Tag Archive - Art

How Inarticulate the Longings of My Soul…

How inarticulate are the longings of my soul, O God,
yet how acute are its pangs.
How incapable am I in understanding those longings,
let alone, in tending them.
Feed me with food, O God, that will best nourish my soul,
food that will intensify rather than satisfy
my love for You
and my longing to be with You.
Awaken every eternal seed You have planted in my soul
so while I am yet rooted in this earth
something of heaven may blossom in my life…

~Ken Gire, Windows of the Soul

Booklist: The Travel Books

The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page. ~St. Augustine.

Ours is a family of gypsies. We LOVE to travel. Early in our marriage, Mike and I decided that experiences and memories would always have priority over stuff as we made choices regarding allocation of time and of money. So, while I buy most of my clothing at Goodwill and consignment stores, clip coupons, and never buy anything that is not on sale, ours is a family that has seen a good bit of the world.

It is not necessarily at home that we best encounter our true selves. The furniture insists that we cannot change because it does not; the domestic setting keeps us tethered to the person we are in ordinary life, who may not be who we essentially are. ~Alain de Botton

Traveling to far-off places has a tendency to help us find bits of ourselves, and of one another, that have lain hidden. It challenges and inspires us. And, it gives us a treasure trove of memories that are part of the cement that binds us as a family.

When we are not traveling, I am frequently reading about the travels of others, or combing through guide books and dreaming about our next trip. Here are a few of my favorites. Be sure and tell me yours.

Travel Guides

Rick Steves’ Europe Through the Back Door  Rick Steves has been my best friend in planning the several trips we have made to Europe. He and I share a common philosophy about travel: While in a foreign country, one should soak up as much of the authentic culture as possible. Eat where they eat. Sleep in their neighborhoods. Shop in their markets. Why would I want to travel to Istanbul to sleep in an American chain hotel and eat at McDonalds? I can do that here.

Steves puts his decades of experience to work for me, and helps me find those quirky, off-the-beaten-path places that put me in direct contact with the people I am visiting. Our family is eternally grateful to him for introducing us to one of our favorite destinations EVER: Vernazza in the Cinque Terra (along the Italian Riviera). Europe Through the Backdoor gives a great overview and some general travel tips that are helpful wherever you might find yourself in Europe. His guides for individual countries give more specific information.

I especially like his walking guides, both for cities and for museums, highlighting attractions on the way. And, not surprisingly, I appreciate the historical information as well as curiosities and trivia.

DK Eyewitness Travel Top 10 Concise. Full color illustrations. Small enough to slide into your back pocket. They always include helpful street and metro maps. Usually specific to a city or a region (like Provence). We have them for New York, Chicago, Paris, Dublin, and London. They begin by giving their top ten things to see in the city. Then they give top ten lists for categories: museums, pubs, restaurants, hotels, children’s attractions, sporting events, etc… They usually include a list of excursions outside the city as well. For example, the Dublin guide gave us information about the whole of Ireland. While Rick Steves takes you in through the back door, these guides will make sure you know about all the major don’t miss attractions.

If I still need info after consulting these two sources, I consult guides from Frommer’s and Fodor’s. I love that they too are now adding color photographs to many of their guides. I like the traveling philosophy of the Lonely Planet guides and have, at times, found valuable information therein. But, I find their organizational system cumbersome.

Travelogues

The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton  I make an unusual exception here in that this is the first book I have ever included on a booklist before having read the whole of it. The portions I have read convince me that, if the rest were rubbish (most unlikely) it would still be a valuable read. The author is a contemplative. He takes as his companions on his exploits artists and writers who give him new eyes with which to see the world. He rolls around ideas and observations that are most intriguing. Thoughts about anticipation, curiosity, beauty, art, and seeing our own everyday world as a destination worthy of reflection.

To the Field of Stars by Father Kevin A. Codd  A compelling personal story of pilgrimage, of discovery, of communion…along the Camino de Santiago de Compostela. This pilgrimage is on my own bucket list. Father Codd’s beautiful account of struggle and pain, generosity and joy is stoking my desire.

