Sunday, March 30, 2014

Art, Home and Voice

The Hands of Time Sculptures - by Crystal Przybille
Photo by Gillian Cornwall - Victoria, BC 

Having just moved my home across town, thoughts around place, creativity and belonging have been swirling through me. It was of concern to me to ensure that the party with whom I live is fully aware of my need for time and space to write and the freedom to work uninterrupted for hours on end. This is no small task for two people in a one bedroom apartment but, thus far, all is well.  

All of this brought me to reconsider a piece I wrote a number of years ago. I have reformed it and brought it forth once again for your consideration:

Imagine you live on the street. Where is your venue for self-expression? Do you care or is it entirely off your radar because your focus is grounded in the most basic elements of survival? Perhaps you are cold, hungry, afraid, ill, addicted and desperate in the act of surviving another day. Some people are without society's concept of home by choice - but I would dare to say that this is a very small number. Some people on the street have homes but cannot go to them because they are less safe than the street. Those homes represent abuse - mental, physical, sexual and psychological. 

I do know that many people who are living without the construct of walls and roof are not seen by those of us who do live within these constructs. I do know many housed people who haven't been in the downtown core for a year or more and they have no concept of how or why anybody could possibly be living on the streets. 

"Aren't their services for 'those people'? Aren't 'they' taken care of with our tax dollars?"

Well, 'those people' are our brothers and sisters, our mothers and fathers and our children. They are our community elders. They are victims of violence, government cutbacks, mental illness and addiction. 'Those people' are of the universal energy that makes up every one of us; they are us. 

Living outside the boundaries of  what we deem to be normal society can come with the price of not being seen - by anyone. You are outside the realm of others vision of acceptability. You are incomprehensible by the nature of your situation and too difficult to look at, so passers-by choose to select you as unseen. If you are not seen, do you question your place in the world? Do you drift outside of yourself or do you drift progressively inward? I imagine each situation is as individual as each one of us.

I do know that, for me, art (be it writing or visual art) allows me to examine my interconnection with the world through self-expression. I would love to see everyone have the opportunity and safe space to engage in this kind of self-expression, the opportunity to be seen and heard through these media if they choose. For far too long, I have been toying with the idea of getting some art and writing supplies donated to Our Place, just to give people the option of giving it a go if they so choose.  

I think it would be totally cool if they were willing to have their work posted on-line and on walls. I do not want to speak for others; rather, I think it would be great to hear the voices of those who can utilize a safe way to speak. Could this be a conduit through which we might all become a little closer to one another, a little more understanding of each other's paths?

I do believe that self-expression is integral to our well-being and as necessary to life as the act of breathing. A picture truly can be worth a thousand words and there is poetry in them there streets. Let us be conduits for each other's voices. Let us stand together with our hearts, ears and eyes open to one another. Let us love without fear. 

If you have thoughts on this post and ideas on how to facilitate it or, if you want to help out, please leave a comment and I'll get back to you in short order. Alternatively, contact Our Place directly if you want to help out in Victoria, B.C.. If you are in another city, there are organizations everywhere that desperately require your help - be it financial or in goods or services. 

May love flow freely as a fountain and may you always be full.

-Gillian Cornwall, c. March 30, 2014

The Hands of Time Sculptures - by Crystal Przybille
Photo by Gillian Cornwall - Victoria, BC

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Change Comes

 The Blossoms on Meares - Victoria BC
Gillian Cornwall, March 2014

Magnolia Life - University of Victoria, BC
Gillian Cornwall, March 2011

 Change, like breath, comes. It happens, with or without us - regardless of our like or dislike. I find solace in the minutiae. I pass a tree, plodding to a meeting, its fuzzy buds full to bursting with coming life, pregnant like pussy willows on steroids. I pass back an hour later, finding half sprung forth, like myriad silk tongues, paper white and still wrinkled from the cramped wombs from which they have been released. I wonder who saw this tree birth like popcorn all a-sudden and I wonder, if I stood stalk still, a tree among trees, could I sneak a peak at this arboreal miracle of life? But no time for miracles, I'm already late for my return and I trundle dutifully back to my cubicle, a giant playpen without the play, without sun, without natural light from sky nor spirit.

I push homeward down my street, lined with deep green grass and replete with a blossom blizzard as the spring winds chase through the cherries and the plums and I wonder how we do not fall to our knees with the wonder of it all, in awe of the miracle of life before us and within us.

These are the moments I cherish, with each and every breath, in this sweet, sweet life where even as I write this, the cat stretches, deep in sleep, exploring a universe that is hers alone to wander in wonder. 

