Saturday, October 31, 2015

"I wish this peace on everyone... on this lovely day"

I recently watched Brother Sun, Sister Moon, a film about St. Francis of Assisi. Zeffirelli's film left me feeling completely enchanted and enraptured. The beautiful flowers dancing in the breeze, the rabbits watching him, the deer lingering, all as Francis felt God's presence in all living things, in all of His creations.

I find St. Francis of Assisi to be utterly fascinating. October 4th, the day of his feast, I had my parrot blessed; I've been working on a painting of him; I've been pouring over books about him. With joy I met the nuns of the order of Francis and Clare - one nun in particular just embraced me with such love that left my heart skipping beats over such kindness. This is the kindness of the spirit of St. Francis. He's such an inspiration: his love for animals, for nature, for people; his empathy for the poor.

Painting in progress, still have a long way to go.

Current readings on St. Francis:
Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi by Richard Rohr
The Little Flowers of St. Francis, The Mirror of Perfection, St. Bonaventure's Life of St. Francis introduction by Fr. Hugh McKay, O.F.M., D.D.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Michaelmas grapes

"The Michaelmas daisies, among dead weeds, bloom for St. Michael's valorous deeds." 

St. Michael the Archangel, my patron saint, is dear to my heart. September 29th is the Michaelmas, the holy feast dedicated to St. Michael and all the angels. Michael is the warrior angel-saint mentioned five times in the Bible and always in a warlike fashion, three times by Daniel, once by St. Jude, and by St. John in Revelation. Michaelmas is a harvest day of sorts, traditionally a day when harvest needed to be completed as an end to the productive season in preparation for the next. The canonical color of the Michaelmas is white.

Traditionally, there are many ways to celebrate the Michaelmas, some vegetarian options being the old Scottish tradition of "Carrot Day": digging carrots and giving them away as a good deed, harvesting blackberries (the Michaelmas regarded as the last day to pick them), and baking loaves of bread. Alas, I don't have carrots, and I don't particularly like picking blackberries as the thorns are sharp and the berries are usually wormy, nor do I have flour to bake bread at the moment. However, I do have grapes. So I chose to be different and celebrate Michaelmas by picking grapes from my garden and making grape jelly. Yay!

Garden grapes ready for harvest.

Washing and about to de-stem for mashing and cooking.

Until the arrival of Michaelmas, I'll be picking the grapes and making lots of jelly to give as a gift in honor of St. Michael (before the raccoons get their paws on them like they have in the past, those bandit-faced beasts).

The recipe I used to make grape jelly is found here - highly recommended and a lot of fun!

Happy Michaelmas!

For more information, please see:

Saints and Festivals of the Christian Church by H. Pomeroy Brewster

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Cloudy Night

Thinking of Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh's story of beauty and the ultimate beauty of finding God, I love how Anthony Blanche tells Charles that he is "that very rare thing... an artist." How Anthony complements Charles in this respect, makes it sound so beautiful and charming. But, as artists know, there's the eccentricities: the obsessive frustration while painting, the feeling of madness, even, when a painting isn't quite as it's needed to be. Yet, there's that deep feeling of contentment when a piece is finished. Even more beautiful, is the discovery that years after a painting is completed, and an artist revisits their work, they see something new. Revisiting my painting, "Cloudy Night," this is the case. It now makes me think of St. Paul's Romans 5:

". . . We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us."

I had the honor of sharing "Cloudy Night" at an art show and speaking about its symbolism. Doing so was revealing scars, yet very cathartic. That's the thing about sharing art: it's perfectly okay to be emotional. People don't judge you, they want to hear your story. This is what art is.

"Cloudy Night" is a winter piece. It's surrealism. It's also a landscape. But it also conveys a lot of emotion: confusion, sadness, heartbreak, depression, pain, scars. But deep within the clouds is the slight yellow, the hidden happiness coming through... and that is the silver lining. Winter doesn't last forever. Snow will melt, beauty will flower again... and our sufferings bring us closer to Christ.

Cloudy Night, painted by me. Watercolor and Acrylic.