Wednesday, August 10, 2011


So, you know, on International Kindness Day, I felt like I wanted to connect with Lucia as part of my kindness and then I ended up putting it out there on the My Face that anyone who commented on the thread would get a handpainted, original jizo from my tonglen for grieving parents and families. Yeah. So, I got twenty-three responses. Well, more actually, but some people said they already had one, which didn't matter to me, but still, twenty-five 4"x6" paintings. I began wondering what I was thinking. I did the first meditation session the first night, and you have all seen some of those paintings. But I realized when I sat down to do them in the next few days, that I kept obsessing about perfection and they were getting worse. I ended up not even photographing like eight of them.

I am a busy woman. Doing even one painting is a luxury these days, and here I was throwing out eight of them. Oy, vey. AND I had twenty-three to do. So, I decided to sit with it for a few days, and then I remembered the joy and calm I felt doing the mizuko jizo gesture paintings, which was the intention, to do the paintings as meditation and shed the self-consciousness of painting. That is Lucy's gift to me after all--to paint for healing, for joy, for calm, for peace, for suffering, for others. And so I meditated and painted this series of twenty-two mizuko jizo paintings for grieving women and men in our community and across the world. Each painting did not take very long, because I wanted it to be an instinct, a movement of my hand, like a jizo enso or something. A study in jizos. Mizuko jizos are supposed to be happy little bodhisattvas, but sometimes I make them contemplative or grief-stricken. I think when I am in the thick of suffering, but mostly, I make their expressions full of the love and joy I want to impart on the parent or family member who receives it.

If you don't know about tonglen meditation, it is a meditation where you literally take in the suffering of another being and blow out relief of the suffering for that person. Pema Chodron talks of it extensively, though I was first acquainted with it in therapy with a Buddhist therapist who suggested it as a way of understanding and forgiving my own grief. Because I know the pain of early grief, I connect with that feeling of chaos, anger, hopelessness, sadness, aching and blow out the compassion and peace that I have come to in my own life. So, my process is that I set my space up, clean it, light a candle or incense, literally a pillar of smoke, which rises like a prayer to G-d. Then I breathe in the suffering of the grieving parents. Sometimes this is an overwhelming feeling to take it into me, which sounds hokey and new agey, but whatever, ifyou have lived through that grief, you know the kind of oppressive weight it can feel in your chest, then I breathe out my own peace and compassion, and consequently, that helps me, because see I am one of the grieving.

Anyway, then I begin painting my jizos. In total, I did four sessions of meditation and painting over two weeks. Here are some pictures from this morning, when I hung them like prayer flags around my studio, and there is one of me posing in front of them with my new Android phone.

And here they are one by one.

So, this was my last day or so. Now I have to mail them off, which is a process but I am more than halfway there. Thank goodness for my mother coming this week to help me with the kids. I have been in the studio for to all.


Amy said...

You are beautiful. The jizo are beautiful. I hope my pain and suffering that you took in did not knock you over. Thank you so much for being you and sharing such compassion.

Hope's Mama said...

You have such a big heart. I'm so glad Lucy left you with the amazing gifts she did. No wait, that sounded bad. I'm not glad she left at all, of course. But you know what I mean.

Sara said...

Angie, these are wonderful and amazing—as are you!