There it was small, silent, majestic, and abandoned ………yet full of hope.
Last summer I saw the fulfillment of a dream delayed. Hope fulfilled. The dream was to return to Italy and wander among the many Cathedrals and shrines and take in all the beautiful renaissance art again. I walked through many European Cathedrals 37 years ago during a college back packing trip. I wanted to stay and linger that year, take a drawing or painting class and just hang out in Europe for an unending adventure….but graduation lay in my future calling me back to complete an earlier dream and take on post graduation career goals.
Since that initial pining in my heart I’ve accomplished many goals placed upon my heart, not the least of which entailed career, family, friends as is the norm for many who save some dreams for a later date.
As I walked through the humble monastery on the hill across from the little medieval town of Corciano I saw centuries of faith, hope, love and charity maintained and protected by thick walls of stone. I am eternally grateful for all of the faithful men and women who against all odds preserve the richness of faith and tradition in the form of historic religious shrines, churches and monasteries. Each Cathedral holds a blessed space that transcends all words and moves the soul heavenward. While resting in one of these great cathedrals or walking through a monastery courtyard and garden I feel like I can float on a cloud that will take me up to the heavenly realms. It is all the prayers, works and sacrifices of our Holy Saints in the communion of saints that keep those celestial fires burning with prayers fueled with love for our souls.
If you need Hope restored. Step into an ancient monastery or Cathedral where the communion of saints is waiting to introduce you to Jesus Christ our King.
Have a Holy All Saints Day.
of seeds, leaf and fruit.
in the cold ice of winter.
for the promise of new life.
I spoke to a dear friend the other day. She is friend from my college years. We shared joy, laughter, and the thrill of adventure. We both met at a time when life was full of promise, hope and longing. We did not know what lie ahead and that was part of the excitement. No big plans. Just Great Expectations.
My dear friend lost her beloved husband two years ago at Christmas time. I think about her often especially in the Winter season. As I spoke to her she shared how life was quickly changing. How dreams have been altered and now was the time to shed years of the past and surrender material goods no longer needed for the journey. As I reflect upon the stark beauty of the trees in Winter I am reminded of the seasons of life. At one time or another we must all experience the cold dark of Winter, loneliness, solitude, abandonment and the time when all dies and goes to sleep. Once completely emptied and abandoned to His will we await the promise of Spring. A time of rebirth and new life. My prayer for my dear friend is that as she carries the harsh cold cruelty of winter in her day, she may wait with longing and faith that eventually a new Spring will arrive in her soul.
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might
go and bear fruit ~fruit that will last ~ and so that whatever you ask the
Father in my name He will give you.” ~John 15:16
As we enter the season of Advent I contemplate the scripture verse above and it’s significance in relation to my annual Christmas Pomegranate painting. The Pomegranate is an ancient symbol of fertility and abundance. It’s plentiful seeds of ruby-red promise a future of abundance. In Renaissance paintings the Pomegranate with its’ ruby red seeds held in the hand of the Virgin Mary as the infant Jesus sits on her lap symbolizes the drops of blood that Jesus would shed in the garden of Gethsemane, under the crown of thorns placed on his head, and as he hung on the cross at Calvary where he died.
If we look more deeply into the correlation between the pomegranate seeds holding the promise of future life and the drops of blood shed by Jesus Christ on the cross we are presented with a profound and stark truth. It is through suffering that we can truly bear fruit ~ fruit that will last. This truly is the message of our Lord and Savior who came down to earth as God made man; to die on a cross in order to make atonement for our sin and purchase life eternal for those who believe.
If we are to truly seek out the meaning of “fruit that will last” we are confronted with the scripture passage from 1 John 2:17, For all that is in the world~the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and the pride of life~is not from the Father but from the world. The world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God remains forever.
Last February my father-in-law passed away. I was fortunate to be at his bedside upon his passing. Contemplating how quickly life with all of its’ splendor passes before us I am drawn more deeply to consider. How am I chosen? What fruit do I bear? Is this fruit quickly passing and decaying or will it last? Will the fruit that I bear be found alive in eternity?
What an incredible honor to be chosen. What an incredible responsibility. How valuable it is to contemplate suffering and sorrow and to turn that suffering into fruit that will last. Fruit that will blossom in eternity. For all is passing so quickly.
Posted in Advent, Bible, Christianity, oil Painting, still life, Uncategorized
Tagged Advent, Christianity, fruit oil painting, John 15:16, Pomegranate, still life
Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit…Thus by their fruit you will recognize them. ~Matt. 7:17-20
Even in Jesus’ time jaws were flapping, political opinions were flying, racism was rampant, wars were being fought, the oppression of debtors, poverty and illness burdened many of God’s children. In the midst of all the noise Jesus brings peace. He warns his disciples to pay close attention to the actions and deeds of others and to guard against false prophets.
