Posts Tagged ‘rosemaling’

Festival of Arts Header

My first clue that something was “up” showed up when I entered the worship area of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church for the concert and saw the program cover!  It was so close to the logo for my work as Souljourner at-Large that it startled me.

souljourner - atLarge front

My second clue, after the pastor’s welcoming remarks, was the presence of co-presenter Joseph Byrd, who came bounding up the aisle to center front, reincarnated as Francis of Assisi. Well, at least he came to us in the habit of the Third Order of Lutheran Franciscans (I didn’t know existed).

In the year 2000, I was in a group pilgrimage to Francis’ home town, prayed in the cathedral where he is buried, and walked the brick paved roads upon which he and his merry band of buddies paraded, partied and serenaded  before he fell completely in love with Jesus Christ. From then on,  Francis was fully joyous in the love of the Lord and the work of the Lord in all nature that surrounded him and increased that love through the order of Franciscan Friars he founded.

And I have enough of a heart bond with St. Francis to recognize an  exuberant, loving, joyful presence of the saint when I saw one  in this man of our modern day.

Along with his wife Grace (very fittingly named)  accomplished violist, (Violist -in-residence with the Kalamazoo Symphony), they gently, yet dramatically, led us through a musical meditation of Wondrous Love, in the poetry of William Blake (1737-1827)  set to music performed through Grace’s viola and Joseph’s melodic tenor voice and rapturous grand piano playing.

I was in attendance by the  invitation of my friend and sister artist, Jan Christianson, who is a member of this Prince of Peace Lutheran parish. She introduced me to the fine Norwegian art of Rosemaling and she  is teaching me how to do this. My interest in it is a response to my ancestry and also a willingness to pursue artistry through this medium. Jan had several edifying art creations in the exhibit.

That I was there at all was up to powers beyond my own. I had “pushed the river” when I set my first Souljourner Open Circle meeting for the day before, which was just a few days after my husband’s third skin surgery (three weeks in a row). But I yielded to the inner sense that “I had to get started.”

I’d invited two of my fitness classes in: my yoga and my poolates class. Then, I was unable to follow the notices up the week before due to extra caregiver duties. So I worried if anyone would come. I’d also listed the wrong name on our subdivision, so I worried if people would get lost trying to find our home.

Jan was one of the people who made up a lovely small group. Had it been a large group, the subject of Rosemaling would likely not have come up. But it did and Jan told me of the art show and concert being held  the next day and I knew I’d be there.

This morning, the day after the concert, I awoke early with many soul messages that are coming from both the art I viewed and especially the concert I enjoyed. It all sunk into me on several levels.

This is my early morning prayer journal entry for today:

“I am deeply touched by the concert experience I had at the Festival of the Arts at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church yesterday with Jan Christianson.

Especially by the performance and musical ministry of Grace and Joseph Byrd. This honest, grace-filled, passionate performance of viola, piano and tenor voice interpretation of William Blake’s poetry exploded within my soul. His talk of the ‘space’ aligned with my spiritual leading and returned me to my own poetry of ‘Angels in the Doorway’. I Am in that space.

I was sitting (and privileged to be) in a Spiritual-Artistic Setting where the Arts are truly celebrated as a Path Within and To the Divine.

It was no accident I was there, but it was only by a ‘chance’ conversation the day before that I became aware of it.

So very often now, these leadings come from within and from a soul-voice. Not from my Capricornian desire for order and meaning and planning.

I am marching to a different drummer — and I do hear the tune.

I am part of who these artists, musicians, writers, and spiritual leaders are — They are my community at-Large. Just as I Am Monk in the World and I Am Contemplative voice.

I will follow up on this. How Am I to be this? What does All that Is want of me? How Am I follower? How Am I leader? “

Festival of Arts Program

Wondrous Love! Yes, St. Francis of Assisi
knew God’s love pours out abundantly upon us
and we realize only a little of it.

Apparently, so did William Blake.

                          William Blake

To Mercy, Pity, Peace and Love,
All pray in their distress,
And to these virtues of delight
Return their thankfulness.

For Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love,
Is God our Father dear;
And Mercy, Pity, Peace and Love,
Is man, His child and care.

For Mercy has a human heart;
Pity, a human face;
And Love, the human form divine:
And Peace the human dress.

Then every man, of every clime,
That prays in his distress,
Prays to the human form divine:
Love, Mercy, Pity, Peace.

And all must love the human form,
In heathen, Turk, or Jew.
Where Mercy, Love, and Pity dwell,
There God is dwelling too.

The Festival of the Arts celebrates Wondrous Love in Art and Music and celebrates the Creator in Us.

“The Earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world and those who dwell therein”  Psalm 24.

