Drawing the line.

Some say that eight is the number that signifies new beginnings ?
This might be true for me too, as there is an eight in 2018, and I have drawn the line on being wasteful with my time. Living in the slow lane can cause one to stagnate, and that is not a good or acceptable thing, when life is so full of wonderful sights and sounds and beauty all around, waiting to be captured and appreciated in one form or another.

So I wrote myself in for a few drawing classes. I think I’ve always had a slight bent toward art, and an inkling to want to paint or draw, but knew that would require more talent than I had.

When I met up with June Dovey, who is a fine-art artist, and a teacher of immense patience, she agreed to teach me to draw, and said “if you can draw you can paint. ”   And so began my classes on tones, shapes, forms  and shading with portraiture and perspective to follow later – the foundational basis of drawing, for art,  – and for getting to know oneself a little better.

Shapes and Formss

It takes a large smidgen of courage to step into the unknown.  All sorts of hidden emotions, lying dormant, began to rise up and whisper in my head. There was Self Doubt, an old familiar voice spoke softly ” You, draw ! – you don’t have the talent !” What if its wrong ? Rejection put in its penny’s worth with, “what if its not perfect?” and “it won’t be good enough, these people are real artists.”

“What are you doing here ?” I asked myself, more than one time.

I did not know that a blank sheet of paper could be so intimidating. “It’s just a piece of paper” my teacher would say over and over.

Then I discovered the smidgen of courage I needed to take up the challenge and began to draw the lion !

My first drawings were skew and misshapen, and looked like they had been drawn by an arthritic hand, but my dear teacher would just say  “keep going.”  I did and things got better.

New beginnings,  and a new world began to emerge for me. I began to “see”  simple everyday things, which have always been there, but now I see them in shapes,  and forms with shadings.  And if I apply shading to my drawings they “pop” into reality, and become dimensional. Its amazing! Light and shade are imperative to drawing.  And without shading all is only one dimension.  Light, dark and shading bring dimension, and depth to pictures. I know everyone knows that, but it was new to me, especially as I saw it come alive  before my own eyes !

And isn’t life itself like that, for without light there is no shadow or shade, all would be darkness. And without an object, there would be no witness to light !!  Here indeed is serious food for thought. Read more here.

The class on portraiture was a difficult one for me.  It needs a lot of practise.  But what I discovered was the eyelid !!   I’ve never noticed eyelids before, and we all have them. When I now look at people I see their eyelids.   Even the presenters on the TV screen, I look for and see eyelids !

Drawing helps you see things, you have seen before, but haven’t “seen” them into existence ! – if you know what I mean ?

Its been a wonderful few weeks of drawing, and I hope to continue to learn more, when the classes resume.

Just to show off some of my new-found “talent” I’m posting a few drawings.  Now don’t be to critical, its a new beginning for me.  I do not have much talent, but what I have has been taught to me, by a good and lovely teacher, who loves art.

I  took great comfort in a quote I came across from Emilie Lee, a seasoned artist who said this to the question asked :

What is the most overrated virtue bestowed on art ?

“I think the idea of talent is so misunderstood.  I don’t even use the word.   Artistic skill comes from many years of practise, commitment and hard work.   The way we talk about talent among artists is so unproductive.   I often meet people who tell me  ” I have zero artistic talent”  and I think that is a self-defeating statement !   I think they just haven’t had the right teacher come along.

My arum lillies

My Arum Lilly.  One of the initial attempts, and starting to dabble with colour.

Lion drawing

I have named my first lion-drawing Courage.  It took courage for me to draw this one. Not half as nice as the photograph I referenced,  but you can see its a lion, yes?

Sugar Bird

 The sugar bird and Strelitzia turned out to be a nice surprise.

I love colour, and discovered water-colour pencils !!   What a find.      colored pencils cluster

I drew the line at stale, stagnate and same-old-same-old, made a    small new beginning and discovered the world of drawing, of paper and pencils, of shape, form, light and shadows – and if you add a splash of colour, the pictures reverberate with vibrancy.

Drawing has taught me what could be a life lesson too – always keep your pencil sharp !!

Pencil

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From Menial to Magnificent

 

skeleton

Hoarding is one thing.   That is easy.  Cleaning out is another,  not an easy thing for me.   But the day comes when the small menial tasks need to be done.  And the Bible says  do not despise the day of small things.

I have been labelled a hoarder, and although I don’t totally agree with that,  well at best then, a recovering hoarder ?   I  have yet a long way to go.   How some people can ruthlessly throw out their sort-after possessions beats me.   I don’t easily throw things away. This may just be a throw-back from my frugal upbringing.  I have learnt overtime  though, to surreptitiously absorb excess into my domain.  Like any good South African taxi driver will say  …  there is always room for one more !!

