I’ve been thinking about “sanctuary” recently. For some of my thoughts and to share yours, pop over to my other Sanctuary Without Walls blog.
Yesterday I visited my studio, which is in a remodeled carriage barn behind our home. There was fresh snow on the ground. It was lovely.
I was dashing out there to get some supplies I needed for a small project I am working on in the house, but I stopped to take the above photo with my phone. In the past few years I have spent little time working in the studio, though I very much want to. Over time, supplies have accumulated there: piles everywhere, half-finished projects are on tables, in baskets, tucked away on shelves. I have been “away” for years, with only occasional visits. The place is in terrible disarray.
During 2016, as I was healing from major surgery, I would sometimes visit the studio for short visits to sort and organize. I even made a few simple gifts for people. I am again able to use my sewing machine without discomfort, and now that I’m on fewer meds, my hands shake less when I work. I have hope for more time in the studio in 2017, but first I would need to make the space workable again. That will take sustained effort.
So, a fine New Year’s resolution would be to do just that. Then why have I been hesitant to make a resolution to finally get the studio in working order? Some days I feel that reclaiming the studio is what I really want to focus on in the new year; I know doing it would feed my soul and make it possible for me to concentrate on my creativity once again. And yet on other days I think there are probably better ways to spend my time. When will I return to ministry work? Should I spend time catching up with my family and friends, after being focused on regaining my health for so long? Or how about our country’s political situation; should my focus be on the environment? I am tugged in many directions.
Somehow being out there yesterday with the fresh snow all around made it seem like a new beginning is in order. Thinking about it now, I realize that beginning again in the studio has the potential to encompass some of the other strands of my life. I used to use the space not just as a studio, but as a place to offer spiritual direction, and also to have workshops for small groups. I used to do projects with my grandchildren there. The space provided sanctuary not just for artwork, but for ministry, friends and family. In it I worked on nature- and environment-themed projects. It really is all of a piece. Through the process of writing about this, I have returned to the New Year’s resolution to put my studio in order, and begin again.
Below is a 2011 photo from part of the studio, neat and spacious. Something to which I can aspire!
And so the Shortest Day came and the year died
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive.
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us – listen!
All the long echoes, sing the same delight,
This Shortest Day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And now so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
This gallery contains 12 photos.
“Perhaps what moves us in winter is some reminiscence of far off summer … The cold is merely superficial; it is summer still at the core, far, far within.” – H. D. Thoreau Photos by K. Houk and S. Rockmuller.
It has been some time since I posted here. As some of you may know from my earlier posts, my health has been challenged in a big way for the past five years. Actually, it began before that, about twenty years ago, but doctors couldn’t determine what was wrong for fifteen of those years. By the time I was diagnosed, I was at Stage 3 out of 4. The autoimmune condition (Primary Biliary Cholangitis with Autoimmune Hepatitis overlap) is incurable, but a liver transplant can prolong life.
On November 23rd, 2015, I was finally transplanted, at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. Miraculously, an anonymous living donor had come forward. This person is unknown to me. He or she had intended to donate to another person, and went through the health workups and evaluation, but the transplant did not happen. I do not know why not. The donor decided to go ahead anyway, donating a piece of his/her liver to a stranger in need. Because of my poor quality of life, my blood type and my relatively small size, I was chosen. I received the left lobe of the donor’s liver, and the pieces grew back to almost full size very quickly for us both. My new liver grew to almost full size by eight weeks post-surgery!
At six months after the surgery I will be allowed to (anonymously) contact the donor through the clinic to express my gratitude. If all goes well, years will be added to my life. Transplantation is not a cure, for the problem does recur in some cases, but already the new organ has made a huge difference in my quality of life and well being.
Now I am recovering from the surgery. The most dangerous time, regarding rejection of the transplant, is in the first three to four months post-surgery. I have made it past that point with no rejection episodes. Hurrah! Full healing will take at least a year. But today, to celebrate Easter and enjoy this fine early Spring day, I walked in the woods with my husband, looking for signs of seasonal renewal.
This was my worship today, because being immuno-compromised by anti-rejection drugs, I am still avoiding groups of people in close quarters. This year especially, Easter is very meaningful to me, as I experience life anew, with energy, gratitude, and hope for the future.
PS – Share Life! Be an organ donor!
My daughter’s birthday was a couple of months ago. Because the nut doesn’t fall far from the tree, she is a “maker,” like her Mom, so I decided to decorate a box in which she can keep all those little things. I am unable to use my sewing machine now, so I’ve been finding projects I can do while resting.
The plain box below was for sale for $14.95.
I used paint and objects I found around the house.
Above: Open right drawer of box. Includes a rose packet of vintage needles.
Above: The other level, open, on the right side of the box. I used a vintage pattern, and gave her some bling.
Above: An image of the girl herself is in the front top center drawer.
Above: a portion of the back of the box.
Above: the left side of the box.
Above: Sewing box front.
This project was fun!
Tomorrow, this sign will hang in a store window at 12 Main Street in Chatham, NY. My two daughters and I will be selling our handmade goods, from 11 am to 4 pm. I have been able to work slowly on some small items for the sale.
Below are some more tiny worlds, small living terrariums, which will be for sale. I also will show some woolen goods, ornaments, and some jewelry. Stop by if you are in Chatham!