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After the Fact

AP photo credits

 

 

I don’t seem to write of tragic happenings at the time they occur. Words and feelings bulk up inside of me for a time before they are released upon the paper or the computer file.

April 15 is always a day that refers to United States Tax Day and whether or not you have filed on time. April 15, 2019 now lives in infamy as the Notre Dame Cathedral burned as we all watched via computer, or television, or hand-held device, or in person, standing on the streets and bridges of the Seine river in Paris.

 

 

GOD BLESS the heroic firefighters. At 11:23pm when the fire chief announced the rest of the structure of fire-stricken Notre Dame Cathedral was saved, it was within 30 minutes of total collapse. The roof’s irreplaceable ancient wooden beams cut from trees that were alive a millennium ago were gone, The iconic spire fell at 7:40. As darkness poured over the city, 20 firefighters at great risk to their own lives climbed into the two towers to fight the fire from the inside out. By 9:49 pm, fire officials didn’t know if their best would be good enough. But it was. And the world is grateful to them for what they saved. I think of my cousin firefighter Theresa Hajec in Fenton Michigan and say special prayers for her and her fire crew for God’s love and safety to surround them on their daily job.

 

 

It is Holy Week on the Church calendar. People around the world are turned inward in reflection upon what meaning and purpose their practice of Christianity holds in their lives. It is the season of Resurrection and Mary is the way through which all graces flow.

A silence overtakes us now, just as it did for the apostles immediately following Christ’s crucifixion What stood in our midst is no longer there and we grieve the hole it leaves in our hearts and in our lives for it’s pure magnificence touched even ones who could not be in it’s presence.

But in the air is felt a strong current of Resurrection. Yes, there is faith and beyond that a whole certainty that Notre Dame shall rise again. Somehow providing us with a noble link to the past, a firm acceptance of the present, and a way shower to future times.

Ave Maria. Gratia plena. Ora pro nobis.

 

art by Nan Rae

My journey and joy in learning Sumi-e brush painting has acquainted me with some website instruction on YouTube with Nan Rae. I find her invigorating, gracious, and owning every bit of her serendipitous journey into this art. Here is a glance.

 

DELIGHT IN SERENDIPITY!

Nan Rae – Her Journey in Sumi-e Chinese Brush Painting

In her own words: Everyone has a journey that is unique to them and it’s best followed by listening to the promptings of our heart. For me this involves saying yes to everything that presents itself and fortunately that ‘everything’ has always turned out to be something wonderful. Perhaps not visibly wonderful at the beginning but always becoming something amazing.

Of course this does require more faith in life than in following a predictable course but again, this seems to work for me. An early example of this would be when Ralph Tepedino contacted me years ago and asked if I would like to do the California Gift Show. Honestly, I didn’t even know what the Gift Show was but in my usually naive manner I said a resounding “YES”. At that time I was to share a 10 X 10 foot space with two other artists, one who sold her photographic images on greeting cards and the other a gal in England who pressed flowers and placed them on pillows, in frames and all manner of products.

Nan Rae

There I was with one small wall to display my line of greeting cards. If I cut to the chase I will tell you that within three years we were not only doing the Gift Show having three booths featuring only Nan Rae cards but the New York Stationary Show. From these two venues Trader Joe’s found me along with Ling Design in England and so many wonderful gift stores and museums that there isn’t room or time to name them. All serendipity!

Nan Rae

Every licensing contract has come to me just that way. Every commission, including the New York Philharmonic asking permission to use my artwork for their historic trip to Korea and China. I am always as amazed by this as you must be reading these stories but again, it’s my journey and it’s what works for me. A friend once told me she suits up and shows up and perhaps that is the key. We have to work hard and be fully prepared when opportunities present themselves and then be brave enough to say a resounding yes!
Find her and her beautiful paintings and classes at: http://www.nanraestudio.com

 

Nan Rae

Nan Rae explains on her website:

“An expert in Brush Painting, her works,
from her Paris experience,
sing with the joy of Impressionism.”
Nan Rae’s brush painting combines the grace of the Literati style
with an impressionist approach to color.
The Literati style seeks to transcend the mere representation,
of a subject to capture its ch’i, or life force, by using a
minimum of brush strokes for maximum effect.
No sketches are prepared and no models are used.
The artist paints with rapid, intuitive movements of the brush
that convey a “mind image” of the subject.
Sumi-e, Japanese Ink painting,
came from the influence of Chinese Brush;
the techniques and brushes are the same.