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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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“Behold, I’m doing a new thing!” Somewhere in scripture, it says something like that. And there is a lot of newness in my life today, being born of surprise both in things I am doing and areas I am studying.

One of these new things I am doing is the Norwegian folk art of Rosemaling painting. I didn’t even know the word or what this form of art was until I very recently.

When a friend showed me her photo book of creative paintings, I saw a very familiar looking wooden plate with her painted design centered in it. I had an instant flashback to my childhood kitchen wall where something very similar hung for all the years I was in that home.

That’s when I learned this art form comes from Norwegian heritage. Yesterday was the first painting session I attended and Jan, my Norwegian  friend, is doing everything getting me set up to begin something that has already wrapped itself around my heart. She asked her husband to “turn” a plate for me, so I have my first project underway now with one sanding and a base background coat.

I am choosing to do her pattern that reminds me of my mom’s and now I want to find out from my brother if he knows where that plate is.  I now have some dedicated time scheduled on Tuesday mornings to meet with the experienced rolemaling women who have taken this little duckling under their wings. Next Tuesday can’t get here fast enough for me.

Besides the art itself, there is another side of this adventure that really excites me. I dedicated this year of 2012 in my intentions to: Gain more understanding of the Oneness of All — humanity, spirituality, the cosmos, the past, present and future — and my early leadings in this year seem to push me along in that direction. I truly think that’s how I got to rosemaling, an art tied to my heritage, that I believe I will continue and have speak to me from here on.

Here is the “oneness”, that were a lot of “coincidences” that I think brought me to this art at this time.

I have a good blog friend, Christine, in Australia, who creates and sells nature’s essences;  Last year I ordered two: Space Essence;(create space in your life, elemental balance, prana flow)…..I wanted it so I could make peace, adjust or change the space I was currently living in….within six months we were quickly and almost “lifted out” (it was that easy) of our cramped and uncomfortable space into a home space I am totally at-one with.

The second essence has an even bigger task to accomplish: it is Ancestor Peace, (making peace and achieving harmony in ancestral blood lines)…and that one is very actively “moving things around” for me with new understandings, and forgivings where necessary. It was working mostly on my Irish half,…..but now I see it on my Norwegian half as rosemaling comes into view.

How did I get to this experience? This friend, Jan, is in my Tuesday, Thursday, Poolates class; can’t talk much in that class as we’re working hard. So we spoke briefly in locker room conversations about life’s going’s on and she talked of her painting group a little, and I missed an art exhibit she invited me to.

About six month later, I had a gathering at my home and Jan was there and brought her art project book. Here is where I learned of the Norwegian background. Then further, I learned she knew about Eau Claire, Wisconsin (very Norwegian settled) which was my birth place.

THEN I learned she knew about Eau Claire because she graduated Luther Hospital Nursing School, where my birth mother also graduated and where my birth mother met my father suffering with a kidney stone. They met, fell in love and married.

But this is not the mom whose plate on the wall I remembered, for my birth mother died shortly after I was born and dad remarried (a Thompson Norwegian) two years later.  So now I have this art connecting me to both mothers and ancestors.

The place where I will be learning this craft is Prince of Peace Lutheran Church. Both my moms came from the Lutheran faith tradition, converting to Catholicism with dad. And Peace in my underlying all-covering life purpose.

Could I be more on center? I don’t think so.

Yesterday on facebook, my cousin reminded me of my aunt’s birthday (sister of my second mom) and how much she missed her. I do too, she was an important support to me in my growing up years. At the time of mom’s Alzheimers diagnosis though we had some rough times working things out because she didn’t want to let her sister go and couldn’t recognize the need.

I, on the other hand, did not handle the differences with grace, so a new space was created between us, that took years to repair and heal. I think we got that done, and I felt my love for her in a special way yesterday.

I probably won’t be able to give my first piece away, but I know I will make something (I’m thinking a mirror) for her daughter, in memory of her beautiful mother. That way she can be looking at herself and seeing her mom as well for her mom looks right back at me through her daugher’s face.

And I have one other cousin, my age, who I will send a rosemaling  art piece to because she is the one who connected together for me when I was in my twenties many of the missing pieces of my birth mother’s family and I will forever be grateful for that.

This seems like the breathing process to me, as far as ancestor peace goes. Maybe a natural one, maybe sometimes a bit forced, and other times feeling like I need more breath.  For an earlier part of my life it was like the outbreath expansion and pushing away a bit, getting out as my own, independent self and finding out who that is.

Now, I’m on the in-breath, drawing in, expanding my lungs to fill them fully with all that is a part of me, and loving that energy in my heart, then using this energy in a great, supportive way to live my life now — the daughter of many who “went before.”

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