Taxi

I am learning to de-clutter, but not so much with my papers on words and writings.    And come the first month of the year I seem to have an automatic resolve to go through all my “papers and writings” – these precious snippets of wisdom that I have collected.  I usually make little piles of the favourites and then keep them in a special box – for next year’s clean out !  It’s hard for me to discard “old friends”.

I am so glad I do this, for if I had to be ruthless with my wisdom collection I would never have re-discovered the amazing snippets taken from Philip Yancey’s book on Dr Paul Brand, and his insight on the power of the blood, which I had re-written on a piece of notepaper and kept !

The book :  In the Likeness of God.  The Dr Paul Brand Tribute Edition of  Fearfully and Wonderfully Made  and  In His Image.   ISBN 0-310-25905-3 Zondervan

Read and marvel with me, as he describes the red blood that runs through all our veins.

Blood cells

But first, allow me to introduce you to Dr Brand, then you will have an appreciation of his insight and his writing.
And incidentally, notice how Philip Yancey describes, in the Preface of the book, how he had learned about Dr Paul Brand in the first place !

…”my wife cleaned out the closet of a medical-supply house and in the process stumbles across an intriguing essay he had written on “The Gift of Pain”

And further on in the book he writes …

“….  I can imagine God taking great delight in steering me to Dr Brand
(through my wife’s serendipitous discovery of his essay in a closet, of course) at a critical time in my spiritual journey.

pink feather duster

Aha !!! – So there is value in hoarding … and, value too in cleaning out, and good housekeeping,  that can take us from the menial to the magnificent !  Discoveries and re-discoveries, as I had just made.

Meet Dr Paul Brand, both a good and great man…. but allow Mr Yancey to express in his own words from the book :

” An orthopedic surgeon, Dr Brand had spent most of his medical career in India, where he made a dramatic discovery about leprosy, one of the oldest and most feared diseases.  Careful research convinced him that the terrible manifestations of the cruel disease – missing toes and fingers, blindness, ulcers, facial deformities – all trace back to the single cause of painlessness.  Leprosy silences nerve cells, and as a result its victims unwittingly destroy themselves, bit by bit, because they cannot feel pain.  When he moved to a high-tech laboratory in the United States, he applied what he had learned about painlessness to other diseases, such as diabetes, thus helping to prevent tens of thousands of amputations each year”  ……..

“… The conversations that stand out sharpest to me now are those in which he recalled individual patients, “nobodies” on whom he had lavished medical attention.  When he began his pioneering work, he was the only orthopedic surgeon in the world working among fifteen million victims of leprosy.  He and Margaret (his wife) performed several dozen surgical procedures on some of these patients, restoring rigid claws into usable hands through innovative tendon transfers, remaking feet, forestalling blindness, transplanting eyebrow, fashioning new noses.
He told me of his patients’ family histories, the awful rejection they had experience as the disease presented itself, the trial-and-error treatments of doctor and patient experimenting together.   Almost always his eyes would moisten and he would wipe away tears as he remembered their suffering.   To him these, among the most neglected people on earth, were not nobodies, but people made in the image of God,and he devoted his life to try to honour that image.”

“Most impressive to me, the wisest and most brilliant man I have ever met devoted much of his life to some of the lowest people on the planet : members of the Untouchable cast in India afflicted with leprosy.”…….

“Dr Brand described his writing journey this way : “In a sense we doctors are like employees at the complaint desk of a large department store.   We tend to get a biased view of the quality of the product when we hear about its aches and pains all day.   In this little manuscript, which I set aside long ago,
I tried instead to pause and wonder at what God made, the human body. ” ...

Indeed Philip Yancey’s book captures, apart from the life and insights of Dr Paul Brand,  also the comparison of the human body to that of the Body of Christ.

The notes that I had taken  from the book were on the chapter on the blood.  I will try to compose the snippets in such a way that will show the magnificence of the life-giving blood that runs unceremoniously through our veins every moment of the day, every moment of our lives.

Just to elaborate a little,  an incident occurred  at the Connaught Hospital where a young beautiful accident victim was wheeled into his ward. Dr Brand at first could not feel a pulse, and thought she was dead.  Then he witnessed how she came back to life as new blood was administered to her,  as the blood began to flow through her veins.

”  That young woman entered my life for only an hour or so, but the experience left me utterly changed.   I had seen a miracle : a corpse resurrected, the creation of Eve when breath entered into and animated her body.  If medicine,   if blood  could do this… “

This incident change the course of Dr Brand’s life.

The following  extracts are what brought me to the brink of astonishment, as I read about the miracle and power of blood.

