Thursday, July 17, 2014

Longmire, Gloria, King George and Dad

Gloria and Longmire
Last year, late in the summer and into the fall, was a sad and difficult time for us, filled with a variety of disappointments, disillusionment, and life-altering events. Many things had to be accomplished in a few short weeks -- almost all with insufficient resources -- and personal tragedies and dramas had to be relegated to the pile of problems we would think about when there was a spare moment and an ounce of energy. Often, it felt as though our loads couldn't get any heavier or we would simply collapse where we stood... and yet, the fountain was open and continued to gush difficulty and sadness.

Our front entry at the shop -- my tribute. 
One evening I came home from another heat-festering and physically-demanding day at work, so tired I could barely stand to even stay alive. I was even too dirty to stay alive. Too tired. Too dirty. Too sweaty. Too discouraged. Too forgotten. Too mean.

Instead of going inside (where I'd immediately need to take fifteen minutes to care for our little wiener dogs who would accost me as I came into the door), I dragged over and sat on the old metal arbor with the intention of spending a little time feeling sorry for myself and my sad and difficult plight.

I was so tired I couldn't think. So tired I couldn't see. So tired I couldn't feel. I just sat and looked but when I looked out across the yard I wasn't seeing a thing. When Shoobydoo, one of our old ugly cats, came around to greet me by swishing her tail across my bare legs, it made me mad that even she wanted something from me when I had nothing else to give and so I huffed at her and turned the other direction on the arbor and looked out over the driveway.

There, past my filthy old red truck, were two peacocks, quietly picking their way through the gravel under the woodpile beyond. They moved stealthily into the yard and toward me as I looked on in utter astonishment. Shoobydoo walked over to them and greeted them as she'd greeted me and the peacocks seemed familiar with her.

Dad and his old watches and knives.
Gloria and Longmire, and even the big boy peacock we call King George (who has all his feathers) are still visiting a year later and each encounter is intriguing and wonderful. They belong to a neighbor who lives about a half mile away and the peacocks travels back and forth across our back field fairly regularly. We often hear them calling to one another. Actually, they seem to enjoy roosting on our roof and then screaming in their formidable peacock way.

But on that particular day last August, as I looked upon those beautiful and quiet birds at my feet, I was mystified once again by all that our lives encompass. The endless details that we seek to master but which often instead seem to conquer us are insignificant when compared to the very real and magnificent details God has prepared for us in this world: His endless, effortless details.

I told my dad about the peacocks and showed him the pictures I had taken. In his bed in the nursing home, he said he would like to see them but of course, he never would and he knew it and so did I.

We finished that time in our lives. We. Finished.

Oh, there's still tons of work to do at the shop and our resources are still lacking in a variety of areas and many of the changes that came upon us last summer are permanent. But we finished that season -- we finished -- and we won't ever have to repeat it again.

Sometimes a person will tell you that there is a reason why all the things that happen, happen. I know it must be true for them. But me. I don't seem to get any wiser or richer or more spiritual or Godly or learn a thing. I just stay dazed and confused and overwhelmed. So me. Well, I don't know why all the things that happen, happen.

What do I know after last year? Nothing. Not a blamed thing.
Those peacocks -- they were a mystery to me. My time with them was fleeting and I think about them and hope to see them again every day. When I do, it seems magical and enchanting and I love them. What a fine thing: those peacocks.

My father -- he was a mystery to me. My time with him was fleeting and I think about him and hope to see him again every day. When I do, it will be magical and enchanting because I love him. What a fine thing: my father.

Monday, July 7, 2014

This Beautiful Light

A wall in the gallery in the early evening light.
I love the light.

I love the way it comes into your home or where you're working and transforms the colors in the room.

I love the patterns it layers onto the wall and onto the faces of those you love.

I love the late-day sun and the way it tousles the leaves when the wind stirs through the trees.

I love the light on water -- any water, not just important water -- the light on puddles and ditches and in the tiny sprinkles on a window.

I love the light sifting through the dust on our old dirt road after a car passes by. It's stirringly beautiful in a way that's not sensible unless you've seen it yourself or unless you have either an artist's soul or an humble soul or an old soul.

I love the low winter light and the light from the North best. 

And I love the light behind big, dark billowing thunderclouds that turns the edges of them orange-yellow and disconcertingly threatening.

My younger daughter, Alicia, is consistently bothered  because I prefer to have the lights off in a room and she doesn't see any reason to live life in the dark.

"It's not dark in here," I say even when it is.

"It's dark in here," she says. "I can't see anything."

So she turns off the darkness.

And turns on the light.

And when she does, we lose the real light -- the natural light -- God's light.

Sometimes, at night, when the moon is full and I've remembered to open the drapes, the light will awaken us when it reaches the far western sky. I like to open the windows then and watch the moonlight lay patterns on the curtains as they move in the breeze.

My older daughter told me once that the curtains in our bedroom are okay for me, but look like they belong to an old person. "But I like how they look in the light," I said and she reiterated that they were fine for me but that she wouldn't want such old-lady curtains.

Next time she's at my house when the moon is big, I'll open the windows and let the wind into the house and then wake her to show her how the light looks filtering through the ruffles on the Priscilla curtains and embroidery work on the drapes. I don't know what she'll think. Probably, she will not like it. Probably, she will wish I hadn't bothered her with the minutia of my life.

Wonder why the light makes freckles on our faces? It made freckles on my brother and sister's faces and my children's faces and mine too. My cousins have freckles.

It's taken me decades to decide I wasn't cheated because God decided to make me and those that I love the most with freckles. Actually, now, when I paint a portrait -- any portrait at all -- I always paint them with freckles because...

Freckles, maybe..? Yes, maybe. Maybe they affirm to us that God loves how we look in the light.


Maybe so.