Saturday, December 12, 2009

ruminations on wheat pasting and letting go. ...

I've written about this before, but it's still relevant.  I'm still learning from this story.

It was in 1991 that I had an opportunity to attend my first and only sand painting ceremony.  The singer's patient was a patient of mine - a beautiful 2 year old girl named Adrienne who'd had a seizure when her temperature rose quickly.  I identified the source of the infection causing the seizure, obtained the appropriate blood work and started her on antibiotics.  She wasn't admitted for new onset seizure disorder since we had a cause.

A few days later her parents took her to see a traditional medicine (singer) in Tuba City.  They arranged for a sand painting ceremony to be performed to help Adrienne once again walk in beauty.   The ceremony began some time Saturday night.  I didn't arrive until around 7:00 a.m. Sunday morning, which was the time the family told me to arrive.

As a friend and I walked into the traditional female hogan, on the earthen floor in front of us was the singer, on his knees working with his daughter completing a most elaborate and colorful yeibechee sand painting.  The singer was easily in his 80s.  His daughter was in her 50s.  Together labored to complete the healing painting.  Adrienne, her mom and dad were the only other people in the hogan.  Though energized, they'd been up all night.

Upon completing the sand painting, the singer sang a prayer in Navajo.  He then told Adrienne's parents to undress her and to place her in the middle of the sand painting.  This was my first wake up call.  Here the singer and his daughter had labored all night creating this multicolored 8 feet by 10 feet sand painting on the earthen floor of the hogan only to have a 2 year old sit in the middle of it.

Adrienne's fascination with sitting amidst colored sand overtook her as she began moving her legs in and out from side to side as she swished her hands in a similar playful pattern.  She was in kiddie heaven.  The singer attempted to get her to swallow herbs he'd made into a tea.  She refused so he covered her in the medicine gently patting her nude body down with it.  Adrienne continued to play in the sand.  The singer sang a prayer.  Adrienne was removed from the sand as the singer and his daughter began collecting and separating the sand by color.  The painting had served it's purpose and was being erased as Adrienne began her journey to wholeness.

In a way, the wheat pasting project is about letting go in a similar way.  Time and energy go in to attempting to create a work of beauty in an effort to help restore balance and then I let go.  Though I'm emotionally and sentimentally attached to the pieces and appreciate an energy they have on my kitchen floor as I cut them out and bond with them as they're wheat pasted to the sides of structures outdoors, I have to breath and let them go once they're up.  The healing for me is in the letting go.


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