We have all experienced the blind path of a false friend, a false leader and false prophets. We all have been seduced and tricked by the promise of wealth, social stature, weight loss, body beautiful, popularity, and freedom from pain. Once we arrive at the end of our search; bankrupt, exhausted and empty, we meet our Savior. Arms open wide, ready to bring us back to the fold. A place where we find healing from hurts, comfort in the midst of pain, help to carry our burdens and a place of spiritual, emotional and physical rest.
Try Jesus if you’re tired of the political noise, empty promises, and a life absent of faith, hope, love and joy. In His arms you will find rest. In His company you will find friends to help you to carry your burdens along your journey.
Posted in Bible, Books, Christianity, Feminine, Knowledge, Motherhood, oil Painting, Reading, scripture, still life, Uncategorized
Tagged Books, life, Peaches, still life
Last Valentine’s Day our hearts were heavy, cold and empty. All six of us in our sweet little San Juan Bautista home sorrowed helplessly. Although Spring comes early in California, our hearts were full of the cold and harsh winds of winter. In November we discovered that our beloved Papi had lung cancer. He would not recover and now we all adjusted to making his last days as hopeful and comfortable as could be.
Papi was the founder of the feast in our family. He always filled our hearts and home with the joy of a fiesta. Taking our daughters out to choose their first Pinata’s for birthday parties, going on beer and chip runs when we were running low and manning the BBQ surrounded by the sounds of laughter and the telling of stories.
It was February 14th, Valentines Day. My husband was across the country where he had been regularly over the past three months caring for his father. The past celebrations of Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays and New Years Eve had all been tempered and consumed by the sadness of our imminent loss. I lost interest in painting and found comfort in the quiet sound of rain drops splashing in the gutter. I only wanted to wrap a warm blanket around myself and sit quietly in my favorite chair.
My sweet daughter walked into the empty house and my empty heart on that cold February 14th with a bouquet of Tulips. She placed them in my favorite vase and set them on the kitchen counter. That warm, sweet and sensitive gesture filled my heart like a warm soft breeze on a fresh Spring day. I wanted to capture that moment of hope, love and comfort that my daughter offered on that cold day in February. It was her gesture of love that pulled me out of the reclusive comfort of my favorite chair and filled my heart with the desire to paint again.
Thank you my sweet and wonderful daughter. Your gift of love, hope and kindness warms souls everywhere and gives us all a reason to get up again and bring light, love and laughter to our world.
Lo, in the silent night
A child to God is born
And all is brought again
That ere was lost or lorn.
Could but thy soul, O man,
Become a silent night!
God would be born in thee
And set all things aright.
Advent, the liturgical season heralding the arrival of our Savior on Christmas morning is upon us beginning November 27th. I love this time of year. As an artist one of my favorite past times is to hunker down in front of a fire with books full of poems and inspirational essays uncovering the burning fire of divine love that has descended to our earth to free the captives, provide comfort for the oppressed and food for the hungry. We can all partake in this spiritual food by inviting our divine Lord into our hearts during this holy season. One of my favorite Advent poems above is taken from Watch For the Light, Readings for Advent and Christmas.
I was scared and I was dying. I was in the first trimester of pregnancy, in the emergency room of a Sacramento hospital at 1:00am. The surgeon on staff was nowhere to be found as my stomach continued to fill with fluid and my abdomen grew. After twelve hours in the emergency room and no surgeon available, (the assigned surgeon was off on a drinking binge,) I heard triage say, “We’re losing her.” I panicked and begged the nurse on staff to save me. Since this nurse was not part of the nurses union working at this hospital he acted to save my life. He found a surgeon available at another hospital and called an ambulance to take me to where a surgeon could operate and discover why I was dying. I was drowning in fluid. My lungs were beginning to fill. After fifteen hours in hospital A, I was transported to hospital B.
The surgeon on staff at hospital B agreed to take me ahead of three previously scheduled surgeries. The surgeon discovered that I had a ruptured appendix. The appendix had ruptured three days prior. My abdomen was vacuumed of all fluid and I was put on strong antibiotics because my body was septic. This surgeon and the nurse who ordered the ambulance saved my life and I am very grateful for his gift.
The concerned surgeon came into my hospital room the next morning to check on me. He mentioned that I looked much better than when he saw me last. He was very concerned about his patient and with compassion in his voice stated that I had a 95% chance of miscarrying the child that was in my womb. He was very concerned about my ability to carry the child to term and recommended that I terminate the pregnancy if I did not miscarry the baby.
I was devastated and scared. My faith and belief in God was put to the greatest test I’ve ever experienced. I was faced with the choice of choosing between my life and the life of my child. I had seven days in the hospital to consider what the surgeon recommended. I heard, of course, all kinds of advice from many people who loved me and wanted to see me live a full and happy life with my husband and three children, free of the burden of bringing a special needs child into the world or worse yet, losing my own life and never fully recovering.
