Reflecting on an Experience with FOAT® from Summer 2016
By Libby Mislan
(From FOAT® Artists-Facilitators Training in 2016)
Laury asked us to go inside, to locate with the felt sense something that is important or has meaning to us. The felt sense could emerge as a word, a phrase, an image, a gesture, or a sound. As I focused, I felt in my body this sense of being connected. I continued to stay with this feeling, present to the sensation in my chest. An image emerged— it was me, poking my head through lemon and mint leaves. I was barefoot, in the dirt, and bathed in sunlight. I was connected to the earth. “Here” was the word. I checked it in my body for a sense of rightness, and it stuck. In my inner felt sense, I was happy here, with these simple things. I was away from the city and all that I knew, but with a feeling of peace. This was what was important to me, this sense of being present and feeling connected to the earth.
As Laury directed us back into the room, I was inspired to create a sculpture-like representation of this sense using art materials. From construction paper and pipe cleaners, I constructed a hanging plateau where people, represented through colorful poms-poms, gathered in a circle. From Laury’s yard, I plucked several lemon verbena leaves and incorporated them as the circle’s centerpiece. I felt a deep sense of satisfaction when I incorporated the lemon leaves, a fresh element of nature, into the art piece. Through this art making process, something new had emerged in my expression. Now, my piece incorporated a sense of connection not just with the earth, but with this group of people.
When we used the intermodal application to write from our arts expression, I found myself moved to write from this voice that wanted to express as “we.” There was something profoundly healing about writing not from the “I,” but as a collective. Through writing this piece, which I’ve shared below, I uncovered even more what was important to me: a sense of being part of a sacred community. Considering that I was in a space reunited with close friends, some of whom now live far away, it makes sense that feelings related to community and connection would emerge. Writing the poem brought back the sacred connection I had shared with these friends in the past, and it brought forth in my body a sense of the power we still possessed collectively.
Do you have anything you want to say to me?
We rest on a cloud.
We are beyond.
We are held up by
A string of stars
That burn and dazzle.
We sit in a circle
And we are many colors.
In the middle of us, green things grow.
Things that smell sweet and lemony.
Things that you can make tea out of.
Things that will heal you.
In the middle of us, things that come from the earth,
Up through the soil and from the great mystery.
That is why we are dancing now, can’t you see?
That is why we have risen to our feet.
To praise the things that grow
From the middle of us
When we rest on a cloud.
And we make the rain come.
We make the rain come down,
When we gather in this way.