Monday, November 30, 2015

How to Make a Point

Right now there are five lines defining my page.

First, there is Horizon. A line where earth and sky meet.  A junction of heaven and earth. Normally, I don’t think too much about this line, because it’s waaaay out there.  Somewhere in an undetermined distance that has very little relevance on my day-to-day nose-in-the-stuff-of-life existence.

But, on this page, the horizon line runs smack dab through my house! Or rather the leaning rectangle representing my house. This little fact makes intersection of heaven and earth a lot more personal.  Perhaps too close for my comfort.  Almost, how shall I put it,  intrusive?

I like to run my own earth-bound life and leave the domain of heaven to the management of those much more qualified than yours truly.

It turns out, it gets even more intrusive than that. But, I don’t know that yet.

I unpause the video, ready for the next step. The disembodied hand of the anonymous YouTuber leads me to a place I will later realize I am not ready to go.

He picks a spot – a  tiny dot – a point – on the horizon’s continuum. This little dot is the ‘point’ part from the one-point perspective.

This tiny dot on the horizon line where heaven and earth mesh together – or crash together – depends how you look at it -  determines my perspective.

I notice that the dot, or rather - the point – isn’t inside my house. It’s outside.

In fact, it’s so far out on the horizon line that it actually falls off my paper!

I realize my point of perspective doesn’t fit my 8 1/2 by 11 sheet. I hesitate a bit and decide I must squeeze it in, I must make it fit. I go as far as I could to the edge and pick a point that still fits my little drawing pad. 

It makes sense.  I see no harm. What could possibly go wrong by moving your point of perspective to fit your page?

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Blurred Lines

Four intersecting lines – two horizontal and two vertical now define my house – a simple rectangle, really just a box, a container.  The horizon cuts through the length of the house, beyond its walls, beyond the page, from one infinite end to the other infinite end.

I look at those intersecting lines, reflecting what they might represent…

Date of birth?

Time of death?

My departures?

My returns?

Natural gifts, abilities, flaws?

I sense there is more to this house than these four lines. 

The seemingly empty space surrounding them and the space filling their insides pushes on both sides of these lines.

The external forces of culture - the time and the place I 'randomly' occupy at any given moment? Its history? Its daily buzz-feed?

The internal forces of family of origin? Family by grace? Friends, enemies, frenemies? 

The unrepeatable mixture of nature and nurture that creates the unrepeatable one-of-a-kind you and me.

Where the black lines intersect is where I sense the lines being blurred the most...

Compassion and caution…

Grace and truth…

Mercy and justice…

I feel thoroughly inadequate to sustain such structure, deeply aware of the finite capacity of my life to embody any one of those. I sense that forces of life in and around me constantly blurring these lines. 

My reality tugging against the imagined ideal.

I know that in and of my unaided self, I am destined to fail. My house to crumble. My ideals to crash and burn.

I need something outside this structure to anchor its walls and roof, its windows and doors.  

A foundation that runs deeper than the bottom line, much deeper than even the bottom of my page. 

Friday, November 20, 2015

How to Draw a Line

In the world where words - even the best ones - have become so threadbare from overuse and misuse, art has a way of bypassing our natural cynicism and defenses, touching us in places few preachers can reach.

I am practically glued to YouTube, watching an instructional video on single-point perspective.  I must have worn out the digital replay button, by hitting it so many times.  I virtually memorized the whole darn thing!

What makes the video so mesmerizing is that they make it look so easy. So simple.  I can’t help but think,

I can DO this! Piece of cake!

One day, after everybody left for school and work and whatnot,  I finally decide it’s time to move from endless consumption to actual creation. 

I get a piece of paper and pencil - AND eraser - feeling jittery before I take my first plunge into the creative unknown.

My laptop is cued to the beginning of the video, the paper in front of me, the pencil in my hand, and …

I draw my first line! 

A long horizontal line stretching across the length of the paper representing horizon. 

It's beautiful! 

Even though it’s a bit slanted, and a little jagged, I feel pretty accomplished. Like a proud parent cradling a wrinkled, squinty-eyed newborn. 

We are off to a great start.

The next line is the real deal.  This is where my house actually starts.

Suddenly I am not so sure anymore. In a moment of panic I hit the 'pause' button.

I realize,

I don’t know where to start.

I don’t know when to end.

Who knew that drawing a line can be so hard!

After few moments of deliberation, I decide to pick a random spot to start and equally random spot to end. I mean it’s not rocket science.  What difference does it make…?  I can’t get bogged down with such inconsequential details!

Regardless of how you might feel about Aristotle, there is something to be said about art mimicking life.

It may not be what we like, it may not be what we want, but it's a truth we need to see. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

In the Name of L'Amoure

By now, everyone knows. It happened in Paris.

I guess that makes all the difference.

Not because citizens of Paris are any better or more worthy than the rest of us. Or people who live in any other place on Earth plagued by terrorism are less valuable. Or the death-deifying act less abhorrent.

