Things to Carry: Hope, Love, and a Sense of Wonder

Love Notes 22 ended recently. As I reviewed the cards I received for the first prompt, I realized that we are less than two days away from the third month of the year. Eek!

In case you’re new to Pics and PostLove Notes is a postcard project coordinated by Jennifer Belthoff that “encourages slowing down, getting back to basics, and connecting through handwritten notes sent through the mail.”  Participants sign up for the swap on Jennifer’s website and then she assigns partners who correspond with each other for three weeks based on a prompt she provides each Sunday. The swap is hosted a few times during the year. Postcard writers can respond to the prompt in any way they choose–sentence, paragraph, poem or list.

Love Notes 22, prompt 1 required a bit of introspection and forward-thinking about the possibilities of 2018: As you step into 2018 carry…[one word here]…with you. And know… Because…

I, again, received postcards with heartfelt messages from my assigned partner and a few of my Love Notes friends.

From my partner, Debbie L., I received a pattern postcard in the colors of autumn and a message of hope:

William Morris: Arts and Crafts Designs. “Autumn Flower Pattern” William Morris and Co., Ltd. London, England, before 1917. Wallpaper sample book. Brooklyn Museum

As you step into 2018, carry hope with you. Hope will give you strength to open your eyes when you feel you can’t, smile when your lips are weighed down, and laugh from your belly when you feel that all that is left is to cry.

Christine B. sent a photo postcard of lilacs with a similar message of hope, sealed with her signature green star:

Lilacs. Photo by Christine B.

As you step into 2018 carry hope with you. There has to be hope. Possibilities for change.

Lori W. kept my mailbox happy with an elegant photo of a window flanked by purple wisteria. Her message was a reminder I needed:

Window with Wisteria. Photo by Lori W.

As you step into 2018 carry love with you. And know that you are loved. Because you matter to me.

And finally, Eileen V.  kept the purple theme going with her luminous “super moon” set against a purple sky.

“Early Super Moon.” Photo from Image Bank/A. Choisnet

As you step into 2018, carry your sense of wonder with you, and know that being curious will open new doors to experience because when we are open-minded…miracles happen!

Hope, love, and a sense of wonder. Wise counsel as we face uncertain days, difficult people, and cynicism from all directions. The postcards are beautiful, but I’ll carry the words in my heart throughout the year.

Lessons in Art and Piano

Pure exhaustion made me miss my “Focus on Black” post last Friday, so I’m posting this morning to avoid the same mistake this week.

Today, I’m using children’s art to “introduce” African American artist Romare Bearden.  Even though Bearden is far from an “unknown” artist, few people know who I’m talking about when I reference his work:

Considered one of the most important American artists of the 20th century, Romare Bearden’s artwork depicted the African-American culture and experience in creative and thought provoking ways. Born in North Carolina in 1912, Bearden spent much of his career in New York City. Virtually self-taught, his early works were realistic images, often with religious themes. He later transitioned to abstract and Cubist style paintings in oil and watercolor. He is best known for his photomontage compositions made from torn images of popular magazines and assembled into visually powerful statements on African-American life.  -from Biography.com

Last year, my favorite (now retired) second grade teacher, Mrs. Crarey, introduced her students to Bearden’s work. They studied his art, noted his interest in jazz music–which influenced some of his art–learned about his collage technique and then created their own Bearden-esque masterpieces. [Click an image for a closer look]

The children used rulers, pencils, Sharpies, crayons, and markers to imitate Bearden’s collage style. As you can see, they used piano keys patterns for their borders.

I pretty much love everything Bearden created.  The Piano Lesson: Homage to Mary Lou is my favorite, probably because it was the masterpiece that inspired African American playwright August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson, one of my favorite plays.

The piece was inspired by jazz pianist Mary Lou Williams who collaborated with Bearden’s wife, Nannette, on a musical and dance composition.  If you are familiar with Henri Matisse’s The Piano Lesson and The Music Lesson, you will see his influence on the work as well.

