Grief is a sacred journey

A Painting, a Pyramid, and my Longing

Elephant

Mirroring the one-eyed elephant

“I brought you a gift,” my daughter-in-law Liz said the day after the launch party for Leaning into Love. She seemed unusually shy.

“Really, Liz? Another gift? You gave me the gift of driving from North Carolina to celebrate.”

Liz handed me a large package, light and packed for protection.

“I commissioned this from my friend Renee Schuls-Jacobson,” Liz said as I unwrapped. “Renee and I have known each other for years and I thought she would create something you’d like.” I pulled out a powerful elephant portrait with one wise eye holding calm and steady in the midst of swirling energy.

I inspected every detail, admiring the painting up close and at a distance. “I love it, Liz,” I said. I remembered the temple elephants in India who stayed calm despite blaring horns and pushing people. They didn’t get rattled. I needed elephant energy.

Liz and David packing up

Liz and David packing up

Anthony and Veronica

Anthony and Veronica

Women on the job

Women on the job

David and Liz headed for North Carolina early Sunday morning. Around noon, my younger son Anthony, Veronica, and I headed to the designated pyramid site. (To read part one of our adventures, see A Book Launch, an Engagement, and a Pyramid.) Veronica mastered every tool from a pick ax to a post hole digger. She looked great in my work boots. They kept digging while I drove the tractor back to the barn to pick up the artist Keenan Nielboch and friends Anya and Jerry. Keenan did some last minute polishing before they loaded the pyramid, bags of cement, and buckets of water into the wagon.

DSC08499 DSC08510

DSC08516When we got back to the woods, Anthony and Veronica had dug four feet down. The crew mixed and poured cement into the hole. They centered the pyramid support, leveling and bracing with wooden beams. A little techno music and dancing accompanied installation. They are Burning Man buddies, after all.

DSC08520DSC08530DSC08547A few days later, I hung the elephant painting on the wall above my desk and walked out to admire the pyramid. The cement was dry, but I hadn’t shoveled gravel into the hole underneath the pyramid or removed the supports. I tugged at the wooden beams to see if they were loose, but they didn’t budge. My husband Vic would have removed them days before, but I couldn’t find the will to do it alone. DSC08549

I stood back to admire the pyramid and imagine it floating above the earth as it will when the supports gone. Six years after his death, my heart ached for Vic. I longed to admire the pyramid with him and share stories about elephants and our creative family.

***

If you’d like to read more about why my family loves elephants, you’ll like Ganesha: Patron of Writers and Lord of Beginnings. elephant blessings, you’ll enjoy Ganesh. For more about the family book launch weekend and the pyramid, read A Book Launch, an Engagement, and a Pyramid.

23 Comments
  1. Wow, Elaine. This pyramid is so different. I can’t wait to see how this all turns out. You must have been reeling with all the company and help. So much excitement, so many gifts. Now that things have quieted down and the house has emptied out, I hope you’re enjoying some peace. Wishing you good cheer and good quiet.

    • It was a wild, wild weekend and I was reeling. I loved having everyone here and wasn’t sad to wave goodbye–knowing I’ll see them again in December. Yes, peace now with a constant focus on nailing the TEDx talk and figuring out what to write next. Always a new task.
      Love,
      Elaine

  2. Dear Elaine, Your descriptions are so vivid. I feel like I was there helping you all. I hope someday soon to come visit you and see the Elephant.
    Love,
    Cindy

  3. Ooooh, Elaine, what a beautiful weekend. And I love the painting — and so cool is the pyramid also. Yes, a very creative and giving family!!

    • Thanks for your comment, Peggy. A beautiful weekend with much more action than my usual quiet life. Did all that really happen just a few weeks ago? It did. I’m grateful to my fun loving, generous family. And to friends like you.

  4. Oh my goodness, what an exciting weekend it must have been, and that elephant painting is gorgeous! I love elephants, and all things Egyptian. Will have to check the link you posted about Ganesha, and I look forward to seeing more pictures of your pyramid. Such a wonderfully creative family you all are. I love it! 🙂

    • Thank you, Gisele. No poets in my family though. One of my sons had an outdoor elephant mural commissioned for his wedding. That’s elephant love. I didn’t mention it in this short blog, but I’ve been studying mythology for over 25 years with a women’s class. We spent well over two years studying Egyptian myths with a focus on the Goddesses. I loved it.

      • Elaine, I’ve always had an interest in mythology–and studying Egyptian Goddesses, that must have been so fascinating! I must have lived in Egypt in a past life because everything about it draws me in. Is it the same group of women you’ve been studying with for the last 25 years?

