In art, contrast occurs when placing opposite elements alongside each other. The contrast in color, texture, and pattern can make a design more interesting.
Polarities - polar opposites - are also important in art and in life. Without magnetic polarities, compasses wouldn't work and the earth wouldn't rotate. Polarities within and among ourselves - manifesting as conflicting beliefs, values, and understandings of the world - give us an opportunity to learn and grow.
This has been on my mind and in my heart a lot these days. What level of contrast, polarity, and conflict helps us discover a deeper truth? And what level of clashing leads to chaos or harm?
I know the value of taking a strong stand for that which we value and against that which we see as harmful. I also know the value of bridging difference and finding common ground. With this poem, I share my longing for - and appreciation of - the deeper, more nuanced ways of engaging as humans.
Poem: Common Ground
I want to elevate the debate
to a level where listening lives
where nuance is known
and we ask questions
with no easy answers
I want to meet where we know
that most perspectives
contain only partial truths
we risk our rightness
in service of a deeper wisdom
I want to release
the reoccurring ideology
wars that nobody wins
so we can drop
from head to heart
and produce a truce
Maybe down here
beneath all the noise
we will notice
that our feet
on common ground
- Laura Loescher
INNER COMPASS features linden leaves & flowers, arbutus berries, arborvitae cones, poppy seed pods, and little fuzzy curly cues from another kind of tree. (Does anyone know what kind of tree those grow on?)
With the drought here, some leaves are turning earlier than usual. You may notice that the leaves range from greenest at the bottom to yellowest on the right side. If you look closely, you'll see that the cones similarly go clockwise from young/closed to open to weathered and old.
I created this Earth Altar after writing a poem of the same name, inspired by a prompt from my friend Tesa in yet another sacred writing container. I share the original poem below.
Poem: Inner Compass
When mysterious emotional winds spin me around
and leave me disoriented in unfamiliar territory
No amount of anxious searching, urgent sense-making,
or external asking will point me in the right direction
My true compass lies within
It’s always there, quietly offering pointers
but with more of my attention, it transmits at a higher volume
Unfamiliar territory offers aliveness & adventure
It presents the possibility of peace or shows me stories to explore and stones to turn
But only when I’m open to seeing, able to listen, willing to feel,
are the gifts laid bare, ready for me to breathe them in
- Laura Loescher, 2021
If you are interested in reading more of my poetry, please follow me on Facebook or Instagram. I share poems regularly there along with Earth Altars.
I don't know about you, but I seem to vacillate regularly between being wrapped up in the difficult details of living as a human in this wild world and broadening my perspective to take in the overwhelming beauty and wonder that is all around mein the plants and people and places I love. It's like jumping from a lower to a higher octave of life - and back again.
One of my go-to practices for up-leveling my awareness is creating Earth Altars!The entire process of gathering materials, allowing patterns to emerge, and beholding the finished pieces brings me such a feeling of wonder and delight. Then I snap a photo and attempt to share a bit of this delight with you! I've recently added some new Earth Altars to the gallery page on my website for you to enjoy!
At times, I also experience life's higher octaves through writing poetry within a sacred container. While my eco-art practice is most often a solo endeavor, I prefer to write in the company of others. On my birthday back in May, I invited 3 friends who live in other parts of the country to join me on Zoom to write together.
My amazing friend and poet Sage Cohen facilitated our little foursome in a process she calls "Poem Medicine." She read a couple of poems aloud for inspiration and then offered a few possible prompts to choose from for our own writing session. Then she set a 15 minute timer and off we went with pen and paper. Sage likes to say “We don’t live in our lives. We live the stories we tell about our lives.” Writing - and being witnessed - in a sacred container has helped me re-write my own life stories on many occasions.
I want to share one of the poems I wrote on my birthday, in the company of beloved friends.
Poem: Higher Octave
Some moments, days, and even weeks
I forget to cherish my singular and miraculous life
I find myself trapped in a groove
like a warped LP stuttering and repeating a sad old song
amplified through the scratchy speaker in my own head
The outdated tune with unholy lyrics
so out of synch with truth, with now,
with the glorious riotous goodness and grace enveloping my life
Some moments, days, and weeks though
I am moved to tears by the beauty and wonder of this life
the glorious chaotic beautiful horrible human experience
of being alive at this time, in this place,
with this set of issues, gifts and assignments
and this particular set of companions
Oh My God, I cherish my soul siblings
as we take turns reaching back to clasp the one another’s hands
gently guiding each other through a treacherous twist or turn
elevating our songs to a more life-giving octave
rewriting them into melodies of connection and curiosity
as we sing our way back home
~ by Laura Loescher, 2021
In honor of Earth Day last week, I spent some quality time with my favorite nearby trees. Magnolia, Sequoia, Oak, and Sycamore. I find inspiration thinking about hundreds-of-year old trees weathering every storm life delivers. When my own life (and the world around me) feels unsteady, I find it supportive to imagine myself as a deeply rooted tree with flexible, swaying branches - resiliently returning to stillness once the storm passes. In praise of trees and all the rest of Mother Earth's bounty, I offer you a poem below.
Singing Praises to the Roots
To all the trees, bushes, and grasses
I bow down at your trunks and stems
to sing my praises to your roots
Never before have I listened so deeply to your wisdom
received such nourishment from your beauty
and noticed your stunning details
ever-changing with the seasons
I used to think an oak was an oak
and a maple was a maple
oh what a narrow and limited view
I see you, finally, for who you are
awake to your infinite brilliance
and elegant diversity
You leave me in awe and delight
when I pause and truly take you in
and heartbroken by the loss
of so many of your kin
You are bringer of joy, and survivor
May we all continue to feed our resilience in this time of many storms! For more poems and altars, please join me on Instagram or Facebook.
I love playing with words and things in nature to create impermanent nature art (earth altars) and poems. This blog is a place to share. I post more regularly on Instagram & Facebook - @lauraloescher.art.