A Nested Story: Transformative Healing

The following article was recently published in Psychologica Magazine’s special edition on Trauma.  I’ve included a link to the full magazine, lots of great articles on trauma treatments, both from a clinical perspective as well as personal.  Hope you might find something that resonates.

http://www.oaccpp.ca/assets/Psychologica%20Vol.%2041%20Final%20(DIGITAL)%20compressed.pdf
Trauma and Art Therapy Article copy (dragged)Trauma and Art Therapy Article copy (dragged) 1

when there are no words

when there are no words

silent spaces…pause between words…shaping time…making art.

There is the sudden silence of the crowd
above a player not moving on the field,
and the silence of the orchid.

The silence of the falling vase
before it strikes the floor,
the silence of the belt when it is not striking the child.

The stillness of the cup and the water in it,
the silence of the moon
and the quiet of the day far from the roar of the sun.

The silence when I hold you to my chest,
the silence of the window above us,
and the silence when you rise and turn away.

And there is the silence of this morning
which I have broken with my pen,
a silence that had piled up all night

like snow falling in the darkness of the house—
the silence before I wrote a word
and the poorer silence now.

Billy Collins (2007).
The trouble with poetry: And other poems. Random House Trade Paperbacks.

how wings work

the firsWhen I returned from so many journeys,

I stayed suspended and green

between sun and geography –

I saw how wings worked,

how perfumes are transmitted

by feathery telegraph,

and from above I saw the path,

the springs and the roof tiles,

the fishermen at their trades,

the trousers of the foam;

I saw it all from my green sky.

I had no more alphabet

than the swallows in their courses,

the tiny, shining water

of the small bird on fire

which dances out of the pollen.

by Pablo Neruda, from Fully Empowered, 1962

translated from the Spanish by Alastair Reid

if this were a map

collage illustration

In the old, scratched, cheap wood of the typing stand

there is a landscape, veined, which only a child can see

or the child’s older self, a poet,

a woman dreaming when she should be typing

the last report of the day. If this were a map,

she thinks, a map laid down to memorize

because she might be walking it, it shows

ridge upon ridge fading into hazed desert

here and there a sign of aquifers

and one possible watering‐hole. If this were a map

it would be the map of the last age of her life,

not a map of choices but a map of variations

on the one great choice. It would be the map by which

she could see the end of touristic choices,

of distances blued and purpled by romance,

by which she would recognize that poetry

isn’t revolution but a way of knowing

why it must come. If this cheap,

mass‐produced wooden stand from the Brooklyn Union Gas Co.,

mass‐produced yet durable, being here now,

is what it is yet a dream‐map

so obdurate, so plain,

she thinks, the material and the dream can join

and that is the poem and that is the late report.

Dreamwood

a poem by Adrienne Rich

October/November 1987

Days Inn

back in the day

Days

What are days for?
Days are where we live.
They come, they wake us
Time and time over.
They are to be happy in:
Where can we live but days?
Ah, solving that question
Brings the priest and the doctor
In their long coats
Running over the fields.

Philip Larkin

“Days” from Collected Poems.

Used by permission of The Society of Authors as the Literary Representative of the Estate of Philip Larkin.

Source: Collected Poems (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2001)

something seen

something seen

Nobody sees a flower really;

it is so small.

We haven’t time,

and to see

takes time –

like to have a friend

takes time.

Georgia O’Keeffe

To be continued…

pantherchild“We do not know what things look like, as you say,”the beast said.  “We know what things are like.  It must be a  very limiting thing, this seeing,”

“Oh  no! Meg cried.  “It’s- it’s the most wonderful thing in the world!”

“What a very strange world yours must be,” the beast said, “that such a peculiar-seeming thing should be of such importance.  Try to tell me, what is this thing called light that you are able to do so little without?”

“Well, we can’t see without it,”  Meg said, realizing that she was completely unable to explain vision and light and dark.  How can you explain sight on a world where no one has ever seen and where there is no need of eyes? “Well, on this planet,” she fumbled, “you have a sun don’t you?”

“A most wonderful sun, from which comes out warmth, and the rays which give us our flowers, our food, our music, and all the things which make life and growth.”

“Well,” Meg said, “when we are turned toward the sun– our earth, our planet, I mean, toward our sun– we receive its light.  And when we’re turned away from it, it is night.  And if we want to see we have to use artificial lights.”

“Artificial lights,” the beast sighed.  “How very complicated life on your planet must be,”

Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time

the known unknown

 “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

the stars

Poetry

And it was at that age … Poetry arrived
in search of me. I don’t know, I don’t know where
it came from, from winter or a river.
I don’t know how or when,
no they were not voices, they were not
words, nor silence,
but from a street I was summoned,
from the branches of night,
abruptly from the others,
among violent fires
or returning alone,
there I was without a face
and it touched me.

I did not know what to say, my mouth
had no way
with names,
my eyes were blind,
and something started in my soul,
fever or forgotten wings,
and I made my own way,
deciphering
that fire,
and I wrote the first faint line,
faint, without substance, pure
nonsense,
pure wisdom
of someone who knows nothing,
and suddenly I saw
the heavens
unfastened
and open,
planets,
palpitating plantations,
shadow perforated,
riddled
with arrows, fire and flowers,
the winding night, the universe.

And I, infinitesimal being,
drunk with the great starry
void,
likeness, image of
mystery,
felt myself a pure part
of the abyss,
I wheeled with the stars,
my heart broke loose on the wind.

by Pablo Neruda

To paraphrase Dr. Jordan Peterson from a recent  TED lecture, “there are things that you know deeply, you just don’t know that you know them.”  Creative process is a way to allow the known unknown to surface through the arts.  Encountering the known unknown often leads to the emotional experience of awe.  We risk a leap of faith from what is known into what is not yet known. This is the experience of not having the words to describe, feeling deeply moved, touched, terrified and fascinated simultaneously.  Neruda’s poem conveys the experience of being summoned and touched, and then “my mouth had no way with names[…]something stirred in my soul”.  Creative process is a way to allow known unknown treasure to surface.  The expressive arts have the potential to inspire and reflect back what we most need to know in a form that may be both seen, shaped and shared.

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