Zuni

 


Zia Country by John Farnsworth   oil on canvas

ZUNI

Wanted to see Zuni

Wanted to share a piece of their bread

And red, red sunset.

Wanted to drive off into Nothing Land, Empty Land

But full of nature life

Wanted to stand up tall on Acoma

Wanted to pore over jewels of the desert.

Maybe take one home

To string around a white man’s neck

Wanted to feel the space and distance all around

Stretching out to the infinity of stars

Wanted to see if Christ, Lord of all

Has come that far

And what He has done, in the Nothing Land

I’ll go one day

And maybe time will work backwards

In that timeless land.

By CVE

Enter Into His Gates

Enter Into His Gates

With Thanksgiving

And Into His Courts

With Praise…

“As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples ahead telling them, “Go into the village in front of you and you will at once find there an ass tethered, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. Should anyone say anything to you, you are to say, ‘The Lord needs them’, and he will send them immediately.”

All this happened to fulfill the prophet’s saying—‘Tell the daughter of Zion, Behold your king is coming to you, lowly, and sitting on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey’.

So the disciples went off and followed Jesus’ instructions. They brought the ass and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and Jesus took his seat. Then most of the crowd spread their own cloaks on the road, while others cut down branches from the trees and spread them in his path. The crowds who went in front of him and the crowds who followed him all shouted, ‘God save the Son of David! ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! God save him from on high!’

And as he entered Jerusalem a shock ran through the whole city. ‘Who is this?’ men cried. ‘This is Jesus the prophet,’ replied the crowd, ‘the man from Nazareth in Galilee!’…”
              Matthew 21:1-11   The J.B. Phillips Version of the New Testament

 

Palm Sunday in Jerusalem, Israel

 

There Is So Much Good

“There is so much good in the worst of us
And so much bad in the best of us
That it hardly behooves any of us
To find fault with the rest of us.”

This little saying was printed on a plaque displayed in my grandmother’s house her whole life.  At least as much of her life as I knew.  It was a powerful statement, mainly because she actually lived it.  These kinds of mottos were common encouragements, spurs to do good and a striving to do better, which were popular in the early twentieth century.  My grandmother was a woman of this time, an entrepreneur, a volunteer, a woman active in civic organizations, a zealous, responsible housewife, a stalwart friend.  She shunned gossip, always trying to look for the best, the positive in things in people and events.  Pushing for achievement.  A modern woman. From her I got the big idea,”Don’t be going around pulling others down!”

The motto above is attributed to a man named James Truslow Adams, an American businessman and free lance writer especially active in the 1930’s. He was first a banker, then moved into a new career writing magazine articles, essays, and commentaries on American history. It was Adams who coined the phrase we are still focused on today…”The American Dream”… and who also wrote about this idea in his book,”Epic of America.”

Adams described the American Dream this way:
“The American Dream is that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.”

It is clear that Adams thought the “American Dream” meant a freeing from Old World judgments and class-race distinctions.  So, the idea is, you don’t need to be holding people down, classifying them or disdaining them, if you want this place to be a great nation, a nation which fulfills it original promise and God-given place in the world. Just get on with your own doing and your own goals.

I like it.  It seems American to me.  It seems right.


James Truslow Adams  1878-1949

 

Secret Music


A Childish Tale for Grown-ups

Once upon a time, long, long, ago, in a galaxy far away, there was a unique and curious land where a peculiar people dwelt. Somehow in the past each member of this race had suffered a terrible injury. As a result, each one had lost the knowledge of who he was, how he had come to live in this land and what it was he was to be about.

The name of this place was the “Land of Rend”, though no one seemed to know why it was so called. Life in the Land of Rend was paradoxical, to say the least. Although the land itself was very beautiful and hospitable by one view, it also had at times a threatening and dangerous aspect. This was due to the fact that those who lived there seemed to have lost the sense of how things worked in their land, along with their own past histories. In this beautiful but dangerous setting, the inhabitants of Rend, named “Rendeds” by general agreement,  pursued their lives. Often, to their own horror, they would commit the most hideous crimes upon one another, even upon those they held closest in life. They knew these acts were atrocious, but they could not seem to remember why or how to keep this from happening.

Walking through the Land of Rend, one could see the remains of Rendeds who had been killed by other Rendeds…carnage among fields of flowers. The hungry and ill were completely ignored and untended in the midst of jovial feasts. Some Rendeds sickened and died for no apparent reason. Others leapt from buildings to destroy themselves or performed acts of self-mutilation. Stranger still, some lived unhampered lives in the very midst of chaos. Laws and systems were proposed but no one could agree upon what laws were right.

