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Friday 23 August 2019
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Seeking the Still Spaces or Why I Chose a Rothko Calendar for 2019

I flip the calendar over to February. January has vanished. Most of the Christmas decorations around town are finally down, although a few scraps of green and red peer sheepishly from a roof or yard. The fervor of New Year’s resolutions have either completely burned out or become,  just a part of the daily struggle. We are in the fullness of winter now. Where I live in northeastern, Pennsylvania, snow has fallen, and deep freezes have come. Even on warmer and sunnier days when the high winter sun almost blinds us, only the bones of things are seen. Trees stand naked, porches are bare of furniture and gardens have retreated into the ground. The weather leads us inside our houses and minds for reflection. But like everything, this season is impermanent. Though the cold days feel like they will never end, they always do.

Selecting my calendar each year is an important ritual for me, since it will greet me from the wall of my kitchen every day, and capture the details of my life. I always pick one that reflects what I am feeling in December, and what I would like to explore in the new year. For 2019 , this revolves around further study of “moods”; those shifting emotive states sometimes scary sometimes euphoric and all shades in between that always acrobat incessantly in my mind. Those gods and demons that have made me a seeker through days and decades, in search of the still spaces in between them. Trying not to reject or embrace them or believe their promises or threats but to greet them like the weather, as only moments of a constantly changing present.

And so I chose 12 months of Mark Rothko’s (1903-70) meditative canvases with his blocks of colors that are never solid, but contain within them subtle shades that challenge you. Changing depending on the light. The bands of light and dark meet at the edges. They are moody and mysterious able to hold the dark and the light simultaneously.

The featured work for February is an untitled one from 1948 with two red ovalesque shapes slightly off center with other colors and shapes swirling behind them. Perhaps chosen by the editors with a nod to Valentine’s Day. February 1st was the second of the four major Celtic festivals, Imbolc, known as St. Brigid’s Day in the Christian tradition. This day was celebrated because it marked the time when the light begins to return. The heart of Celtic New Year begins in October with the Samhain Festival. For the ancient Celts the year began in darkness and moved towards the light. But one was not more important. They were intimately connected.

Soon February will become March and April and so on. The days and my moods will change around this wheel of time, and I will continue my own New Year’s resolution to move toward the still spaces where I can experience this immense and complex process of life in all its complex colors.




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