Nativity Revisited

nativityrevistedLast night I was invited by a dear friend, Mrs. Moore, to Black Nativity Revisited put on by the Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland. I had a little problem with the “revisited” in the title. Why was it there? Isn’t it the reason for the season? However, as the night progressed, it became so important.

I left late in the dark to a crowded freeway headed to a part of Oakland I didn’t know. When I stopped for a red light, a homeless man appeared out of the darkness right up at my car window with a palms together begging. I was taken aback and tried to explained through my tightly shut window and locked door that I couldn’t reach my purse, didn’t have any cash in my pockets. I just couldn’t help him. There were cars lined up behind me. I didn’t have time for this, I thought.  I was going to be late. As the light turned green, he signaled he understood and backed away into the night.

When I finally reached the church, I was greeted warmly and let in to the performance held in the sanctuary. I couldn’t completely settle down to enjoy the jubilant  performance. The beggars face haunted me on and off throughout performance of the Christmas story.  I revisit the Nativity story every year. It doesn’t change. I do it to honor and celebrate this glorious gift from God. But on this night, it changed for me.

During the performance last night the phrase “no room at the inn” was spoken and sung I don’t know how many times . It’s repetition, though, called upon me to rethink about the beggar I had just left on the street. Had I not just refused him entrance into my life? Why didn’t I roll down my window? Why didn’t I make the extra effort to reach for a couple of dollars? Why didn’t I just stop, let the cars behind me wait, and give something to this man in need. Some would try to ease my conscious by saying I was a woman traveling alone at night. But I didn’t feel threaten. He didn’t approach me in hostile way, made no movements that indicated I should be weary. He just want some help. I turned him away like the inn keepers in Bethlehem. I had no room for him.

I read somewhere, long ago, that the people who come into your life which  you find most frustrating or disturb your day to day existence, are there to teach you something; most likely something about yourself. Last night that beggar came knocking on my door, and like the inn keepers in Bethlehem on that most holiest of nights, I turned him away. The inn keepers, that turned Mary and Joseph away, missed being there when a miracle occurred. They missed  seeing Emmanuel, Jesus, Son of God, Comforter and Prince of Peace. What had I missed by not giving a minute two more to a beggar?

Or, maybe, I didn’t miss out.  Maybe I got to play a part in the retelling of the nativity story.   For the beggar reminded me to keep my inn open. To remember that we all are walking miracles brought into this world to give it something special of ourselves. I revisited the nativity. I learned I am part of the nativity; that I live it everyday. Last night I was an inn keeper. Today I might be a shepherd, tomorrow one of the three kings. That the next person I meet might have lesson for me. Whatever part I play, giver or receiver, I must keep my heart open and greet everyone as though they might hold a message I need to hear. And sometimes, slow learner that I am, I might have to be revisited again and again to get the point.

Merry Christmas to all, and may you be open to the miracles that surround you.

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Another PhotoShop Edit

Final16X20webThough I’ve been working with PhotoShop for a long while, I’m still amazed with what you can do with it.  I generally use it for painting original drawings, but lately I’ve been using it to photo editing.  This time my niece-in-law ask me to update a cherished photo of her mom and dad for a Christmas gift.  The original image was so dark and dead looking, but PhotoShop brought it back to life.  That program and my Wacom tablet are just too cool with work.  So much room for creativity!Scan

Another PhotoShop Edit

SUSPEND for IF

If life is a circus, then we all stand suspended on a tight rope between our next act and the consequences it may produce.  In our hectic lives these days it seems we only have time to act and not ponder the consequences like we should.  If we could only slow down and take a moment to just think things through a bit more those consequences would so different.  We need more balance between action and thought.

SUSPEND for IF

Space for IF

There is this question that is asked to see if someone is an optimistic or a pessimistic. Is the cup half empty or half full?  I don’t like the question.  Maybe it’s because I waver between the two points of view.  Sometimes the world is good. Sometimes it’s not.  Time changes one’s outlook on life. In fact, at this time in my life, I know that the cup is never empty because it is always full of space. It is space that allows the flow from full to empty and back again.   Space that reassures me that there is room for that inevitable change that will come. All I have to do it look at the lives that came before me to know this. I can see the ebb and flow of it in all my  ancestors lives.  So I am neither a optimist or pessimist.  I am the space between the two.
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Space for IF

Secret for Illustration Friday

Have you ever just started drawing and just went with whatever came up, like random shapes or squiggly lines? You let it develop it’s own life.  It might look like a Rorschach test for a while. Then it morphs into images that you recognize, but your don’t know what they’re doing together. Still you just let it flow.  You keep working at it, finding patterns and forms you want to develop.  The composition develops with focal area and subordinate elements.  Then, just about when you’re done, you get it.  You see the connection from what you’ve be making to what’s going on in your life.  It’s like you’ve been sitting going over and over a dream that you’ve had when all of a sudden the symbolism becomes clear.  You get it.

That’s didn’t happen with this piece.  It’s still a secret.  Why are there angels? I don’t know.  Where he is pulling her to? I don’t know.  Why is she holding back? What is she about to see?  You tell me.  I painted this piece a couple of years ago.  I’m still wondering about what’s going on with the two of them. Maybe, like dreams  that fade as morning wanes into the afternoon,  too much time has passed, and I’ll never know. Some secrets are never revealed.

 

Secret for Illustration Friday