Tuesday, December 6, 2011

December 6, 2011–The Hole and Wings

Dearest Readers,

Apologies to all who have heard this story.

D-Day...Dig the Death Hole Day.
Today, Tuesday December 6th, the anniversary of my mother’s death, was supposed to be the start date of my Hole Project...A 30 minute daily performance dig of a 7-foot deep hole, to be a conduit for asking Mom the nature of death, and a way to confront my own fears.
I was wrong. After all my talk and plans, meetings, hole drawings, paintings and site testing, I don't need to do it anymore. I seem to have resolved many of my issues around death. Here’s what happened:

June 1-September 2, 2011...Drove 11,400 miles across America with the radio and CD player off. I did a lot of thinking behind the wheel, and reading at night. I discovered that I did not want to read the Catholic books I had brought.

Instead, I devoured the daily thoughts of Pema Chodron a Buddhist nun and resident teacher at Gampo Abbey on Cape Breton in Nova Scotia.

Oct. 30th...Met at Mulberry Fields in Candler Park, Atlanta with artist friends left to right- Jesse Harris, Ginger Birdsey, Ruth Schowalter, me in my skull skirt, and Susie Winton (not pictured). We shared ideas about ways to include the community in the hole project.

We stood on the proposed hole site brainstorming ideas. Nothing quite gelled. Left to right, Ginger Birdsey, Susie Winton, me, and Jesse Harris. Thanks to Ruth Schowalter for taking this photograph.

Nov. 5th...Volunteered at a Women’s Retreat at St. Thomas More Church in Decatur. Greeted my friends, helped with dinner and prayed, but when I left the building that night, and walked home in the dark, I knew I had crossed a threshold and closed the door on my struggles with Catholicism. I knew I was “forgiven”. I was free to leave.

Nov. 13th...Took the Vows of Refuge at the Shambhala Meditation Center in Decatur. I am now embarking on the Buddhist path. In a public ceremony I was one of six “refugees”, seeking refuge in the Buddha (not as a savior), Dharma (teachings)and the Sangha (community). I was overjoyed to share this moment with my grandkids Jack and Rosie, my daughter-in-law Linda, and my son, Osman who came out to support me. Thanks to friend and condo neighbor Mary Alma Durrett for taking this shot. Thanks also to Karen and Wayne Phillips and Susie Winton for coming out.

During the ceremony we "refugees" were given names by the visiting Buddhist teacher Arawana Hayashi. These were based on silent interviews she conducted with each of us the previous day. Mine turns out to be Kunga Sheltri, which in Tibetan means All Joy Crystal Sword. This is the joyful, gentle sword of fearlessness. I want to live up to that, but you can still call me Cecelia!

Nov. 22nd...Filled out the Georgia Advance Directive which is a legal medical document describing my death and hospice treatment preferences should I ever be in a terminal vegetative state, and assigning a health care agent and two backups. My three children were in town for Thanksgiving– Osman, Semra and Ayla Ercin. Two artist friends came as witnesses–Susie Winton and Ruth Schowalter (the photographer here). My daughter-in-law Linda was there, and two grandchildren Roman and Rosie who ran around and under the table. When I turned 65 this year, my health provider gave me the forms to complete for them to keep on file. After completing and signing the paperwork, a few of us remained at the table, reviewing my preferences for a “good death” if I’m ever in hospice. This led to a group discussion of our beliefs about death, God and the possibilities of an afterlife. I was exhausted!

Nov. 22nd 9pm...Turning point...Driving home with Ruth after the “death panel”, it dawned on me that I had done it. I had resolved some sort of pressing death issue, and did not need to dig the hole. It would be a waste of artistic energy and time.

Nov. 26th...Sat at the proposed hole site to think.I'm comfortable with my decision not to dig.

Nov. 28th...Finished Return of the Hand to Hand Project. Ready to move on.

Nov. 29th...Woke up with a craving to paint wings.