Jesus spent a lot of time on the road…I wanted to know what it was like to live as he lived, depending on his feet to keep him bound to the earth and moving forward towards his destiny. Know his feet, know him.

A Thousand Days in Tuscany by Marlena De Blasi  De Blasi’s background as a food writer is obvious every time she describes the ridiculous food she enjoys in Tuscany. My mouth waters. And I start looking for apartments in Tuscany… This is a beautiful book about a roughly 3 year period she and her husband spend becoming part of a small, close knit Tuscan village. Great community meals, grape harvests, crusty old seasoned characters. Marvelous.

A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle

We had talked about it during the long gray winters and the damp green summers…looked with an addict’s longing at photographs of village markets and vineyards, dreamed of being woken up by the sun slanting through the bedroom window…

Mmm hmmm. Me too, Peter, me too. Thing is, even though Mayle is completely honest about the challenges…cracked pipes, the brutal Mistral winds, falling roof tiles, etc…I find myself, on the last page, wanting more than ever to spend a long season in France. Mayle’s evocative descriptions take me there. And nourishes the dream….

Round Ireland With a Fridge by Tony Hawks  A drunken wager gives way to an ironic adventure.  An endeavor so ludicrous, so perplexing, so…intriguing…that folks can’t help joining in. Offering rides, food, lodging. Soon, his reputation precedes him. And his folly becomes a national phenomenon. An unlikely, yet completely true story. An inside look at the ordinary people you and I might have missed. Great fun.

Addendum:  Keep in mind that plenty of books having nothing to do with travel can deepen and enrich your travel experience. For example, planning a visit to Ireland? Take a look at How the Irish Saved Civilization, Beauty: the Invisible Embrace, Angela’s Ashes, Dubliners, the poetry of W.B. Yeats or Seamus Heaney. These books will help you understand everything you see; the architecture, the art, the churches, the markets, the faces, the ethos, the very essence of the people.

God Who Told Stories

A friend of mine, a fine storyteller, remarked to me, “Jesus was not a theologian. He was God who told stories.”
~Madeleine L’Engle

All these things Jesus spoke to the multitude in parables [stories]; and without a parable he did not speak to them.
~Matthew 13:34

Why stories? Why not rules? Precepts? Propositional truth? Why in the world would the Creator of the universe sit around spinning yarns?

Could it be that Christ had something for us that was too round, too subtle, too textured and layered to be summarized into 3 points? Or 5 steps? Or 7 secrets?

A story isn’t really any good unless it successfully resists paraphrase, unless it hangs on and expands in the mind.
~Flannery O’Connor

Hangs on?

Expands in the mind?

Brothers Karamazov  Peace Like a River  Til We Have Faces  Lilith  My Name is Asher Lev  The Alchemist …just to name a few. Stories that wrap themselves around me. That draw me in. Asher’s pain is my pain. When Ruben wonders why the healing his father gives to others is not given to him, I wonder too. What Santiago sees, I see. I breathe the same air. The same grains of sand sting my skin. When Lilith dies…I die.

And the stories roll around in my head for weeks…months…rankling, provoking, stretching me, giving me hope…

Truth we have lived is truth we own. Experience is a most effective schoolmaster. When we encounter great stories, those experiences become ours as well. We stand inside truth that is too complicated and messy, too transcendent and glorious, to be reduced to a principle. It must be wrestled with. Clawed at. Cursed. Clung to. Celebrated. And finally, taken deep within. Til it becomes part of our blood.

Why did God tell stories? What was it that He would give to us that could only be given in this form? What do you think?

The Reckoning

For me, one test of a great album is that I love it more with every listen. By that standard, The Reckoning is a great album.

Jake and I have hungered for a new release from NeedToBreathe for a very long time. But, I must admit, I was nervous. What if it didn’t measure up? What if I didn’t love it as much as The Outsiders? What if they had used up all their creativity?

No worries. The first track, Oohs and Ahhs, dispelled all my fears. First there were the wailing guitar riffs, then the false ending that built into a free for all with screaming horns–the last thing I expected, but perfect–and I knew this was going to be a great ride.

