Friday, June 13, 2014

Stone Voices Loses Theresa Sweeney

I just received word of the recent passing of Stone Voices columnist Theresa Sweeney. Her mother phoned to tell me that Theresa fell in her home and died from her injuries the next morning. 

Theresa Sweeney
1962 - 2014
A huge shock. A terrible loss. Indeed, the world has lost a voice of wisdom. Theresa's insights into the interconnections between art, nature, and spirit were truly remarkable, and she had a gift for communicating the secrets of these interconnections in a way that was clear and accessible. Her wisdom would sneak up and gently take hold of you while enjoying a story about her grandmother's garden, a trip to Wal-Mart, or paintings of teddy bears. 

Theresa wrote a column for Stone Voices from the very beginning of the publication's history in fall 2011. Her column always offered a powerful message tucked inside a simple, but eloquent, story. Though I never met Theresa in person, I could always feel her radiant personality and vibrant energy when I read her work. So, thinking about her many contributions to our publication over the past few years, I went through her columns and extracted a few paragraphs that I particularly like. Theresa will indeed be missed by the entire Stone Voices community.


from "Child's Play,"  Summer 2013
It amazes me that in Nature, though every being has a job, no creature appears to work, and yet everything is accomplished. 

from "True Colors," Fall 2013
I remember learning in grade school that when leaves change color they are actually reverting to their original hue. Trees decrease the green chlorophyll in their leaves as they begin to pull energy inward for the coming hibernation of winter. Contrary to what many believe, the vivid shades that hold us spellbound each autumn are really the true colors of leaves. 

The season of fall calls us to reflect upon our own true colors. Like trees, we spend a lot of internal energy creating an artificial chlorophyll-type mask of our own that hides our authentic nature. Many of us grow up feeling insecure in who we are, and in an effort to fit in we sadly stifle our uniqueness. We become attached instead to a false sense of self, dependent upon other people and things to define us. Just as our attention to trees is heightened each autumn when they show us their authenticity, other people's attraction to us is strengthened when we drop our facades and show them who we really are.

Trees have no problem taking self inventory each year and shedding that which no longer serves them. They know that new growth is just around the corner.

As we celebrate Thanksgiving we can be appreciative for the lessons learned and be assured that our letting go will become food for our own greater nourishment.

from "The Art of Patience," Spring 2014
While it may benefit us in certain areas of our lives, I do not believe patience is such a virtue when it comes to creative pursuits. In fact, I think it can actually thwart creativity. Your best art comes through you, not from you. When you start to feel the need to summon patience to pull you through, it's a signal that you are blocking the flow. When your art begins to stress you and you start criticizing it and noticing mistakes and flaws, when you start hating it and wishing it were something other than it is, when you feel the need for patience to persevere, you've hijacked the bus. You've fall our of sync with your muse. 

Art is a voyage of discovery. Leonardo da Vinci advised us: Do not be tethered to your expectations. By wanting something to be good, by desiring a particular result, we jeopardize what wants to have life. Artists must be cautious not to super-glue themselves to their initial vision, but rather to alway live in new beginnings. That way we leave the door open to all potential.

from "The Goldfinch and the Teddy Bear," Winter 2013
Life. Full of meaningless, random coincidences? I think not! There are signposts all along our path. Everything that happens has a purpose; everything that happens helps us in some way. Everything. Pay attention and see what magic unfolds.

Christine Cote
Shanti Arts

Monday, June 02, 2014


It is not colorful, it has no sweet flowery scent, and it can very easily be missed as one strolls through the woods, but the Jack-in-the-Pulpit is quite possibly my favorite plant. When I moved to Maine twenty years ago, I found a few of these interesting plants growing in my woods, and I have carefully transplanted, protected, and nurtured them so that I now have several dozen growing and blooming in my gardens and plenty more still in the woods behind my house.

I think of Jack-in-the-Pulpit as the quintessential New England wildflower, though I'm told it can be found as far west as Minnesota and as far south as Florida. It is most certainly a plant found in the moist coniferous woods of the northeast, much like two of my other favorites—the Trillium and the Lady's Slipper. But Jack is so adorable—the cute little guy standing tall in his pulpit covered with a stunning purple and green striped hoodie.
From Jack-in-the-Pulpit, edited by J. G. Whittier, 1884

Jack in-the-pulpit
 Preaches to-day
Under the green trees
 Just over the way. 
Squirrel and song-sparrow,
 High on their perch,
Hear the sweet lily-bells
 Ringing to church. 
Come, hear what his reverence
 Rises to say
In his low painted pulpit
 This calm Sabbath day.

Christine Cote
Shanti Arts