I realized for the first time in my life, I was not God and if I truly believed in what I thought that I believed in, then God’s will would be done and not my will. I believed that, no matter what the consequences, if I was obedient to the precepts and teachings of life as handed down by Christian Church teaching and the life of Jesus Christ with his sacrificial death on the cross then I could trust in the will of God. I needed to have some basis of truth to rest my life and the lives of my husband and children upon. I came to the conclusion that no matter what I am faced with in life, no matter how difficult, burdensome or painful, I knew that I could trust everything into the hands of God, the God that I believe in. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The Father of Jesus Christ.
Today my daughter Danielle is alive and thriving at age 13 because I believed in God. She is alive because God desired for her to be on this earth to fulfill his Great plan. Even if that great plan is that you my reader are reading this story. I believe in life because every life has the exponential potential of touching other lives and fulfilling God’s great and glorious plan in our desperate world. I choose life, I choose to speak life and this November I will cast my vote for life. I will not be voting for a political candidate or a political party. I will be voting for life and the lives of all the Danielle’s in the world.
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged abortion, choice, christian, democrat, democratic part, democratic party, hillary clinton, life, republican, speak life, Trump
After a long day at school I asked my 12 year old daughter to pose for this painting. She agreed to a resting pose. The fatigue displayed upon her face belies the beauty of a kind and gentle soul hidden beneath the burden of daily reading, writing and math assignments.
So often I have asked myself if the burden of extra homework is destroying the joyful innocence of childhood play while creating young adult robots eager to please an increasingly competitive world. I recognize the wisdom in the warning of author Greg Speck, “Are we creating a society of intellectual giants who are emotional midgets?”
In an effort to please parents, teachers and school administrators, I have seen head of the class young adults mortgage their futures with outrageous college debt. I have watched well meaning parents remortgage their lifetime home loans to pay college tuition all for the reach of an unattainable golden carrot. I have often wondered how a promising young couple could possibly start a family after both partners have completed their college work and are saddled with double and triple digit debt. Forget about saving for that first home.
The pressure to “get it all” and” have it all” today is destroying our children and our families. Society is witnessing the fall out in our cities, schools and neighborhoods.
It is summer in San Juan Bautista, California. In our little rural town we will spend hours at the city rec pool, take a few beach trips, pick peaches from our peach tree and bake peach crisp, make peach jam, hang out with friends, take a few hikes and discover the serendipity that can be found in boredom. We will wake up almost daily with only one plan. That plan is to restore all that was lost over the past school year. We will restore innocence, imagination, boredom, adventure, hope, faith and love.
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged Childhood, college debt, Figurative Painting, Greg Speck, growing up, homework, hope, innocence, portrait painting, psychology, school, summer
There are times in my life when I have been suspended in mid air, not quite sure if, when or where I will land. My thoughts are flooded with doubt and confusion and the big answers that I am looking for are nowhere to be found. These are times when the big answers are not human answers. The answers lie in God’s promises. At these times I’ve wandered away from the world and found myself here, at my favorite place, Sweet Springs, Los Osos. I can sit here on a log and within minutes my soul is lifted, my thoughts are erased and a peaceful comfort floods my soul. I immediately sense that all will be well. We all need that place to go. The scripture below, one of my favorites, has often beckoned me to this place.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.” ~Psalm 23
There are times in our lives when only God can do this. My prayer for all those who read this blog is that you also will find your happy place, where He restores your soul.
My first encounter with the depiction of the pomegranate in art was in Boticelli’s, The Madonna of the Pomegranate. In Botticelli’s painting the virgin Mary is symbolically crowned by a heavenly oval of light. Her large size representing her role as the church building providing ample support for the Christ child in her lap. Her eyes are downcast and she wears a sad expression, hinting at the future crucifixion of her only son. Her son, Jesus the Christ, is cradled in her arms while in her left hand she holds a split pomegranate. The pomegranate, filled with seeds, symbolizes the rebirth of Jesus through the Resurrection.
The Italian Renaissance is one of my favorite periods to study in art history. The many paintings of this time period are resplendent with color, texture, story and symbolism. As I move in a world that is operating at light speed with “isms,” “ologies,” “ics,” “ists,” my soul hungers for the slower pace of reading, study, and contemplation.
We are now in the liturgical season of Advent in the Roman Catholic Church. It is at this time that we have the privilege to partake in the rich tradition of Holy waiting. Our liturgical readings, songs and sermons all point toward the preparation for the coming of Jesus Christ into our hearts. For we, like the virgin Mary, become the church. The holy church of Christ, prepared, blessed and broken to bring the innocent Christ child to those who hunger for His love, mercy, grace and peace.
Merry Christmas, May the gift of the innocent, pure and loving Christ Child Jesus fill your hearts with peace, joy and love during this Christmas season and throughout the year.