Art is the ultimate truth telling. Tell it.

Art is the ultimate truth-telling. Creativity is given us so we can speak out the truths laying inside us, unspoken and unrecognised, that we might recognise them. Each word and brushstroke, every step in the dance and note in the song is us tracing over with our body what we see when we look inside our heart.

Art, like all truth, tells us not what it is, but what we are. We know what we know when we see it standing outside of us, looking us back in the face.

The tracings of our heart out in the world are truth, but there is never just one truth. If you close your eyes and listen to a choir singing, you will hear each voice inflected with a unique experience, with divergent timbre, age and accent and emotion. Art shows us the potential for harmony in our difference. It shows us it’s okay to be us, or think what we think and believe what we believe, and possible to be one, all at the same time.

In seeking to tell the truth from our spirit out into the world, we send an irresistible invitation to the unseen realm, from where all making and life and creativity comes. The silent, sublime power who formed us at the beginning will come and join the song with us. This is inspiration.

When the Spirit of truth comes and joins with us in our making, holiness ensues. With inspiration, the Spirit at our side, and a deep knowing of our truth inside, as well as a willingness and will to tell that truth, we can indeed make holy, Holy things.

But even a Holy thing is still just a thing.

Truth is confronting, challenging, even terrifying. The Spirit, always acts from love, but the truth she inspires in the teller can be confronting, challenging, terrifying. Not all prophets are inspired, many are mere fortune-tellers; our fortune and our truth are not the same thing. However, all artists and creatives are prophets, and, unlike fortune tellers, true prophets are seldom very popular.

Artists, creatives, prophets and truth tellers have long been persecuted and assassinated for their truth telling. Their Holy works and art and words have throughout history been dismantled, reinterpreted, appropriated and distorted to validate and defend all manner of things. The makings that come from our truth telling are powerful, but too fragile to be used as foundations, weapons and shields. When we attach our agenda to them, when we refashion them from mirrors into altars, into objects of worship and a foundation for culture or ideology, power crumbles and falls away like sand through the fingers. Truth is not out there. It is in us. Always, always in us.

Art is a mirror. Expression is a reflection. Even we are a merely a canvas upon which inspiration makes her marks. God knows this, and thus, in desiring to show us both who we are, and who God is, gave us the Most Holy Words in a work of art, accepting fully the risk every single word could be misunderstood, distorted and misused. Love is letting go. Besides, God knows when we are able to undo the cipher of who we are, seeing ourselves reflected in the inspired work of truth, we will then see and understand God, the ultimate creator.

And hopefully see and understand ourselves.

Love is a story worth telling, it’s a dance, a prophecy, your words, a song. It is the ultimate truth telling, and the ultimate truth is love.

 

Small and Pure – Ready to pre-order!

Today is a very exciting day.

This morning, I am delighted to announce my picture book for grown-ups, Small and Pure – A Cautionary Tale, will be released by Rhiza Press in early June, and is now available for pre-order!

But first, let me introduce you to the tale of Small and Pure, a story for all ages.

“Many years ago, when children loved to hear fairy stories and parents loved to read them, cautionary tales were used to teach us about choices and consequences. These most beloved fables brought to life long-known sage and moral life lessons. It’s in the tradition of these folk tales of old we learn the story of Small and Pure.

Small and Pure is little girl; a symbol of our most pure, untainted self. She grows up as all of us do, adapting to the world around her, subject to the expectations and conventions of those who keep her safe and into whose care she is entrusted. But something tragic happens to Small and Pure. She comes to us now with a sobering message, one she hopes we will learn before it’s too late.

The story of Small and Pure encourages us to seek and hold onto our most authentic truths, lest we become burdened with identities that disguise, bury and eventually cause our very essence to disappear, perhaps forever.”

Would you like to meet her? I am so excited to bring her to you.

Please click the link below to visit the Rhiza Press website and pre-order Small and Pure right now!

And keep close – I’ll be adding more products and delightful snippets to this page in the coming weeks so you can bring Small and Pure into your home and into your heart.

She’s ready to share her story with you, and she’s coming.
Love, Jo

PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY NOW

What it looks like when you’re on a spiritual journey.

People on a spiritual journey are going somewhere. They grow. They shift. They change. They move. They may live physically in the same place their whole lives, but they will not stay the same person. They do not ever arrive. If you have disembarked at some fixed point in your pursuit of recovery, healing and wholeness, then it’s unlikely to be a spiritual journey you were on to begin with. It is fitting to be content with your looks, your home, your belongings, and your relationships, but spiritual self-satisfaction is something to be remedied rather than pursued.

