Highland Creek Park on a June Afternoon

Just behind Cedar Ridge Creative Centre, a steep switchback trail leads me to the west bank of Highland Creek, where tall grasses sway beside a sandy bank with cheerful stones below. As I continue along the narrow path beside the bank, I stop to photograph an elegant monarch butterfly before moving into deeper tree cover beyond.

I soon come to a tributary of the stream that is flowing much more slowly. Thanks to its shallowness, I can cross by hopping on the most stable stones. As I pause on the series of stepping-stones to survey the next viable perch, I experience moments of flowing water, such as a chartreuse leaf bathing in the stillness.

Although sunlight struggles to filter through the thick canopy, the very steep bank offers a vision of hopefulness in grasses that are beginning their rooted stance, a scrap of sky above, and more tree leaves arching over the negative space. I have the sense of inhabiting a cut-out furrow or deep groove in an earthy canyon, transforming me into a creature who has been given the option of crawling up and out from a den.

And I do just that, scrambling up the bank with the steadying aid of roots and branches for balance. I emerge onto the manicured openness of Scarborough Golf Club, owner of the footbridge I had glimpsed in a clearing on a previous walk. After I observe a few treasures of the golf course, including a short boardwalk in a marshy area, a group of four irises, and an apiary, I return to the creek’s edge. Then I retrace my steps to the departure point of my hike on this lambent June afternoon.

Healing with the Arts Journal

Journal Cover
Detail from Journal Cover
Detail from Journal Cover
Journal Page Collage
Journal Page
Journal Page
Mandala Assignment (before I coloured it in)
Mandala Assignment (after I coloured it in)
Journal Page
Journal Page Collage with Rumi Quote
“You Are the Honored Guest” (Rumi)
Detail from “You Are the Honored Guest” (Rumi)
Detail from “You Are the Honored Guest” (Rumi)
Connective Solitude (Journal Page)
Chains of Disconnection, Catherine Raine 2020

Sample Chapter from Visualizations for Heartbreak: Words, Photographs, and Collages by Catherine Raine

Anguish

Your anguish is a force, a separate soul that cries out for solace and remedy. Although I have some medicine for you, I cannot restore the beloved person who abandoned you without warning. Into this void, my voice may drop like a stone.

A picture containing animal, food, standing, cake

Description automatically generated

It hurts to see you cry, face in your hands, unable to sleep, eat, or even feel real. Dizzy from the shock of desertion, each second refuses to pass, remains incomplete. Your injured heart has lost its rhythm and your movements seem leaden, as if masses of melted tar are dragging your arms down every time you lift a glass.

A picture containing sitting, green, table, colorful

Description automatically generated

While your body slows to glacial time, brain activity accelerates to epidemic levels as you struggle to comprehend this alien reality that cannot be happening but is happening anyway. Like a never-ending game of tether ball, your thoughts spin faster and faster into smaller and tighter circles, shackled by panic to the iron fact of loss.

A picture containing riding, wave, water, surfing

Description automatically generated

If I had the power to heal you, I would gather the softest banana leaves in creation and soak them thoroughly in shea butter. Then I’d wrap them round your head to cool and cradle your brain, drawing out the poison of self-punishing thoughts, soothing the pain, and smoothing the wrinkled loops of endless tormenting questions.

A close up of a green plant

Description automatically generated

For your heart-wounds, I offer a poultice composed of clay, feathers, and ferns to press against your chest as if in prayer. The heart-poultice cannot mend the cracks, but it honors them with love and witnesses the agony of brokenness.

A painting of a person

Description automatically generated
A picture containing table, indoor

Description automatically generated

And for your whole body, a pool has been sunk into the cursèd room that most haunts you with memories. The pool is not very wide — the width of three ordinary bathtubs — but it is fathoms deep. The sides and bottom of the pool are made of peat-black marble, turning the water so dark that it gathers you into oblivion. When you sink into this personal well, the only things you experience are the present sensations of cool healing water, your steady breath, and the kind red beating of your heart.

(To purchase an ebook version of Visualizations for Heartbreak in its entirety for $10, please contact the author at cafrinie@yahoo.ca)

“Less Lecturing, More Collaging” Session at Teaching and Learning Symposium, Centennial College (February 25, 2020)

Facilitating this art session on the theme of “What is Education?” was a pleasure and a privilege. I loved seeing the resulting collages and hearing the participants’ insightful and inspiring comments about their work.