I would say that, over all, their rockabilly style has gotten a bit more aggressive on this effort. It’s a good fit.

In a measure of unusual restraint, I tell you about only my very favorites here, though there is not a throw-away on the album.

White Fences  An anthem, the sort of which NeedToBreathe does so well. I like singing along with it at the top of my lungs. I like remembering what it was like to sing along with them at the Ryman, with others, also singing at the top of their lungs. The sort of intimate experience that makes you feel like you know them. Even if you don’t. I don’t.

A Place Only You Can Go  I kept waiting for the ballad. Oh, yes, there is a ballad. Torturous. True. The instrumentation alone would wrest tears from me, were not the lyrics already so poignant. Perhaps you must have led my schizophrenic  life to hear an Irish lament fused with a campmeeting song from the gut here. But, you would have to be dead to not feel something.

Slumber  A driving call to stop living someone else’s regurgitated, tired old life and “open up your eyes”.

Days they force you
Back under those covers
Lazy mornings they multiply
But glory’s waiting
Outside your window
So wake on up from your slumber
And open up your eyes…

Able  The dobro and piano provide the evocative lament. Even though I am strong, I am not enough on my own. I recognize this torturous confession. I know it intimately. I also know the joy to be found in surrendering my striving to be enough. And this song finds that as well. A choir  joins the swell of the instruments as we open our hands and let grace be enough. Thanks be to God!

Keep Your Eyes Open  If you know me, you know this is my credo. I could find no better theme song.

Cause if you never leave home, never let go
You’ll never make it to the great unknown
So you keep your eyes open…

Today is a good day for lovers of intelligent, creative, ballsy music with heart. This is such.

Ghosts Upon the Earth

Sometimes it seems like the most real thing is what we can see and experience with our senses around us – this life, the tangible…Ideas like love, like God, these things sometimes feel more disconnected and ethereal, like that’s the ghostly real. This is turning it on its head, recognizing that God is real, love is real, and we are the ghosts walking upon the earth, wanting to become more real. 
~Michael Gungor

A tone poem, of sorts. An illumination…in sound…of the beauty and fragility of life. A musical experience you can stand inside. A fusion of lyric and sound that will crawl inside you. An artistically exquisite exploration of all that matters…..

Ghosts Upon the Earth, the new album by Gungor, drops one week from today. It is one of the most intriguing, provocative, and artful works I have encountered in a while. I can’t stop listening to it. These are my distinctly personal listening notes. I do not presume to voice their intent in crafting the music, only my reaction to it.

Let There Be  Ever since reading The Magician’s Nephew, I have always imagined God singing the world into being. Now I know what it sounds like… Atonal meanderings drift, meterless. A voice wandering, lost. Then a gentle summons: Let there be… Echoed. Joined by other ethereal voices. Beats push and pull against one another, as cosmos is wrested from chaos. Building to a glorious crescendo, Let there be light!!! The energy, the rightness of this moment throbbing, exultant, ecstatic!

Brother Moon  and Crags and Clay  Both are celebrations of the One who makes all things beautiful. The first is a playful nod to St. Francis; a frolic. The second is a meditation..quiet at first…growing in intensity. Lovely.

The Fall  A tender lament of innocence lost. Voices rise and fall together in a plea…winsome, persistent. How long will You wait? Make things right, O God. Turn your face to us.

When Death Dies  A dream without bounds…of a world made right. Barely a whisper at first. Then a riotous celebration of possibility. Hope. When death dies, ALL things live.

Church Bells  One of my very favorites. Very like a Venetian barcarolle. A gentle invitation to surrender cynicism, and remember joy. Unadulterated. Without agenda. Clean.

Let church bells ring. Let children sing.
Even if they don’t know why, let them sing.
Why drown their joy…stifle their voice
Just because you’ve lost yours?

May our jaded hearts be healed. Amen.

Let old men dance, lift up their hands.
Even if they are naive, let them dance.
You’ve seen it all. You’ve watched them fall.
Wash off your face and dance.

May our weary hearts be filled with hope. Amen.

Amen.

