Thoughts & Sketches

‘Hope’ – image drawn at Shantivanam, India

Hope - Mel Cross

This image was sketched whilst sitting on the step of Father Bede Griffiths’s hut at Saccinananda Ashram – Shantivanam, India, in February.  The light and colours you see on the image are the light and colours created from the sun shining through the trees there.  The original image is in black and white charcoal and was photographed where I drew it, capturing the essence of that special and precious place…

(Also see the image in the post:  ‘Article – Reflections on the Gift that is The Sangha – The Bede Griffiths Sangha Newsletter Summer 2020′

Article – ‘Reflections on the Gift that is The Sangha’ – The Bede Griffiths Sangha Newsletter Summer 2020

'I am' - Mel Cross  The Bede Griffiths Sangha Article - Summer 2020 - Mel Cross   The Bede Griffiths Sangha Newsletter 2020

My article ‘Reflections on the Gift that is the Sangha’ features in ‘The Bede Griffiths Sangha Newsletter’ – Summer 2020.
Also featured is an image I drew whilst sitting on the step of Father Bede’s hut during my visit to Saccindananda Ashram – Shantivanam, India, in February this year.

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Sitting on the gently rippling edge of the shore I see the sun resting upon the horizon.
Its white light rippling out across the sea, the waves, the blue-green swells to reach me. 
Rippling deep into my heart, white-bright. 
Reenergising, revitalising, illuminating, loving, warm, nurturing breath.
Filling my lungs, my body, my heart, my mind.
Expanding me beyond my borders.
I breathe out my love, towards the sun, across the rippling sea,
sending all of me with it;
a gift to the beloved light.

The movement of the inbreath and outbreath,
our essence in time,
held delicately upon the lapping silence of the shore.
One heart to another within the silence.
That place, that silent space, that pause in movement,
holding the motion of the cycling love,
the cycling breath,
is the cradling shore.
This place of unfurling acceptance,
lapped by the motion of the ocean,
holds us as this love-light breath swoops and eddies within and beyond the expanse of the forming and reforming waves.
The silent sand-nest holds us in our merging with the horizon.
In out,
in out,
in out…

It is upon that shore that we are illuminated, expand, connect, grow, and are held in the silence of love.  It is a safe place to ‘be’.  And that shore, that silent place of nurturing, alone or side by side, is the precious essence of the Sangha.  Beyond definition and articulation.  That space on the sand to come, go, and ‘be’ at One; together and alone.  Without identification, or label, there is belonging in the non-belonging.  A togetherness in the non-identification with the togetherness.  Without articulation of what it is, you sense and immerse yourself in the loving presence of what it truly Is…

The Sangha, in its simplicity, is the sandy shore upon which we sit, which gently holds the space for the eternal presence.  The sand to sit upon and rest a while, to be nourished by the flow, the inbreath and outbreath of being, over and through the ocean, from the sun.
It is the same gentle holding of space which I experienced earlier in the year during my precious visit to Shantivanam.
Shantivanam, a place that gently holds us in that same bright eternal presence, allowing the inbreath outbreath flow of Love to warm and nourish us.
A place to stop for a while.
Together and alone.

It is not about clinging to the space, owning, labelling, or holding on to it.
They both are shores we can swim out from and return to, whilst growing in our own ways from the warmth of the sun.
Neither try to own or dictate the swells of the sea, the movement of the winds in the sky, or the caressing of the sun.  Both are places of stillness; for everyone.

The presence of love radiating at the centre of the Sangha, the centre of Shantivanam, the centre of our hearts, is the same.
It is the gentle radiating Love of what ‘Is’.  Pure, naked, and divine…

The Sangha, Shantivanam and our hearts are the shores upon which we sit and smile into the sunshine.  Through friendship and relationship, by belonging without belonging, within silent alone togetherness, we are unified in the Love-light presence within and beyond them all.

A shore needs only to be a shore.
We, and God, will do the rest…

‘Created and recreated’

Created and recreated - Mel Cross
In every moment we have the ability to try on different aspects of us, but none of them are us.
We are beyond all definition and label.

The illusion of loneliness

Mel Cross Art

We huddle together within the illusion of loneliness,
and splintering silence of unspoken pain.
Reach out across the invisible wall,
and we will find the light and love of a hand to hold.

The role of creative arts within faith

St Laurence Image - Shift Festival - Mel Cross

This is an article I wrote with regard to the importance of creativity within faith, for the SHIFT Arts and Well-being Festival held at St Laurence Church, Stroud. shiftmovement.art

I gave a talk as part of this about creativity, the soul and my book ‘Is-Being’.  I also spent all week working with the amazing Robin-Watkins-Davies and 100’s of children, sharing trans-formative arts and mindfulness practices; creating movement and stillness within the heart to help create movement and transformation within oneself.  It was a deeply profound experience, with so much calmness and oneness created within the heart and with each other.  A truly incredible and beautiful week…

