Tenacity

I honor my June commitment to pray for the salmon regularly by penciling it in on my calendar for the third weekend of each month. That simple act has surprising potency. Hey, I am really going to do this. I have established a priority in my schedule. So on July 21st I check the time of low tide, grab my medicine bag plus “thumb drum” and a miniature bodhisattva statue that begs to be taken, throw my boots in the car and head back to “my” stream.

I muck my way out farther than before. Rounding a bend, I discover an uprooted tree. I see where the wee Bodhisattva can be left just above high tide mark. This seems magical to me. I am establishing an altar to be seen mostly by the ravens, dogs, raccoons, otters and the occasional salmon who pokes his/her eye above water. This tickles me, she who still believes the world is sentient and recognizes such acts of caring.

I have forgotten my camera so I can’t record the image I carve in the mud. I am more aware than before of the green webbed algae and how sticky it is, how shallow this body of water is, how hard it must be for salmon to cross it as they search for the mouth of the stream and how skilled they are at patience as they wait for the tide to swell. I squat on my heels for a time and play the “thumb drum,” which I don’t really know how to do. But I get carried away by the notes pinged and before I know it a lot of time has passed and I feel cocooned by my intention to love.

Wow, this is meaningful activity. . . an oasis. I am startled by how this moves me and yet, I know exactly when I am ready to return to the hustle and bustle of ordinary life.

As I retrace my steps, I pick up litter. Then, as if a voice from the forest sweeps over me, I am told that I must paint an image of this experience. That I am to paint an image devoted to EACH month’s experience. . .that this year’s commitment has significance that I will not understand until I am looking back at it.

I begin the painting immediately on a canvas given to me by a friend, a friend whose artist Mother has just died. Her Mom had already painted on this 24” square and gessoed the image over for reasons unknown to me. In the brief time I had known her, I had fallen in love with her and her art, so I receive this canvas with gratitude. I prime it several times more and feel as if this layering of artists’ intentions gives extra energy to my own.

I finish my first salmon prayer painting just before the August prayer day, which was yesterday! I have a sense of how August’s image will begin but here now, I share July’s. It’s called Tenacity. Tenacity

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About Deborah

Deborah Jane Milton, Ph.D. is an artist, mentor, and eco-psychologist, mother of four and grandmother of eight.
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3 Responses to Tenacity

  1. Love this August’s prayer and your painting….inspiring to paint one a month…I have 10 incomplete ones from last year in the tanami desert so I will mimick you if I can. We just walked out to King Reef off Kurramine Beach FNQueensland Australia and found it dead….very disturbing sight but I found a sea creature of considerable size, pure black and with pins about 6 inches long..the black pin cushion…some kind of sea urchin no doubt…I did think I was the lucky one and hope that his presence heralded a re-birthing of this little reef; war torn from cyclones and fertilizer suffocations!
    Love reading your blog….

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    • Deborah says:

      Oh so good to hear from you again, Kate. I will be posting about my own experience at a DEAD LAKE that happened last Sunday when two friends joined me for August’s salmon prayers. Isn’t it remarkable? All the places around us that have been destroyed by humankind’s diminished perspective about our interconnectedness, that we too suffer when our habitat is degraded. Thank you for sharing your discovery – I think that spiny urchin may find itself into my August painting!

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  2. Thank you Deborah for your inspiration and prayers. The Salmon people are grateful for all of your love and deep commitment. ❤

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