The greatest paradox of all was that the entire Land of Rend was filled with the most mysterious and beautiful music. There was nowhere one could go and not hear its haunting sound. The music provoked only mild interest in most Rendeds; few questioned or even recognized its beauty in the midst of their unfathomable world. As the horror of life in Rend increased, many Rendeds, stunned or preoccupied, failed to hear the music any longer, or only heard it faintly. At last, many Rendeds could no longer hear the music at all. They could hardly be called dull-witted, but rather they seemed to be listening for something else and therefore could not hear to sounds which were coming to them night and day.

Some Rendeds eventually denied the existence of any music at all. They supposed that “hearing music” was just another of the aberrations to be found in their own kind and finally declared for the benefit of all Rendeds that the land of Rend………was silent. Sometimes tidy and lovingly made signs appeared on walls stating, “Silence is Golden”. But the music… never changed or stopped at all.

A few Rendeds, especially the sort who had always found comfort in finding a lonely spot and just listening to the music, became even more depressed at this testimony about silence coming from the others. They became even more restless and uneasy in their uncertain world. They just KNEW they were hearing music; they knew it somehow soothed. They began to get up from their corners and resting places, and tried to follow the sound of the music. It must come from somewhere! Some of these lost interest along the way, but others continued to follow, to try to find the source of the music. The sound grew stronger and clearer as they went, though often they seemed to lose track of why they were searching. Eventually, many came to the source of music.

Strangely, finding the source was not always the same for each. Some just took a turn in a grove of trees and there they were, at the center of the music. Others heard it from far off and traveled through many hardships to reach their goal. But, the source was the same for each. As they sat basking in its resonance, it filled them to the brim. They began to tap their feet to the rhythm; then slowly, grins began to spread over their faces. They began to look around at one another. They began to remember who they were and from whence they had come!  Their smiles turned to chuckles.

They began to try something they had never before thought of….they began to sing along with the music. The better and more joyfully they sang, the more they laughed, until finally the whole land rang with their laughter. They laughed until they cried. They got up and began to dance to the music with a new energy.  After a long time of celebration, one by one they lay down upon the grass and slept, deeply, profoundly, for the first time……..in the Land of Rend.

These Rendeds,  now renamed themselves, “Mendeds” (and called their land, “Mend”, instead of Rend.)  Everyday they stole back to the source of music. There they had another uproarious laugh, a dance, and a time of pure rest. When they went back among the Rendeds sometimes their mere presence kept anything horrible from happening. Some Rendeds seemed to regain their hearing in the presence of Mendeds; these set out on their own for the source of music and found it. The Mendeds were always going among the Rendeds, asking them, “Don’t you hear it? Don’t you hear it now?” Sometimes the Rendeds, over-taxed already, would become irritable at this Mended-prodding, replying, “Why do you keep on talking about this so-called music? If you really knew anything, you would get down here and help us solve all these problems!” And they would turn away. Some Mendeds even tried to take down the “Silence is Golden” signs, but for this they were severely chastised, and even beaten, especially by Rendeds who were in charge of the keeping of signs.

Still, many Rendeds were Mended and mainly, the music never changed or stopped at all.

“THE HEAVENS ARE TELLING THE GLORY OF GOD, AND THE FIRMAMENT PROCLAIMS HIS HANDIWORK.”   A Psalm of David

 

Being Truly At Home

To be at home… and really be home.

It must be one of the joys of heaven.

The quiet cup of coffee,

The sun shining through the leaves of backyard trees.

The hose laid on the grass,

 sparkling and filling up the yard with pools.

Grackle birds talking their talk from the trees above.

Hanging a damp and sweet-smelling quilt out to dry,

Digging a hole and touching the earth

These must be some of the peaceful joys of heaven.

Green, humble, plain and quiet.

The true and final refuge

From all madness, pushing and doing.

To be home

 and really, truly, be home.

by CVE

 

Sheila

Daniel, the main character of DANIEL~THE ONE WHO GOT AWAY,  has a mother… well sort of.  Here in an excerpt from the novel,  is your opportunity to get a view of Daniel and Sheila’s relationship in action.

“Later that morning, Daniel returned Sheila’s call. Yes, she wanted a reservation, but no, not for lunch.  She was coming for dinner, she was bringing special clients.  There was a big deal brewing.  Could Daniel make sure that everything would be just right tonight? He bristled at this. “I make sure that everything is just right for everyone, every day, all the time,” he shot back.

“Well of course you do, Daniel.  Of course you do. Thanks so much.”  She hung up without any further chit chat, as usual.

