Reflecting on Art….

The rain is relentless this morning, drenching the ground and dampening spirits. So I was drawn to this glorious artwork by my friend Jeanne. On a grey, dreary day, bright colors and fanciful images are more than welcome. What does art mean to you? My definition changes almost daily, and I would be hard pressed to use words to describe it. So I humbly defer to my eloquent young friend Colin’s description.

The patterns, the shapes, the colors, the sounds. Art is too simple and short a word for what it is. It is the space beyond knowledge, it is thought, abstract, ethereal, like a dream after waking, slipping through the sieve. It is the place after logic, where mankind proves it’s irrationality, where the complexity of the mind works out it’s contradictions, where humanity is proven. It is what you get when something as complex as a human has to process the information of the world, leaving heavy on the heart or light on the mind, it is the expression of imperfection, a chance at the creation of complex relations between the patterns, the shapes, the colors, the sounds.

Take time today to be creative, to sketch, or sing, or sew. Let go of the end result and immerse yourself in the playful world of art. Allow your soul to seek out the images and sounds that defy rational explanation. And remember, as you get lost in your art, you may sink into the well of your soul, and catch a glimpse of eternal glory. Art entitle ‘Hummingbird’ ©2012 by Jeanne Mischo, quote by Colin Shea-Blymyer

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Reflecting on Solitude….

Our home feels particularly empty after the weekend. I enjoy time with my family, yet in recent years I have also learned to enjoy having the house to myself. So I was drawn to this dramatic photo by my new friend Luis. I love the single tree on the horizon, reaching for the sky in the early morning light. The branches look so delicate and graceful. I’m waiting for this slender tree to begin to dance. For many years, I equated solitude with loneliness. I actively sought out the company of others, filling my calendar with social engagements to be sure I was never alone. When my father lived with us, I was seldom by myself. As his health declined toward the end of his life, we seemed to have an endless stream of visitors and hospice support. We needed that help to allow Daddy to die at home, and are immensely grateful for our loving and supporting community. Yet there were days when I would soak in the tub, turning on the fan to drown out all evidence of existence other than my own. I simply needed to stop, to just be, to enjoy the solitude. After Daddy passed away, our home became curiously quiet. Now, three years later, there are days when I eat all three meals alone, my husband and daughter busy with work and school. I find time for prayer, creative pursuits and exercise. I am present to what life brings me, enjoying both my time alone and with others. Take time today to consider the difference between loneliness and being alone. Consider ways to make time and space for yourself in a busy household, to enjoy solitude in the midst of family concerns. Explore the balance between time alone and time with others, learning how to respect the need for time apart in your family and friends. And remember, if you sink into the solitude, you may find yourself poised to dance on a new horizon. Photo entitled ‘The End’ by Luis Gonzalez, used with his permission

Reflecting on Fluff….

It’s a bright, clear morning, much colder than yesterday. We seem to be oscillating between winter and spring, uncertain how to dress from day to day. We may need a heavy coat this morning, only to find that same coat a burden by early afternoon. So I was drawn to this amazing photo by my new friend Gailen, capturing cattails as a strange mixture of the whimsical and the sturdy. Cattails stood watch over many of my childhood adventures, lazy days spent messing about in the creek. I loved to see the birds take shelter in the stands of cattails, sometimes growing over ten feet tall. In the early spring, birds would pluck the fluff to line their nests, spreading seeds that closely resemble their own feathers. It can be difficult to distinguish between the whimsical and the sturdy, between wants and needs. What appears to be excess may be truly necessary, something my grandmother called ‘holy waste’. Time spent in what others consider frivolous pursuits may be healing to the soul, allowing an old wound to transform into a new creation. One person’s fluff may be another’s substance, bringing beauty and joy into an otherwise drab existence. Take time today for your fluff, to sing instead of speaking, to dance instead of walking. Let healing light shine in your heart, opening your soul to new beginnings, claiming the promise of abundant life. And remember, if we can let go of the burdens that weigh us down, we can float like a feather in the wind, spreading seeds of new creation. Photo entitled ‘Cattails with Flying Fluff’ ©2012 by Gailen Mapes All Rights Reserved, used by permission

Reflecting on Birds….

