Originally posted on Art of Quotation: “People have the idea that an image must stand for something else, that the real meaning needs to be described with language. Instead it is the image itself that…
The story behind my painting “The Christmas Bridge”
A few years ago we had a unexpected snow storm on Christmas Eve.
Two weeks in the making, we had already sent invitations in advance to a host of our closest friends. “Join us for a very special Christmas dinner!” we promised.
The storm as it turned was insurmountable and dangerous and so it became impossible for our friends to reach us.
And so we sat, the two of us, with a king’s ransom of dinner, lights, music, desserts and unopened gifts – feeling, well a bit empty. Our special evening didn’t seem quite so, well, special.
We sat, eggnogs calming, candles burning, the blue twilight casting something magical across the little bridge out the front window.
Nothing had changed really. The bridge into our house stood steadfast, waiting for our guests to arrive, not seeming concerned about the turn of events in the slightest. And it would, it promised, continue waiting each and every day. That was its purpose, its reason for being after all.
“The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings.
― Eric Hoffer
That evening we agreed that this small unassuming bridge represented, to us, friendship. Friendship which remains true whatever challenges come along.
I wish for each and every one of you (who have so kindly blessed me with your comments and visits) successful arithmetic this season. That you can find blessings to count. Perhaps even some that at first don’t seem especially so.
“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
In the mountains of southern California there is a lake with an island in its midst. Outside this island a majority of trees were consumed in a forest fire in 2003 (The infamous Cedar Fire). Many of the trees had stood 200-300 or more years. But on the lake’s island you can still walk through a landscape of beautiful ancient oak and pine trees. On a fall day, as I walked the island’s edges, I came upon this spot- a still standing glorious ancient survivor. Autumn perfection – Fall color surrounds, the air is crisp and clear, migratory birds call above and the sun rests on the horizon.
“I was once told that certain spiritual masters in Tibet used to set their teacups upside down before they went to bed each night as a reminder that all life was impermanent.
And then, when they awoke each morning, they turned their teacups right side up again with the happy thought, ‘I’m still here!‘ This simple gesture was a wonderful reminder to celebrate every moment of the day.”
“I do believe in simplicity. It is astonishing as well as sad, how many trivial affairs even the wisest thinks he must attend to in a day… So simplify the problem of life, distinguish the necessary and the real. Probe the earth to see where your main roots run. ”
“…When I am an old woman I shall wear purple, With a red hat which doesn’t go and doesn’t suit me, And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves, And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter”
I know I am but summer to your heart (Sonnet XXVII)
I know I am but summer to your heart,
And not the full four seasons of the year;
And you must welcome from another part
Such noble moods as are not mine, my dear.
No gracious weight of golden fruits to sell
Have I, nor any wise and wintry thing;
And I have loved you all too long and well
To carry still the high sweet breast of Spring.
Wherefore I say: O love, as summer goes,
I must be gone, steal forth with silent drums,
That you may hail anew the bird and rose
When I come back to you, as summer comes.
Else will you seek, at some not distant time,
Even your summer in another clime.
There is a rose in Spanish Harlem
A red rose up in Spanish Harlem
It is the special one, it’s never seen the sun
It only comes out when the moon is on the run
And all the stars are gleaming
It’s growing in the street
Right up through the concrete
But soft and sweet and dreaming
“All of our great traditions, religious, contemplative and artistic, say that you must learn how to be alone – and have a relationship with silence. It is difficult, but it can start with just the tiniest quiet moment.”
“What is the meaning of life? That was all-a simple question; one that tended to close in on one with years, the great revelation had never come. The great revelation perhaps never did come. Instead, there were little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark; here was one.”
“But when fall comes, kicking summer out … it stays awhile like an old friend that you have missed. It settles in the way an old friend will settle into your favorite chair and take out his pipe and light it and then fill the afternoon with stories of places he has been and things he has done since last he saw you.”
On my travels along the California coast this year I retreated from the 100 degree heat and the endless, unrelenting freeways into this otherworldly house of worship – the San Luis Rey Mission in Oceanside, California.
Here it is cool and still and with one step past the threshold the outside world simply ceases to exist. Here time stands still and the rarefied ambiance of 220 years takes over my being. One lone man sits in midday prayer before me.
Some time later, my being in balance, I depart through the church doors and, as I do, I recall the opening lyrics of the Elton John song “60 Years On”.
Who’ll walk me down to church when I’m sixty years of age When the ragged dog they gave me has been ten years in the grave And señorita plays guitar, plays it just for you My rosary has broken and my beads have all slipped through.