I’ll happily embrace any religion that expands my ability to love. If something strengthens me and brings me clarity and joy, I bring it close. I don’t care what it looks like, or where it comes from. That isn’t to say that I won’t take on a difficult practice, or explore deeply. I enjoy questioning any thought pattern of my own, or of any other persons—turning it round, and round, looking at it from every angle. I often find that kind of exploration fruitful and even life-changing. I try to let go of any ideas that generate sorrow or create feelings of separateness. I want to shed those parts and let them fall away like an old useless husk.
I’ve come to believe that any dogma is a form of illusion that will just exacerbate all the troubles in the world. I trust in my own direct experience with the Divine. Those experiences come to me largely through dreams and creative acts. Mostly through painting, rarely through words. The paintings you see in this show, Strength in Tenderness, are like a visual trail through the last three years of my inner explorations.
When I began painting the Sacred Feminine I felt the world open up. I felt--and still feel—a chorus of voices coming through me from my depths. Grandmothers, aunts, sisters, some that I’ve known, others that I’ll never know. They seem to want to be painted. They want to be loved and honored and they should be. It is my privilege and joy to portray them as best I can.
So many titles came to me for this show: The Healing Circle, The Return of Magdalene, Holy Rascals, Recalcitrant Saints, Rebels and Mystics. Then one morning they gave me the perfect title: Strength in Tenderness. That is the message the Sacred Feminine is bringing to this beautiful injured world. Strength in tenderness is a desperately needed new concept that needs to be cultivated. It has nothing to do with dominance or cleverness. We will find our healing in our ability to be tender, in our ability to care for and nurture life. It is the powerful tenderness required to forgive, and forget, and begin anew.
—Sue Ellen Parkinson