My heart soars and I am in need of nothing. I offer my love to all from the fountain of life that knows no bounds.  

-Gillian Cornwall, March 23, 2014

Princess in Dreamland - Victoria, BC
Gillian Cornwall, March 2013

The Wonder of Spring - Victoria, BC
Gillian Cornwall, March 2013

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Opposite of Love

Time to Blossom - Victoria BC
Gillian Cornwall, c. April 2011

The opposite of love is not hate.
The opposite of love is fear. 
Hate is a bi-product of fear.
These are not emotions.
They are states of being.

You may choose the state in which you wish to be
for we are energy; we are the state.

Love will bring you fluidity, freedom, fullness and well-being.

Fear will still you. Fear will keep you brittle.
It is a state in which you can find yourself broken, trapped and unwell.

Move into love with your doors and windows wide open.
Let a gentle breeze glide through you in your house of love.
Shift and flow as all things in nature do.

Every moment is a miracle to live and be love.

-Gillian Cornwall, c. March 16, 2014.

 Over the Rooftops, Spring Flight - Victoria BC
Gillian Cornwall, c. April, 2011

Saturday, March 08, 2014


 The Treetops - Victoria, BC
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2011

two birds top the pines
alight on the day

they sway

where to from here?
they chirp, they cheer

the world bends an ear
awaiting a hint
in the event
that they know 
a damn thing

when they sing

they swing, splay, stay

fly away

this thing
this life
it's enough

it's just fine
not to know
it's okay
it's okay

a breath
a breeze
this heart
this mind
this bird
this day

Gillian Cornwall, c. March 9, 2014.
West Coast Sunset - Victoria, BC
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2012

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Collective Light

 Arbutus Branch - Salt Spring Island
Gillian Cornwall, c. 2011

In the course of the past week, I have been fortunate to cross paths with a number of exceptionally talented people, people who have dedicated their lives to performing great acts of love in the face of fear. They are all activists, people who bear witness to truth and, as writers, record truth, both their own and others. They facilitate a path of change to those willing to open their hearts, to face their fears and to fill the space once held captive by fear, with love. 

When we think of issues such as climate change, war, violence, hate crimes, physical adversity and personal challenges, the solution to all of this is, quite simply, love and the willingness to live in our truth in the face of our fears.

Fear of difference, fear of the unknown, with a response of anger, hate and violence has never brought satisfactory resolution to any of the issues mentioned above. 

Last weekend at WordsThaw writing symposium at the University of Victoria, I listened to Gary Geddes, a lifelong writer, activist and defender of love in the face of fear, speak of a woman in Africa he had spent a great deal of time interviewing. She had suffered at the hands of men who had cut off her ears, nose and lips. When Gary Geddes asked her what she would have done to the perpetrators of this crime against her, she replied with one of the greatest acts of love I have ever heard. She said she would have them returned to their families as they were only boys when they were taken and forced to be child soldiers. She believed they needed to go home, to be given an opportunity to heal from what they had done and the life into which they had been forced. 

Andrew Weaver also spoke at the symposium I attended. Andrew lays truth, science, proven facts and evidence of climate change before industry, government and the world at large, and often receives a response of denial, ignorance and hate. His work and his words are all acts of love for the world as activism, through study, education, science and hard work. In the face of so much fear and hate, he continues to walk his path, his lantern held high for those who remain in darkness, regardless of whether or not the darkness is a result of ignorance, denial or attempts to extinguish the flame of truth.

Silken Laumann recently released her book, Unsinkable. I purchased it yesterday, delighted to have crossed paths with her in Russell Books in Victoria, BC. Our encounter, further proof that if we pay attention and live with intent, that which we need and desire may present itself to us in love and kindness. Our conversation centered around this concept of acts of love in the face of fear. Silken is a woman of great courage, strength and honesty who has chosen to share her memoir, an intensely personal and honest story of her life. It is a story of her path through fear and love, in the face of great physical and psychological adversity. She holds a lantern for us to see the path she has taken and continues to take and, in doing so, casts light upon our own. 

How joyful and blessed I am to have spent time with these three people in the last week. There is inspiration and drive for me in knowing that my work is meaningful, that I have company on my journey and that I too facilitate a path of love in the face of fear.

May the ripples we make, as our hands join in the waters of life, reach everyone with love. May kindness become the way as we realize we are one energy, one light, one love, unabashed in the beauty of life itself. 

Please read the works of these three amazing people:

Gary Geddes most recent work - What Does A House Want? by Red Hen Press 

 -Gillian Cornwall, c. March 2, 2014.

The Ironwood Path - Lana'i, Hawaii
Gillian Cornwall, c. December 2012.