Monday, May 25, 2015

Art, Artists, and Patrons Of..

I don't consider myself an artist...I write, I make my house pretty, I used to craft lovely pots on a wheel and burn them into something lasting. Now I craft tiny people, and the days that pass us by.

               "To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts."
                                                                    ~            ~Henry David Thoreau

True enough, but it doesn't make me an artist, not really. 

* * * *   * * * * 

I believe in art. I believe that "beauty will save the world," that it has saved the world, in fact, because Christ is Beauty, and Beauty is Christ. And so I believe that both art and the artists who create it are worthy of my support. 

Like all of us, I'm limited. Limited financially as I try to spend within our means to feed and clothe and nourish our family; limited spatially in that I have one room, 24 feet in diameter..about 75 feet totally of wall space, most of which is covered in tall dressers, bookcases, cupboards, and especially Icons.

Most importantly, though, I'm limited by my own judgment. I support artists. Co-creators of beauty. I determinedly pass over artistes - 'throwbacks to the disease of Shellyism' (in the words of Kathleen Norris ), or stagnating 'talents' who have never developed a voice of their own.  That last category which gives me pause though. I want to support them. I want to help them find a voice, a style, a medium that truly speaks for them. But I don't have the time or the money. I can't really be a 'patron of arts' so much as I can just be a tiny signpost on the path the artist has to walk. Saying softly - and I hope gently - "not this way.." or else "almost"; and most importantly, with Rilke, reminding them to:

“Keep growing quietly and seriously throughout your whole development; you cannot disturb it more rudely than by looking outward and expecting from outside replies to questions that only your inmost feeling in your most hushed hour can perhaps answer.” 

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With my small resources, I'll buy a beautiful, handcrafted bookshelf here, a vivid painting of trees against an October sky there, textured photographs and well-lettered altar cards..Art and crafts by those whose voice is strong, or growing well within them. I'll nourish them with words and actions, at the same time nourishing my own family with the beauty they've created.

Society needs artists, just as society needs prophets..and both are rare, shy creatures in our culture. It's a dangerous calling. It's dangerous to have any calling, "the ideology of our time is that we can live an uncalled life, one not referred to any purpose beyond one's self."(Walter Brueggeman)..and our society hopes that in encouraging such a life, everyone will be essentially the same, and the prophet, the artist, the 'necessary other' will recede into distant memory. But it is a calling, and not everyone who desires it is called.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Very Inspiring!

I'm most inspiring when quiet, I suppose...

My much-beloved Christie sent me an award! Thank you!

I have to talk about myself a bit now (7 things you may or may not know):

     1. Generally I dream in black and white..or grey..but with bursts of color - red or green - in one or two places only. And I never have nightmares anymore.

     2. My second child, Ilya Birch was born last month. Growing him has been part of my distraction from blogging. Like his sister, Ilya was born in the caul and in water. Unlike his sister, he was born in daylight, and took a surprising 8 hours to be born. Yarrow was there to greet him and they act as though they've know each other forever.

     3. I'm currently a redhead. Bright, bright red, with black tips..but soon I think I'll be a blond again. Or maybe not. My favorite hair color is black.

     4. My favorite everything color is black. Black is where I'm happiest, most comfortable, and someday, if I'm very, very lucky, I'll get a baby with black hair that stays black. 

     5. I think Joss Whedon is the Best Director Ever. I adore everything I've seen of his and I'm kind of an addict when it comes to Firefly..and Buffy. And his Much Ado About Nothing is pretty much the best movie adaptation of Shakespeare ever made. I love him almost as much as I love Rainer Maria Rilke..and that's saying a lot.

     6. If I could only read one book for the rest of my would be the Bible (as read aloud by my husband, who really captures the story-telling aspects). But if we discount the'd be Rilke's Book of Hours. I need that book to feel normal - but in a good way.