It’s a mild winter morning and spring will soon be here. Daffodils are blooming and birds are singing, ready for the earth to awaken with new growth. So I was drawn to this amazing photo by my friend Lynda. The muted colors of the sky are balanced by the dark branches, softening the scene and welcoming us in. I love how the bird is perched in the crook of the branch, ready to take flight. Since ancient times, birds have been considered a supernatural link between heaven and earth. These delicate but powerful creatures can defy gravity, soaring high above our heads. For centuries, man dreamed of flight, trying all sorts of contraptions to join the birds in the heavens. Perhaps what we seek is the bird’s eye view, the ability to take in the whole scene, to see it all at one time. We want to see through God’s eyes, to discern the hidden, rather than painstakingly piecing together the whole picture. It seems a heavy burden to place on a tiny bird. Yet the Celts considered the lowly wren the king of all birds, flying further than the majestic eagle in a race to the sun. Take time today to step back and consider the whole picture. Look at a difficult situation from all perspectives, not just your own. Seek to understand the motivation of others, refraining from judgment or snap decisions. And remember, when you grow weary, that even the lowly wren can win a race to the Son, one prayer at a time. Photo entitled ‘Bird’s Eye View’ by Lynda Jeffers ©2012, used with her permission, to see more of her photography, visit http://lynda-jeffers.artistwebsites.com/index.html

Reflecting on Balance….

Calm winter mornings bring back old memories, of good times and bad. Yet what endures is the arch of our lives, how we live, rather than the particular circumstances. We may feel on top of the world, as if no one and nothing can touch our high spirits. Then perhaps we receive sad news about a dear friend, carefully laid plans are torn apart by unseen circumstances, or a long desired opportunity is laid waste. We soldier on, certain we can handle the big challenges of life, only to crumble in the face of a silly detail. So I was drawn to this haunting photo entitled ‘Unbalanced’ by my new friend Michael. I love how the path works its way around the tree, with branches all to one side. I imagine strong winds bending the tree into its present form, with roots deeply anchoring the trunk. And I especially like how the snow clings to the furrows of the fields in the distance, waiting for the warmth of spring to begin again. At first glance, this lopsided tree may seem unbalanced, but closer consideration reveals a greater stability. Rather than struggle against the prevailing winds, this tree grows in a more favorable direction, swaying to keep from breaking. Perhaps we lose our sense of balance when we work too hard to remain firm, to stand strong. Our hearts can break if they become too brittle, or simply bend if we allow ourselves to remain vulnerable, to lean on those who love us and care for us. Take time today to soften your heart, to allow the Holy Spirit to flow through your life. Lay your burdens at the foot of the cross, trusting whatever you ask is but a little thing to the same Lord who conquered sin and death. And remember if you remain deeply rooted in your faith, swaying with those you love, the good times will be defined by what you bring to life, not what life brings you. Photo by Michael Ebbrecht, used with his permission

Reflecting on Creation….


It’s a glorious, sunny day, a welcome change from yesterday’s damp, grey weather. So I was drawn to this amazing image by my friend Heidi, part of her ‘Twirls’ series. At first glance, it seems she has warped a simple rainbow, twisting and turning the entire spectrum of color. Yet the longer I looked at her art, the more I thought of the beginning of the universe, the start of all time. Genesis offers the six day version – but what is a day in God’s time? An earth day of 24 hours, or a cosmic day that lasts eons? Science offers the big bang theory, where the entire universe is condensed into a zone called a singularity that infinitely and instantaneously expands. First there is nothing, then there is everything. Both science and religion agree there is a beginning, but we continue to argue over the how, and when, and why. My view is very simple. The singularity is the Holy of Holies, who was, and is and always will be. Our Creator existed before time began, and I imagine the start of our universe looked a lot more like Heidi’s twirls than an explosion. The universe unfolded, like a flower blooming in spring, opening across time and space in infinite and inconceivable beauty. Or to quote my young friend Colin:

Nothing is special, everything is. Another dichotomy of reality, we live in a universe too large to comprehend, specks of matter floating without aim through the domain of galaxies. Yet we are, and we continue to be. We are conscious, thinking beings with the capability to love and to grow and to learn. Both of these realities are important, we are both gears- pre-purposed parts of a universal machine, without the power to cause lasting change- and miracles- beings capable of understanding what is around us, part of the great performance of time and cognizant of its magnificence. Live as a miraculous gear, a cog that knows what time the clock keeps. – Colin Shea-Blymer

Take time today to ponder the miracle of creation. Pause to look at a snowflake, or flower, or the smile of a small child. Look up into the night sky and open your mind to the vastness of God’s universe. And remember to give thanks for each breath, for we receive the gift of life one breath at a time. Art by Heidi Anne Morris, used with her permission, to see more of her work, visit http://www.redbubble.com/people/heidiannemorris

Reflecting on Anger….

It’s a bright, sunny morning, and I have a full day planned. I’m feeling better than I did yesterday, when I was ready to hand our dog off to whoever would take him. It’s funny how anger can warp your perspective. So I was drawn to this high dynamic range (HDR) photo taken by my friend David Buckwalter. I love how the colors pop against the sky, how details are emphasized, how a picture becomes a painting. David took this photo of a shot furnace at Fort Griswold State Park in Groton, CT. This morning I feel a bit ridiculous, after expending way too much energy on anger, rather than on resolving the problem. Our dog Hobbes has decided the new dining room carpet is a good place to relieve himself. The carpet’s colors camouflaged the stains, until my nose detected the problem this weekend. So I spent yesterday shampooing the carpets, after finding other hidden offenses. Just when I was ready to start cooking supper, the dog returned to the scene of the crime and defiled my nice, clean carpet. Before you ask, the dog is still here, although it’s a small wonder my family still is. I was far from pleasant company last night. There is nothing that frustrates me more than wasted work, especially when it’s difficult, manual labor. And truth be told, I started the job angry, because I was mad at myself for not figuring it out sooner. Getting past anger takes time and perspective. Anger may feel like strong emotion, but is often more of a chain reaction. We feel something now, then link this incident to others from the past, make judgments about ourselves and others, then over react. What we see and hear becomes like this photo, the dynamic range of our reactions is off the scale. Or perhaps we vent our frustration about one situation elsewhere, losing our temper in a safer place and time. Take time today to step back from anger, to consider your initial emotion, be it frustration, or disappointment, or fear. Look at the surrounding circumstances, relationships, and past history, to understand what set you off. Pray for God’s perspective, to see all sides, rather than just your own. And remember, when we invite the Holy Spirit to burn in our souls, we become a steadfast flame, instead of a shot furnace. Photo by David Buckwalter ©2011, used with his permission

Reflecting on Uncertainty….

It’s turned cold again this morning, reminding us winter is far from over. No one seems sure how to dress for this weather, winter in the morning, perhaps like spring by the afternoon. So I was drawn to this photo of our back yard, taken by my husband Mark. Fog obscures the background, drawing your eyes to what my daughter calls the secret garden. In spring and summer, the overgrown shrubbery completely obscures the view. As a small child, she loved playing there, creating fanciful stories and imaginary worlds. My father brought us the bench from the Columbus Sale in New Jersey, almost twenty years ago. Yet what seems like a lovely place to sit is not now what it appears. The bench is broken, beyond repair. We struggle to keep poison ivy from crowding out the bulbs and other plantings. And my daughter is now a junior in high school, driving from here to there, rather than playing in our back garden. Life is far from certain, and often far from what it appears to be. I don’t know about you, but I struggle with uncertainty. In engineering school, I studied ways to model the world around us, to mathematically reduce the chaos into some semblance of certainty. Yet what really matters, the reasons we get out of bed each morning, the people and places we love most, defy all reason and calculations. To truly love one another we must accept uncertainty, throwing caution to the wind, opening our hearts to both the joy and the pain. Take time today to be truly present to those you love, accepting whatever life brings. Let go of your expectations and desire for control, let go of yesterday and tomorrow and cling to today. Empty yourself to make room for the Alpha and the Omega, the God of steadfast love that was, and is and always will be. And remember, ubi caritas et amor, where love and caring are, there is God. Photo by Mark Lindsey

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