Wake Up Sleeper  Discombobulation. Unconventional harmonies. Mixed meter, including an unsettling passage in 7/8. Instruments leaping back and forth between speakers. The world is being turned upside down. Or…then again…right side up. As it should be. The poor, the sick, the despised, inherit the Kingdom. And corrupt manipulators, users, exploiters, are exposed.  What a ride! Brilliant!

Ezekiel  This one is intensely personal for me. Excruciating. I have been so often faithless, selling myself to anyone who would promise to fill my empty places. I have broken the heart of my Lover. Over and over. He sings to me here. Of relentless love. Of eyes that see who I am. Inside. Beneath my horrible choices. And He calls me back….

Vous Etes Mon Coure (You Are My Heart)  Une chanson d’amour. Très beau. Avec la mandoline. Délicieux.

This is Not the End  Faith is, above all, a journey. The Way. This is not the end of this. We will open our eyes wide, wider...

You Are the Beauty  A rollicking celebration of the One who has made all things beautiful. Who did not abandon us, even when we abandoned Him. Who is turning the world upside down to redeem us and put all things right. And who pursues us relentlessly. Selah.

Every Breath  Finally, a love song back to Him. He who has loved extravagantly. A giving of myself. The very words I am looking for. Perhaps, the words you are looking for, too…

Buy the album. Then give yourself the gift of undivided attention for a listen all the way through. Take a walk in the woods. Sit on your porch in the moonlight. Light a candle. Pour a glass of wine. And let it wash over you. It is unlike anything you have experienced. Yet.

P.S. If you are lucky enough to live in (or near) Atlanta or Nashville, you can be part of an album release show next week. Click your city for more info. I will be at the Nashville show with my guys. Perhaps I’ll see you there. 🙂

A Home in the Trees…

It’s like staying at Grandma’s, I think, as I pad down the hall to the bathroom. Our rough timbered room with it’s windows thrown open to the cool mountain air has a washstand, but no toilet or tub. Just like when the Old Faithful Inn opened its doors in 1904. Except for the fact that water runs into my basin now from a faucet, whereas theirs would have been poured from a pitcher. Gone, too, is the chamber pot that once stood on the bottom shelf. Thank goodness for that.

Were it a bit colder, we would enjoy steam heat from the radiator. It’s new, part of a renovation done in the last decade, but poured in a vintage mold. It is beautiful. As it is, the blanket feels yummy at night and mornings are a bit nippy, inside as well as out. Just enough to invigorate. The bathrooms we share with others on our hall are clean and bright, with white tiles and lovely appointments. Open windows again provide ventilation.


The ceiling over the lobby vaults to a height of 76 feet. The lodge pole pine, so prevalent in Yellowstone, as well the primary building material for the inn, reaches a mature height of 75 feet. Architect Robert Reamer designed the building to complement it’s surroundings. To become an integral part of the landscape.

“I built it in keeping with the place where it stands. Nobody could improve upon that. To be at discord with the landscape would be almost a crime. To try to improve upon it would be an impertinence.”

It represented a new philosophy. The primary clientele, in the beginning, were the well-heeled and elite. They were accustomed to European style resorts, even in the Americas. So that, a great hotel in Maine would look precisely like a great hotel in Florida. The Old Faithful Inn would be in the vanguard of a movement within the National Parks to create lodging that brought the outdoor experience indoors. Gracious and elegant, to be sure, but organic…authentic.


The imposing fireplace is constructed of 500 tons of rhyolite, a volcanic stone quarried just a couple of miles from the building site. It provides structural support for the vaulted lobby. It is currently undergoing restoration to unclog 3 flues filled in during a 7.5 magnitude earthquake in 1959. Only the front flue has been operative since then. But, baby, she’s a beauty! For scale, look at the photo above. Now realize that the firescreen in front of the fireplace is taller than I am. A porter has to physically go inside the screen to tend the fire. Though no fire is burning in the photograph, it roared every evening and the chairs around it were always occupied.

