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Archive for the ‘Napkinwriter’ Category

Living the Days of Resurrection

 

Guest Blog from Christine Valters Paintner
Galway, Ireland

 

A love note from your online Abbess

Take My Hand

Please don’t plant me
neat rows of rosebushes
and tulips at attention,
no manicured gardens
or crystal vases of cut stems.

Instead, take my hand,
lead me onto
rain-softened grass
which undulates like a boat
on a summer lake,

lie down with me
in a quilt of sunlight and shadows
among yellow petals, violet trumpets,
a feast for hares and bees,
let’s linger and forget ourselves

until even the tiled sky above
is cracked open by stars
and all that is restless and wild
within us can roam the heavens
howling the moon aloft.

—Christine Valters Paintner

Dearest monks, artists, and pilgrims,

After the six weeks of Lent and our disciplines of letting go of distractions and listening more deeply to the sacred call in our daily lives we arrive to the Feast of Easter which initiates a 50-day season of practicing resurrection. I love this sense of invitation into what it means to live resurrection in the midst of the ordinary routines of life.

I wrote this poem a couple of years ago while up in Donegal on a writing weekend. It was being held at this lovely manor house with a large grassy area out front leading down to a lake. During one of the writing sessions, the instructor invited us to go outside for fifteen minutes and see what was inspired. I wandered out hungrily, so glad for time to move outside into the summer sun, sit under a broad tree offering shade.

For me it is a poem about the longing for wildness in my life. I am aware how having everything in order and well planned can be so seductive, but the divine presence is not a God of neat rows and lining everything up just so. Certainly the Easter story many of us celebrate today reveals a divine wildness which erupts into the world beyond our expectations. Practicing resurrection in part means opening to what happens when we release our ideas of how things should unfold.

There have been times in my life when I have embraced this sense of wildness with more vigor than others. Certainly selling everything we owned and leaving Seattle for an adventure living in Europe was one of those seasons. Now living in Galway for the last almost seven years, I have a lovely and sweet life that I adore and am grateful for each day. It involves certain sacred rhythms and times of silence to listen deeply. What is most nourishing to me is a wander down by the sea, to feel the roughness of wind, taste the salt on my skin, to shake loose all the things that have become too determined, too set in expectation.

I invite you to enter this poem as a form of lectio divina. Read it through slowly and notice what words or phrases are shimmering for you. Let those unfold in your heart and listen for the sense of invitation arising. Then watch the video below and see what new layers the visuals offer to you. It is a poem of direct address to someone – a loved one perhaps or a prayer to the sacred source. What is your prayer of resurrection as we enter into this season ahead?

……to shake loose all the things that have become too determined…

 

Art by Shh

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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.

 

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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

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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”

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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!

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January 23, 2019

 

I have been separating egg whites for my whole baking career by precariously cracking them on the edge of a bowl, and tossing the white back and forth between the two shell halves. The danger, of course, is that yolk will spill into the egg white and ruin it for beating them stiff. It is particular agony if it happens on the sixth egg.

It didn’t happen to me today, however, as I was creating my Gugelhupf for my daughter’s office staff. I am grateful for that because I owe them a debt of gratitude for their graciousness in late December when I called Laura while her dad and I were being rushed to Emergency in a siren blaring, lights flashing ambulance.

I gave her our destination and they told her to “Go! Right now! To meet your mom.” And she did, which helped to calm the high vibrations of the hour. Many hours, actually, as tests were run to diagnose extreme pains in his lower chest-top belly area.

I used to see my mom crack and separate eggs this same way, but I also saw her use an egg white separator kitchen tool. There are two reasons why I don’t have one of those. The first is I am too lazy to go shop for something if I don’t know exactly where to find it. The second is that I don’t bake often anymore since Tom has to watch his sugar and I have to endlessly watch my weight. It is just more efficient to not have temptation around.

I was in a bit of a hurry to complete the Gugelhupf, for I had made my “to do” list fairly long for this day. That is not wise either, as I don’t do “hurry” well anymore. And I have given up multi-tasking because it is highly overrated and I am not as good as I once was at it anymore.

I need to recall Brother Lawrence’s Practice of the Presence of God. Where ever I am God is. Whatever I am doing, I can bring God’s presence into it. I do that pretty readily these days as we live a rather quiet mid-70 years of age lifestyle. Things are simpler. I see the packed schedules and tasks of the younger generations in my daughters, nieces and nephews. And I see they are packing a lot of good into that multi-tasking….a lot of God.

Tom and I endured his seven day hospital stay, diagnosed with Acute Pancreatitis, for which he is still being treated. But he is out of pain without medicine. My aspiration for 2019 is to see things more clearly… I don’t ascribe to the current culture of blame game hyped by the media. It has taken me a very long time and a lot of hard lessons to rid myself of the last vestiges of blaming others for anything and I am still not perfect at it. But I have learned the value of self-inventory and “my part” (thank you 4th step inventory of AA) of disturbances in or nearby me and I carry on to making amends where necessary and letting go of blaming myself or others.

The Gugelhupf is baking in the oven and…

 

A little dust of confectioner’s sugar and I am off to Laura’s with this treat.

 

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Life to Art. Art to Life. She slips through the Advent Portal in the Wildwood, her Divine Child is not adverse to the theme of the season — Waiting— Waiting when all the world seems in a rush, waiting when extra duty and even desires stack up upon her day, waiting for the smile and peace to adorn her body as she slips and slides the labyrinthian paths that lead to family and friends. Waiting to settle into her own breath, breathe into her own bones, ever watchful, faithfully waiting to hear again the familiar and sacred messages that come with this season. This is her favorite sacred season, that special time BEFORE Christmas, just as her second favorite season comes right AFTER the Resurrection, when the women find the grave empty. I have reason to pause…to wait…to accept darkness in the world, but know…always know that the light, the light within me, does not cave to the darkness. I do not have to wait for the light. It is within me. I only have to be awake and know.

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