Her motto is, Live Joyfully watching her instruct it is easy to see this joy — this ch’i — surrounds and embodies her. She is joy personified.

She encourages me to “get my ch’i on!” and to watch for it in my own brush paintings.

Find her at: http://www.nanraestudio.com

 

Napkinwriter’s journey with Sumi-e is a slow, winding one filled with wonder with what is achieved in this tradition of brush painting. According to the Mustard Seed Garden book, which is considered the bible of this method, there are bunches of rules and regulations for the brush and the artist to produce a calming image filled with ch’i that the observer falls in love with. I have only mastered a few. They also list faults and I am familiar with many of them, even now in my beginning stages. I will watch and learn and enjoy.

by Sue

 

by Sue

by Sue

April 5, 2019

I am writing the last chapter (which is not the last chapter )  to complete the writing of my memoir, Journey Girl. This chapter begins with the influence the wonderful women of IWWG (International Women’s Writers Guild and WWAM (Women Writer and Artist Matrix) had on my life and my writing. I am so forever grateful.

This is a repost

I Will Trust to Love
May 16, 2013 by Napkinwriter

Shattered Mirrors
By Susan Heffron Hajec, inspired from
Mimi Foyle,’s Shattered Mirrors
I will turn to meet my destiny,
reflected in shattered mirrors.
The world breaks
My effort is needed.
I am a humble artist
with prayerful hands
I nourish new life.
In dark corners,
unmolded clay in my hand
in broken places
molding my earthly clod
to reflect what is neglected.
I will trust to love.

Hello Napkinwriter readers. Well just a few moments ago, my blog was shattered…..I typed “glog”. That’s what I feel like now. I had expressed in the first “blank” issue of this, how many ways this workshop experience at WWAM from artist/writer Kittie Bintz had excited me. Now, I am left looking in a seeminly empty draft land to come up with my version.

Recently on MeetUp, I joined a WordPress group and missed the first meeting. This is one of the first things I want to find out how to avoid or at least be a good enough sleuth to recover it.

This experience was about creating an altar to our muse. Kittie, a soon to be retiring public school art teacher, was a vivacious guiding presence, as we mixed water color, tea lights, collage images, words and shattered glass to our creations.

The word “retired” didn’t really fit Kittie, so I suggested she was “re-FIRING” instead, and that word stuck, as I heard it repeated among the more than 50 attendees of WWAM Weekend at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs New York.

What a weekend retreat it was. But then again, we creative’s don’t really retreat from life, rather we continue to re-TREAT the world with continuing inspirations, images, ceremony and words.
The inspiration for my creation came from Mimi Foyle’s poem, Shattered Mirrors, which I share here. I live in the truth that it is indeed prayerful hands and honoring the Mystery that has healed me from my own wounded and light-deprived places in life.

I am in deep gratitude for the great gift of life I enjoy.

Shattered Mirrors
Mimi Foyle

i will turn to meet my destiny,
reflected in shattered mirrors.
heart broken open,
i will pick up the pieces
no matter how sharp
to reflect
what is neglected
in dark corners.
wounded, light-deprived,
with prayerful hands i’ll
recycle devastation to
nourish new life
art, like gardening
is an act of faith and healing,
shining for the world.
as Mystery’s greater
than the sum of all suffering,
I will trust to Love.

Related
Shattered
In “creative writing”
Art is Life. WWAM!
In “Art and the Artist”
WHAM-tastic!
In “Art and the Artist”

 

I am thinking a lot about completion these days as I reach the first stage of completion of a two year project. Yet I know completion merely opens the doors and pathways to continuing on. That is how life is as well. In my life experience, completion always means moving on and newness, not necessarily being settled.

I like what Mark Nepo says as he looks at his rain-stained To Do list…”I think I am becoming unfinished.” That is my reality as I age. There is always more: more I am interested in, more “unfinished” tasks done at a slower rate, more to explore, more to see, more to listen to, more undiscovered newness. I have more curiosity, more passion and focus, more appreciation of the gift of life. Yes, I am becoming very unfinished.

There are silent requests for more days ahead, not to be cut short, l the battery completely runs down and a recharge of interest and energy do not ignite me back to life…a life well lived; a life filled with blessings; a life of recognizing mystery and beauty, a life of sharing goodness and letting tears run as they may.

