The Rev. Dr. Carol P. Vaccariello
The second story informing this painting of Transforming Journey deeply connects to a personal experience.
In 2010 I was on Pilgrimage to Tamil Nadu in the south of India. During the one month that I lived in the Hindu-Christian Ashram, Shantivanam, the third week was spent in silence. On Wednesday, the mid-point of the silent week, I was in my very simple concrete block room. The window opening had strong vertical bars to keep the wild life on the outside. There were no screens or windows. The bed was a simple board with a straw mattress. Above the bed hung essential mosquito netting. I had one small candle. I climbed into the bed and secured the mosquito netting around the edges of the bed.
As I entered the hypnagogic state of consciousness which is between wakefulness and sleep, I experienced a vision. At that time in my life, there were three spirit guides with whom I worked. Usually they would show up individually, whenever I needed them. Each of them came for a specific reason. On this night, all three showed up together. This was quite strange and I wondered about this. Then each of them changed their usual appearance and all became as tongues of dancing flames in a pit of fire. It was beautiful to see and somewhat terrifying. They were having a great time dancing in the fire and actually being fire.
Then they called out to me, “Come on, Carol, Jump in.”
“No way!” I answered. “I don’t want to be annihilated by the fire.”
They continued their dancing and laughing. Once again they called out to me, “Come on, jump in!”
“No way,” I repeated. “I don’t want to be destroyed.” I had a difficult time understanding what was going on. These spirit guides had always been trusted and I knew I could count on them no matter what. Now everything felt different as they laughed and laughed dancing like little fire sprites.
Again, they called out, “You don’t understand. You won’t be destroyed. When you jump into this Fire, you become Fire!”
I jumped in and fell asleep.
The next morning, as was our practice, we came to the gathering-space for our time of shared prayer which consisted of chanting, movement and dancing. I participated fully as I always did.
Saturday morning, it was time to break the week-long silence. We met in the gathering-space where we had been sharing our morning prayer time together. Each one took a turn sharing their week-long journey with silence. Since many were former students and most were my junior, I withheld sharing. This has always been my practice. Since I have had more experience than most, I honor their opportunity to share without making comparisons with a seasoned pilgrim. When they were finished sharing and the gathering was being drawn to a close, one of the members looked at me and said, “Carol, aren’t you going to share?”
I was surprised by the question. Never before had anyone asked specifically for me to share.
She continued, “You’ve got to tell us what happened. On Thursday morning when we were in here for morning prayer, you were radiant, you were glowing. Aren’t you going to tell us what happened?”
I was truly amazed by this observation and inquiry. Being taken by surprise, I conceded to share the event of Wednesday evening.
All these years later, it is still as fresh in my memory as if it happened last night.
When viewing the painting, Transforming Journey, please note in the middle at the bottom of the canvas. After I completed this painting, I saw them there. I count five dancing flames with a darker one in the center. I know who four of them are. I wonder who the fifth is and who the central one is. I didn’t intend to paint them. I hadn’t even thought about this memory while creating this painting. This is the second time that they have manifested in a piece of meditative art that I have created. This is the first time that they have shown up in a piece that will be publicly viewed. Today’s date is February 14, 2017. A day for Radical Loving. A day, in a time, that demands we make the Transforming Journey to Become Fire!
End of Story Two
The Reverend Doctor Carol P. Vaccariello, obl