The uncontrollable nature of grief and forgiveness (or lack there of)
plus source writings

Art League Houston

Exhibition January 18-March 8, 2013
Artist Talk 6:30 pm

Kathryn Kelley

Installation title
The uncontrollable nature of grief and forgiveness (or lack there of)

Two primary portions of the installation

I dissolve my fabricated seatings
deconstructed domestic thresholds [doors]. 2013.

The barren plains of back turned could have beens [monsters in the attic]
Remnant rubber, baling wire, deconstructed domestic thresholds [doors]. 2012-13


it whispers my name

as the ache
swells in me
there is a splintering
at the horizon of today
fragments of yesterday
and tomorrow

and i listen at this abyss
as the beyond beckons me
with its urgency and passion

i open my splintered self to it
and it whispers
my name

naming me with its soul quieting sounds of stillness

faintly the remembered wind whispers
naming me with its soul quieting
sounds of stillness
it gently touches flutteringly with its caress
across my dried salt streaked cheeks and
as i allow it, the space opens to me

even from yesterday and before tomorrow
lips blow breath far into my future
carrying me from the weight of another
wound filled thought
whispering comfort to me even now
lifting from me my mountain, my seas
as i sit still in this weightless moment
with tendrilled strands gently
stirring the surface of my face
my fingers hushed and dirty with making
i carry the wind this autumn day

I dissolve my fabricated seatings

I have this table
bare laid built of soul
one where I repeatedly
in my recesses
draw those I love

I have them here
against their spoken wills
as I awaken I latch on to their stay
naked in heart speaking pleading
I hear my own whines

they pushed back a bit ago
not righting their chairs
nor to draw up again
yet their memory flattened
I strap upon these seatings not their own

this morning with usual effort
i dissolve these fabricated chair seatings
with straps of intimate mind musings

i set afresh the table
spilling it with sun risen scents
of just turned soils
i glide my hands
furrowing rich long runners
where water from spilled crystal
seeps still and the sun’s glance
splinters gracefully

i flare my nostrils
with the fertile ripeness
await in acceptance of unacceptance
listening even now again
for the ever drifting scents
of the emergent

i dissolve these fabricated chair seatings
with my hands deep amid turned soil

will i continue to prepare my internal ground
for the day I leap, fall or trip over
the edge of my unreadiness.

counter to much of my research into both mainline faith and non-faith based psychobabble and spirituality, i simply believe that forgiveness, giving and receiving, is simply not solely an internal work within the self for the benefit of…the self.

a reduction of hostility is not forgiveness; it is simply an abatement of hostility within…the self.

tolerance is not forgiveness; it is simply the edge of the abyss of hatred.
whether falling into or climbing out of, tolerance is simply a standing at the edge of an emotional abyss within…the self.

a mental no longer holding against is not forgiveness; it is simply a letting go within…the self.

no longer needing to proclaim the other’s offense is not forgiveness; it is simply a subsiding in the need to profess one’s deep woundedness. it is a slow settling within…the self.

an internal empathy, an understanding, of/for another’s real or perceived offense is not forgiveness;
it is simply an internal expansion of compassion within…the self.

the diminishing of vivid emotions is not forgiveness; it is simply a waning of memory, and/or a waning of negative energy within…the self.

moving on in one’s life is not forgiveness; it is simply moving on for…the self.

to stop punishing another or one’s self is not forgiveness; it is simply an abatement in the pursuit of the punitive.

silence is not forgiveness; it is simply withheld words.

the passage of time is not forgiveness (and does not heal); it is simply the ticking clock in which memory fades within… the self.

words are not forgiveness; they are simply empty vessels, symbols, vehicles to potentially carry amazing, mundane, or hurtful meaning.

many of these things are good and necessary. in them is the preparation of the ground within, yes, the self. from this ground is the place in which forgiveness to be given, to be received, may spring.

forgiveness is not just an ego-centrical work, it is far more, far harder, far more powerful, far scarier.

it would be nice to believe that forgiveness is simply an internal work–that is safe, it is easier to hold onto than the truly frightening work of forgiveness. faith based and non-faith based psycho/spiritual babble would like to tickle my ears with forgiveness as purely an internal work, a work of self improvement, self health, spiritual obedience. that is incomplete and rings with the sounds of hollow clanging cymbals.

i realize there are some exceptions. there are truly some people who forgiveness may only play out internally and it is a hard, powerful work in its own unique way. as much as many of us would like to believe because of our enormous hurt and fear that we are in the realm of the exception, that forgiveness can only be an internal work, it simply is not true.

forgiveness is very hard work. it is hugely risky for its pursuit and outcome can not be predicted. it is actually quite uncommon. i like to believe we are a forgiving people, but most things i/we claim as forgiveness are simply the forerunner, necessary but incomplete in and of themselves. most of stop with one or more of these internal forerunners because it is socially acceptable. others pat you or i on the back for being such a tolerant, forgiving person. we’ll feel like we are a little better for and we’ll walk away. yet if we are honest with ourselves, we know we have begun the work it hangs half finished. we know.

when i am old, i will regret the incompleteness, the loss of opportunity, the absence of things that may have played out differently if i’d found my way to walk more fully into forgiveness. yet with that age, I will be merciful with and forgive myself for the incapacities and lack of courage in my woundings. i will be kind with my regrets. perhaps if the other still lives, we will find the courage to workout forgiveness.

forgiveness is a terribly uneasy work. it is scary. it is risky. it alters the path of those involved. it changes the future. it softens the blows of memory.

what will forgiveness really bring? i do not know for it is not to be controlled or predicted. it cannot be manipulated. i can hope for goodness it might bring; but it may not bring goodness? will the process of forgiveness heal or rip open? bring peace or conflict? subside pain or increase? calm or expand anxiety? alter future courses or hold steady? ease memory or harden it? change relationships or lock them down? build something new or replicate the old? sever or create bridges? open me to compassion or close me in? mercy or coldness? love or tolerance? will it move me out of our self or into? will it create humility or pride filled? open or defensive? strip falseness away or create more? expose a more whole truth or diminish it? will it create hope or dash it? will it open eyes or close them? will it give, take away or both? will it move me closer to the divine or distance us? will i only be more frightened or brave? more at risk or safer? more codependent or interdependent? more doormatish or welcoming?

what does forgiveness bring? anything? nothing? likely the unknown? is it worth the uneasy internal preparation of our ground of being or not? is it worth following through or not? is the risk worth taking or not? what might forgiveness bring? i do not know for it’s outcome cannot be controlled, managed, predicted or manipulated.

am i doing the work to prepare my internal ground? will i ever be ready enough? probably not. as with most things in my life worth doing, i am never ready enough, smart enough, knowledgeable enough, wise enough, undefensive enough, open enough, loving enough, compassionate enough, healed enough, humble enough, stable enough, silent enough, clearly spoken enough, know myself enough or the other. i am never enough. they will never be enough. i am never ready, i simply leap or have tried and sometimes i don’t even leap. sometimes i get knocked or trip over the edge of my unreadiness. it scares the hell out of me. it scares the hell out of me that i might leap, fall, trip before i am enough, before they are enough. i know when i start to land, i will be glad i got knocked, tripped or lept over the edge of my unreadiness.

i will continue to prepare my internal ground for the day i leap, fall or trip over the edge of my unreadiness? or someone leaps, falls or trips into my unreadiness. yes, preparing my ground is what i think i am and should be doing. it will not be enough, it never will be, but it is all i can do. and forgiveness has never been about being enough; no one is ever enough to forgive or be forgiven.