Your Holy self is made to seek, not to cling. She does not live in your body any more than smoke could live in the fire. Your body is a temple to her, your heart, an altar for her. She owns no furniture, owes no mortgage, requires no chattels. She outlives the fleshy box you carry her around in, outlives it many times over. She dances always, arms outstretched, in the heavenly spaces between herself and God.

Spiritual sojourners transition, like seasons, like the earth, like the moon, like wind, like water, like a flame, like dust. They understand things of spirit are not static. They are ecstatic – extra-static. They appreciate there is a time for every season. They know when to hold on and when to let go. They know there is a time for birth, and a time for death. A time to sow and a time to reap. A time to dance, and a time for mourning.

Do not fear the sense we all have at times of being spiritually unsettled. Be wary only of spiritual colonialism. Of ownership, occupation and consumption which calls itself a spiritual enterprise. Of taking and not letting go, of gathering without attrition. Be wary of those who claim to be the God-people, who claim to be spiritual, but who do not exercise the principles of seasons, resisting the cycles of birth and death, accumulating, accruing and growing exponentially without allowing natural processes of detachment, death, loss and grief. There is a name for the living cell which forgets how to die in the appropriate season, and remembers only how to live, stay, grow, and consume and colonise. Those cells are called cancer.

Spiritual sojourners need not fear death of the body. We are not merely our physical selves, and to be awake to Spirit is to understand we can never truly die. The journey towards healing and wholeness will encompass many deaths, many lettings-go along the way. Attrition and rebirth are as familiar to the brave-becoming as our own hunger and thirst. Our pangs neither direct nor enslave us. We pay attention to them with friendliness and care, without allowing ourselves to be redirected from our purpose. Moving is our purpose. We are always walking forward on the path.

A brave-becomers work is not arriving, it is becoming.
………………….
From The Book Of The Brave
(c) Jo Hilder
Coming soon!

Image credit: bruniewska (stock image)

Come away from your memory into your imagination.

I know you’re facing another day not knowing if you need to hold on or let go. I know the weight of trying to make up your mind whether you have a decision to make, or whether you need to simply allow things to play out, literally keeps you paralysed, and you feel like you can’t move. To throw things in the air and see where they land? Or to go inside yourself and resist change for the sake of change – a tactic that’s gotten you in trouble so many times before?

You know, because you’ve learned, when things are this way, it doesn’t matter where you go, those things will go with you. And who wants to start again, again?

There’s this temptation to believe your indecision about what to do next is as much a sign of your less-than-ness as the damn thing you’re trying to fix.

Darling, just know, you’re going to be okay.

One day you’ll wake up in a different place and realise changing where you are didn’t change who you are.

The work is before you. This work will never go away – the work of brave becoming. Whatever you choose, do not choose to try and achieve some state where you can avoid the work of knowing and loving yourself better. Don’t choose to be numb. Don’t choose to sleep. Don’t choose to be deaf, blind, busy or out of it.
Don’t choose change because it gives you something else to do, something other than being present with yourself, in this moment, opening up wider to accepting and knowing and being.

Choose to be awake. Choose to be present.

Your circumstances will shift, change and transition, as you choose your way ahead. You’re smart, wise and brave. You’ll figure this out. Don’t panic. The pain will pass. The regret will pass. Let the shame go. It’s not a sign of self-awareness, you know, to hold onto shame. Being ashamed isn’t a sign you know what’s really going on and accept your part in it. Shame is forming an imaginary judge in your mind, the most disparaging, vile and accusatory character you can invent, and making choices as if that imaginary person was right in front of you. Shame is assuming that imaginary judge is telling the truth about you, and you have a responsibility to listen to everything they say, and believe it. Fire the judge. You need your imagination back. You have a future to choose yourself into.

Come away, dear one, into the wilderness. Away from your memory, into your imagination.

Take a breath, sweet friend. Close your eyes and listen to your breath. Your body knows what to do to be alive, to thrive, and it doesn’t even need you to think about it. In, out. In out. How much more do you think your vibrant, God-given spirit knows what to do? Trust your heart, your gut, your spirit. Listen to your God-breath. You know. You know.

Selah, dear one,

JO

The Healing and the Healer.

An essential part of brave-becoming is cultivating our capacity to sit with ourselves as both the healing, and the healer.

The first-person identity of your recovering sojourner is the healing. You are healing. The second-person perspective of the facilitator of the recovery is assumed by the healer. You are also the healer.

Your healing and the healer have a relationship together. It is not a power dance or a power struggle. It is a relationship between equals. This is the essence of spiritual self-direction; to be able to directly impart the grace, compassion, power and spirit of God unto ourselves, and do us good first before any other. In fact, we must be engaged in this work of self-directed spiritual healing before we can minister to anyone beyond our own person.

