Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Journaling Journey to the Pearl of the Arabian Gulf

From many nations they came to live on this island.  
I was invited to visit them.  Two of us flew overnight. 
To this beautiful arid 55 km by 18 km island, surrounded by turquoise waters where fresh water fountains still rise up from the sea bed.

Named Dilmum in ancient times.  
Nowadays known as Bahrain. 
They wanted to learn how to journal. 
The Ikonic kind.  
They wanted to know how to chronicle their spiritual journeys. 19 of them.
Making pages that serve as icons to unlock memories and profound personal truths.  

I was blessed to be able to share with them what I have learnt so far.  
Blank pages were transformed with luscious colour, image and words written in Arabic, 
Sri Lankan, Hindi, English, Afrikaans, Dutch and Tagalog using their respective alphabets.
It was an intensely gratifying experience.  
6 very busy, very satisfying days flew by too rapidly. 
I returned to South Africa feeling saturated.
For I have received so much more from them than what I have given. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

A Tribal Gathering on the Emerald Isle

I have found my tribe. 
A colourful clan of mixed media art journalists.  
Some prefer to make their own books to hold their expressions.
Sometimes what we do in our journals spill out onto canvas. 
But the starting point is almost always in the safety of a journal. 

Keeping a journal is much like inhabiting a home - it is a place of nurturing, a place of rest and revitalization, a place where we feel safe to be ourselves, play, make our marks, make mistakes and learn and grow. 

We keep journals for different reasons - creating art, to gather information, to preserve images, for travels, for self-understanding and personal growth, for healing, to express gratitude, to capture precious childhood moments and to chronicle our spiritual journeys. 
The list is infinite. 
The purpose constantly evolves depending on where we are in our lives. 
But always....a journal filled with imagery and colour.

So during September this year, 45 of us slowly made our journeys from various points on our planet towards the meeting point - Bantry Bay on the southern shores of Ireland. A place of astonishing beauty.  

Our venue was Bantry House and Gardens. It was built in the 1600s and had been owned by the White Family since the 1700s when it was inhabited by the Earl of Bantry. Overlooking the bluest of sea lakes surrounded by layers of greenest peninsulas, islands and hills that gradually fade into the distance. 
It became "A Space for Dreaming".
(Click on the link for a beautiful montage of photographer Tara Morris' pictures)

The light was soft, the views were soothing, surrounded by welcoming eyes, open arms and supportive hearts from the Netherlands, Germany, England, the US, Mexico, Spain, Ireland, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Scotland, Canada and Denmark.  For 6 days we poured our hearts out onto paper. Facilitated by the wonderful Orly Avineri, Flora Bowley, Pauline Agnew (visionary artist & retreat organizer), Melinda Cootsona and Tara Morris (photographer & cheerleader/praisesinger).

Side by side we created.
Sometimes silently.
Sometimes giddy with laughter.
Sometimes tearfully.
But always, always choosing to see the beauty. 

Together we weaved a memory blanket.
We became a tribe. 
We still throw our blanket open regularly.
Supporting each other in cyberspace through whatever life brings.
My heart is full. 
And brimming with gratitude.