        I once wrote an article about cats and the Goddess Bast, too. LOVED doing research for that one! 🙂

        • Gisele, yes, the same group–at least some are the same. We have 10 in the group now and it has shifted over time, but some have been part of it since the beginning. We began studying Greek mythology from a Jungian perspective (Eros and Psyche was first). We spend years digging into something. We base our work on texts, but include art work, writing, movement, rituals, all sorts of things. We spent time with a few potent fairytales and spending years exploring Inanna and Mesopotamian myth. The Egyptian Goddess exploration was more recent. Yes to Bast! We took “field trips” to New York City to the Met and the Brooklyn Museum to explore the huge Egyptian connections. Bast rules at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I’m glad to have this shared interest.

          • Ohhhh, that sounds absolutely AMAZING! If I lived in your area, I might just crash your study group. LOL! 🙂

  5. Elaine, I identified completely with your longing to share all the art and other good things in your life with Vic. I still yearn to do the same with Adrian. Time doesn’t seem to matter.

    Lynne

    • No time doesn’t matter, although grief used to knock me to the ground and now it’s a quieter longing. I’m curious about your new project, Lynne. I guess I’ll find out in time.
      Best to you,
      Elaine

  6. So many emotions in this post, Elaine. I love how you and your family and friends bring art, mythology, and symbolism into the milestones of your lives.

    And art always brings out the longing also: “A thing of beauty is a joy forever. . .”

    And it always reminds us of the one who made every beautiful thing better.

    Blessings on the TEDx talk, Elaine. I’m keenly interested.

    • Shirley, I’m used to a quiet, sometimes too quiet, life, so I was tired when everyone left and grateful for silence. We made so much happen in a few days. My sons and their ladies are creative and giving. I felt the sense of a “joy forever” with the pyramid. It’s made of steel, so it isn’t going anywhere for a long time. It belongs to the land. When we’re lucky, the beauty of art and nature connects us to the Divine Essence.

      Thanks for TEDx blessings. I’m trying to relax into it, so today I stood in the woods where Vic’s ashes are buried and gave the talk to the trees. They were an attentive audience and I got the sense of talking with many. I enjoyed myself (and laughed at myself), but I’ll do it again.

  7. I will see you and the Elephant on Saturday!

    • Yes, you will, Coach. I just commented that I gave the talk in the woods today. I liked making eye/heart contact with oaks and maples. They were attentive and encouraging. Good thing to do at Lammas.

  8. Mama E, I’m so glad you like the Elephant and the Pyramid! Great additions and great energy and great weekend! Looking forward to being together again soon. Much love, Liz

    • It’s a beauty, Liz, and I like it more all the time. She’s hanging over my desk now, keeping an eye on me. I decided this wise elephant holds the feminine wise crone energy that knows how to stay centered in the chaos of life. Good medicine for me. I’ll never forget the love and beauty of your gift. Just having you in my life is gift enough.

  9. The painting is just breathtaking, Elaine, and the pyramid is a beautiful addition to your land. Most of all, though, what I feel in this post is LOVE. Love of family and friends; your two adoring sons and their partners. Clearly these are men who had very special parents that succeeded in raising two loving, gracious sons. And how fitting that each of them has found a partner equally as loving and gracious. You are certainly blessed, and oh how proud Vic must be. I will be sending love and light as you prepare for the TEDx talk, which will no doubt be an overwhelming success.

    With love,
    Ann

    • Thanks for your confidence in me and also for the good wishes for the TEDx talk. It’s the countdown. Five more days. I practice, practice, and practice more. It’s up to The Muses now. Most of all, thanks for the lovely review of my book. I look forward to reviewing yours and I imagine there will be one some day.

      David and Anthony have been incredibly supportive. They were very close to their dad, so this has been a challenging transition for them, too. It’s great to have powerful young women join the family. Wonderful addition!

      With love and gratitude,
      Elaine

  10. Elaine you always bring us in to your stories with your wonderful use of words. I love the elephant painting, I always thought them to symbolize good luck, providing the trunk was up. There’s a lot to be said for pyramid power and your are blessed with the circle you keep around you. xo

    Deb

    • Hi Debby,
      I hope you’re surfacing from your ordeal, but it must be packing time. I hope you have a little delay in that move.
      The Indian God Ganesha is definitely a god of good fortune–and the patron deity of writers. He’s a good one to have on our team.
      I know how lucky I am to have such a supportive family, intense as they sometimes are.
      Warmly,
      Elaine

Leave a Reply