Reflecting on Courage….

Acrylic Courage by Leigh Hooper
Courage is a common topic with my family and friends. I don’t recall a single meeting as a Girl Scout leader that did not involve a discussion about courage. So, to those who know me well it is not surprising when I say I see courage in this amazing art by my friend Leigh. I see the daily struggle to live a good life, a struggle that seems too much to bear some days, and as smooth as glass on others. Courage is a blend of backbone and imagination, woven together to navigate all the grey areas of life. Like the acrylic paints that are poured onto the canvas and allowed to blend together, courage looks different from day to day. Yet I am not certain courage is something folks understand well. You hear about it when someone confronts a catastrophic disease more often than when someone is rescued from a burning building. Most frequently I hear that courage is the opposite of cowardice. I disagree with that assessment. Recklessness is the opposite of cowardice. When you are reckless, you act without fear, without considering the consequences of your actions. A reckless person may get what they want, yet their gain is often at the expense of others or even themselves. Meanwhile, a coward fails to act because of fear. Fear paralyzes the coward, and can lead someone to neglect moral values they hold dear. Their fear overrules their conscience. Both ends of the spectrum lead to sins of commission or omission. Courage is the balance beam in the center of these two extremes.

Recklessness —————- Courage —————– Cowardice

When we succeed in being courageous, we do not act without fear, rather we act despite our fear. Courage requires us to decide something is more important than our very real and palpable fears. So, this is the point where you expect me to start talking about soldiers or fire fighters or policemen. But that sort of courage gives us an out. The most important acts of courage happen day to day. So, make time to do the right thing, whether anyone notices or not. Think through all aspects of a problem, rather than simply looking at your own. Look for a win-win answer, rather than a win for you that means a lose for someone else. Ask for that raise, explaining your contribution to the greater good, rather than harboring resentment and further compromising the quality of your work. Most of all, forgive yourself when your courage flags. Learn from your mistakes to grow through your own challenges. Inconceivable courage does not happen overnight. Such courage is built over a lifetime, beginning with simple, day to day acts. Text by Connie Chintall ©2017, art entitled ‘Acrylic Courage’ by Leigh Hooper ©2017, used with her permission, All Rights Reserved.

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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

Reflecting on Beauty….

We returned home late last night after a good visit with family in Florida. Independence Day was hot and humid, so we passed on the fireworks, staying home and relaxing in the air conditioning. I have never been a big fan of fireworks displays. The noise always bothers me and it seems like a lot of work for a little bit of flash. My friends David and Carole stayed home and launched his own fireworks. While waiting for the sun to set, she took this amazing photo. Our fireworks pale in comparison to the beauty of the heavens. I love the mare’s tail clouds, with a curled or hooked appearance. These clouds are made of ice crystals at high altitudes, and frequently signal a change in weather. The wind shear caused by an incoming front curls the clouds into these whimsical shapes. Yet discussing the physics somehow diminishes the beauty. God could have made a world out of black and white squares, yet instead, choose to create beauty, shunning, awe inspiring beauty. Take time today to look up from your own fireworks, and allow yourself to become lost in wonder at God’s creation. When our daughter Tori was a toddler, she started the Lords’ Prayer like this, “Our Father, who does art in heaven, Howard is thy name”. We started to correct her, only to realize her mistake reflected a greater truth. Thanks be to Howard for the art. Photo by Carole Buckwalter © 2011

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