     7. I love reading self-help books I disagree with, or badly written fiction, or badly written self-help books I disagree with. Right now I'm reading 'Love & Respect: the love she desires, the respect he desperately needs". I can't help wondering why all the wives in the book sound like monsters and why the husbands can't just 'desire' respect, why they have to 'desperately need' it, which sounds so...pathetic. I also wonder why the wives don't want to be respected, just loved..I don't think these books are written for me at all.

* * * *    *    * * * * 

And now I'm supposed to nominate others...but really, I'm best at talking about myself, not others, so I'll keep this short:

Jenna, dear, please! Your blog is inspiring because you're beautiful and honest and back again trying to write with too many commitments in life.

Loretta..I can't wait to see how your life grows back in the States. I miss seeing you, chica!

Little brother, you inspire me because you try and you dream and you hope. Keep seeking, you're a blessing to know.

* * * *    * *    * * * * 

And now that I've begun again, maybe this will be the year for consistency. If you're reading this, you've been incredibly patient with me. Blessings on you and yours in this long-awaited spring!

The Book Club Returns...


It's been forever, hasn't it?

I got distracted by life, had a baby, and weathered our roughest winter yet in the yurt. We're getting back into things slowly, purging out the distractions, and focusing on the good. And Our little book club is good! It gets me thinking and writing, and conversing just a bit more than I otherwise would.

Jenna's post is here: Go check it out. She has some lovely thoughts, and you can catch up on her life as well (and in more detail).

Especially interesting to me, we get to talk a bit more about divination (something Rowling doesn't really seem to respect, though there are moments in the books..). Jenna can happily anticipate having fewer "curiously clarifying" dreams when I send her the sleep pillow I've almost made (bad timing keeps delaying it)..though my hope is that it brings restfully-prophetic dreams, not the terrifying ones! But mugwort it sometimes difficult to control. (Don't worry though, Jenna, it's been blessed!)

Trelawney is a delightful fraud for the most part though, and I think Dumbledore is depriving his students by keeping her as a teacher..a guest, or a 'resident reader' would be acceptable, but a teacher?! I'm reminded of too many from my own public education..

I'm also reminded of a woman I met at a bar, a friendly, modern-day worshipper of Diane who asked why I was afraid to use magic, then 'felt my energy' and wondered why I didn't feel afraid after all...we talked for hours, but she had no interest in God-magic that comes with limitations, and goddesses tend to bore me.

I wonder if part of the issue, in Harry's world as well as ours, is that (moral issues aside) most people who can read the future don't because, as Firenze mentions a few times, they can so easily be misread or mis-applied. Or because it's generally just plain intrusive.

With Rowling's other treatment of magic though, I tend to assume it's more that divination isn't objective enough. It can't be turned into an A+B=C formula, as most of her magic appears to be. But maybe that's part of her point, too...maybe Trelawney's merely a reminder that attempting to make a formula from a mystery is impossible and makes those that attempt it look ridiculous. Actually, I like that last assumption best. Let's go with that! 

I also wonder if, as Laura mentioned in the comments on Jenna's post, a plain-old slap is more insulting in the wizarding world because of it's 'lowly' connotations, that divination might be seen in a similar light among certain wizards because it's a gift not limited to wizards, and apparently not any more common among them than it is among non-magical folks? 

What do you think? 

And welcome back after all this time!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Midsummer Retreating: St. John the Baptist and Interior Hospitality

I'm taking some time this month to reflect this month. Just a week or so to reconnect with God. I'm not going anywhere..I retreat best at home with my elf-child and my inspiring husband (though Luba is sometimes less than retreat worthy). 

It's the season of St. John. The days are long and bright, the moon is our friend and the nights - though brief, are refreshing. The Season of St. John is a woody season, and earth-season, a wild time of transition for many of us..'He must increase, I must decrease'.

The Baptist is the saint of transitions and roles - defined so completely by his place between the Prophets and the Messiah, Old and New - the Forerunner to Christ.

In this retreat time I'm crafting a rule of life: slowly, gently, building Christ more intimately into my days. The first stage belongs especially to St. John - the stage of roles and relationships. 

I am reflecting on my roles, my relationships with others, and the ways in which I can nourish them while nurturing my own interior life as well.

