Archive for April 14th, 2012

I’ve been practicing my rudimentary Rosemaling painting on paper until I get good enough to put it on the wooden plate that awaits it. It is a good thing I have a friend, Jan, to mentor me. I take up a lot of her painting time but she generously and patiently guides me along the way. The illustration for this post is just a canvas of many colors taken from the internet, not an example of Rosemaling.

So I guess I am thinking today about all the individual strokes it takes to make a beautiful canvas. Like living life, one stroke at a time over a period of time….some strokes of paint producing inner happiness, others a slight sway in the wrong direction, tone, or smudge, that leave one less than satisfied.

In Rosemaling, my leaders have shown me, they have an answer for that! It is the common q-tip, and “spit”.  “We spit!” they said and smiled at me. At first I thought they seemed like a fairly “ladylike” group and a bit of surprise came over me to think that they satisfied their displeasure with an act of common spitting.

But they showed me that they can easily erase what they don’t like in their painted image by applying spit to the end of a q-tip and rubbing the offending stroke off their masterpiece,and then reapply one they approve of.

That’s pretty good technique, I think. I wonder does it apply to life?

I have a little pocket size meditation book I picked up on Mackinac Island two summers ago. The next year, I when I stopped in the store, I mentioned to the bookstore owner I was very glad to see a copy of this book on her shelf. And there was still a copy of it there then.

She told me that the previous  owner of the store had let her know that it was a very important book to him and that he always wanted it in stock for the hand that would be guided to it. Mine was.

In Always We Begin Again, The Benedictine Way of Living, author John McQuiston II, an attorney with a busy commercial practice, went searching for a truly balanced way of life and he found the blueprint for it in a sixth-century text.

After discovering St. Benedict’s Rule, he interpreted and restated the ancient system of spiritual living helping the modern reader to understand and make use of its remarkable insights.

Benedictine monastery life has a spiritual pace to it throughout the day. Daily chores are mixed in with prayer and liturgy throughout the day and nighttime hours. Secular people, in increasing amounts, have come to value the discipline of this “pace” in their own lives for balance, peace, and fullness of spirit in their days.

It is not based on a monetary value. “Time is our ultimate currency; we must be careful how we spend it,” says McQuiston II.

The easy reading of any section of this book proves life, really, is not all that complicated….at least a happy, fulfilled life is not.

The first rule is simply this:

“Live this life
and do whatever is done
in a spirit of Thanksgiving….
and come to a comfortable rest
in the certainty that those who
participate in this life
with an attitude of Thanksgiving
will receive its full promise.”

In the chapter, Each Day, he tells us at the beginning of each day when we open our eyes and take in the light of that day, we need to remember to treat each hour as the rarest of gifts and to be grateful

“for the consciousness
that allows us to experience it
recalling in thanks
that our awareness is a present
from we know not where,
or how, or why.”

Then follow, four lines that truly serve as either a challenge or a fine meditation in themselves:

“When we rise from sleep, let us rise for the joy
of the true Work that we will be about
this day,
and considerately cheer one another on.”

If that were my set intention for this day and each day when my feet hit the floor, I surely have a better chance of having a good day.  He reminds us in his poetic verse that every day has the potential to bring us the experience of heaven and that we can have the courage to expect good from it.

“Be gentle with this life
and use the light of life
to live fully in your time.”

So many publications lure the reader into their latest efforts with marketing that boasts of learning, at last THE Secret, withheld up until now. This author issues no secrets, but in his chapter on Paramount Goals, I think he touches upon some things many of us don’t know and would be better off, if we did truly realize the truth in what he states:

He says it is not important that we should find the ultimate truth, nor become secure, nor have ease, nor that we should be without hurt, (all of those things have been on “my want” list at some time in my life).

No, he says what is wanted is that we should “live fully.”

“Therefore we should not fear life,
nor anything in life,
we should not fear death,
nor anything in death,
we should live our lives,
in love with life.

….and when we fail,
to begin again each day.”

To live the life that only we can life, he sums up, as doing good for others. And when we have done good, we will have life abundantly.  We must credit the good that we do to the hidden foundation of good and be grateful to serve as its medium. (in this I read St. Paul’s admonition not to becoming clanging gongs in the boastful wind of pride).

John McQuiston II writes at the end of his chapter on Good Works:

“Each good action we perform is like a blow from a sculptor’s chisel, cutting away the dross, and shaping the ideal form hidden within the stone. Each step we take away from a dependence on material possessions is like a day of training for an athlete, strengthening ourselves into the fit and healthy persons we were designed to be.

None of his chapters are long and full of numerous words and long paragraphs. His book is neither big, nor cumbersome. His book a small, pocket size group of pages with short, concise messages of ancient wisdom. His small-look-hard-to-even-find-it book rightfully serves as an avatar for his message: Life, your one life, is lived in the small, but repeated good deeds that take up the moments of your life.

It is the small daily brush strokes that create the painting, no matter how large the canvas.”

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