Poem – snow day

snow day

Remember that feeling you have
when you look outside
and everything
is covered by snow?

It was forecasted
but they didn’t know exactly
when it would happen –
what time of day,
or even if this day or the next.
But it was coming,
that was certain.

And while you were asleep
the snow appeared,
making everything white,
everything new,
covering the world
with a silent calm,
a soft pure light.

Every prayer,
every reconciliation,
every bridge mended,
every addiction cured,
every honest conversation,
every deep listening

is a snowflake.

The world will change
because we will change it
because we were changed
a light comes on
and we share it, we shine it.

A new day is coming.
A new day is here.

Icy lake

Icy lake 012016

The delicate look of a frozen lake. Beautiful and yet dangerous. Hidden tracery, unknown depths.

5.5 x 7 inch Pacon watercolor card stock
Distress Ink – dusty concord, tumbled glass, chipped sapphire
Painted on Rusty Hinge Distress Ink
Watered down Bombay sepia ink
Tissue paper applied with matte medium
Poppy seeds
Decoupage glue / leftover metal button
Glazing medium

Made 1-20-16

Lost time

Lost time 012016

Inspired by/things that came up during the creation –
Fungi, soy/wasabi leftovers, debris, passage of time, look close you might miss it, beauty in ugliness, things passed over.

(Close up)
Lost time 012016 close

Materials used –
6×9 piece of “Pacon” watercolor card stock
Glue stick
White crayon
Distress Ink – Rusty hinge, crusted olive
Dr. PH Martin’s Bombay sepia ink
“thirsty brush” technique
Toothbrush with water to spatter
Used salt (previously used in watercolor painting, reclaimed)
“Crushed glass” glitter
Holographic nail polish
“gelly roll” white pen
Light blue “super gel” pen
Poured white acrylic paint mixed with water
Decoupage glue
Tim Holtz “idea-ology” clock pieces
Glamour glitz crystal

Made 1-19 to 1-20-16

Broken dreams

Broken dreams2 011816

This speaks to obsessive, controlling “love” that is one-sided.
Brokenness, cover up of truth/self/other.
How even in the same language and culture two people are like other nations/languages. Miscommunication.
Washed out roads and bridges – driving in the fog.
Being lost even with a map.
The glitter represents the celebration of the crushed glass at a Jewish wedding ceremony, simultaneous with the broken glass and dishes in a “domestic disturbance” – how joy can turn into tragedy.
The two sides of a bad relationship – where one is completely clueless as to the terror of the other.
Relentless pursuit, feeling trapped.

(close up)
Broken dreams2 011816 close

Materials/techniques used –
Strathmore 9 x 12 visual journal
Bought ephemera – sheet music “I had a dream, dear” and Asian map
Matte medium
Scrapbooking scissors
Distress Ink – Rusty hinge, crushed olive, chipped sapphire
Acrylic paint – olive green + white + water, manganese blue
Fingernail to scratch out a section.
Paper towel to remove paint.
Gold “super gel” pen
Spray mount, “crushed glass” glitter
Tim Holtz “idea-ology” words

(Made over two days, from 1-17 to 1-18-16)

Pink quilt

pink quilt2 011816

Random pink/red scrapbooking pages
Strathmore visual journal
used stamps
white acrylic paint mixed with water
bronze “super gel” pen (The Write Dudes)
white pen
Distress ink
glue stick

Inspired in part by the character “Izabel” from the Saga comic book series, drawn by Fiona Staples. I normally do not like pink, especially fuchsia, but have been drawn to it recently. It is part of my current practice to look closely at everything that I normally turn away from, to learn from it and invite healing into it. Everything is a teacher.

What should Church be?

For many people, church looks like this at the most basic level

Yet remember that the angel said to the women who went to find Jesus at the tomb –

The angel said to the women “Do not be afraid! I know that you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. Why are you looking among the dead for the living? He is not here – he has been resurrected!” (Condensed Gospel rendition)

The church as we know it is dying.

The Christian faith tradition must change what it looks at in order to survive. It must change from being a religion of rites and creeds.

It must stop being an institution focused on
the historical Jesus
and the future Jesus
and learn to BE Jesus right now,
to the people in the world.

It must stop the idea of “Bringing people to Jesus”
(preaching the Gospel)
and start living the idea of “Bringing Jesus to people”
(living the Gospel)

Many people have left church because they know that something is missing.

There are many large abandoned church buildings.

And at the center of them is the altar, a shrine to death, to sacrifice.

For many, church is a place of divine insight, of sudden epiphanies


But then when they leave, the everyday world is dull and boring.

For many, church is a sanctuary against the storms of life


But does this teach them to live in the world?

Perhaps Church can be seen as a boat, to rise above the dangerous waters, or to safely travel to visit or help others.

Each person gets their own boat. They learn how to row it themselves. They develop the strength to help themselves and to help others.

It is a place where we can each learn how to learn and grow safely. Others watch our progress and make sure we are not going to get hurt. They cheer us on.

