When I was in college I read books by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Hesse, DH Lawrence, Jean Shinoda Bolen, Anais Nin, Henry Miller, EM Forster, Ruth Benedict, Paulo Freire, Philip Kapleau, Lao Tzu, Huston Smith, Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell…….on and on. Many were on self discovery. Many on psychology and education. Others on travel and anthropology. I loved them all. Each helped me learn and grow. All of them made me think and wonder.
At that time, Clarissa Pinkola Estes was one author who made me think deeply. Made me challenge myself. She is a psychologist and powerful writer who challenges women (and men) to reach, stretch, become. She says that writing should leave a bruise on the writer, and on the reader.
I am adding a link to a story here because this story is important in writing this post. Story by Clarissa Pinkola Estes Clarissa was raised Catholic and is a Jungian psychologist. I feel she has been able to transcend some of the theological garbage we get caught up in. It divides people. No one, or one group of people owns God or the word God, for that matter. I do not believe in the God who floats high in the Sistine Chapel. I believe in the God Pinkola Estes writes about where the Earth and all that lives upon her are but ” The Painted Face of God ”
I struggle with the use of the word God, because I do not feel comfortable with the connotation many people attach to the word. When I came across this quote by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, it spoke of the God I know.
“Rather than chairs and tables,
I preferred the ground, trees, and caves,
for in those places I felt I could lean against the cheek of God.”
In Nature, in the lap of Mother Earth….the cool, scented soil, under ancient trees providing oxygen and beauty, in the waters of rivers, oceans and lakes, sleeping under stars and galaxies, on mountain tops, in the caves deep in the bowels of earth, dark and silent, these are places where I am held in an embrace of pure being and love, where I can let go and lean against the cheek of the God I believe in.
Not in churches or books, not through hymns or prayers, but cradled in the embrace of this world, with the overwhelming variety of life, the cycles and inter-dependence of all of it all. Here in this universe. Here on this earth where the coming into life is a marvelous wonder and the returning to the earth in death continues the incontrovertible miracle of the connection between all in this world.
Leaning against the cheek of this God I understand I am not separate from anything. Not the soil or trees, not the caves, not the animals, not any human or sparkle of star-dust. Certainly not separate from this God. As I look into Pinkola Este’s vision of the painted face of God and lean in to rest against that living cheek, I understand no one can own the word God. Like the woman in the blue, rose-covered scarf and the clerk behind the counter, we all belong to one another as a child to a parent, as the mountains to the earth, as the droplet to the sea. We are all the mountains, the droplets, star dust, each other. There is no separation.
“This painted face of god
That teaches us through the seasons of flowers and pines on mountains
And creatures and red hearts beating
In flurries all over the world
In all that moves with purpose on earth
In all else
How can anyone believe that here on earth is not god
Right here on earth”
Clarissa Pinkola Estes, ‘The Painted Face of God’