‘For us to begin to build an experiential relationship with God, or grow a deeper relationship with God, we need to create moments for the still silent voice of the divine to be noticed, and heard, deep within the centre of our being. To do this we need to create a still space of ‘presence’ and ‘being’. This still space of presence and being does not necessarily mean within the silence and stillness of meditation. The presence and being space of connection to the divine can be deeply entered whilst engaging with the creative arts of all disciplines. For it is within the creative ‘flow’ that we enter into the creative flow of, and with, the divine. It is the flowing place of silence, presence and being. When we engage in the creative flow, whether with the body, words, visual arts and music we move into that place of connection and flow of being. Through the movement and flow of the body, the paintbrush, the instrument or the word we move beyond the constrictions of the mind and enter the expansive connecting space of no-thing within the heart. The space where we sense the still, silent voice of God. When we remove the constrictions of mind-based fact we enter the heart-centred flow of knowing, the space beyond information, the place of silent sitting with and within the divine. This space of creation, and of the creative process, flows with possibilities of new understanding, new connection, and new experience, and assists in the dissolving of stagnation within oneself which often blocks or muddies the path to this place of divine connection. The creative process brings a sense of connection and of being ‘alive’ in a way that is so undervalued and misunderstood in a world which is based on the mind and the physical. The creative flow moves the mind to the side to allow creation, through a medium of any sort, to come into being. It is the flow that is important. The flow of creativity and creation is of the moment. It is connecting to the divine presence by ‘being’ through the ‘doing’. It has nothing to do with the end product, the manifested physical object or output, but has everything to do with entering into the divine silent space of the flow of creation, through the creative act, which allows us to connect to God in a deeply profound and moving way. In today’s world, where we focus so much on the acquisition of facts, the filling of the mind and the collecting of materialistic objects that we close down to our divine connection. We need to become more creative in order to pull the things we know into dynamic and new understanding in order to evolve humanity towards love, compassion and togetherness. We need to provide experiences for this creative flow to be engaged with so that dynamic growth and change can take place. We need to provide both adults and children with opportunities to understand and experience the importance of engaging with the dance of the divine, through the creative space of flow. We need to provide opportunities for them to enter an experiential relationship with God. For them to awaken to the potential of themselves, through the love and light of Christ’s presence via the movement of the Holy Spirit through participation in acts of creativity.’

 

The Line

To create you require a line.  The line begins with a dot.  The dot began with a movement.  The movement began with intent.  Intent began with a thought.  The thought came from where?

The line fascinates me.  Even this written word begins with a line.  The power of the word is monumental.  The line, spoken or written can start wars or end wars.  Inspire, enrage, kill or bring joy and love.  A line – all that has been designed – it all began with a dot and a line.

And long after the line has gone, disintegrated, disappeared, its effect can still be felt in the heart; good or bad.

Working at The Convent – ‘The Perfect Storm’

As I begin to articulate my thoughts and ideas about creating work from the amazing space that is The Convent I’m finding I have a problem. The same problem I’m finding with my artwork.  It isn’t writer’s, or artist’s block.  It isn’t lack of ideas or inspiration.  It is the question, ‘Where the hell to begin?’!

To be given the opportunity to work within, and be inspired by, such an incredible space and place, brings me to a halt.  It is overwhelming, there is so much there to work with!  To begin with there is the history, the memories and the energy held within such a beautiful space and building – it oozes out of every tiny pore of the place.  The people who lived there, who prayed there, who died there.  The energy of endless prayer and intent and connection to God.  And now comes the music.  The people who visit the place, live there, create there, play there.  The endless energy of creativity.  And now art.  My art.  Waiting to and beginning to be created from connecting to all that was, and all that is, The Convent.  It has created the perfect storm for me.  Spirituality, music and art combined together in the same space.  This is what makes me tick…  All three coming from the same creative space of Infinite Potential.  The space of the Creative Spark.

For music, art and spirituality do not come from the mind, they come from the heart.  From the connection to all that is.  We can read all of the books, we can learn all of the skills, we can practice all we like.  But until what is held within the mind travels down to the heart and combines with creative potential it will not be truly creative.  It will be a projection of what the mind believes to be creative.  It will be a reconstituted repetition of that which has been experienced or produced before.  Until the heart and the empty space of creative potential has been brought into the mix it will lack something.  The vibration of authenticity.  You can’t quantify what this is.  It can’t be vocalised, rationalised, explained or documented.  There is no formula.  The vibration of authenticity comes from the heart, and can only be felt in the heart.  We may be able to describe in part what makes a piece of music or art authentic; but not fully.  We can sense it, we can hear or see it, and we know when it is there.  We also can sense when it is not.

For me the fascination is where this creativity takes place.  The empty space of Creative Potential.  The space in which I believe we also connect to the Divine.  Creative Potential – the place of infinite possibility…..

So this is where I am, pondering some hefty questions about life itself ….  As when you place a perfect storm into the mind of a creative for whom it suits, you can hear the explosion of thought for miles!  But once the dust settles and these thoughts travel to my heart and find the space which holds my creative potential, I know clarity of direction will emerge.  You see, it’s not lack of ideas – it’s too many!!  So until one idea triumphs I shall wrestle with them all!

The Chapel - The Convent - Mel Cross      The Chapel - The Convent - Mel Cross

‘Behind the line’ Exhibition 2015

Exhibition 2  Behind the Line Exhibition - Mel Cross  Behind the line exhibition  

My ‘Behind the Line’ exhibition was one which brought me many things to think about…  When is a work really finished?  Is it okay to exhibit experiments? Is it okay to exhibit extracts of sketchbooks?  Is it okay to exhibit written pieces alongside visual works?  What are the rules?….  I decided all of this was okay and created an exhibition showing processes, sketches, automatic writing and finished works all mixed with each other.  And to my delight it was really well received.  The ‘behind the scenes’ and  ‘inside the mind’ of an artist approach caused a great deal of discussion and debate, and really helped the not so confident or proficient explorers of art.  Everyone seemed to feel so much less intimidated and much more able to engage with and discuss all of the pieces of work… And this made me really happy.  To engage people who would not usually engage with art was a joy and an honour. Surely this is what we should all aim to do?  To encourage ordinary folk to explore and interact with art, rather than keep it as an exclusive ‘members only’ club.  Surely its better to expand ones audience and ones audience’s minds than it is to intimidate and alienate, which is so often the case with so many galleries.  As an artist it can often be intimidating, let alone if you are taking your first tentative steps into the world of Art…. So I say ‘balls’ to the rules, do it your own way and engage, engage, engage!!!