Thursday, December 31, 2020

a place of reflection

I can't think of a better time than New Year's Eve to reflect. 
For some of us the end of 2020 can't come fast enough. We all 
have changed, we all have something to learn, something to take 
to heart and care for it, like one cares for a seed... May those seeds
grow, blossom and bring good fruit in our lives in 2021.

I am always keenly aware that the ocean has depths. Those who know the ocean have profound respect for its depths. Some people may call it fear, but I think that reverence is a better word. 

The depths can be both exhilarating and terrifying. I discovered that even when my feet can't reach the bottom, and I am in way over my head, the ocean somehow never fails to support my full weight - effortlessly! And it does the same thing for the guy next to me, three times my size!

I am not the type who lingers long in the shallows. If I go to the ocean, I mean business. I don't mess around with petty stuff.  Within minutes, I am off into the deep end.

But, today, the little hand guides me along the shallows, tiptoeing on the edge of the glistening robe, chasing lazy birds that have no fear of humans and no end to their greedy appetites. I watch her skipping over the sea of glass sprawled endlessly in front of us.

"Wow, I never realized how BIG the shallow end is!" A thought strikes me.  "It looks... it looks like a giant... mirror!"

Indeed it does. The water is barely covering a large shoulder of the sandy beach, turning the entire thing into an enormous mirror - reflecting a million shades of the blue sky dotted with wispy and puffy clouds, with perfect veracity.

I look behind me, and it's there too - sprawled endlessly behind me as well. 

I've been walking on the clouds and I didn't even know it! 

I can't peel my eyes away from the sight even if I wanted to... 

There is unspeakable glory and unspeakable sadness in this strange union on the edge of the ocean... this unlikely marriage of heaven above and the earth below.

The familiar words bubble up... a promise and a taunt, a prayer and a longing... 

"Your will be done...

...on earth...

... as it is in heaven..."

Saturday, December 26, 2020

a place of prayer

I dropped my phone and broke the screen at the time
I was working on this painting. 'Broken' has a bad
reputaton in our perfection-driven world, but as I looked
at the painting through the shattered glass, it seemed
fitting as it added depth, dimension and meaning
beyond what was originally intended. 

Funny thing, this answer-to-prayer business.

Sometimes, we don't even realize we prayed. 

To us, it was just... a sigh. That deep waiting-to-exhale out-breath that escapes our lungs apart, even against our will.  

"What was THAT all about?!?!!"

"What?!!?? Oh, THAT! It's really nothing... it's... just a sigh."

"Oh. O.K. Glad you are fine". With that, both of us are greatly relieved that the sigh was a nothing and not a something that we may need to face or talk about.

Or, it might be a tear. A single tear that rolls down the cheek, we surreptitiously wipe away before anybody else notices.

Or, we feel an overwhelming sense of powerlessness and confusion, we can't make sense of any of it, much less put into words. 

Or, like a drowning man, we shoot out a plain old yelp for help, in desperate hope against all hope that it will somehow, somewhere pierce the impenetrable silence of the sky.

There are many languages in this world, but the language of prayer is by far the most fascinating, the most diverse, and truly, the most unifying of all.

Sometimes, we forget we even asked.

Sometimes we forget what we asked.

I do both.   A lot!

Sometimes the answer comes, but we are so set on how we expect the answer should come that we miss, or almost miss it. Because it came in such gentle and unassuming way.

But, then, there is also this imperceptible pat on your back you can't miss. Like a quiet yet unmistakable knock on the soul's door. You look up, and look again, and there it is! You see it, really see it, as if for the first time. 

I admit I almost missed it.  

There was so much ruckus, such disorder in the courtroom - the Editor, the PR Manager, the Facebook Prosecutor, the Defense Attorney, the Judge - all insisting on the indisputable value of their own unique perspective - that I almost didn't hear the small voice, and I almost didn't feel the tiny hand inside mine.

Monday, December 21, 2020

do you want to build a snowman?

Every once in a while I like painting little greeting cards.
They are easy, fun and cheerfully lightweight, providing both balance
and welcome distraction from the weightier things of life and art. 

