Beloved Upon the Earth

 |  September 9, 2019

When I signed on to teach a book arts workshop on Bainbridge Island in 2020, I set myself to creating a few new books as samples. One of the books I made was a small mossy book. I have made two moss books that were more sculptural works and that were part of outdoor installations. But I wanted to make a small book with moss covers, using fabric as the inside pages.

One thing I want to make clear first though is that I do not harvest moss from outdoor spaces. In some places, it is actually illegal to do so. And then after reading Robin Wall Kimmerer’s moss book, I learned that it can take some moss colonies hundreds of years to create themselves. How incredible is that?! I prefer to leave them untouched, at least untouched by my hands. So I order moss from florist shops. The cloth I used for the inside pages are from either an old bedsheet or an old pillowcase. I can’t remember now, but I like to repurpose rather than throw away whenever I can.

Bridgette Guerzon Mills | Beloved Upon the Earth, book art

When I was working on this book, my hands stitching pieces of found materials onto the cloth pages, it became a form of prayer, a way to channel sorrow. My father-in-law was very ill, and being far, all I could do was think of him and his grieving wife, children, and grandchildren. I find at these times I need to keep my hands busy, and stitching always seems to be the best way to find solace. An act of mending, holding together.

Bridgette Guerzon Mills | Beloved Upon the Earth, book art

And it also helps to keep my hands in the earth. Working with moss is such a sensory act- the feel of it in my hands, the earth musty smell, and the earthy greens. I have always found comfort in nature, feeling it in my hands, on my feet. I recently heard that there’s some sort of chemical in dirt that can elevate our mood…makes sense. We are of the earth, no matter how much we try to distant ourselves from that fact. And to earth, we return.

Bridgette Guerzon Mills | Beloved Upon the Earth, book art

When I stitched the word “Beloved”, I remember my heart was hurting and my vision was blurring. Loss is part of being human. And being beloved upon the earth while we are here is all we can ask.

My favorite poem by Raymond Carver; I carry it with me with every step I take since I first read it over a decade ago:

Late Fragment

And did you get what

you wanted, from this life, even so?

I did.

And what did you want?

To call myself beloved, to feel myself

beloved on this earth.

-Raymond Carver

Bridgette Guerzon Mills | Beloved Upon this Earth, book art

4 Comments

  1. by Nancy Kavanagh O’Neill on September 9, 2019  5:40 pm Reply

    I love this. And Carver is a favorite of mine. Seven years ago when my brother died suddenly tragically and I was inconsolable, a friend sent me the short story “A good, little thing” and it still helps me through the sad times.

    • by Bridgette Guerzon Mills on September 13, 2019  9:56 am Reply

      So sorry to hear baout your brother Nancy. I will have to look up that short story. It sound like I need to read it. There's another Carver poem that has influenced me- especially in the studio. It's called "Tomorrow". It inspired a whole series of paintings.

  2. by Michele Unger on September 11, 2019  10:45 am Reply

    Deeply moving peek into your process. Thank you for sharing! I am so excited to be signed up for your class next summer at IslandWood.

    • by Bridgette Guerzon Mills on September 13, 2019  9:54 am Reply

      I'm so excited to meet you and spend time creating with you too! thanks Michele!

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