There is a sense that most of the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle are in place and there is the placing yet of but a few. And these few are placed with lingering leisure and a slowing pace. There is no urgency. I more often can perceive the whole picture of the many small pieces that have held my attention  and occupied me for all these years. All answers are incomplete. I have only been given direction as needed and only when I listened.

To Women Who…

To those who bake the bread, tend the hearth, love the children, care for the sick, honor the elders, pave the way, live in truth, serve with compassion, find the joy, soften the heart…to woman filled with grace, light the way, embrace humble boldness, protect their dreams, honor their path….to woman holder of sanctity, filled by Divine Spark, dedicated teacher, keeper of the keys, container of change, womb of new life, be blessed, be joyful, be…

Lent 2019

Today, I didn’t have my napkin in my purse to write upon, when I was at the 8 am children’s Mass on Ash Wednesday at Christ the King Cathedral. So many blessings entered my soul from the readings, to the music, to the homily and the children filling most of the cathedral. “Bless the Lord, Oh my soul.”

And of course, I can’t remember most of what I wanted to. I need napkins more than ever these days to remember, oh my remember. I know the first message I soaked up like a sponge was “Return to me with all your heart.” It is such a blessing to be involved in anything in our life where we are in it whole-heartedly.  Another scripture at another time warns us to be a full Yes or a No — anything in between  is not “of the Spirit.”

I am so grateful to be living whole-hearted in each day, maybe with a few aches and pains, various trials here and there, some inconveniences, but in the over-all appraisal, I feel grateful and whole hearted for the life I have.

Today, I share my SoulCollage image I made for Lent maybe over five years ago. I add to it the magnificent blog post of Jan Richardson, and thus I am complete. It is all here.

 

Readings for Ash Wednesday: Joel 2:1-2, 12-17; Psalm 51:1-17;
2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

From Jan Richardson:

We are entering the season that begins with a smudge. That smudge is a testimony to what survives. It is a witness to what abides when everything seems lost. It is a sign that what we know and love may, for a time, be reduced to dust, but it does not disappear. We belong to the God who well knows what to do with dust, who sees the dust as a place to dream anew, who creates from it again and again.
—Jan Richardson, from Ash Wednesday: What God Can Do with Dust
The Painted Prayerbook, February 2018

Friends, as we enter into Lent, I want to share this Ash Wednesday blessing again. It’s been six years since I first wrote it, during what would turn out to be my last Lent with Gary. I have found that the question the blessing holds—”Did you not know what the Holy One can do with dust?”—is a good one to ask myself anew each time Ash Wednesday comes around. And I can say now: I know what God can do with dust. And I am learning still.

As this season begins, what blessing do you need to claim from the ashes?

Blessing the Dust
For Ash Wednesday

All those days
you felt like dust,
like dirt,
as if all you had to do
was turn your face
toward the wind
and be scattered
to the four corners
or swept away
by the smallest breath
as insubstantial—
did you not know
what the Holy One
can do with dust?
This is the day
we freely say
we are scorched.
This is the hour
we are marked
by what has made it
through the burning.
This is the moment
we ask for the blessing
that lives within
the ancient ashes,
that makes its home
inside the soil of
this sacred earth.
So let us be marked
not for sorrow.
And let us be marked
not for shame.
Let us be marked
not for false humility
or for thinking
we are less
than we are
but for claiming
what God can do
within the dust,
within the dirt,
within the stuff
of which the world
is made
and the stars that blaze
in our bones
and the galaxies that spiral
inside the smudge
we bear.
—Jan Richardson
from Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons

NAPKINWRITER so highly recommended this beautiful, inspiring book. Buy it now!

 

Please include this info in a credit line: “© Jan Richardson. janrichardson.com.”

Make Mistakes!

 

I have not been writing on Napkinwriter as often as usual, and that may be a mistake. But it is because I am writing full steam ahead on my memoir, Journey Girl, and I have a good chance at having it completed when Spring gets here, which may be different months for many people.

In the meantime, here are some words this morning that inspired me, posted by my artist/psychologist/friend mentor and I share them with you. One of the best bosses I had in my working life told his staff often. “Don’t make that mistake. You already made that one. I want you to make new mistakes!” I was a better person for having heard that. A person who didn’t like, but did allow herself to make mistakes in her life.

 

“Go and make interesting mistakes,
make amazing mistakes,
make glorious and fantastic mistakes.
Break rules.
Leave the world more interesting for your being here.
Make. Good. Art.”
– Neil Gaiman
*This is a beautiful truism!