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Friday Dispatch: Creative Conversations
How do our various practices speak to each other?
Somehow during my Covid days (and daze), I managed to read a few poems during Yom Kippur services Sunday night, Monday morning, and Monday evening. On Monday afternoon, I received an email through the “contact” page on my website from an artist named Lynn Peterfreund.
She told me she’d enjoyed my poetic contributions to services. After I wrote her back, she responded and I learned that she is a visual artist who has had a daily drawing practice since January 1, 2012. She told me she usually does her drawing first thing in the morning to see what stands out from the day before. She asked if I’d send her the poems I had read, saying she wanted to reread them and see how they might lend themselves to her practice. I loved this idea and immediately sent her the poems, asking if she’d be willing to share what came. She said yes.
The next day, I received this in response to a poem about loss and grief. Its ethereal beauty made sense to me:
The second drawing included some lines from another poem I had read:
Lynn wrote, “this is pretty literal… of course it felt like self-compassion… the feeling I have that hands are connected. And the feeling of one’s own hand or someone else’s or even an imagined hand on the heart/stomach is usually such a comfort. So much outside inside. Spiritual Other, I feel it is transmitted through ourselves.”
Seeing her visual response to my words was so moving, as was the whole exchange between me and this artist whose relationship to drawing struck me as so parallel to my relationship to writing: A way of locating oneself in space and time. A way of reflecting on the sometimes unseen connections between outside and inside. A way of honoring that the everyday, ordinary stuff is worth expressing. A way of saying, I am here. This is real.
Conversations like the one Lynne and I had this week – spontaneous, organic, and rooted in a vocabulary of curiosity, creativity, and collaboration – always delight me. They make me think about how when we put ourselves “out there,” whether by sharing a poem, a drawing, a question, a real-life moment, a story, a memory, a musing, a fear, a dream, or something else, we open to this possibility.
The timing also felt auspicious, in part because I had Covid and was experiencing time in that wonky way that can happen when you’re sick, in part because of Yom Kippur, a day we practice our deaths, a day when my awareness of the fragility of life is heightened, and in part because I am about to embark on a new adventure which will have me expanding my own practices beyond writing…
I am proud and excited to be a Fellow in the fourth Creative Facilitator Training Cohort of the Jewish Studio Project, which begins in a couple of weeks. I truly don’t know what to expect. I know I am going to learn, stretch, perhaps even struggle, and grow! And most importantly, I know that when I first learned about this work, I got more excited than I have about anything in a very long time. As a good friend reminded me today, when you have that feeling, especially if it’s scary, RUN TOWARDS IT.
So, this is me running.
Well, actually, I’m not running at all – I’m sitting on the loveseat sipping a decaf latte. I’m going to take this Covid recovery seriously and slowly, which means honoring the fact that I’m still not feeling quite like myself (though I am testing negative, yay!).
I wasn’t even sure if I’d end up writing a Friday dispatch this week, and had given myself full permission not to. But here I am, and it feels good to write and reach out.
Questions for you:
💌 Have you heard or seen something lately that inspired or moved you? A poem, a piece of art, a song, a scene, a moment on the street? What if you responded to it in any medium – writing, drawing, a little ditty?
➡️ We are all in conversation with each other all the time, whether we realize and acknowledge it or not. What would happen if did this more often on purpose, but in ways that are intuitive rather than literal?
As always, I welcome hearing from you!
Shabbat Shalom and love,
p.s. If you’re following the Amherst situation, here’s my latest opinion piece, With The Crisis in The Amherst Schools, The Listening Must Go Both Ways.
p.p.s You can read all of the poems, reflections, and sermons from this year’s High Holidays at the Jewish Community of Amherst in the 2023/5784 Literary Supplement.