” For most of us, the organ of blood, if one can think of this fluid mass as an organ, comes to consciousness mainly when we begin to lose it.  Then, the sight of it in tinted urine, a nosebleed, or a weeping wound provokes alarm.   We miss the dramatic sense of blood’s power that I saw demonstrated in the Connaught patient – the power that sustains our lives at every moment   ……… ”

” …..  perhaps a technological metaphor would serve best today.
Imagine an enormous tube snaking southward from Canada through the Amazon delta, plunging into oceans  only to surface at every inhabited island  …… ”

” Such a pipeline exists inside each one of us, servicing not six billion but one hundred trillion cells in the human body.   An endless supply of oxygen, amino acids, nitrogen, sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sugars, lipids, cholesterol, and hormones surges past our cells, carried on blood cell rafts or suspended in the fluid.   Each cell has special withdrawal privileges to gather the resources needed to fuel a tiny engine for its complex chemical reactions.
In addition, that same pipeline ferries away refuse, exhaust gasses, and worn-out chemicals.   In the interest of economical transport, the body dissolves its vital substances into a liquid (much as a coal is shipped more efficiently through a slurry pipeline than by truck or train)   Five or six quarts of this all-purpose fluid suffice for the body’s hundred trillion cells.”

“… What the telescope does to nearby galaxies, the microscope does to a drop of blood  :  it unveils the staggering reality.   A speck of blood the size of this letter “o”  contains 5,000,000 red cells,  300,000 platelets and  7,000 white cells.   The fluid is actually an ocean stock with living matter…”

”  A view through a microscope clarifies the various components of blood but gives no picture of the daily frenzy encountered by each cell….

”  Sixty thousand miles of blood vessels link every living cell, even the blood vessels themselves are fed by blood vessels…. ”

”  An average red cell endures the cycle of loading, unloading, and jostling through the body for a half million round trips over four months…”

” The components of this circulatory system cooperate to accomplish a simple goal : nourishing and cleansing each living cell.   If any part of the network breaks down – the heart takes an unscheduled rest, a clot overgrows and blocks an artery, a defect diminished the red cells’ oxygen capacity – life ebbs away.  The brain, master of the body, can survive intact only five minutes without replenishment.”

”  The drama of resurrection enacted before me in Connaught Hospital takes place without fanfare in each heartbeat of a healthy human being.   Every cell in every body lives at the mercy of blood.” 

One can only but stand in awe of the miracle of who were truly are – God’s intricate and magnificent workmanship – the human body.

Human body systems

Saint Augustine said   “Men go abroad to wonder at the height of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars;  and they pass by themselves without wondering.”

 

We can assuredly agree with Psalmist of 139  where he glorifies God with these words

You created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
 I praise you because I fearfully and wonderfully made. 

 

three butterflies

 

This Christmas Day

 

angel

Luke 2:10-12

Then the angel said to them  “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.
For there is born to you  this day
in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the lord.
And this will be the sign to you : You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger”

 

nativity

May Jesus be born afresh in our hearts this Christmas Day

art-mary-joseph-and-the-baby-in-free-manger-image-information-free-jesus-christmas-clip-art-manger-image-information-images-ix-free

 

red ribbon holly

God said No

 The colourful little sticker says :

“Casual Day Celebrate Diversity with Persons with Disabilities”  

Butterfly SA

The purpose of the sticker serves as a motivation for the South African
public to be aware of those with disabilities, and the many kind-hearted charities that work hard to ease the life of those who know and live with disabilities.

So on the first day of September you will be excused for wearing your “takkies” to work, as long as you display the sticker you bought to support those Disabled among us.   A lovely fun gesture, that knits community together.

I remember watching the TV broadcast on the Para Olympic Games held in London in 2012.    Among the nations of the world there is none that can hold pageantry like the English.    It was  a magnificent display of courage and of hope to see those with Disabilities reach for their dreams.

Hope is intrinsic to human beings.   God has designed us that way.  He has built into each one of us faith hope and love.  And when life happens, to some harshly, to others not so much, and when things don’t work out the way we had planned , we are still left with hope.  There is always hope, that helps us to carry on regardless.   And this is what we are given by those with Disabilities.   They are hope-carriers.

They are a very costly gift to humanity.

Observing those with disabilities brings us to the threshold of suffering, and the age-old question arises “why does a good, loving God allow suffering ?”

broken glass

Just for today,  I hope we can pause, and remember those with Disabilities in our own families, in our communities, see them through new eyes, and be a little kinder to them.
The following little writing was sent to me, and I am passing it on to you.  Unfortunately I cannot acknowledge the writer as I do not have a name.  When I read it, it brought to me a smile and a tear, all at the same time….. and perhaps too a little more understanding.

