Thursday, 10 May 2012

The Month of Mary

Icon, "Our Lady of the Ring", by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012

Continuing with the emphasis on Our Lady during this month of May, I want to show you another icon of the Virgin Mary.
As I have mentioned previously, I always have an icon of Our Lady on the go no matter what else I may be working on.  Let me explain why.

The creative process is a scary thing in that so much of it is not under our control.  Talent is a gift from God, not something we can purchase.  Inspiration is also a gift from God.  Both are required in order to create something that may touch the hearts of others.

So, when it comes to starting a new artistic project, I can only hope and pray that I am beginning it with inspiration.  Of course, sometimes I begin simply because an idea appeals to me; while at other times, I begin because I have been asked to "write" a particular icon or draw a particular flower or animal for a client. 

However the drawing may begin, I often find the work progressing smoothly, easily, and the finished item feels right to me.  Too many times, however, things do not go smoothly.  No matter how hard I try or how focused I attempt to be, the work just does not flow.  In fact, it seems to get worse and worse the harder I try.

At this point, rather than getting upset and frustrated, I turn instead to whichever icon of Our Lady I currently have underway.  I find, inevitably, that as I focus once again on the Blessed Mother, everything becomes "untangled" and peaceful.  How long I will continue working on this icon is determined by how I feel as I think about returning to my previous work.  Eventually, I will leave behind the solace of Our Lady and either continue working on my original project or else I will put that project aside, perhaps permanently, and begin something entirely new.

As most of my faithful readers are aware, I show you almost everything I attempt to draw -- the good, the bad and the ugly -- and you have to admit, some of the drawings I have posted over the years have been pretty bad.  I decided to do this long ago to help "keep me honest".   Never can I pretend that I only complete inspired works of exquisite perfection!  Rather, as you know, only occasionally do I complete something that, through no effort of mine, seems to be able to touch the hearts of others.  That is a gift from God for which I am profoundly grateful.

This icon, by the way, started off under a more traditional title.  Somewhere along the way, I felt the prompting to be a bit more whimsical and so it ended up being called "Our Lady of the Ring".  Rarely do we see any jewellery on icons of our Blessed Mother, but this time, it just seemed right.  I hope you enjoy finding all the different features of this icon including the ring.  I would be very interested in hearing how you interpret this title!



So few of us live where we are able to witness the glorious beauty of the sunrise or sunset.  You need to have access to an actual horizon -- not just a bit of sky you can see from you high-rise apartment balcony.  You also need to be up very early to see the sunrise and you need to have the time to stop and view the sunset.  For so many people, the alarm clock goes off about the time the sun is rising; while at the time of the sun's setting, so many people are still trying to get home from work or already home and busy in the kitchen or helping kids with their homework.  Since so many people on earth no longer live by the rising and setting of the sun, we tend to miss the incredible beauty that God provides for us almost every day.  So, I thought I would share a few photos from my collection of beautiful scenes that, for the most part, could be either a sunrise or sunset.  Enjoy!

What better place to see the sun rise or set than across a body of water!

What I love about watching the sun rise is how darkness gives way to light and gradually
all that was hidden by the darkness is once again revealed.  Then, as the sun sets, that darkness gradually returns once again -- but we live in hope that the process will be repeated
the very next morning! 

This could be either a sunrise or a sunset.  It has always interested me how clouds make the
sunrise or sunset so much more beautiful -- yet when we have "clouds" in our lives we rarely
seem to think that they can increase the "beauty" of God's action as others see how we
live out our faith.

This is such a beautiful scene.  Do you think it is a drawing, a painting or a photograph?  Do you see "the morning star which rises in our hearts" or is that the first "star" of the night -- the one so many people wish on as they say "Star light, star bright, the first star I see tonight"?

And so the darkness comes and then the darkness goes -- and each time the sky is filled with the most beautiful colours of red, gold, orange, purple.  Whether anyone notices or not, the Divine Artist continues to "paint" one masterpiece after another.



Suki has been a bit restless of late.  I am not sure what is going on with her.
Maybe it is just a sign of springtime.  Perhaps she feels some sort of primal urge to be involved in the passions of life.  Whatever is going on, it causes her to be quite bothersome at times.

For example, she gets in her bed after eating breakfast, but instead of going to sleep as usual, she begins to play with some of the toys attached to her bed.  After playing for a few minutes, she settles down and appears to go to sleep; however, within about 15 minutes, she is up again.  This time she gets out of bed and comes over to the desk and pesters me.  I, trying to be a patient person, stop and stroke her for a minute or two.  When I try to stop and return to whatever I am working on, Suki lets me know that she doesn't want me to stop by trying to get between me and the computer.  I pick her up and put her in the chair next to me where she sometimes likes to sleep.  She gets out of the chair, gets back up on the desk and now tries to lie down on top of my papers with her feet pushing against my left arm so I can't use the keyboard.  I patiently ask her to be a nice kitty and bodily move her to the floor.

Now she decides she wants to eat again (she just ate about 30 minutes before) and begins to wander around my feet meowing plaintively.  Sometimes, like a bad parent, I actually get up and give her more food; however, this does not always work as, lately, she has only been eating about half her food and leaving the remainder -- something guaranteed to push me further along towards losing my patience -- and then she returns to meowing as she once again sits at my feet.  By this point, I am thinking about how pleasant life would be without a kitty cat and wondering if I could handle the guilt if I shut her up in the bathroom for the rest of the morning! 

Thanks be to God, she finally gives up and settles down, eventually falling into a deep sleep.  At this point, I can finally get on with whatever I am working on -- feeling very grateful that, once again, I was given the grace not to get angry with Suki -- but I am left wondering why she has suddenly started behaving this way?  It must be the springtime.

As for me, I continue to do very well all things considered.  I have been trying to get myself back to the gym, but am having a really difficult time overcoming the inertia that has set in after all these months of not being able to go there.  At this point, I am kind of like those people who are planning on starting a diet or quitting smoking.  I tell myself, "well, this week is kind of busy for me, so how about getting started this very next Monday."  That seems to make so much sense to me plus it gives me a way to take the pressure off myself to act immediately and also relieves me of any guilt.  Of course, deep down I know that the truth is simply that I don't want to do it.  I know I will enjoy myself once I get started again, but it is just so hard to get started.

I finally saw my family doctor again yesterday and managed to see all the documentation regarding my heart.  It was wonderful to read "her [Sarah Thayer] coronary arteries are large, healthy and in every way normal" -- just the opposite of what all the tests had shown.  So, once again, I say thanks be to Our Lord, His Blessed Mother and St. John of God.  [BTW, today, I think, is the anniversary of the death of St. John of Avila who, as you may recall, was spiritual director for St. John of God.]

The one problem that remains is something called bradyarrhythmias.  This is a fancy word which refers to my unusually slow heart rate.  This is something I have had for years, but it seems to have gotten a bit slower as I have gotten older and could be the actual cause of my problems with sleepiness and falling.  In the reports I have, it appears that they will investigate this further.  Meanwhile I just remain profoundly grateful that my heart is so healthy.

So now if I can just keep my patience with Miss Suki, I should be fine!  BTW, she has finally fallen asleep and looks as though she will now be sleeping for quite some time.  I am grateful -- both for myself and for her -- because if a cat doesn't get her 16 hours sleep per day, she is just good for nothing!

May St. John of Avila and St. John of God pray for us -- and may the peace of God be with us each and everyone today and always.

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