IN SILENCE by Thomas Merton 1915 – 1968
Listen to the stones of the wall.
Be silent, they try
to speak your
to the living walls.
Who are you?
are you? Whose
silence are you?
Who (be quiet)
are you (as these stones
are quiet). Do not
think of what you are
still less of
what you may one day be.
be what you are (but who?)
be the unthinkable one
you do not know.
O be still, while
you are still alive,
and all things live around you
speaking (I do not hear)
to your own being,
speaking by the unknown
that is in you and in themselves.
“I will try, like them
to be my own silence:
and this is difficult. The whole
world is secretly on fire. The stones
burn, even the stones they burn me.
How can a man be still or
listen to all things burning?
How can he dare to sit with them
when all their silence is on fire?”
My name is Valerie – aka “Kiwi Flowers”. Being part of the BCABPP began a couple of years ago when I happened upon four images from the project. Michael D Colanero – Photographer and creator of BCABPP and Keegan Hitchcock, bodypainter had teamed up to paint the Lead Model, Cindy Papale and start a Breast Cancer Awareness project like no other.
The philosophy behind this beginning was to show the message of journey along with a myriad of aspects that this entails when trying to be oneself after breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. Each model, a breast cancer survivor, has their own journey to share. This sharing has become an inspiration to the many people who have seen and been touched by the messages of courage, fortitude and hope.
My participation in the BCABPP was made possible through the charitable organisation Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered – FORCE www.facingourrisk.org I was awarded an International Scholarship to attend their 2010 5th Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida. While in Orlando, I travelled to Fort Lauderdale and spend the best part of the day sharing, laughing, being painted, photographed and getting to know Michael, Keegan and Bonnie (she took additional behind the scene photos). Their inspiration and vision for the BCABPP know no limits.
When I knew that I was heading to Orlando, I messaged Michael and began my personal journey as a participant in the project. Before, it was …”I would love to do this, I feel drawn to this project and would like to be part of the breast cancer awareness campaign but it’s never going to happen”.
Then suddenly it was all happening and the questions: Who am I? What is my journey? How do I depict all that into one collage?
I had to go back to my diagnosis 22 years ago at the age of 33. I felt once again my anxiety, my pain but also my strength. I therefore re-connected with the beginnings of my journey and confront who I was then and trace the path to who I am now. While being of European background, I was born, grew up and lived in New Zealand up until 12 years ago when we moved to Australia. My origins are Kiwi. My journey speaks of those origins and “Kiwi Flowers’ speak of that journey.
During the painting process, I could feel the culmination of my journey coming together:
The delicateness of the New Zealand Clematis – recognising how delicate and fragile my life is.
The strong boldness of the koru – the unfolding of the Ponga fronds and the strength of conviction to live life to the fullest every moment of every day.
The symbolic Silver Fern – my Kiwi heritage, source of pride, fully
open underneath of the fronds of the Silver Fern to feel, to absorb life and to live.
The pikorua symbol – a multi-faceted symbol, like my life. New
shoots growing together, joining of cultures and love and friendship.
I draw strength from this awakening of the past journey. I see with clarity the path behind me and look forward to a future that continues along the path of openness to new experiences as each new fern unfolds in my life.
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