In this book a visual artist and a writer offer the fruits of contemplative practice. Marley Kaul a painter for over 50 years offers 20 images of egg tempera paintings made during a year long period of meditative reflection after receiving a serious medical diagnosis of pulmonary fibrosis in 2016. Taiju Geri Wilimek living in the aftermath of a 1998 cancer diagnosis offers poetry that could only have been written after a long period of healing enabled by the study and practice of mindfulness meditation and the teachings of zen. Kaul and Wilimek friends for decades share a pull toward the investigation of life and death through meditation and art.
"I was born and raised on a farm in Good Thunder Minnesota. My rural upbringing allowed for observation of all living things, gaining insights about death, birth, growth, and family beliefs. I became an artist, and educator, and a parent. I earned a Master of Fine Arts at the University of Oregon, and taught painting and drawing at Bemidji State University in northern Minnesota.
In the 1970’s while in graduate school, I discovered meditation and Buddhist philosophy. Both have remained important to me and resurfaced in a new way recently when I received a diagnosis of pulmonary fibrosis that forced me to confront my mortality. I allowed many visual constructs to influence my “new” method of working. Symbolism, symmetry, color and size of work began to assert themselves. In less than a year, I completed the “Meditation Suite,” the series of 20 egg tempera paintings included in this book. Each has a basic title, and each can serve as a prelude to meditation or prayer.” - Marley Kaul
“Although I have degrees in both Philosophy and Social Work, I have been most profoundly influenced by my everyday life. Becoming a mother, raising two daughters with my husband, and forming soulful friendships have all been essential to the depth and quality of my life. In my early 40’s I was confronted with my mortality with a diagnosis of breast cancer. Giving birth and facing death have been the most physically challenging and mind-clarifying experiences of my life. I am compelled to fully occupy my life, vowing not to waste it.
I work as a Clinical Social Worker in private practice. Studying, practicing and teaching mindfulness meditation in both secular and Buddhist contexts has informed and sustained my work. Writing poetry has been a lifelong practice that, until now, has been a quiet, personal way to explore being human. The book We Sit brings my contemplative practices into fresh open space, the space of shared reflection.” - Poet Taiju Geri Wilimek
“I am blown away by this book, its beauty and the peace I feel looking at it.”—Susan Gilmore, professional photographer
"What a beautiful book! Every spread, left and right, offers its own meditation. Even the poems' shapes tell stories. It's only right to slow down and pay attention. I savored each painting and poem multiple times.”—Shannon Pennefeather Gardner, editor
“Exquisite healing.”—Martin DeWitt, artist; formerly the director and curator of the Tweed Museum of Art, University of Minnesota Duluth; and the founding director andcCurator of the Fine Art Museum, Western Carolina University.
“We Sit shares a beautiful journey into the great matter of life and death. It brings a bright light to bear on the inner experience of anyone considering these matters. I join Marley and Geri in this inquiry with a sincere sense of depth and warmth.”—Shoken Winecoff, abbot, Ryumonji Zen Monastery