Artwork by Maureen Carlson
                    Text and photo © Maureen Carlson 2010

Be Still 

My sculptures usually come from words and phrases that pair themselves with images. Such is the case with this piece.  I heard once that there is great value in being still,
that action is not the only choice.  In fact, there might be great harm in doing something just to do it, or in being busy just to prove oneís worth. I paired that thought with these
 words that a student posted on the quotation wall at my retreat center: You canít keep the birds from flying overhead but you donít have to let them nest in your hair. 

 And so I thought about being still and taking action.  How about a woman who stays still long enough for birds to build a nest in her hair?  Though it most certainly would create
a story to tell over morning coffee, it wouldnít seem to me to be the best use of her time.  Granted, being still that long would surely give her time to listen to her heart and soul
and, perhaps, connect with the mysteries that are at the center of existence.  But, just as surely, there would come a time when the birds, even if they were talismans from the Gods,
would need to be turned out so that she could get on with the everyday activities of being human. 

I finished the sculpture and thought that I had the answer to its question, that one must sometimes choose action and at other times choose the act of being still.  Then I looked at the
sculpture again and how the woman was concentrating in the moment in order to balance the nest on her head, and I wondered if she was saying to me that there is a third way, the way
of being still and taking action at the same time.  Stillness in the center of the tornado.  The calm heart in the center of chaos.  The knowing in the midst of the mysteries.  The coexistence
of doing and being that is the well-lived life.  

I looked, and I listened, and I knew that this was true.

Maureen Carlson