GOD  SAID  NO !

I asked God to take away my habit,
God said, No it is not for Me to take it away, but for you to give it up.
I asked God to make my handicapped child whole
God said, No his spirit is whole, his body is only temporary.
I asked God to grant me patience,
God said, No patience is the by-product of tribulations, it isn’t granted, it is learned.
I asked God to give me happiness,
God said, No, suffering draws you apart from worldly cares and brings you closer to Me.
I asked God to  make my spirit grow,
God said, No you must grow your own, but I will prune you to make you fruitful.
I asked God for all things that I might enjoy life.
God said, No I will give you life, so that you may enjoy all things.
I asked God to help me love others, as much as He loves me.
God said,  Ahh,  finally you have the idea.
This day is yours, don’t throw it away.
God bless you.
broken mug

 

LIFE IN THE SLOW LANE

 

Living in the Slow Lane has its benefits.  It means taking your time, going where you will, and some days can be filled with random encounters – some of which are co-incidences and some of which are God-incidences, and then having the time to digest which is which.   Such is life in the Slow Lane.

Life is full of transitions.  I have come to accept that I now live in a solitude cottage, in the slow lane, in the area of random encounters.  And it is an exciting place to be, if you have eyes that see and ears that hear.

Just the other day I went up the hill to the big grocery store to do a bit of shopping.  I noticed the pop-up stall of the Sunfield Home School that was having a fund-raising event.  I remembered a friend who had a son with a disability who was in the home.  Thought I’d linger, but changed my mind and went on to do some leisurely shopping.

But coming out of the store I thought I heard a voice calling to me, and when I turned there was a young man urging me to buy a sticker for Casual Day.   I could see that he was disabled, yet so polite, so charming, so earnest, that I was hooked.  He escorted me to the till table and said he would reserve a sticker for me, but I could also make a donation into the big box on the table, or “if you like take a stroll around the table and buy some of the handwork made by the students”   ….  so polite, and no pressure !   I said that I liked to shop and will take a stroll around the table.  I picked up a few trinkets and came back to the till table, where a young girl with an absolute winning smile, was ready to take my money.   But Mr Marketing Entrepreneur was waiting for me with the reserved sticker.   I said “what must I do with the sticker?”   He said on the 1st of September I could wear casual clothes and then put on the sticker.   The Principal of the school was at my elbow and he explained Casual Day to me, as I obviously did not know when, or anything else about Casual Day.

Casual Day is a day when you may donate money to a disability charity, get a sticker, wear casual clothes, and so become aware of the World of Disabilities.   Enlightened, I paid the girl with the winning smile for the sticker, my trinkets  and gave Mr Marketing Entrepreneur the change to put in the Donation Box.  He was delighted, as was the Principal, who immediately put my name on their data base.

Marketing well done, they had caught a fat fish.   But the kind Principal at my elbow, told me more about the Home School and their work.   As their School was in a country environment I asked if they had a vegetable garden.  And indeed they do, and a veggie tunnel too.   Way to go !
When I mentioned that Mr Marketing Entrepreneur, who I saw was listening,  had  such an air of charm and confidence,  I had to turn to him to say  ” You are a Super Star.”  If I thought that the words were going to make an impression I was wrong.  He immediately deflected the compliment to the girl with the winning smile at the till table, and said “And what about her ?”   I looked in her direction and said  “You too are such a Super Star”, …. and was quickly rewarded with that winning smile.

As I turned to walk off I heard the Principal say,  give her a Sunfield sticker, and Mr Marketing Entrepreneur came over and pressed a tiny white sticker on my blouse that said  ‘Sunfield Home School thanks you’.  And he gave me a quick hug.  Wow !  I walked away feeling I had been in the company of angels.

I am quite sure that there were angels standing by that pop-up stall, even if they were in the form of the Principal or Carers.  At every turn there was someone who explained either the sale goods or the aims of the School.   The students were not left on their own to man their stall.  The support team was on the spot to assist.
But I suspect that there were other angels too – those of a heavenly feathery kind, for I had felt the light feathery brush of an angel wing as I walked away.   A random encounter, and a God-incident indeed !

Slow Fast Lane

The World of Disabilities is not often seen in the Fast Lane.  It is far to busy, to fast and to insensitive there. But those who have been on the fringes of the World of Disabilities would agree with a quote from the  educators of the Sunfield Home School :

“recognise that the disabled learners have more abilities than disabilities” 

So for one brief moment of the year, the first day of September, remember the Disabled, dress casual and wear a sticker that may just say  “but there for the grace of God go I.”

 

angel feather