"Today, I want to build a Snowman",  I announce to the ocean.  

"Well, a Sandman would be more accurate",  I immediately correct myself.  It's really the Editor speaking. Accuracy is very important to the Editor.  Inaccurate sloppy language is an indication of inaccurate sloppy thinking.  And inaccurate sloppy thinking coupled with inaccurate sloppy language leads to inaccurate sloppy living. Needless to say, the Editor can't stand sloppiness however you look at it.  It's one of the ten deadly sins in his meticulously kept little red book.

Then, for some reason, I proceed with the explanation, as if the ocean needs me to explain everything, or anything at all, for that matter.

"You know, it's winter. It's a very appropriate seasonal activity."  

Now it's the Public Relations Manager's turn. The PR Manager is intensely concerned with all things appropriate and suitable, with a discreet emphasis, 'just a touch', she would say, 'of seasonal'. She is a tireless vigilante ensuring we never cross the invisible albeit ever-shifting lines of 'proper'.  My PR Manager has the most difficult job because she always wants to tame my naturally color-outside-the-lines, fiercely disheveled, messy messy life.  But she is also a very smart lady and knows how to play my Cool-Me persona.

"This would be soooo cool", the PR Manager continues. "We could take a picture of it once we are done and post it on Facebook. People would love it."

It slipped just like that.  This people-would-love-it part. 

Suddenly there is a wailing of sirens inside my head, a red alert, indicating imminent grave danger.

"Are you telling me we are doing this just to get some 'likes' on your Facebook page?!!! I thought we came here to have fun for fun's sake, not to parade it to the world so we can prove to everyone how much fun we are having!"

But before I could even begin to think of how to respond to this deeply personal betrayal creating uproar inside my mind and heart, I feel a tiny hand slip into the palm of mine, and a small voice overwhelms all the noise with its simple invitation.

"Do you want to go for a walk with me?"

Sunday, December 13, 2020

a place of awakening cont.


The sand is seeping into my flip-flops, lodging between my toes.  I know it's just across the bridge and over the dune...

"There you are!" I light up. "I SEE you!"

"And there YOU are", roars the ocean, always happy to see me. "I see YOU too!"

I run and trip, the dry sand heaving under my feet until it turns soggy and I reach the very edge.  

Like the edge of a lavish robe.  

I can smell him.

I can hear him roar.

I can hear him breathe.

I can see him.  

Pregnant with incessant motion and rest. Dark and glistening silver and white. Deep calling to deep. 

The wind intensifies, enveloping us both.

I linger on the edge, waiting for him to make the first move.  I don't need to wait long. 

Now, I can feel him tickling my toes.

 I jump, backing off.

"You are too cold!"

"And you are too silly", laughs the ocean because little children are splashing and giggling and screaming all around me. 

"C'mon, let's play!", he calls.

"No, not today", I shake my head.  "Today I need to stay in the shallows."  

"Whatever you wish my dear..."

Monday, December 07, 2020

a place of awakening


'hope rising hope descending' I love this piece as it tells the same story
but from two different perspectives when you flip it around

The moment the air hits me, I know I am at my destination. 

You wonder how do I know?

I can SMELL it!

The unmistakable salty-dried-sea-weed-coconut-SPF30-Subway-spicy-Italian tingling my nostrils reminds me to do something I so often forget:




And, then, again, but slower:




This forgotten breathing-in-and-out-thingie reminds me there is more to me - more INSIDE me - than meets the eye. There is this BREATH inside me, but, sadly, most of my life I live holding it back really really tight.

I am near.  I can smell it. But I still can't see it.

The wind is messing up my hair and whispering into my ear. Through its sound, like a layered symphony - the screeching seagulls and inarticulate noises people on the beach make - I can distinguish a steady rhythmic low-rumble - wave in, wave out.

I can hear the ocean breathe!

Wave in.

Wave out.

Already there is a dialogue between us while neither one of us has said a single word!

I can smell him.  

I can hear him.

But I still can't see him.