Here are some photographs I took while on a hike in Temescal Canyon, which is in the Santa Monica Mountains. It is only minutes from a heavily populated urban area, yet here the rangers warn you to keep an eye out for cougars, coyotes, and rattlesnakes. It is truly wild. Since it is spring the brush is still green and at parts so dense that it felt like twilight. I only hiked about an hour and a half since I have not hiked like this for a very long time and I am out of shape. My goal was to reach a waterfall a short distance up the canyon; however, the trail became so steep and rocky and it was already hot at 9 am in the morning, I felt that I couldn’t risk it. Although there were plenty of people on the trail, I didn’t want to have to bother to ask for assistance if I got heat stroke. So I turned around without making it to the waterfall. That’s okay… it will motivate me to come again when it is not so hot and I’m in better shape.
This is where I was heading. I didn’t make it to the top this time.
The name of the canyon, Temescal, is the Chumash word for “sweat lodge” and I presume at one time before the Europeans came there was a sweat lodge in the canyon. Sweat lodges were used by the native Americans in the area for spiritual purposes. Supposedly, sitting in a sweat lodge helped them connect with the spirit realm. I have to to admit that the canyon does have an otherworldly feel to it. I am not surprised they chose this place to connect with the spirits. After a few minutes of walking, the sound of traffic on Sunset Boulevard faded away and I was surrounded by the sound of chirping birds and running water. Serene. Peaceful. It was like being in the sanctuary of a proper church. In some places, the vines (wild cucumber, I think) had grown up the trees and arched over the trail– again it felt like I was surrounded by the soaring vaults and arches of a cathedral. It was truly humbling to stand in the presence of 300 year old oak trees. Extraordinary!
Sycamore trees are the other lords of the forest.
The canopy was extremely dense in some areas.
A grove of coastal oak trees.
I didn’t meet any coyote or cougar today, but I did come across this little fellow along with rabbit, lizards, monarch butterflies (their breeding area) and singing birds of all kinds.
And looking back towards the Pacific Ocean.
Images and text: L. Gloyd (c) 2008
noble white petals
yield the stillness of a dream
takes your breath away
a liquid blue soul
serene in beauty and breath
she waxes and wanes
While painting this piece, I felt a connection to Lori. It was like I was painting her soul. I stayed in a beautiful meditative state all the way through to writing the poem that is in honor of Lori’s beauty. This one is for you Lori — not sure if it’s how you view yourself or your soul. It’s just what came to me while painting and reflecting on who you are as I know you through your art and words.
–genece hamby, contemporary artist & poet
Our move to the mountains has given us a whole new perspective – the sparkling air, the cooler weather, has been truly invigorating.
I guess I won’t stay here forever, I’m too much of a gypsy, but but this is one of the places I will remember with real affection.
Just down the road from us is a meandering creek and a park, where we often go for picnics.
Quart pot Creek winds lazily along..
This willow is one of our favourite trees.
In summer, the park is ablaze with flowers…
…and bird life…
…some just taking a walk, like us…
…some apparently posing for the papparazzi…
…there is always something…
…beautiful to look at.
Los Angeles artist, J. Michael Walker, has spent the last several years of his life researching the names of the 103 L.A. streets named after saints. From his research he has made a collection of ink and seriograph images along with poetry depicting the saints in unique and contemporary contexts. The culmination of this project will be an exhibition at the Autry Museum early next year and the publication of a book entitled All the Saints of the City of the Angels: Seeking the Soul of L.A. on Its Streets.
What I find intriguing about this project is the artist’s attempt to find the spiritual essence of a place, or, rather, to find his spiritual essence within a place. Perhaps this search is one in the same.
Whatever direction the search, I think it is critical that we, in order to be fully human and whole, need to find that place of “sacredness” where we can encounter and experience the realm of the spirit. This special place can be a physical locale, an established place such as a temple, church or sacred grove, or a mundane place that we have made “holy” for ourselves—a park bench where we rest and feed the birds or a cozy chair in front of a fireplace.
How do you find this place? May I suggest taking a few moments to consider a few questions. Ask youself:
What would my sacred space be like? Is it a real place? If so, where? Is it an imaginary place? Pretend you are describing this imaginary place to someone. Does the space ever change? If so how? What or who populates the space? What can I bring to this space to make it special? What do I take away from it?
Once you have established your space—either a physical place where you can visit or an imaginary one that you visit in your mind’s eye, make it your practice to get to that place as often as you can.
Wherever you go, find yourself there.
Some sources for inspiring you in your search for a sacred space:
Lori Gloyd © 2007
The images above were taken by me at the San Fernando Mission, established in 1797. The mission resides on a street named after this saint.
Of all the places of the heart, I most love the stillness of a yielding heart eager to be shaped by beauty and grace. It is the part of the journey when everything comes back to the soul, to the rich honor and dignity of one’s deepest and kindest breath. There is only pureness from this place of divine contemplation and inner magic.
To all who love and express from a yielding heart, take this image with you on your journey.
in the calm stillness
of a vivid opal sky
beholds our future
quietly, I hear
the vibrant sound of your breath
calling me to you
as you softly gaze
deep inside the sun’s divide
reflected on the lake
reds and oranges
hold me under the sunset
so I can see you
along the crevice
waiting for the poetry
that fuses our heart
in gentle motion
let yourself fall into me
and I into you
as soul counterparts
kiss me with your solitude
and color me true
painted dreams of you
without effort and no echo
to chisel away
nothing to haunt us
into the fear of joining
you and I are free
boundless and open
slowly the force carries us
home to each other
Not ever married, I don’t feel alone or uhappy most of the time with not having a life partner. Yet, sometimes I feel someone close. It’s as if he’s right here next to me, especially when I’m sitting in the stillness. Other times, he even appars in my dreams–always in the kitchen chopping veggies or sitting on a dock gazing into the sun across the waters (the digital painting and poem above was inspired by this dream).
Often, I figure he is the masculine part of my psyche. Or, someone from the other side–perhaps a guardian. Since I’ve had this vision and dream of him for 20+ years, I’ve lost most of the desires to find or be with someone. I find myself flipping back and forth between believing I’ve given up and believing I am at peace with not sharing life with a soul partner.
This morning, I had a new thought. Perhaps he’s my muse–always reaching into the depths of my heart so I remain open and willing to love. I’m not talking about romantic love (yes, it could still happen and I know that)–it’s the kind of love that I feel for humanity, the earth, animals, plants, spirit and sky. That’s the love that keeps me rich in writing and painting, in creating from places of the heart.