It needs to be a place where we can learn that right here is where God meets us – that God loved us enough to come down to Earth to be with us and live among us. That God loves us enough to still be with us right now, right where we are. That God wants to work through us, and with us.
here 2

Church should be small, human sized.

It should be intimate and personal.
small 3
small 4

Why have we so long built churches that are immense, that dwarf us, that make us feel insignificant?

They feel lonely, cold, isolating.

They are out of proportion with us.
big 5

When God came to earth, God came as our size. The Temple is not a place, but within us.

Often churches are built far away, high up, hard to get to.

far 4
far 5

This is especially true of monasteries. They are places to retreat from the world.

Jesus tells his disciples that they are to be in the world – not apart from it. Jesus trained them to feed, to clothe, to help – everyone, not just those who are “in”.

For so many, God is seen as immense, and difficult to get to.
far 3

There are narrow paths, and gates, and boundaries in the way

We need to break apart the idea of church. We need to see through it, to reinvent it.
apart 1
apart 2
apart 3

Even modern churches, while looking different, still have the perspective wrong. The focus is on the preacher – on one person. The people sit passively, staring in the same direction. If they speak at all, it is from a script (a hymnal, a prayer-book) Only one person is allowed to speak something different, to direct the service.

pew 1
pew 2
pew 3
pew 4
pew 5

This sets up a hierarchy – of one person higher than the rest. This is directly opposed to what Jesus wanted, who wanted us to have only God above us. To have a person above us is to make them into an idol.

I’ve met many people who’ve left church for all of these reasons. They felt lost, alienated, alone. They too read the Gospel and met the real living Jesus and made a home for him in their hearts. They know that Jesus says that the Church is us – people, doing the will of God here in the world.

Yet, God says that people were not made to be alone. We are meant to be in community. We are meant to live and work and be together. No one person has everything required. We must work together.

Church needs to be all of us working together to help others. It isn’t a building or a place. But even if we remove the idea of the church being a building, we still have to remember the ideas that have long been part of church, so even when we take the Church out of the building, we must still make sure the old ways don’t come along.

It must be open to all.
It must be human-sized.
It must not be led by a single person – all must participate.
It must be a place where all can grow.

Again- it sounds like I’m talking about a place – an institution. I’m not. Certainly, people need to gather together occasionally. People cannot truly connect online. But, the money raised from members cannot go to a building or a salary. It cannot be inward-based. This will cause self-collapse, and is the opposite of what Jesus wants. The Church cannot support the church. The Church – the Body of Christ, must give aid to the world. That is where tithes must go. Outward.

People can meet in small groups, in each others’ homes.
They can meet in school gyms (they are not being used on the weekend)
They can meet in community centers or hotels.

There are plenty of already-built places that have meeting areas that are either free or inexpensive.

But when they meet, it must be a place to organize to go out into the world, to bring Jesus to people, by feeding, clothing, healing, visiting.

Not by preaching the Gospel,
but by living it.

(All pictures are from Pinterest)

Houses on top of houses

I have noticed that I really am interested in houses on top of houses. Not apartment complexes, but separate houses built one on top of each other, almost randomly, stair-stepping up a hillside. I looked on Pinterest and discovered there are several such house-collections (Villages? Towns?) all across the world.

I’m not sure why I like this, since I value privacy and certainly didn’t like sharing walls with other people when I lived in a townhouse. You hear (and sometimes smell) everything your neighbors do. Sometimes the noises are very disturbing to the point that perhaps the police need to be called.

So why do I like this? I decided to dig deeper using these images.

The last picture I found was a big part of it. This is in Santorini, Greece.
Amalfi stairs

Steps on the outside of a building, attached to the wall. Something very intriguing to me here. You can come and go without anyone in the house knowing. Private access. You share a house, but not a life. Not all is revealed.

Yet also part of what I like with these large collections of houses is how does anyone get home? What is the “road” and what is your neighbor’s roof? Sometimes the two are the same.

This is in Masuleh, Iran
Masuleh Iran2

Closer –
Masuleh Iran

Here is Kandovan village, near Tabriz, Iran. It was constructed from a cave system.
Kandovan Iran
Kandovan Tabriz Iran
Kandovan Tabriz Iran2

This is in Turkey – Ortahisar.
Ortahisar Turkey

Here is El Aleuf, M’Zab, Iran. While not stacked on top of each other, it is still intriguing to me because the walls are all shared, like one house grew onto another. It looks like a nest or a hive, rather than a planned thing. More organic.
El Aleuf

Then there are shanty towns, barrios, favelas in Brazil.
favela Brazil

One got painted – it is Santa Marta. The people are still very poor, but at least their houses are beautiful.
favela Santa Marta Brazil

This is Cinque Terre, Nanarola, Northern Italy
Cinque Terre1
Cinque Terre2
Cinque Terre3
Cinque Terre4

This is on the Amalfi coast, Positano, Southern Italy
Almalfi Italy1

These are all Santorini, Greece

This is a Buddhist monastery, Phuktal, in Ladakh, India
Phuktal India1
Phuktal India2
Phuktal monastery Ladakh

Here are some similar ideas, of housing complexes that no longer exist. They are further from the main idea, but still close enough that they say something to it.