The Inn is filled with whimsy. Reamer indulged his boyhood dream of having a treehouse by placing a crow’s nest in the rafters. Decks that hover several stories above the ground became landings for the chamber orchestra and for folks who wished to watch the dancing in the lobby below. Most of these upper areas, including an observation deck on the roof, are now closed to the public because of fire codes. But it’s still magical to imagine climbing along the stairways to a lofty perch in the “trees”.

To reinforce the illusion of a forested interior, a special crew was sent out into the woods to find trees and limbs that had been bended by snow, twisted by the wind, or swollen and gnarled by disease, to provide accent and interest. This is one of my favorite components. I can’t stop looking at them. So very intriguing.

The corner of the inn is 1/8th of a mile from Old Faithful. At the time of its construction, this was the federally mandated guideline. Twice, I watched the geyser erupt from the comfort of the deck. Marvelous!

Most of the appointments, and many of the furnishings, are original. Room numbers, hinges and chandeliers were crafted at an on-site forge. Even the light fixtures are original, as the inn had electricity from the beginning. Arts and crafts sofas, chairs, and writing desks are the same ones used by visitors a century ago. Sometimes it is difficult to remember just what year it is….

If you go (and you simply must go):

*Plan ahead! We booked our room almost a year in advance. And there was exactly one room available at the time of booking. There are cancellations sometimes, so if you get a late start its still worth a try.
*Book a room in the old section. There have been two additions. Though they are very nice and you will still have access to the common areas, your room will be an ordinary hotel room.
*There are a few rooms in the old section that have en-suite facilities if that is important to you. They have incorporated the original shared bathrooms with claw foot tubs. But don’t be put off by the shared bathroom. We Americans think this unusual, but most of the world considers this to be normal.
*If you do not stay here, do yourself a favor and pop in anyway, just to see it. Unlike the early days, you are permitted to pay a visit even if you are not a guest. 🙂
*The inn closes for the winter (and boards up all the ground floor windows to protect against the pressure of 5 feet or so of snow pack). So, plan accordingly.

Recommended resource:

Great Lodges of the National Parks, by Christine Barnes, introduces architectural wonders of the National Parks. I am putting both the book and the dvd on my Christmas list. Barnes has several related titles like Great Lodges of the West and Great Lodges of the Canadian Rockies. I will use them for a little dreaming. And for planning…..

Booklist: Picture Books

Picture Books are a world unto themselves. It is here, most often, that children will wet their literary toes. In the best of them, illustrations and words dance in and out of one another with ease. The one illuminates the other. Sometimes they frolic, at other times they waltz. But always, the two are one.

I hope your childhood was resplendent with beautiful picture books. Books that tickled, and provoked, and nourished your imagination. Books that taught you to love words. The way they slither and slide, the way they play, the way they sing. I share here a few of our favorites. Please tell me about yours. I do have a little granddaughter who is already in love with books. She will need to know them.

The Complete Tales of Beatrix Potter For the elegant language, the sublime watercolors, and mostly for the endearing characters who peopled the lives of my children and me for a season, I owe a great debt to Ms. Potter.

The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne The writing is clever. The characters  thoroughly loveable. The misadventures goodhearted and fun. And, don’t be surprised if you find yourself on a bridge someday playing Poohsticks.

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown I can still recite the whole of it from memory, I read it so many times. When I asked Kelsey about books from her childhood she would like Kenzie to have, it was the first one she mentioned. A sweet benediction. A deep breath of quiet.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr., John Archambault, and Lois Ehlert Thus far, this is Kenzie’s favorite. I don’t know if it’s the bright colors or the lilting cadence but she gets so excited when I pull the book out. An alphabet book with rhythm.

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Burton My husband (Mike Mullican) loved this book as a boy. Obviously. Never mind the one little letter difference in his name. It is a story of loyalty and love. A step back in time to a world less complicated.

Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak This Caldecott winner was one of my childhood favorites. And I passed my love of it on to our children. (Kelsey covered our copy in Christmas stickers one year. I have never been able to part with it.)

All the Eric Carl Books, especially Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, The Very Quiet Cricket, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar Eric Carle’s beautiful tissue paper illustrations can still take my breath away. Stunningly gorgeous! I love looking at all the details in them. Whether paired with Bill Martin’s rhymes, or simple stories of industrious insects, these books captivated my children. Kenzie is already a fan of Brown Bear, Brown Bear.

