REFLECTIONS ON A 30-DAY VIGIL: PRAYERS OF HEALING FOR THE LIVING AND THE DEAD
by Claire Elizabeth Barratt (aka Cilla Vee), Asheville, North Carolina USA
Greetings, Shalom and Namaste, dear Re-Cultivating Compassion blog-site reader!
As you have ventured thus far into the RCC site, I imagine you to be an individual of integrity who holds compassion as a high priority in your life and have an interest in discovering how others are manifesting their commitment to compassion as creative practice. In which case, I would like to share with you my recent project, a thirty-day vigil in response to current pandemics and their wake of sickness, violence, and death.
This year – 2020, not only sees us, the global community, suffering the results of an impartial virus but, more importantly, we are suffering the results of a chronic, malevolent de-humanization process. This othering of fellow humans (especially those in crisis) has led to an alarming lack of compassion. Our inability to proactively care for the well being of the planet and all life residing here has reached critically dangerous proportions. We fail to realize that, in caring for each other, we also care for ourselves. To recognize the inter-dependant cycles of life.
This summer, throughout the month of July, I had an incredible opportunity amidst the chaos and confusion of pandemic lock-down. I was awarded an Enliven NYC grant award funded by NYSCA (New York State Council of the Arts) and the NEA (National Endowment for the Arts) through the NYC arts organization ChaShaMa with the purpose to provide live public performance during a time when all performance venues are closed. Individual performance artists were sponsored in a series of one-month residencies – in social isolation yet in full public view through storefront gallery spaces.
My location was in ChaShaMa's space on the scenic Brooklyn Bridge Park waterfront.
The intention of VIGIL was to serve as a spiritual healing balm —Prayers of Healing – a different theme each day.
My daily process comprised research, investigation, creative exploration, improvisation, and composition – culminating in a Healing Prayer specific to that day's theme — 30 Prayers in 30 Days:
1 Entering Space
3 Tabula Rasa
4 Feng Shui
6 Hand Washing
18 Wandering Souls
19 Crossing Over
26 Gold / Silver
30 Final Performance
Of course, there is only so much development it is possible to accomplish in a single day! However, each morning I planted the seed of an idea, and by sunset, it had grown into an entity. Each one of these Healing Prayers now has the potential for its own individual evolution.
Each stage of the process was performative due to the "fishbowl" aspect of the storefront situation. With this in mind, even my picnic-style meals and restorative naps were arranged aesthetically as part of the installation.
I also expanded this mode of operation into my daily commute, taking the East River Ferry or walking across the Brooklyn Bridge in white hospital scrubs. I remained in this uniform while working at my desk each morning, performing my research as a Health Worker in full view through the gallery window. Yes – I did stop to consider whether this could be an act of "appropriation." I felt it was morally acceptable to represent the role of Healer in a form that most people would relate to and understand.
Each day, I focused on a specific mode of healing or healing practice, from Breathing Exercises to Sound Healing to the Crossing Over of Wandering Souls to Chromotherapy to Mandalas and everything in between. Documentation was also an essential component of the project.
As time progressed, the installation transformed from a clean, white tabula rasa to a giant mandala - a mass of sculptural paper, colors, natural objects and plants, written text transcriptions of prayers for healing - as well as medical and cleaning products and musical instruments.
My final performance was a culmination of the thirty-day vigil; a one-hour recapitulation and fusion of my thirty-day journey—an embodiment of each of my daily experiences, reaching its zenith in continuing to evolve beyond them.
I'm a firm believer that whatever we manifest in one moment of our space/time reality – our words, actions, and creations – causes ripples and chains of events, physically, emotionally, spiritually, that we will probably never even know about. My hope for VIGIL is a continuation of each healing prayer and its significant effect on the world.
If you would like to follow my journey in its entirety, please follow the link below and don't hesitate to contact me for further discussion.