Light Rafts for Flagging Spirits | Vol 4

The waiting is the hardest part ...

Each Friday, I share a short list of films, music, photographs, exhibitions, stories, spoken-word, and other found objects/creative endeavors I’ve collected in recent days that have helped buoy my spirit and I hope might do the same for yours.

In the universe, there are things that are known, and things that are unknown, and in between them, there are doors. —William Blake

1. THRESHOLDS: A Meditation for Waiting

Inspired by William Blake’s quotation above, I made this for you—a five-minute photography and ambient music meditation, a visio divina tool of a kind—as we enter Friday night and the weekend in this liminal space of uncertainty.

We’re waiting for whatever comes next. And that can be terribly stressful and anxiety producing. So, find somewhere quiet(ish) to sit with whatever device you’re reading this on; take a few deep breaths (sigh them out, it’ll feel great, I promise), put on your headphones, and watch the images as they float by or just close your eyes and listen.

If something resonates or stays with you, perhaps an image that evokes something for you—a memory, a moment, a solace—try to keep that in your mind as you wait. Maybe write down what it means to you in a notebook or a journal. And come back to it and the video meditation whenever you need to breathe.

Remember, you are not alone in this. All of us are waiting in this liminal space and we will cross the threshold together when it’s time.

Courage, dearhearts. It won’t always be like this.

2. Online Exhibition: “Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving”

From the de Young Museum in San Francisco comes this marvelous way of experiencing Kahlo’s personal and artistic magic at a digital distance

From the museum’s About the Exhibition: “‘Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving,’ examines how politics, gender, trauma, and national identity influenced Kahlo’s diverse modes of creativity. The exhibition features highly personal items, which came to light in 2004 at her lifelong home, La Casa Azul (“The Blue House,” now known as Museo Frida Kahlo) in Mexico City—including approximately 30 photographs, 20 vibrant Tehuana costumes from her wardrobe, and personalized braces and prosthetics—alongside paintings and drawings by the iconic artist and photographs reflecting her unique self-fashioning.”

3. Poetry in the Time of Coronavirus

From WBUR in Boston, an online collection (gathered in a digitally flip-able magazine) of new works from 10 poets. Click on the title or on the image below to visit the poetry project site.

4. My Jam This Week: Cat Vibing to Finnish Polka

Thanks to tweets by Brad Sams and Van Goghkan earlier this week, I discovered this timely (and totally addictive meme) as well as the delightful Turkish musician who inspired it.

The song is a Finnish folk tune called “Ievan polkka,” or “Ieava’s polka” and is about a young man who sneaks away to dance (the polka) all night long. The musician is Bilal Göregen, a Turkish percussionist who’s got a robust YouTube channel if you’d like to find out more about him and his work.

Share Look for the Light

5. The Koker Trilogy via The Criterion Channel

Immerse yourself in the calm beauty of Abbas Kiarostami’s trio of films—described by Criterion as“lyrical fables”—about the preciousness of life.

One of my favorite sources for off-the-beaten-path and classic art house films these last months has been the Criterion Collection’s streaming channel. It’s a seemingly endless source of films I haven’t seen, which is usually hard to do. I highly recommend the $9.99/month subscription, if you can swing it.

This week, I discovered this trilogy of films from the late Persian filmmaker and poet, Kiarostami: Where Is the Friend’s House? Life and Nothing More, and Through the Olive Trees. The films are set in rural Iran and are a hybrid of documentary and fiction, following a simple story of two boys in the first film, a father and son looking for the boys from the first film in the second film, and the third film explores the making of a scene from the second film.

They’re beautiful, slow and lean of expression, and unforgettable.

6. “Very Wonderful” | A Short Story from The Stinging Fly

Written by Liadan Ní Chuinn, a young writer from Northern Ireland, this heartbreakingly wonderful short story about her brother included in the latest issue of The Stinging Fly Irish literary magazine was one of the hardest and best things I read this week.


7. Choir, Choir, Choir and Rufus Wainwright: “Across the Universe”

With more than 1,500 voices from around the world, the Canadian open-participation choir recorded the Beatles tune with Wainright in July.

Based in Toronto, Canada, Choir!Choir!Choir! is an ongoing open-participation mass choir that meets twice weekly to sing together (when there’s not a global pandemic) and is sometimes joined by fancier professional musicians, including three of our favorites: Bruce Cockburn, Patti Smith, and Rufus Wainwright (here singing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”)

Because of COVID restrictions, instead of gathering person to record the song live, Choir!Choir!Choir! opened it up to digital submissions from around the globe. In all, 1,200 people sang along with Wainwright on the Beatles prayer-song. The conveners of the choir described it this way:

“These voices and faces represent the love and hopefulness we have for our days ahead. As the late great John Lewis (R.I.P.) once said: “If it hadn’t been for music, the Civil Rights Movement would’ve been like a bird without wings. Music... brought us together. It created a sense of solidarity.” As the days pass, we hope we never forget that our voices make a huge difference. In times of pandemics, massive economic hardships and social change, we will be there for each other.”

I stumbled upon Choir!Choir!Choir! and the Wainwright collaboration after Patton Oswalt tweeted the video of the choir performing Men At Work’s “Overkill” with Colin Hay from 2017. I’ll admit, I sang along with it. Several times. Singing has been a great stress relief for me lately, even if I’m just singing to the dog, or whatever I’m cooking in the kitchen.

Try it. Might work for you, too.

8. Old Faithful Under the Stars

For a little perspective on the vastness of both time and the universe…