Blueberries for Sal and Make Way For Ducklings by Robert McCloskey Books remembered, again, from my own childhood. Simple, sweet stories along with glorious Caldecott winning illustrations made these books that we read over and over. Nothing beats an early morning reading of Blueberries for Sal just before heading off to the blueberry patch.

All the D’Aulaire books  The Caldecott winning husband and wife team of Ingri and Edgar D’Aulaire created sumptuous, whimsical picture books. Mostly biographies of American luminaries like George Washington, Abe Lincoln, and Pocohontas. But their book of Greek Myths is one of the best I’ve ever read. And you can’t beat their illustrations.

When I Was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant Much of this story is my story. Baptizin’ in the old swimmin’ hole, fried okra, outhouses, breaking beans on the front porch. If it is not your world, pop by for a visit. Rylant tells a compelling story and the illustrations are lovely.

You Can’t Take a Balloon Inside the Metropolitan Museum by Jacqueline Preiss Weitzman and Robin Glasser An unwieldy, runaway balloon has a number of misadventures out and about New York while its owner peruses works in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In a very creative “life imitates art” approach, the scenes encountered by the balloon mimic the art works observed by the little girl. Such fun!! And there are no words. You must supply the story yourself. A great pre-reading book.

The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado Lucado has written a number of lovely children’s books, but this one is my favorite. The truth that the Incarnation is good news for everyone, especially those who feel left out, is winsomely told here. And the paintings are magnificent.

Mama Do You Love Me? by Barbara M. Joosse A mother’s love has no limits. Nothing her child does could ever change that. That is the message this book tells with its lovely illustrations drawn from the native Inuit culture of Alaska.

Love you Forever by Robert Munsch and Sheila McGraw I’ll admit the concept of an elderly mother climbing a ladder into her son’s room at night is a little far-fetched. And yet, the truth of this book has always over-ridden its impracticalities. Another of the books Kelsey asked for specifically. I guess the truth got through to her as well. 🙂

Yonie Wondernose and Henner’s Lydia by Marguerite De Angeli De Angeli lived in an Amish community for a while. With these books, she takes us there as well. And we see inside the life of a little boy and a little girl. Their mischief. Their longings. And the beauty of their simple, but rich lives.

The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash by Trinka Hakes Noble and Stephen Kellogg “How was your class trip?” Kinda boring. Until the cows started crying.” “Why were the cows crying?” And so begins a rollicking backward adventure that any child (or any adult for that matter) will find HYSTERICAL!

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff Maybe I like it so much because it reminds me of the way I do housework. One thing leads to another…. My kids loved this whole series of books about inevitability and circuitous thinking. Great fun.

OK. Your turn. GO!!!

 

 

Un-booklist

Firemen no longer put out fires, they start them. It is their job to eradicate any clandestine stash of books that may be found. The powers that be have decided it is dangerous to allow people to think for themselves. Therefore, they will be told what to think. And nothing poses a greater threat to manipulation and propaganda than books.

This, in brief, is the disturbing and eerily plausible world presented by Ray Bradbury in the book Fahrenheit 451. Brave souls who attempt to preserve books face imprisonment or even death. But there is a remnant…an outcast group of scholars and intellectuals living like hobos on the periphery of civilization (if you can call it civilization). They know that a culture that does not think is destined to implode eventually. And when that time comes, they will be needed.

Each of these men carries with him the books that will be needed to rebuild the world. But, he carries it inside him. Books like Plato’s Republic, Marcus Aurelius, Machiavelli’s The Prince, the writings of Albert Einstein and Albert Schweitzer, the Magna Charta, the four Gospels… have been committed to memory. Astounding, but not impossible. A recent film, The Book of Eli, explores a similar premise.

Today’s “booklist” post is a little out of the ordinary. I am posting no list. Rather, a question. If it were up to you to contribute one or two books to the rebuilding of a world that had lost all, which would it be? What truth, what idea or story is so pivotal to who we are as a human race that you would be willing to eat its words in order to pass them on?

