healing art and writing
student writing and art gallery

Student Gallery

Welcome to the gallery of student work for the class Healing Art & Writing. Here you will find written work, often prompted by a poem; and art work that includes a short description of the piece by the artist.

We meet weekly in two hour classes, spending time to relax, write and draw, and share our work in supportive, non-critical "show and tell."

The lovely work here represents great imagination, courage, and creativity. Students work hard to let go notions of what writing or art should be, and give themselves over to the kind of art and writing that focuses on healing - that is, learning to listen to intuition rather than criticism, and be in the moment rather that someplace worrisome in past or future. You may notice creative spelling and punctuation - all true to the kind of writing we do, fast and furious for 10 minute intervals.

I am extremely proud of what students have offered here. In each and every class I have been touched deeply by their arrivals at insight, wonder, and compassion for themselves and each other.

Enjoy these words and images with an open heart, as we do.

You are Arriving

I am arriving over and over. The year has gone round again, the light is back again, and I am arriving. It's a mystery how I can see the same stars from the exact same spot as I did when I was a baby, a ten-year old twenty thirty arriving 40 50 glad to be going somewhere 60 and arriving and starting to look at leaving. Starting to look at arriving at 70 and don't want to. There is no choice. I'll arrive there. Wish I could leave all the concerns for other's pain and suffering behind and arrive at a life that is peaceful and mine mine mine. How boring. I'd be like X: empty headed, focused on herself, boring and dry. God, the stars sparkled last night, in every window of my house. The place is set in nature, a dull little house stuck in the midst of a lawn rough as the Atlantic in January. Now there's a body always arriving. All the chipmunks and squirrels and moles are thick as the grass, and deer and turkey, a hedgehog, bugs and spiders, the exploding disappearing and arriving stars with unfathomable messages, the well field and river, the western horizon's silhouette old and arriving.

~ jane e. bryant

Flying in Springtime

If I had wings, I would fly to the top of Mt. Mansfield and circle and swoop and loop along the profile--chin to nose to forehead. And it would be effortless, not the ankle-aching, foot-tingling, dangerously slippy walking and straining where there is no path. The air over the mountain would be cool and clean and white, fill up my lungs and heal them so I'd never ever cough again. There is no effort in flying. I'm gliding on the thermals, soaring wherever they go and I can breathe effortlessly. If flying were a color, it would be green. It would taste clean as fresh lettuce. It would smell like lilacs. It would look like God's front yard: safe, lush, peaceful. Maybe I'd fly over my new property to see how it fits in, or not, to get perspective and to issue blessings on it. It needs blessings so I'd sprinkle them like holy water, the time Regina did it at her ordination with a large green branch to splatter water on each person, the floor, the pews, the bishop, the altar. Splash holy water from my wet wings as I soar and loop and cartwheel in the air, barefoot.

~ jane e. bryant

After Hearing "Snowdrops" by Louise Gluck

I didn't expect, didn't even imagine, being me today. I was young, my hair was black, my skin smooth and clear. I knew what I was doing. Childhood--phase one--free. Young mother. Devoted. I didn't think or guess, how could I, I was so satisfied. It unraveled; it (me) was washed away like the snow from the hills today: loud, crashing and splashing. Frothy, turbulent.

The rivers overflow their banks. Never expected that. What is a riverbank for anyway? To hold the water.

I became…what am I talking about? Life being washed and washed away. Changing in unexpected, unpredictable ways. Again I have the sense of looking at the end. I suppose I did that--looked at different endings in different eras--but now I'm so like my mother that it makes me sad, blue, gray, burdened, fizzling out, dripping away.

In her mind, she felt herself to be the same person. Me too. Swimming, swimming. Wanting to make the next 20 years count.

~ jane e. bryant


Think I'll go with popular culture again- there is a song by Melissa Ferrick- and she talks about when she will arrive- what that has to do with anything else I've no idea.The wily ways of my brain. But to have arrived- when sometimes I didn't even know I was going somewhere. That is always such a surprise. Rather eye-opening. At times I almost feel stuck, or like a car that cannot start, cannot quite turn over- you know, can't get out of my own way. And then, when I finally look up- I realized I got somewhere after all. Sometimes it is through sheer brute force- or, more like brutish stubborness. [knowing my tendency to beat dead horses!] [but NOT butt heads- there IS a difference!] But I will sometimes stop and find my bearings, and realize there has been movement after all. I don't mean so much my usual literal interpretation of movement; as in: I got something done, finished, started, accomplished- I mean a more internal movement. A motion- usually but not always Forward Momentum- that puts my thought and heart processes into a different reality. (sometimes a different time zone!) Usually it is a good realization to find myself in a different place and not stuck after all- Even if I've gone two steps back to my one forward- it is still movement. And that I thrive on.....

~ donna bruno

The Trough

In the trough__ where smooth glassy sheets of gray-black water hold my saddened heart, at the loss of yet another heroic soul to cancer_ In the trough memories of personal loss reemerge to reach out with icy curled wet fingers trying to drown me in life's deepest sorrow once again. This is a pattern, one I have felt and lived for many years. I will take a different approach, by choice.