Can you hear her speaking gently to you, as you sit beside the path? Can you hear your healer, your sage, your minister, your mother, your medicine woman, dear one?

She is a sentinel to the maelstrom or method of the healings’ process. The healer sits with the healing, and together they patiently untangle the confusing, painful narratives of the past, threading them with patience and diligence like mala beads are threaded on a cord. She sits with the healing as she worries the mala in her trembling fingers, listens as she repeats the story to herself like a prayer, holding the sacred space open on her behalf.

Can you imagine this relationship, my dear one, this symbiosis between the knowing in your self, and the yet to know? Can you create this image in your mind of holding space for yourself, of becoming your most patient teacher, your most wise sage, your most compassionate friend?

Listen. Open. Receive.

Come, sweet brave becoming, and lay your head in my lap just now. Let go of the tangle you clutch in your palm; the mess of stories and memories and betrayals and loneliness and shame and fear. Loosen your grip, you are safe now. You are with the healer, and I have made a safe space for you to rest. There is no judgement here.

Everything you’ve done, and everything done to you? I know you hold these things so tightly, so tightly they pierce you and yet you will not let them go. My darling, just for a little while, let those little sharp stones fall from your grasp – let them fall. Don’t be afraid I will hide them from you as you sleep, or cast them away. I will not betray you. I know when you’re ready, you’ll do the work yourself. Perhaps we will remake them? Perhaps you will build a little altar from them, and move on? I cannot say. This is not my work. I am the healer, you are the healing. Let us only allow them to fall from your hand just now, and perhaps imagine we can spend a little time resting. Be with me, as I am with you, little healing. Everything is all right. You are safe. All is well, and we are well.

This is the voice of your healer. Can you hear her? She is not within me. She is within you, with you now. And she is ready to create sacred space with you, for you. You do not need to conjure her up, or bring her to you from the outside. Her words are your words. Her voice is your voice. Her deep kindness and love for you, is your own. You need only be willing to be open to receive.

……………
(c) Jo Hilder
From “The Healing and the Healer”
– The Book Of the Brave.
Coming soon.

How to shut out the world, and it all be okay.

There will be times when you feel strongly about connecting with others and building ties and making relationships and being around people, and you’ll seem to have endless energy for them all the time and take them out and have them around and give them everything you have, and it will never drain you or tire you and you’ll think, I am made to do this, this is my thing, people are so my jam, I’ll be doing it like this forever, don’t ever leave, I will never leave.

And there are times when you will withdraw into your bower and turn down the lights, and close the door and hope nobody notices and keep the noises low and the distractions to a minimum, and you won’t seek out contact with anyone much, or anyone at all, and you’ll surround yourself with things very old and very new that give you comfort and a connection to the unseen world and childhood comforts, and things that live silently and need little care or attention, or which draw your complete attention, which need a safe, quiet place to do their thing, but do not speak, like a candle, or a cluster of feathers, or a circle of stones, or a tray of tea, or a small dog or cat, or a book that needs reading, or one that needs writing. And that will be all you need.

And you’ll need it very, very much, And that will be okay. And that will be all right.

How To Love Your Darkness.

There is a time and season for negativity. I absolutely believe this. There’s a place for seeing things cynically and refusing to be cheered with platitudes and cliches. If you’re experiencing a period where your perspective is decidedly blunt and pessimistic, and you can’t see any good reason to change it, good for you. And I mean that.

Go with it. I often do. I especially found this empowering when I was recovering through cancer and treatment. Fuck all that positive thinking. Fuck all those sunshiney exhortations to just think positive. I didn’t want to be happy and just think positive. I needed to get down with my black thoughts and face off with it all. I didn’t want to make nice for others, or talk myself out of my fears. I needed to go with them down the rabbit hole and see where and what they led to.

It did me good. I’ve seen my dark side and my rock bottom. I hit it arse first and sat there with it, swearing and being a cynical shit and refusing to be cheered up or pulled out of it. I lived in a dark place for a long time, made friends with death and dying, became acquainted with worst possible case scenarios like you might a peculiar new neighbor, and learned they weren’t that scary or peculiar after all. I learned this about my worst case scenarios – sometimes they happen, and when they do, I can do them. I can go there. I am strong. I am smart. I’m also allowed to be scared, cry and fall apart. But I know what to do when they happen. Because I went there. Because I refused to talk myself happy or only think positive.