I would like to make one stipulation in order to keep things interesting. I know that most of us would want to be sure the Scriptures would carry on. However, if you choose to memorize Scripture, will you be so kind as to specify a book? One of the Gospels, perhaps, or the book of Proverbs, et al…

I listened to Fahrenheit 451 on audio, mostly on a trail run I did a few weeks back. The finish wrecked me and left me sobbing on the trail. There has been a monstrous battle, and our outcasts are now walking back toward the smoking remains of the city to begin the long work of redemption. Our protagonist, Montag, formerly a book-burner, has told the group earlier that he can contribute most of the book of Ecclesiastes and parts of Revelation. As he begins to search within himself for words appropriate to this hour, he lands on these. May they inspire you…

To every thing there is a season…
A time to break down and a time to build up
A time to keep silence and a time to speak…

And on either side of the river was there a tree of life which bore twelve manner of fruits and yielded her fruit every month. And the leaves of the trees were for the healing of the nations….

Stained Glass Hearts

Supernatural grandeur expands our soul and helps us throughout the day to live not in glass-breaking tension but in tiptoe perspective. It’s the place where, in our “upward leap of the heart,” we see beyond the fray to the Father who does all things well.  ~Patsy Clairmont

Diminutive dynamo. Teller of tales. Wearer of audacious designer boots, including at least one pair in red. She who can captivate a whole stadium full of women and keep them breathless, on the edge of their seats. All are apt descriptions of Patsy Clairmont.

But it’s only part of the story.

Contemplative. Poet. She who has a deep ache for beauty, transcendence, truth. Weaver of words who can turn a phrase with a delicate, fragile loveliness that pierces the heart. This too is Patsy Clairmont.

I’m known for my playful approach to life, which is fused within me; but to those who are closest to me, I’m also known for my need to pull on galoshes and wade into a thought. I guess when you’ve lived 60-plus years you collect a lot of heartache from this wind-whipped world that causes you to search the shadows of the forest. In my childhood I would have skipped through the woods oblivious to anything more than the path ahead, but today I’ve learned to check the secret places for the treasures of darkness.

Patsy’s new book, Stained Glass Hearts, is a sweet washing of the soul, with stories true and deep. With generous transparency, she takes us inside some of the more excruciating places in her life. She gives a courageous, vulnerable account of fear so paralyzing that it kept her housebound. Difficult to imagine if you have ever seen her on stage. But that is the beauty of the story. She shows us how, if we let Him, God will take the broken shards of our lives and solder them into luminous works of art.

…even though the stained glass pieces are artistically designed, they still have been broken, sanded, and soldered. They didn’t naturally fit the redemptive pattern without holy repairs. Also, stained glass art doesn’t begin to show its beauty or its inspiration or release its story until light touches the dark. The light transforms an otherwise subtle picture into a brilliant, dimensional experience.

Along with her stories, her experiences, her great loves and her great woes, Patsy introduces us to some of those who have shed light on her path. At the end of each chapter is a gallery in which she shares poems, paintings, songs, prayers, artistry of all sorts that have nourished her spirit. I implore you to google each of these as you read. A sumptuous feast for the soul.

Many of us have come to love the ones who have left lovely lines that fit inside us, that help us to see our world more grandly and ourselves more kindly.

Don’t all of us wish we had more wise voices in our lives? Those who deal with us winsomely and honestly, helping us find our true selves. Patsy is such a voice. As she walks with us through gardens and galleries, thunderstorms and snow, she gently points out things along the way. “Did you see that?” “Listen!” And our parched souls drink the liquid grace of the moment. And we are refreshed. And inspired. And emboldened.

Rescue us from small speculations. Enlarge our hearts. You alone, Lord, can attend to our desperation. Silence us with your peace. Comfort us with your tenderness. Mend us with your love. Amen.

Amen.

 

Reading Allowed

A little Sabbath gift to you. From one of my favorite contemporary poets, Taylor Mali. Go ahead and blush in the beginning if you need to, but keep listening. Beautiful words about magic and joy, of receiving them and passing them on…

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