY is about fellow SOUL BLOGGERS. I write to you as a changed PILGRIM unknown to MYSELF. Hallelujah Truth!

ABOUT THE MYSTERY OF THE HIJAB: Several years ago when increasing numbers of women from the Middle East started attending the Language Institute at Georgia Tech, where I teach ESL, I grew fascinated with the image of the hijab, the scarf the women use to conceal their hair, ears, and neck.

The women lingering in the hallways and leaning earnestly into their English language textbooks became a symbol of the UNKNOWN for me. At first, I knew very little about their countries of Libya, Jordan, Yemen, UAE, and Saudi Arabia, and who they were in their roles as wives, mothers, daughters, students and professionals. Now, more informed about the “real” physical women, I still have allowed their beautifully covered heads and cloaked bodies to represent the MYSTERY of LIFE for me. For me, each woman in a hijab has become the symbol of the GREAT FEMININE MOTHER.

I allow GREAT FEMININE MOTHER to be present in my drawings and paintings, patient to learn from her. Where is SHE from? Where is SHE going? Where might I go with HER?

FROM MEMORY. On one sunny Friday in October, a volunteer organization, The One Project, held an event to raise money to support breast cancer research. Created by international students at the Georgia Tech Language Institute, The One Project sold pink t-shirts, the breast cancer foundation’s color, painted faces, and threw pies at instructors who had collected more than fifty dollars each.

Many photos were being taken on that lovely fall day. I watched as a group of women in hijabs gathered on a picnic table, fascinated by the array of colors and fabric. Then to my great delight, one woman opened a white umbrella! The diffused light floated like gauze over the pink adorned women. I was entranced and had to “copy” the image by drawing and painting it that weekend!


THE PHOTO: On Monday at the GT Language Institute, I implored the student who had taken the photos on her cell phone to email me one of the photos—which she did. I have altered the image in photoshop to obscure the women’s identity in order to give them privacy. A side effect of asking this young hijabbed woman to send me the photo was that we had an electric discussion about making art! She draws! She was hungry to talk about her love of using graphite to depict everything around her. The next day, seeking me out, she flipped open her cell phone to show me an image of her room that she had drawn since our discussion! Hallelujah for ART, the universal language!

THE IMAGE FROM THE PHOTO. Oh GREAT FEMININE MYSTERY—where is your ESSENCE when seen directly, as I witness you in the photo?


As I worked on creating a second image while looking at the photo of these women in hijabs, I allowed myself to experience their “hands”—something that was not in my first image. I decided to omit the sunglass and jeans and open smiled mouths.

After this painting was completed, I surmised that I like better painting from my memory….after all the ESSENCE of the GREAT MYSTERY is not physical…SHE is a feeling, a thought, a moment in time. Both EPHEMERAL and INFINITE.

Read my other blogs related to Women in Hijabs:

The Impossible Dream Lyrics

To dream ... the impossible dream ...
To fight ... the unbeatable foe ...
To bear ... with unbearable sorrow ...
To run ... where the brave dare not go ...
To right ... the unrightable wrong ...
To love ... pure and chaste from afar ...
To try ... when your arms are too weary ...
To reach ... the unreachable star ...

This is my quest, to follow that star ...
No matter how hopeless, no matter how far ...
To fight for the right, without question or pause ...
To be willing to march into Hell, for a Heavenly cause ...

And I know if I'll only be true, to this glorious quest,
That my heart will lie will lie peaceful and calm,
when I'm laid to my rest ...
And the world will be better for this:
That one man, scorned and covered with scars,
Still strove, with his last ounce of courage,
To reach ... the unreachable star ...

--Lyrics by Joe Darion



  1. Dearest Hallelujah, As I read about your journey and your loss I'm reminded of this:
    Buddhists talk about Bodhichitta-the Genuine Heart of Sadness."In the midst of loneliness,in the midst of fear,in the middle of feeling misunderstood and rejected is the heartbeat of all things, the genuine heart of sadness. Just as a jewel that has been buried in the earth for a million years is not discolored or harmed,in the same way this noble heart is not affected by all of our kicking and screaming. The jewel can be brought out into the light at any time, and it will glow as brilliantly as if nothing had ever happened. No matter how committed we are to unkindness, selfishness or greed, our genuine heart of bodhichitta cannot be lost. It is here in all that lives, never marred and completely whole."-Pema Chodron

  2. Dear SEE SEE, thank you for your thoughtful words.