Friday, 2 November 2007

Flowing towards Death (All Souls)

All creation has been flowing towards death of one kind or another since it came into existence -- and yet, nothing actually ceases to exist -- but continues in some form or another. The human body, as we know it, has been flowing towards its own particular kind of death since it was born although the matter that it is comprised of will never be destroyed. For me this is all a very great mystery. I know what I have come to believe about these matters and I am at peace with my beliefs; however, I can easily understand how people struggle to find their way to some sort of answer about the meaning of it all.

What started me thinking about all this was the beginning of the month of November which, for Catholics and some others, is known as the month of the Holy Souls. November 1st is the Feast of All Saints while November 2nd is the Feast of All Souls -- the saints are those people who died either as martyrs for the faith or were recognized as very holy people -- the souls are all the rest of us most of whom die neither too bad or too good and seriously hope to make it to Purgatory where we will spend however long is necessary getting cleaned up and ready for our grand entrance into the fullness of the Kingdom. We believe that the souls in Purgatory can be helped by the prayers of those of use still living on earth. So, during the month of November, the Church and its members make a special effort to pray for all the souls in Purgatory.

Obviously, this is the time of year when one's thoughts would turn to death! Which brings me back to the drawing above. This is a new drawing I just finished earlier this week. I was using a photo from the newspaper taken as an elderly friend of an elderly woman who had just been involved in a hit and run was told that her friend had not survived. This is so much a part of daily life in the big city, but it happens to individual people and each time it hurts. The drawing is entitled: "Bad News in Old Age."

This next item is a favourite photograph of mine and is certainly something I would try to paint were I still able to hold brushes for long enough periods of time.

It can be viewed by someone as coming up into the light from darkness or as going from the light down into darkness. People see their lives both ways. Some people see their lives both ways within the same time timeframe when they are fighting with depression. I love to see it as though my life has been a process of moving from the darkness up into the light. I have fallen a number of times, even lost ground occasionally, but always that light was in front of me. Someday, I will leave this wheelchair behind me and flow out beyond death into light without end.

Next are two images of the same tree. This
is a tree I showed you back in my first posting about trees, but I want to show it to you again. Trees, even though they live in a much different timeframe than we do, are also flowing towards death. They will die and decay and be taken back into the elements of the forest.

I have actually heard people say "Oh, I wish I could live as long as that particular tree does" and I have to look at them in amazement. Human beings are the only creature on the planet that spend so much money and time trying to figure out ways to live longer and stay younger. I really am not sure what it is that they hope to accomplish by this!

As I recall, the title of this drawing is "Beautiful Tree".

Next is the actual photo that I worked from when I did the drawing above. I made it small enough to fit in here as I thought you might enjoy seeing both the model and the finished product. The picture is of an Adirondack White Pine.

As you can see, there was a lot of background growth that I chose to leave out. When Nature puts it in a scene, it looks very natural; however, when I put it in, it looks very unnatural! I would have to say that Nature is by far the better artist!

But back to death and dying.

Everything dies or decays on its way
to becoming something else. Take this fine looking house, for instance.

This is how my mother's family's home might have looked in the mid- 1800's when there were still lots of people living in it. The house was actually built in 1841 and called Klein which, as you may know, means small in German. This was considered to be a small house as plantation houses went in those days.

By the time I came along, it was a very different place and although I spent many happy hours there with various cousins, great-aunts, etc., I only knew it the way you see it below.

What can I say -- this is the way life is. Things start out new and fresh and slowly -- or not so slowly, over time -- they wear out, begin to fall apart, break down until finally they cease to be functional. When this happens to people and all other creatures, we say they have died.

I came across a photo of an old, old painting of mine. I had been trying to draw a stained glass window from inside a church... not a good idea at the best of times, but certainly not a good idea for a beginner as I was at that point. Anyway, it seemed a rather fitting way to end this post: a painting that is relatively old in human terms of an event that is supposed to have occurred 2,000 years ago of a person whose life has for me and millions like me changed the idea of death into something that causes me to believe that I am flowing through death into an eternity that I can anticipate with joy.

Peace be to you all.

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