Art

Repost: The Art of Prayer

Originally posted in August 2012.


If you can cry, “Mercy!” then you have prayed.

-Pastor Shelby Samuels
Concord Baptist Church, TX

We’re told that prayer is the bowing of all heads at once on Sunday morning. That it’s a list kept, where names of the unfortunate are written down and mentioned back to God daily until an answer comes. We’re told to pray without ceasing, as if the heart and mind could murmur, complain, petition, praise, or rejoice in incessantly restless fashion.

Yet God is a refuge and rest. His yoke is easy; His burden is light.

Sometimes, prayer is what people do on Sunday together. Sometimes it’s what we do for those around us. Sometimes it’s a constant restlessness.

And sometimes it’s not.

Long ago, I stumbled across an obscure hymn in the book that has never been sung in any church I’ve attended. It says this:

Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire,
Uttered or unexpressed;
The motion of a hidden fire
That trembles in the breast.

(more…)

Neighbourhood Roundup: Writing, Art, and Social Issues

This past weekend, with the cold and all, I sat under a blanket and edited for clients and wrote 5,200 words in three days. Also another like 1,800 last night. Cocooning like that makes me a very boring blogger, as you can tell from this post’s pseudo-hook-line.

But chances are, if you comment here, I click through and read your stuff, even though I’m not really awesome at commenting back. (Conversationally challenged a lot of the time. And naturally shy, believe it or not.) Check out this variety:

Writing

Elizabeth writes a beautiful post on the pains of growing up, and the pains of rediscovering life’s hidden fruit.

Over at The Masquerade, a humourous roundup of procrastination visuals and some pithy related thoughts.

Kylie has a lighthearted zombie story in response to a writing prompt.

Last month, Jennette and Jill both took part in The Next Big Thing writer-tagging-fest, which Mike also tossed my way (that post is here).

Jennette’s YA fantasy: “Lily Delaney’s father, the world’s famous elven explorer, disappears on his last expedition. She is determined to find him, but she soon discovers that some things are best left unfound.”

Jill’s gothic romance/magic realism: “[I was inspired by] my soggy Pacific Northwest brain, dragons, the ocean, caves, and a strong desire to not only travel through time, but to somehow become sane in the process (not through writing the book! Sanity comes through time travel!)” I highly recommend a browse through Jill’s short fiction on her blog.

Art and Photography

I have fallen in love with Paul’s visual perspectives of York, England.

Heather has new book dragon art. I happen to be mildly obsessed with this series. They are story-magic-perfect.

Social Issues

On an annual basis for the last couple of years, Laurie has reposted a very personal story for Sanctity of Life Sunday. Here is hers…and here is mine.

Also, Randy recently sent me this interesting link on the gender equality of domestic violence. I have no happy endnote for that one, except to observe that each generation can make new choices, and if they do, they can expect their grandchildren to have, on the whole, enormously stable and successful lives. How we live today changes a future we may not see.

~Scienda

When in doubt, draw a villain.

Things were so chaotic over the last three weeks that I got very little accomplished in the “normal life” category. The first part of December was spent recovering from bronchitis, and then the multiple Christmas celebrations struck. All good stuff.

But finding quiet to edit has been an extreme sport, my own writing work has been essentially nonexistent, and I’m still very fatigued. For mental therapy, I resorted to drawing fictional characters — something Steve Rzasa has been doing as well lately as a visualization/description-writing exercise. Mine was more of a “how far can I push these art tools with what skillset I have” exercise.

Anyway, here’s a no-good troublemaker from my ancient historical tales.

Gimrig Unresting

Base sketch: traditional media, 2B and 8B graphite. Colouring and additional details: digital using GIMP software and Wacom Bamboo Pen Tablet.

Vocalizations

If I should chance to hear your calm and gentle voice,
I would hear it calmly speaking the same violence I have seen
in your thoughtless missives penned to the Great Profession.

Art and arrogance can never be bedfellows; one will surely destroy the other.
So you are master of nothing but irritation;
a warrior against nothing but your own paper dragons.
You are a creature of contagious disease who would rather snarl than fly.

If I should chance to hear your calm and gentle voice,
I would hear it through the windowpane of broken trust, scribbled vaguely smoky
by your weathervane whirl of pretension.

Art and falsehood can never be fellows. My soul forgets your poison forever.
So I master nothing but contentment;
I conquer nothing, but am warmed by life’s fires,
a creature of contagious peace who would rather sing than sigh.
~Scienda

Neighbourhood Roundup: Visual Artists

I’m blessed–rich, really, because of these friends.

Heather Young’s fantastical art decorates our living room. She also designed this Victorian fantasy novel, including period-style interior illos to go with the swashbuckling.

S. L. Hazzard always stuns me with her incredibly detailed renderings of her subjects.

Also, there is the fabulous, talented and unique Sarah Jackson, award-winning photographer.

