The Invitation

Sometimes, as an artist, as soon as you see something you know you need to paint it. This has happened twice in my life now. The first time, was in August 2015, driving into Jasper (Rocky Mountains, Alberta) and I saw “The Chief” mountain range.

It happened again in November 2016 when I was walking towards “The Hoodoos” (Drumheller’s Badlands, Alberta). The Hoodoos are the main attraction in Drumheller, but it wasn’t them that had gotten my attention- it was off in the distance, in the smooth cream coloured rolling rocks, it looked like a woman walking into a cave. As soon as I saw this, I knew I would paint it. It was this feeling of being invited in, lead by this (imagined) wise woman, that stays with me since visiting this land (and sacred site in my opinion).

When I told a friend about the painting I was planning, and calling it “The Invitation” she asked me if I had ever read the book “The Invitation” which I had not. I recently looked it up, and found the poem by Oriah Mountain Dreamer:
It doesn’t interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me
how old you are.
I want to know
if you will risk
looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me
what planets are
squaring your moon…
I want to know
if you have touched
the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened
by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know
if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know
if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you
to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations
of being human.

It doesn’t interest me
if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear
the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know
if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
“Yes.”

It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me
who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me
where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know
what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know
if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like
the company you keep
in the empty moments.

By Oriah © Mountain Dreaming,
from the book The Invitation
published by HarperONE, San Francisco,
1999 All rights reserved

This powerful poem, goes well with this painting. It’s about going deep within: yourself, others, the earth, Life… Spirit. It reminds me of all my wise women friends, who have traveled with me and seen my wildness (A.K.A. crying at the overwhelm of this Earth’s beauty), and I feel so fortunate and grateful and humbled by their support. This painting is for all women, brave enough to walk into that cave. To walk into the unknown darkness, light a fire, and sit alone. You are my strength and my inspiration; and together we lead the way, inviting others to do the same.

 

 

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