whole: day 13

She who is centered in the Source*

can go where she wishes, without danger.

She perceives the universal harmony,

even amid great pain,

because she has found peace in her heart.

Tao Te Ching ((cited in The Rule of Benedict, Joan Chittister (210))

* This line reads ‘She who is centered in the Tao’ in Chittister’s citation, but I have translated ‘Tao’ here as ‘Source’.

I have recently learnt a little about Sashiko, the Japanese art of stitching patches, either for decorative or functional purposes, whether to mend a hole in a pair of jeans or to make ceremonial quilt.  Single stitches are built up into geometric patterns, and different patches can be layered up to make new fabrics out of old.  It is of necessity a slow and thoughtful, ‘mindful’, art.

It struck me that Sashiko might have something to teach me about knowingdarkly.  Sashiko is about piecing and mending, about new creation, about revelation and resurrection.  Sashiko artists have a type of innate visual intelligence, the ability to glimpse a possibility of a whole to be made out of what is currently only pieces.  

In Visual Intelligence: Sharpen your Perception, Change your Life, Amy E. Herman defines visual intelligence as ‘the ability to see what’s there that others don’t, to see what’s not there that should be, to see the positives and the negatives, the opportunity, the invention, the upside, the warning signs, the quickest way, the way out, the win.’

absorb nuance

Yet if I am to be able to see and know what is whole, what is holy, I am going to need to practice seeing slowly.  As Herman says,

Slowing down doesn’t mean being slow, it just means taking a few minutes to absorb what we are seeing. Details, patterns, relationships, take time to register. Nuances and new information can be missed if we rush past them. Slowing down just a little can change a lot. And in many cases, it’s the small, purpose-filled moments that make all the difference in building relationships, securing business, and winning trust.

Whilst I don’t think in ‘winning’ language, I have found that slower seeing helps knowingdarkly considerably.  Slower seeing allows minute details to emerge in my foreground, others to merge into the background.  I am able to see variation. I am able to glimpse the potential of my patch of the quilt being part of a larger creation, even when I cannot encompass the whole.  Quilting, slow stitching, piecing and patching, all these bring a spiritual function, where each individual stitch, no matter how simple, can become a prayer.  

As an act of both mending and making, prayer is both beautiful and useful.  

Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart.  Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.

Carl Jung

I will believe the truth about myself

no matter how beautiful it is:

I believe in my power

to transform indifference into love.

I believe I have and amazing gift

to keep hope alive in the face of despair.

I believe I have the remarkable skill 

of deleting bitterness from my life.

I believe in my budding potential

to live with a nonviolent heart.

I believe in my passion to speak the truth

even when it isn’t popular.

I believe I have the strength of will

to be peace in a world violence.

I believe in my miraculous capacity

for unconditional love.

I will believe the truth about myself

no matter how beautiful it is.

‘The Truth’

Macrina Wiederkehr

slow marks i. (lino print Kate Kennington Steer)

slow marks ii. (iPhone image)

Published by Kate Kennington Steer

writer, photographer and visual artist

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