Don Christner’s photos are epic–between the action and the vistas, I end up browsing his blog for awhile whenever I visit.

If you love ‘em, don’t steal ‘em, support ‘em. Buy from Etsy, commission a work, ask for a license or permission to use with credit.

Neighbourhood Roundup: Culture Watchers

I love cultural stuff, and here are some of my favourite places to visit for a wide range of religion and culture topics:

Mike Duran at DeCompose talks faith and artistic expression.

Karen Campbell at ThatMom talks family, education, womanhood, and discernment on religious trends related to the above.

Cardus is a Canadian think-tank on civics and religion. The blog is always thought-provoking.

The Art of Prayer

If you can cry, “Mercy!” then you have prayed.

-Pastor Shelby Samuels
Concord Baptist Church, TX

We’re told that prayer is the bowing of all heads at once on Sunday morning. That it’s a list kept, where names of the unfortunate are written down and mentioned back to God daily until an answer comes. We’re told to pray without ceasing, as if the heart and mind could murmur, complain, petition, praise, or rejoice in incessantly restless fashion.

Yet God is a refuge and rest. His yoke is easy; His burden is light.

Sometimes, prayer is what people do on Sunday together. Sometimes it’s what we do for those around us. Sometimes it’s a constant restlessness.

And sometimes it’s not.

Long ago, I stumbled across an obscure hymn in the book that has never been sung in any church I’ve attended. It says this:

Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire,
Uttered or unexpressed;
The motion of a hidden fire
That trembles in the breast.

(more…)

Heather_art1

The Lovely Art of Heather Young

In the mail just the other day, I received a parcel. Inside it was something lovely. You see, quite some time ago there were four Porcupine Children in my house who quite exasperated me. In fact, I momentarily considered feeding them to the dog. However, a magical portrait arrived, carried by a USPS stork who’d uncoincidentally gotten blown off course and landed north of the 49th parallel, and it reminded me that the Porcupine Children are too cute to be made into dog food.

That is the first picture.

Then, once upon a time, several delightful and rambling discussions were had about the challenges of balancing creative freelancing with homeschooling, and what it’s like to have kids underfoot 24/7 while trying to work. I said something to the effect that I put my headphones on, turn the music up, and breathe fire when they get so wild I can hear them.

That is the second picture. Very few writers on the planet have the privilege of being edited by a dragon. So far I have not eaten any of my clients.

Then, once upon a time, a wonderful whimsical artist prepared to move house. As she packed and cleaned and painted and played with her very own children (who as far as I know are not porcupines), she set her artwork from the past few years in a merrily decorated roadside market stand alongside a highway whose sign read, “INTERNET.”

I went and perused the merrily decorated market stand, and I found much whimsy and loveliness. But I did not see the pink editor dragon anywhere there. So instead I ordered a green dragon who very much reminds me of some comforting verse:

In peace I will both lie down and sleep,

For Thou alone, O Lord, do make me to dwell in safety.

~Psalm 4:8

I think it may be magical as well, not of the illusionist’s trade or the occultist’s dark art, but some spark of the Deeper Magic.

Well, by this time the USPS stork knew his way, and he landed without error–not even a stumble–in front of an old brick post office building in a tiny town on the edge of a vast and mysterious northland. My son the Bird Boy picked him up and gave him a drink of milk and a cookie. (Who did you think helps fill all the stockings at Christmas? Silly, we all know elves aren’t real.)

The stork brought my peaceful dragon. And then I found out why my favourite of Heather’s book dragons, the editor dragon, was not among the paintings at the merrily decorated market stand.

It’s because some things are a gift.

Like the ability to take up the ink and the brush and capture not just life, but a fantastical tale spun from where imagination takes a leap off life’s cliff. Like the gift of capturing a spark of the magic that is more than imaginary.

Like friendship. And the fact that if one has the right kind of eyeglasses, one sees that editor dragons and Porcupine Children really do come true.

I cannot repay the gift–that’s how they are made. But I can share this story with you. Perhaps you, too, should visit the merrily decorated market stand and see if a bit of fantastical magic, a part of your story, is hiding there waiting for you.

Scita > Scienda :: rogue scholarship, Christian fellowship

mike-duran

A Chat with Mike Duran

Mike is an author and discusser of thinky things (my favourite!) who lives over here on the internet, at a lovely place called DeCompose. We recently engaged in a thought-filled ramble through the wildernesses of postmodernism, Christianity, postmodern Christianity, art, life, and gender issues. Also hideous soul-eating angels.

Yes. Lighthearted fun was had by all.

Most of the conversation will be appearing in the “People” column of SciendaQ Summer 2012. Lord willing and the internet crickets don’t chirp, that issue will be available online next week. (And we give it away free for the first week or so on our Facebook page, so come on by.) But for now, here’s a blog-sized excerpt.

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