Looking through the trough's great shape I see colours of greens and blues, streaks of light, from where? Above or below. The trough is not as lonesome as I first imagine. The sides are not really as smooth as glass but rippled with insights of life all around. The stuck.. stuck…first impression is gross, high pitched screaming FEAR__ when you relax you can feel the silky soft coolness of the water's caress. Like the flow of a river all around your body__ ease back, look up, you are not alone…the blue azure sky with wisps of billowy clouds floating by show you that this is but a passing plunge__ feel the depth but also feel the uplifting motion as you surrender your deepest sadnesses and hurts to what is around…feel the uplifting thrust as the trough changes shape and gently pulls you up and up into the light of day and the warmth of sun…warm upon your face and skin…to realize life is Many ups and downs and continues unaided by us_ but more by a higher being…

~ raven schwan-noble

reflecting on the prompt, "We don't owe everything to sorrow," from Small Ode to Joy by Charlotte Muse

I don't owe anything to sorrow
I can lay down the heaviness and watch
I can watch and listen

Listen to the cars on the road in the rain.
I love that sound.
The sounds of the wind and the rain…
Soothing to the heart.

We don't owe anything to sorrow.
lay down the heaviness and watch.
Watch for the bird that sings, the little birds and the
Blue heron on the Bay.

Watch and the heaviness lifts.
We don't owe anything to sorrow. Certainly not

If only we watch, watch for the moment,
a photo, click,
An image frozen in time.

An image so loved and longed for.
Click, caught, frozen in time
The image in the brain.

lay down the heaviness
We don't owe anything to sorrow

Click, done, image.

~ ida gatwood

Imagine Setting It All Down . . .

Imagine setting it all down, unburdening
moving unhurriedly; stopping, being still.
Resting in that chair of comfort as the backs of your knees
make contact with the soft, upholstered chair pad,
easing you into it's familiar lap.
Consciously still your labored breathing with
deep, purposeful breaths and begin to recognize
those muscles and joints that seek your attention.
Apply healing warmth and envision healing blood flow
as it washes over each prickly ache and pain
soothing it away as breath restores healing energy
to painful joints.

~ Patricia Brace Reed


Set it all down baby. My left butt
is pressing the chair
which is pressing the floor
where the rug was pressed into cement by a roller and a couple of men
which was set on the ceiling of the Orange Level floor,
that awful orange color
that reminds me of walking the long cool halls
to the radiation suite.
Did they really have the audacity to call it a suite?
It was always bitter to me.

I hated the halls, the orange, the waiting room,
the cold hurtful machine,
the constant hum of the building like a ship in port,
a space ship on launch pad,
warming up to sail or blast off and
I was afraid of the trip.
Didn’t want to take it
but had to set me all down and get strapped in and zapped.
The only kind, observant, off-the-beaten-path thing
the doc said to me was: “You have to find a way to do this”
or something to that effect. Yah, right.
The garden that they set down outside the walls of the suite
and Regina’s and Lee’s blessings, oils and
prayers for healing were my way.
Consider the lilies of the field,
how God made them to shine for me
to have and to sit with.
Like lying in the driveway in the dark with Kirsten and
the chilly night and greeting the stars and
admiring them and
the pavement pressing into my bones and
the joy pressing my mind and spirit and heart.

(The poem is also about facing death. The clues: Acres of sky. Longing to lie down. Setting it all down. Gone. Be back when I’m through with blooming. Unneeded and uneaten. Even in sleep your life will shine. Your work will always matter.)

~ Jane E Bryant


Because we not only spill milk. It’s not that simple anymore.
It could be soy milk, maybe rice milk. Two percent? Who cares, really?
You could be spilling orange juice but
Even then don’t cry.
Because we not only close doors, we open windows.
You spill milk, while reaching to wipe a small face, could be
a daughter, son, sister, brother
and even though the two percent soy orange milk juice is on the floor,
there’s still a small face,
yes an innocent beauty still left in the world.
Remember why it was we left?
To look for a dream, maybe find a long lost something or other, perhaps
but home is where you’re always welcome no matter when you left,
or why
and how we lost ourselves for hours.
The day just gets chased away.
Time feels (flies) like a bird.
Because we forgot not only what we are doing in the kitchen
but that we need the gift of starting over,
and then, even though there’s still spilt milk,
everything’s okay.

(The italics in this piece are lines taken from a poem we used as a prompt in our Healing Art & Writing class, “Instructions in Joy,” by Nancy Shaffer).

~ Kristen B M Flinn


Several things caught my attention about the poem Self Portrait, by David Whyte, the first being a response to the line, "if I am prepared to live in the world with its harsh need to change me."

It is true--cancer and the experience that goes with cancer is harsh but rather than letting the harshness overtake me, or if you will, win out, I look at my experience and the changes it has made in me to be positive and in some ways softened me. I am more aware of "everything," have looked deeply into my soul and taken this challenge to a different level. It's interesting because it softly happened. Out of the fear and anxiety first experienced, I am coming and going from a deeper level within myself. I can dispose of, ignore, walk away from trivia, where at one time those things were important. I now act, say, do from "me," not because certain things were expected of me. I act on my own beliefs--my soul speaks to me.

~ Ruth Kurtz

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