St. John spent his life in the wilderness. The 'Angel of the Desert,' he is nourish on fasting and on the earth and the Sun, only from a life a part can he touch deeply the people he loves and live out his purpose in life.

For me the wilderness - though less vast and less wild - is also a healing place. Mine is fuller, with more companionship, more noise, but still a place that becomes for me a haven of reflection..a place to put down roots and drink in the whispers of God.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Love and Solitude in Modern Life

"Think.. of the world you carry within you."
                ~Rainer Maria Rilke

I like to be lonely much of the time. 

I crave the pure solitude of a space with no one in it, and the fuzzy, dusky solitude of time alone with my little family; I like the haunted sort of solitude of being alone with strangers all around as well - in cafes, where little tables of people talk together and I am alone among them. But only if I can avoid conversations..keep my solitude safe. 

At times though, I wonder if my lonely self - listening and loving and all wrapped up in thought - is offering a good sort of love to the people I am alone among in my haunted solitude. Am I being as Christ to them, when I sit in solitary thought? We have a tendency to fill time and spaces with movement, don't we? With words and little gestures..and sometimes I wonder if people can see love lived without the little gestures or words that fill up the spaces between us. The words and gestures I am so incapable of making up. I hope so..

And I think they do. 

Once, on a late train I sat beside a man from India, traveling with his little band. Before his stop, he turned and smiled: "You were never a stranger to me" he said and left for another show in another Canadian town. 

I am grateful, to be a friend and not a stranger to all the little Christs around me. Quiet as I am among them.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Easter Icons:


"The poets scattered you about
(a storm swept through their stuttering);
but I would like to scoop you up
into a cup you like."

Christ plays like a child - never tiring He appears again and again in the cup. "Here I am! Watch me! See! Let's do it again!" He pours out Himself joyfully, laughing as He comes down to all His beloved sinners..It's this Icon especially that reminds me of the encounter between Christ and the Rich Young Man who couldn't turn from his many things. I feel for the young man, I'm not rich, but I do love my many things: my pretty tarot cards, my silks and lamps and cups.. I always picture Christ's face in the encounter: sad, but laughing just a bit, knowing He's made the path a bit easier for the man, just by loving. The Rich Young Man walks away rich and unhappy, because already he knows there's something better than gold waiting for him..Some one who never really stops waiting for him. 

I like to imagine that his story is continued in St. Francis..that we don't read of him in the scriptures because we'll get to see the play of his life in the life of the saint who - more than any other other, gave up all he had and followed Christ.

I imagine the rich young man as a hidden Francis, and I expect he saw Christ around every bend and in every cup, reaching out to him again.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Welcome back! It’s been far too long so we have to hit the ground running with a drink that is not only tasty, but packs a little punch. Fewer steps than the Shiny, but with more ingredients and a far higher alcohol level, this drink is quick to mix but slow to sip. Perfect to pair with tiny sandwiches, even if the trick in this case is not wood alcohol, but moonshine. 

And so, in honor of Christie's move to the UK, here is Badger’s drink, the “Very Fine Hat”.

" 'Course, you couldn't buy an invite with a diamond the size of a testicle. But I got my hands on a  couple." -Badger        

1 1/2 oz moonshine (a good vodka will work too. It just lacks that lawless nature)
3/4 oz black tea, cooled (I recommend lichee congou as it makes a naturally sweet cup, but Earl Grey or English Breakfast are fine)
Splash of simple syrup
Apple twist, for garish

Brew the tea before hand and set aside to cool. Sweeten it if it’s too bitter, or you just like it that way. Once cooled, shake together the tea, moonshine, and simple syrup with ice, and strain into a teacup (yes, that’s necessary for the drink).


 Garnish with a long green apple peel and drink with a smug, self-satisfied air. It’s perfectly okay to indulge in a fake English accent at this point. The more Very Fine Hats you have, the better it will probably get. No, really. Trust me. And then recite River’s whole “sad li’l king of a sad li’l hill” line and you’ve taken one more very substantial step down Firefly fandom.