This is Kowloon Walled City, Hong Kong
Kowloon China2

and this is Derinkuyu

How do you get home? What is it like to share walls and roofs with people? How well do you know them? Does living close create community? Or are people so close that they crave distance?

I like the ideas I’m reading about communal living, intentional communities, and cohousing.

I don’t think these are that at all. I think for most of these villages/towns they were unintentional – a lot of people wanted to live in the same place. Some had no choice – they were very poor and built wherever they could. Sharing a wall or a roof meant you didn’t have to build one. Some of these are very wealthy places – highly desired tourist destinations as well. Some are slums.

Yet they all share the same idea – shared houses, stacked on top of each other. No distinct roads or easy ways to get to your home.

How would you draw a map? How would you tell others how to get to your home?

Maybe that is part of the point – it is so hard to get there that you can get lost inside it, never worrying about people visiting you. You are hidden in plain sight. The very nature of it means that you have privacy, in a seemingly counter-intuitive way.

(All pictures are from Pinterest.)

Hidden nest

hidden nest 011516

Images that arose while creating this:
nest, telescope, Andy Goldsworthy’s nature art, revealed/hidden, interference, water drops in a pond, radio waves, Zen gardens, aboriginal paintings, Advent calendars.

Pages from F.C. Happold’s “Mysticism” book (bought at UTC bookstore at least 20 years ago)
Distress Ink – tumbled glass, antique linen, brushed corduroy, rusty hinge
“You are here” stamp
Dr. P.H. Martin’s Bombay sepia ink
White “gelly roll” pen

matte medium, sponge brush, paint brush, glue stick, Strathmore 9×12 visual journal

“The Tao that can be spoken is not the true Tao”
– you can never reveal Truth through words (or even art)

I glued down the pieces of the pages from the “Mysticism” book – all about a direct experience of God. How funny that you can’t talk about it, but this author certainly tried in many pages. After gluing down the pages, I inked over them. I let it dry and noticed later that some of the pages had overlapped – I’d not put matte medium on top of the pages, just on the journal paper. Thus, some of the edges could be lifted up to reveal the un-inked words underneath. How awesome to the theme that they happened to include
God, dwelling

Which is what mysticism is about, and this artwork. It was positive feedback that I was on the right path.

I inked the three poems that spoke about mysticism (included in the pages I’d torn out of the book) with a pale blue to indicate robin’s eggs. They are the eggs in the nest. They are the fruit of the tree. They will mature and fly away, spreading the truth.

Yet the nest is not filled in – there is a big hole in the middle. This is where you find yourself.

I dripped the ink on, but then used a brush to wick some up. It made excellent patterns and colors (very subtle) in the bottom right. I’ll try to replicate that later on another piece. Some blots I left solid to dry. They became “rocks” in the Zen garden, so I used a white pen to draw the waves around them. They too obscure the words, but yet reveal more in their obscuring than the words do in their revelation.

Alice in the Woods of Words

Alice in the woods of words 011516

Art journal page.

Random pages from Hamlet
Distress Ink – rusty hinge applied with a sponge, allowed to dry as a base coat, then I colored with antique linen, brushed corduroy, pine needle, crushed olive, tumbled glass)
reversed copy from Alice in Wonderland
super gel pens (from “The Write dudes”)
Doodle scents markers
used stamps on paper
matte medium
scrapbooking scissors

Nativity set at Mercy Convent

Mercy nativity 1-9-16

I learned that the Catholic Church observes the season of Christmas until they celebrate the Baptism of Jesus, which this year is 1/10/16. This meant that the really nice Nativity set was still up in the chapel when I went on retreat from 1/8 – 1/9. There are real evergreens behind the creche. They are about 8 feet tall and smell amazing. The creche is on a table that is about three feet off the ground, and it is about five feet wide. The tallest figurine is about a foot high. Everybody is here – it is a packed scene! They have seven pots of poinsettias decorating the front.

I enjoyed sketching it in the chapel and then watercoloring it in my room. Ideally I’d watercolor it on site but the nuns were setting up for Mass so I felt I’d be more comfortable doing the messy bit without an audience.

Plus, I still can’t take Communion because of their (The Church’s) rules.
Again, not that Jesus made those rules…

I’m not sad/angry/upset about it because I feel I’m missing out – it is because they are. To exclude anyone is to be the exact opposite of what Jesus wanted. I pray that the Holy Spirit opens their eyes to the un-welcoming nature of a policy that says only Catholics can take communion.

Mercy nativity1

Mercy nativity 2

(edit 2-28-16, I decided to add more pictures that I’d taken)