He tried to calm down, but she could always get to him.  It was her attitude of dominance over something that was not hers, so imperious.  It was his restaurant.  She had no clue about how he ran it or how much of himself he put into it.  And, she did not care.   Finally, he brushed it off and spent the rest of the day there, serving as host at lunch, which was very busy and pleasant.  People loved the specials and were commenting on them, especially the new Brussels sprout cole slaw.  Lots of talking, lots of people coming and going.

After lunch, he visited with the staff in the kitchen.   They rested their tired feet perched on the kitchen stools, talking and eating bowls of the chowder. Then he went on into the office. His office was small and neat, windowless, with red glossy-painted walls and English antiques.  His glass-topped desk was small and immaculately clear of papers and mail. On the credenza behind the desk, wicker dividers held all the essentials and current paperwork, neatly filed.  A small Oushak rug in gold, tan and red accented the floor.  Henry was dozing there in his basket. Daniel listened to some music for a while, with only one table lamp lighting the room.  Then he stretched out on an old brown velvet sofa he had there for just such a purpose between service hours. He seldom went back to the condo during the day, especially on Fridays and Saturdays. Today, he had a sound nap but woke feeling groggy.  A mood of anxiety had dropped onto him. He tried to analyze it. There was his father to think of, and his illness.  There was the problem of Thomas, which he had been successfully shoving to the back of his thoughts, ignoring his growing discomfort in the relationship.    Then there was the on-going irritation with Sheila.  He knew he needed to address these worries, but not now. It was time to get going for the Friday dinner crowd.  He went to the private bathroom just off the office and freshened up.  Then he went out onto the dining floor and began preparing. Most people wandered in after 5:00 PM to start with cocktails.

At exactly 5:30, Sheila and company came through the doors.  Daniel saw her come in. He was near the kitchen doors, putting away a cart and did not immediately come out to greet her.  She had brought along Mary Ann, her secretary and Jeff, her assistant.  Apparently, the important clients were meeting them there later. Daniel took the opportunity to silently assess Sheila as she moved along to her booth. She never sat at the bar. She was a short, one might say petite, woman, 50ish.  Maybe petite was not the right word for her as she was fine-boned but curvy, with a round pretty face, a small waist and rounded hips, rather busty, with shapely legs.  Fine-boned, but strong, full of energy. She always wore the most impractical high heels and he could not remember ever seeing her in pants during the business week.  Her preference was a fitted, tailored suit, the skirt falling right at the knee. Today her suit was collarless in baby blue light wool. Her hair was exactly the same ash brown tone as Daniel’s, but unlike his fine straight hair, hers was a short cap falling in loose curls.  She had the same large, wide, gray intense eyes. In a whimsical frame of mind, he sometimes compared her with the classic cartoon character, “Betty Boop…”  Yes, a fair haired version of “Betty,” right down to the face-framing curls. Quite a feminine appearing woman. This, however, belied her nature and personality, which included a stern outlook on life, dogged strength and a razor sharp wit.  Adorning the whole image was an array of stunning and very expensive jewelry, most of it Italian.

Her movements were dainty and somewhat darting, like a swallow.  She would swoop in, find her place, all the while engaging in a fast friendly banter.  Once seated, she “reigned” with a calm authoritative manner among the staff and with her people.  Watching her, Daniel could not deny the strong physical resemblance he bore to Sheila, the creamy skin, the hair, the gray eyes, and something about the nose, but that is about as far as any feeling of affinity with her went.  She had always been an enigma to him.

Still, Daniel knew that Sheila was proud of him, proud of the restaurant, though she never said as much. He knew she talked him up among her clients and sent him a lot of business.  She was a regular client, coming in about twice a week, usually for lunch on Friday.

Finally, he went over to greet her at the table.  He put on his welcoming smile.  She smiled back.  Mary Ann and Jeff looked up from their menus and greeted him too.

“Good to see you, Daniel.  You are looking well.”

She had put on her cordial face to match his smile, but he could see her mind was preoccupied.

“The halibut is special tonight,” he offered. “And the Sole in Papelotte is always good too.”

“Oh! The sole sounds wonderful,” Sheila replied looking over the menu.” We will have a hard time deciding.  We’re waiting for our guests first, of course.” She smiled up at him again, a dazzling smile. He was dismissed.

“I hope you have everything you need,” he said. “Just let us know when you’re ready.” No sense of familial relationship had been expressed.

He moved away, mentally shrugging his shoulders, leaving her party to the waiter.  “That’s enough said,” he thought.  A few minutes later, he saw the clients arrive.  A man and a woman, mid- fifties, sophisticated, dressed with a somewhat East Coast dark formality.  They huddled over their drinks and business. He left them to it.  Soon they had ordered and were laughing it up over dinner.  Daniel watched Sheila do her magic, as she held their attention with stories and expressive gestures. Her face and jewelry were sparkling. They were mesmerized.  He shook his head and went on to the foyer to say goodbyes to departing diners.