Truth is, we don’t always get the sunny outcome we are praying for. Positive thoughts have their time and place. But so does your melancholy. Just feel it all. Truly, that’s my advice to my friends who are going through cancer, or loving an addict, or being an addict, or breaking up a relationship, or watching someone slip away. Feel it all. Don’t be afraid. Love all the parts of you, even your cranky, negative, cynical side. It’s still you. However, be careful not to use your negativity to hurt others. Don’t become a bully, or a jerk, to your friends and community. Some won’t cope with your negativity, but lots of them will love it easily. Let them do it. Let them help you love the dark places in you. Love them into the light.

May you be loved into the light today, sweet friend.

The Wound.

Dear one, I want to ask you a few things. May I?

Do you feel innately and deeply attuned to perceptions others have about you? Is your consciousness pockmarked and pitted with little, unidentifiable fears?

Are you smattered with poorly healed, puckered emotional and spiritual scars you rue, but which cannot be tied to any specific incident? Do you believe you are filled with sin so grievous it could never be forgiven? Do you believe all the wrongs committed by you, and those committed against you, have their origins in your intrinsic badness and unworthiness?

Do you use the word “deserve” a lot, either in the negative or the affirmative? Do you find yourself doubting your own judgement on everything? Do you accept blame for mistakes, crimes, misdeeds, shortcomings and faults others point out to you, never exploring the possibility these may not be wrongdoings at all but are perhaps the real-world results of your intrinsic strength, wisdom, beauty and goodness? Is it easy for others to change your mood, and your mind? Are you, my darling, an unwilling, unwitting carrier of shame?

If so, it’s because you’ve learned to be.

For many of us, our welfare and survival depended on it, unless we were fortunate enough to be born into a situation where the goodness, wholeness, and purity of children and the vulnerable are considered holy things never to be interfered with.

Shame is endemic. And it is toxic for humans, and everything we touch.

As we mature, many of us arrive at a kind of resignation about the state of the world, feeling it is somehow different from the way it seemed when we were very young. We feel often the fault for this perception lies with us, and not with something that happened to us, despite our being the beneficiary of a great body of evidence to suggest otherwise. This is just how the world is, we lament, and it’s not a better place now. This is not a great epiphany, sweet heart – it’s a kind of misunderstanding. The world is not an awful place. And you are not a fool. Something happened back there. Something that caused a deep hurt in you, and made you change the way you saw things. You had to do this to survive, and survive you have.

But it has not been without a price. You have a wound, a scar. It isn’t healed, and the pain of it has made you jaded. You’ve been carrying something for these many years, a gritty thorn that’s worked its way to the surface, and beloved, it’s time to deal with it, for good. You have a wound there. Let me see.

Ah, yes, it’s as I thought. It’s shame.

There now, lay still and let the sting subside. Lay still, and let me sing to you. Let me sing these words over you, and you simply be still, and breath. There is nothing for you to do. Be still, and I will sing.

You are good. You are good. You are good.

This is not your fault.

This is not your fault.

The Essence Of Brave.

Understand then, my dear one, the very essence of brave is seeing and truly understanding there Printis no lack in you. You are abundant, you are good, and you are more than enough. You are not weak, you are not unknowing, and you are not powerless. All that stands between you moving forward and you standing still are the beliefs you hold about what you are and what you are not.

What changed, sweetheart, do you think? What happened to make you believe you were the emptiness instead of the sweet wonder that fills it? What went wrong to move you from believing you mattered to believing you did not matter?

Perhaps the question I need to ask is, what is the matter? What is it, my dear heart, if it is not you?

You matter. You are matter. You are not the emptiness requiring to be filled. You are not lack. You are not a space waiting to be occupied by something or someone outside of you. You are the answer to empty space. You are art filling the paper, words filling a page. You are not the empty arms; you are the exuberant love that runs into them. You are the abundance of cycles of living and dying and seasons and weather and seeds and weeds and work and rest turning wastelands into gardens. You are not the void God spoke life into – you are life.

You do not lack anything you need, my love. It is all with you, now.

What would it take for you to dance into the room, jump into the puddle, paint the canvas, create the space, use your voice, take the ground, listen to your gut, be truly content? This is what brave is. It’s taking the empty space you believed was you, and filling it with you, in whatever sphere you find yourself in where you feel you are not enough, or are too much.

It’s coming to and into yourself fully as the answer to every question you believed you needed something or someone outside of you to solve.

It’s ceasing to ask, “What is the matter with me?” instead affirming, “I matter.” There can be no matter with you, if you are matter. If you are matter, all you need is with you. You need only breathe life into yourself, as God breathed life at the first, into the first. Breathe into yourself, my love.

Wake up.