Recently I was at a birthday party for an old friend, and despite being in a noisy restaurant, there was a part of the conversation that stuck with me afterwards.
The woman I was talking to asked what I did for a living. So, of course, I launched into a description of Intentional Creativity and sumi-e painting and earth prayers. I dug out my ever-present sketchbook from my purse and shared my little paintings with her. She loved what she saw and she shared an insight with me.
It is when we notice something that we remember it.
This connection between noticing and remembering planted itself in my brain and I’ve been musing on it ever since. I’ve been noticing what I notice, or at least, I’m trying to do so since it’s sort of a circular behavior.
Creating an earth prayer is about asking what wants to be drawn, listening to what the earth tells me, and allowing all that to flow through my eyes, heart and hand through the pen and onto the paper.
Noticing is a big part of that. And amusingly, I didn’t realize how much of what I do is noticing. Admittedly, it’s a slightly different way of viewing what I do. When I’m teaching, I usually ask students to be present, right here, right now. But really, I’m also asking them to notice what is around them, to notice the wild flowers blooming under their feet, wild rock formations, or geese flying overhead.
That’s when I realized my earth prayer paintings are remembrances of things that I’ve noticed. An old crinkled leaf, a tiny white shell with lines and whorls, a cat sleeping akimbo. And when I look back at them, I remember where I was on the earth when I painted it.
For me, the beauty of this earth is inherent in the earth itself and doesn’t need any alteration or improvement or to be made into a work of art. It already is what it needs to be.
Our role is to notice that magnificence in all it’s exquisite glory. To honor and cherish it. Because it’s the act of doing so that changes our relationship to the earth.