Whenever civilian blood is shed in violence – in Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Nigeria, New York City, Beirut – no man is an island. Every loss of human life diminishes me and you. Every life matters. Ask a parent who lost a child.  A wife who lost her husband and father of her children.

Most of us react to news of a terrorist attack with shock and disbelief. A natural reaction to violence is fear, anger and desire for revenge. 

But there is something about Paris, about what the City of Light unambiguously stands for, that fuels a different response. That makes me want to defy this stupid death rampage with life.

Defy this blindness and darkness with light.

Defy hate with love.

Because sometimes it takes tremendous amount of courage to get out of bed the next morning and embrace life.

To get up even as the silence envelopes the mourners like French flag and dare to eat a croissant in the name of love.

To share a glass of blood-red Bordeaux in the name of life.

To plant a garden, make love, say a prayer for all devastated by the tragedy (which one of us is not, in some way, some measure?), do whatever it is that in our small piece of Paris inside our heart affirms life.  

Which also makes me think of something else. 

Something I can do to stop taking my own life and people in it for granted. 

Something I can do to banish the forces of death, subtle as they may be, in my own life. Bring the Kingdom of Life and Light nearer.

Right here. 

Right now.

I don’t wan to wait until tomorrow.

To DO.
In the name.
In the name of
La Ville Lumiere.
In the name of

Because that's what the God who came to live among us stands for. Love. Light. Life.

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21

Friday, November 13, 2015

How to Overcome Your Fear of Just About Anything

Everyone who knows me would say that there is an undeniable artistic vein in me, but not everyone knows that I suck at drawing. I can draw a stick figure and even that not very well.

And that’s about it.

It’s rather embarrassing.

My sister is a successful architect who runs her own business. My niece has Masters Degree in Fine Arts. Both my kids surpassed me in their artistic abilities when they entered second grade.

Truly they left me in the chalk dust.

I am not comparing but it’s plain humiliating.

Surprisingly enough, living my artistically challenged life while surrounded with prodigies hasn’t been enough to get me to overcome my fear of blank sheet of paper inside a drawing pad.

In fact, I think it only pushed me deeper into a hidey hole.

I admit, I have remarkable capacity to bury my fears deep down where nobody can see them.  And then pretend that I don’t even care.

That was then.

I can’t  quite put my finger exactly on what pushed me over the edge this time.

Maybe it's a midlife crisis.  I am too old not to know how to draw like a fourth or a fifth grader!

Perhaps it’s been a cumulative effect of tiny victories in overcoming my fear of baking, fear of knitting and crocheting, fear of Spanish and French. Fear of painting wood cabinets. Fear of experts.  Fear of amatures. Fear of…

Now you must think… Wow, that’s a lot of fears! And since curious minds want to know, you probably wonder,

How in the world did you overcome all those fears?

As much as I may want to say, I just prayed and Jesus took all those fears away, which, of course, is 100% true, the answer goes even deeper than that.

It’s called YouTube.

Monday, November 02, 2015

The Alien Invasion

It’s confirmed.  The date is set. It’s been a very long time – a forever of kind - since the last visit, but now all the details leading up to this eagerly awaited return are fully set in motion.

I guess it’s safe to announce, barring God’s miraculous intervention that my dad is coming! And my mom, too!!

I am so excited .  And I am terrified.

There is a huge difference between looking forward to some day in a distant future, and knowing the actual date just few weeks away.

Amidst cleaning and pruning, I find myself examining my life with their presence in view all the time. 

Their values.  

Their priorities. 

This is quite a challenge, because I’ve gotten somewhat comfortable in my northern American routine. I had to figure out a way to make it work for me and for my family.

But, now, that they are coming, I sense a force beyond my control, pulling me back.  Pulling me out. 

See, for all practical purposes, my parents could be landing in Florida from a completely different planet.  When they get here, they’ll be like extraterrestrials.   They don’t speak English.   They don’t own a car, a smart phone or computer.  I don’t even know if they ever heard of Facebook or Twitter or even a blog!

They are not going to ask me questions like, How’s you blog doing? Does your son have any followers on his YouTube channel? How many Facebook friends do you have?

It’s not because they don’t care about what we do.  It’s because they care  A LOT more about the real me. My husband. Our son and our daughter. Our real life neighbors and friends. 

Are we healthy?

Do kids listen to us?

Am I too busy? Is my life too hectic, too stressed out to enjoy it?

Do I take time to breathe?

I go through my day, with my dad’s quite presence sifting the steady flow of moments – minutes and hours as the seep through my fingers.

 Would he be pleased by what he sees?  Would his heart swell up with pride and joy? Would he look in and around – and be satisfied with how my life has turned out? With who I am becoming – unashamed of my heritage, yet still adjusted to the world to which, by the strange ways of God,  I now belong?  

Or would he be grieved? Not as a reproof or punishment, but because somehow in the chase after little things that seem so big on this crazy planet I now inhabit, I completely missed something really important. Something that he knows can not be traded for all the trinkets this world may offer….