Sheila’s party stayed late, relaxed now and slowing down their talk over coffee and night-caps.  Soon, they made their way all together out to the doors.   They had enjoyed their time and the food, Mary Ann and Jeff said.  Sheila turned to him with a flourish.  She introduced her clients briefly, now having linked arms with them both.

“And, this is my son, Daniel,” she said. “We owe our lovely dinner to him and his staff.  He is the proprietor here.” Still smiling, she swept her arm around the room. “Don’t you love the drama of this theme?” she said, “Daniel designed the décor himself.”

He smiled and nodded. “Please come again, won’t you.  You are always welcome at The Prow.”

The clients glanced around again appreciatively and murmured their thanks for a lovely evening…  And then they all departed together, conversing intently.

Daniel picked up a glass and napkin left there on a bench in the foyer.  The same old emptiness came over him. As usual, he felt like a little child, looking in from the outside on the life of his mother and the things and people which were important in her life, as she swept by, not ever having really seen him.  Or so it seemed to him.  Sometimes, he wished she just wouldn’t come at all.  This was his place.”

 

Let All That I Am

Let all that I am praise the LORD~
with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.
Let all that I am praise the LORD;
may I never forget the good things he does for me.
He forgives all my sins
and heals all my diseases.
He redeems me from death
and crowns me with love and tender mercies.
He fills my life with good things.
My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!
The LORD gives righteousness
and justice to all who are treated unfairly.
He revealed his character to Moses
and his deeds to the people of Israel.
The LORD is compassionate and merciful,
slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
He will not constantly accuse us,
nor remain angry forever.
He does not punish us for all our sins;
he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.
For his unfailing love toward those who fear him
is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.
He has removed our sins as far from us
as the east is from the west.
The LORD is like a father to his children,
tender and compassionate to those who fear him.
For he knows how weak we are;
he remembers we are only dust.
Our days on earth are like grass;
like wildflowers, we bloom and die.
The wind blows, and we are gone—
as though we had never been here.
But the love of the LORD remains forever
with those who fear him.
His salvation extends to the children’s children
of those who are faithful to his covenant,
of those who obey his commandments!
The LORD has made the heavens his throne;
from there he rules over everything.
Praise the LORD, you angels,
you mighty ones who carry out his plans,
listening for each of his commands.
Yes, praise the LORD, you armies of angels
who serve him and do his will!
Praise the LORD, everything he has created,
everything in all his kingdom.
Let all that I am praise the LORD.

Psalm 103 New Living Version

 

 

Lost and Found

This experience really happened to me just a few years ago.  This is not an April Fool joke…

I had been working all day…cleaning bathroom tiles…heavy stuff.   Late in the afternoon I quit work and was talking on the phone.  I glanced down at my hand and saw that the diamond was missing from the setting in my wedding ring!  It  looked  horrible, a glaring empty hole with the prongs jutting up… holding nothing. I felt my heart wither, thinking of all of the millions of places this diamond could be and knowing that searching for it would literally be like looking for a needle in a haystack. I slammed down the phone and turning my face upwards, I closed my eyes and prayed violently: “GOD!  GOD! You know where this diamond is! You know how much it means to me. I will never find it without  your help. TELL me where it is!  HELP ME!”

Immediately, with closed eyes I “saw” in my mind the close-up vision of the black-topped surface of a parking lot.  In this vision, I saw the diamond lying there.  It was lying on the parking lot in front of a convenience store where I had been earlier in the day to pick up some sodas for lunch.  I had stopped during my cleaning spree to run down to the store.  With some kind of “zoomed in vision”, I saw the diamond, small and shiny lying there, right where I had parked.

Now this diamond was not huge, but it was valuable.  And, it had great meaning for me beyond its monetary value.  My husband had added it to my plain wide gold wedding band as a special gift upon the birth of our second son.  He took my ring while I was in the hospital, had the stone set and then slipped it back on my finger one day as I lay recuperating in the hospital…so much meaning.

I hate searching for lost things!  I hate it… So many times, I don’t find the thing I am searching for, and I  get more and more angry and anxious as I search.   I’m angry at myself for being so careless as to lose something of value.  That day, I was tired, angry and completely dismayed by this loss.

