Monday, March 25, 2019

"Na ana mana sezu"

A friend I have known since 1963 (we saw the final Beatles concert at Candlestick Park when we were 16 in 1966) emailed these videos of the Northern California coast.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

2009-2010 (253 deaths)

TUCSON SECTOR 2009-2010 (253 deaths), made by Verni Greenfield of Portland, Oregon

"Perhaps it is difficult to imagine that something as humble as a quilt could change the world — but witnessing the humanity drawn together, in known and unknown names, in personal artifacts, and in the abiding effort to salvage something beautiful from staggering loss, it seems harder to imagine that it could not, at least, change someone’s heart." (Sarah Rose Sharp -- February 12, 2019)

Friday, March 15, 2019

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Nooksack Falls painted from memory / The sight of trees / The Solace of Fierce Landscapes

"... The marvels of technology did nothing to impress the Arabs.  They wept, however, at the sight of trees.  These Arab bedouins had never seen a waterfall, a river, a rose.  The only natural world they had ever known was flagrantly stingy with its gifts.  Years of desert attentiveness had trained them to expect only shortfall and subtlety.  Back home, where water was precious, they might walk for days on end in search of a tiny spring, maybe a handful of palms.  So when they stood in a high alpine meadow beside an enormous waterfall in the French Alps, its water roaring out of the mountain in a huge braided column, they had no way of comprehending such lavishness.

'They stood in silence.  Mute, solemn ... gazing at the unfolding of a ceremonial mystery.  That which came roaring out of the belly of the mountain was life itself, was the life-blood of man.  The flow of a single second would have resuscitated whole caravans that, mad with thirst, had pressed on into the eternity of salt lakes and mirages.  Here God was manifesting Himself:  It would not do to turn one's back on Him.' 

(am's note:  This is a quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupery's Wind, Sand and Stars, pp. 138-144, used by Belden C. Lane as he writes about Saint-Exupery's North African desert reflections)

They refused to leave, adamantly declaring to their French guide that honor required their waiting ... waiting for the end.  Knowing the water could not last much longer, they awaited the moment "when God would grow weary of His madness," when this wild extravagance would suddenly and finally exhaust itself.  Resolutely, they stood their ground.  "But, you see," the guide at last proclaimed, "this water has been running here for a thousand years!"

Having known the depths of desert thirst, these men could scarcely fathom a surging torrent of water, rushing forever from the rock.  Nothing had prepared them for it -- other than desire itself.  Their hearts set aflame by longing, they had learned through the years an indifference to everything less than love.  Apatheia had taught them that purity of heart is to will one thing.  Hence, they could fiercely say no to locomotives and Gallic conquerors of the sky.  But they must stand in silent awe before a raging cataract, beholding in wet-eyed wonder the unwearying madness of their God."

Perhaps this is where we all eventually stand, held attentive by what we cannot understand but vehemently love.  The heart trained in poverty lives perpetually in hope of wonder.

(transcribed from pages 203 and 204 of The Solace of Fierce Landscapes:  Exploring Desert and Mountain Spirituality, by Belden C. Lane, 1998)

My painting from 2007 in gouache and watercolor is "Nooksack Falls Painted From Memory."  If I get in my car and drive east toward the Cascade Mountains for one hour, I can visit Nooksack Falls.  For some reason, it is rare for me to be drawn toward the mountains.  My instinct is usually to go in the direction of the Pacific Ocean, which to me is a fierce desert-like landscape which has given me solace for much of my life.