Just at that moment, my children arrived home from school.  Despite the vision I had seen,  I immediately enlisted them to start searching the house for the diamond.  The vision was still with me but somehow… I couldn’t act on it.  My own thinking and my fear was that the diamond had gone down the drain in the bathtub where I had been working.  Suddenly though, that vision was so strong that  I broke off searching the house, jumped in the car and drove down to the convenience store.  Someone was parked right where I had parked earlier that day!   Stalling around, I went into the store and started to ask the clerk if a diamond had been found.  When I heard myself say that and saw the clerk’s face I knew what a stupid thing that was to ask. Embarrassed, I  just said “never mind”  and walked back out to the parking lot.  Right next to the car that was parked in my former slot, was the diamond.  It was a very small item on that big black-top.  There were other shiny objects, pieces of broken glass, there too making  mock “diamond” sparkles.  But  I went right to it and picked it up.  It was my diamond.

Dumbfounded, I got back in the car and started driving home.  Fear and awe came over me. I began to pray:  “LORD! I can’t believe you did that!  I can’t believe you heard and immediately showed me exactly where the diamond was!

Once again, He answered immediately.  He  said, “If only you would ask for more things this way,  just in the same way you asked this time for my help, I could do so many things for you.  It pleases me when you depend on Me.”

 

 

The Taos Pool

Last summer we visited Taos, New Mexico for a few days.  We always stay at the historic Taos Inn right in the middle of town.  It’s an old place and was the watering hole for many artists of the early twentieth century Taos art society.   Taos is up high, very high and you feel it when you are there.  It feels like the top of the world when you drive up the Rio Grande gorge from Espanola popping out suddenly onto a huge plain with just the dark narrow slash of the river running through it.  You feel like you can literally “see forever.”  Where the wide plain leaves off the enormous sky takes over, also huge, infinite and  clear blue.

After driving through the flat wide plain on into the little village,  the contrast could not be more abrupt, moving from “wide open” to “extremely close” in the narrow streets, tiny spaces and earthen walls of the old town.  This place has charmed visitors for years and years.   You can walk all over the town in just a short time.   The Inn has some inner courtyards, entered through dark tunnel-like adobe halls.  They too open out suddenly on green hidden squares, with big old trees, the trunks of which are thick and gnarled.   These are secret, hidden oasis spots.   One such place contained a strange visual “trick” that I kept returning to, snapping photos of it with my phone.  It was an area of flowers, shrubs and wild vegetation with a round pool of water shining up in the midst of it.  It was an old birdbath, but it looked like an eye, shining in a face. It was round, shimmering blue and green, with dregs of old fallen leaves, brown and decaying around the edges.  You could not see the base which held it up at all.  In my painting above I added a terra cotta base just so that the picture would make more sense to the viewer.   To me, I guess, this scene was a metephor for Taos, something hidden revealed.  A hidden gem shining out in a sea of earthly matter.

Back home I tried to begin painting this image.  It eluded me for months.  I painted it over and over on the same canvas, starting with acrylic paints and finally moving into oils.  It was so busy, yet needed unity.  The dark/light shades and shadows were a tough assignment to express.  And, the contrast of the foliage with the sudden gleam of reflected water was nearly impossible to portray.  My painting above is the best of my effort to show this strange contrast. I finally quit painting.  I hope it makes sense as you view it.  You will notice from my previous posts that I have a special interest in WATER.

Taos Pool 30×30 inches, in oil

Potter the Otter

Otters seem to capture human affection without doing a thing. Just floating along, they make us love them.  Something about that fuzzy, furry face draws us in.  Otter fur is so thick, over a million hairs per square inch,  that their babies simply float after they are born on the surface of the water, their fuzzy hair holding air like an inner tube for the young things. For too long they were hunted and nearly extinguished as a species.  Now they enjoy  protection and are returning to lakes, rivers and the sea.  Actually, there are two kinds of otters, the River Otter and his cousin, the Sea Otter.  Sea Otters range along the coasts and love mucking around in kelp beds, their natural habitat.

The illustration above is an image of “Potter” who is a character in my book, Daniel~The One Who Got Away.  He is seen here balancing a sea urchin on his belly,  which is the preferred “dinner table” for otters.  Urchins are a delectable favorite food for these creatures. Potter provides a neighborly presence for Daniel when he is alone in his beach house retreat in the San Juan Islands.  Potter tries initially to “rob” Daniel by raiding his outdoor refrigerator.  That doesn’t work and they end up in a relationship of exchange and camaraderie.  Potter’s intuitive, earthy presence is a balm and a gift to his suffering human friend.  Where would we humans be without the presence of those creatures, our animal companions,  as we walk our walk on this earth?

“Selka”, a rescued  sea otter pup at the Monterey Bay Aquarium,  Monterey, California.