There are two versions of the work–the original:

Romare Bearden’s  “The Piano Lesson: Homage to Mary Lou” (popularly known as “The Piano Lesson”). Watercolor, acrylic, graphite and printed paper collage on paper.

And a signed lithograph:

Romare Bearden, “The Piano Lesson,” Lithograph

For more about Bearden’s life and influences, click the links below:

The Bearden Foundation’s page features more resources such as a timeline and an impressive collection of Romare Bearden’s artwork.

Until next time…

Sunflowers, Roses, and Coincidence

Life is busy, busy, busy, but I had to drop by on my lunch break because I found myself chuckling a little about the coincidence between last week’s Microblog Monday post and an interaction with one of my good friends.

At the end of a birthday dinner she hosted for her husband and other February-born relatives Saturday, my friend gave away the red roses that adorned most of the tables. Only the “kiddie table” held a vase of sunflowers.

She offered me the roses. Then read my face, “You want the sunflowers.”

Indeed.

Lately, more than usual, I need to surround myself with the sunny blossoms and, like them, seek the light…

I don’t think there’s anything on this planet that more trumpets life than the sunflower. For me that’s because of the reason behind its name. Not because it looks like the sun but because it follows the sun. During the course of the day, the head tracks the journey of the sun across the sky. A satellite dish for sunshine. Wherever light is, no matter how weak, these flowers will find it. And that’s such an admirable thing. And such a lesson in life.  –Helen Mirren as Chris in Calendar Girls

If We Love Each Other…

I read something this morning that nearly brought me to tears–a comment written in response to a blog post about God’s love for us. The post, written nearly two years ago, had few comments, but one comment in particular caught my attention. It was written by a man who for several years dealt with a series of really bad circumstances and came to the conclusion–after a lifetime of belief–that God does not love him. The saddest thing, however, is that the comment sat beneath the blog post with no response for a full year before another “random person” stumbled upon the post and read the comment.

A full year.

Even after the “random person’s” response, neither the author of the post nor the Christian organization that hosts the site responded. In nearly two years.

If it hurt me, imagine how much it affected the man who so bravely and desperately cried out. He needed an answer. He needed a virtual hug and assurance of God’s intimate concern and love for him.

He got crickets.

The thing that keeps me sane and walking upright in this world is knowing that God absolutely loves me, but I first experienced God’s love through others.

It is God’s love for and in us that allows us to love sincerely and deeply; it is His love that permeates our being and generates love action. It’s nearly impossible to experience or “possess” Divine Love and not be transformed.

Loving God and understanding His love for humanity results in reaching out to hurting people, living out His presence in our lives, and showing the world who He is–through acts of love.

Without human manifestation of God’s love, His love is simply theory.

Bears, Legends, and Foxes! Oh My!

I have a lot of postcard blogging to get caught up on. I have a few moments while waiting in the pickup line for my little one to get out of school, so why not “kill a bird” while I’m at it.  😉

Few things tickle my soul more than finding cuddly bears in my mailbox. Fran and Christine, two of my Love Notes pals, manage to keep my mailbox beary happy.

To add to my vintage bear postcards collection, Fran B. sent a wonderful (8×10) “giant post card” featuring a mother bear and her cub.

“Mother Bear and Cub Hiking, Yellowstone National Park. The fascinating picture of a mother bear and cub was taken near Norris Geyser Basin where the little cub received his first lesson in the art of entertaining visitors in Yellowstone National Park.” Haynes Studio Inc, Bozeman, Montana.

Fran was curious about the condition of the oversized postcard upon arrival, and as you can see, it was in pristine condition.  (The slight bend near the top was unfortunately from my transporting it in my over-packed work tote).

Like the vintage bear postcards featured in a previous post, these bears were shot by Haynes Studio, Inc.

Speaking of mother bears and cubs, Christine sent a postcard featuring “The Legend of Sleeping Bear Dunes.”

Sleeping Bear Dunes, National Lakeshore Park. “The beauty, the lore, the legend, the lakes and rivers, the forest woodlands and the recreational opportunities create an unsurpassed stretch of Lake Michigan shoreline. This view from the top of the dunes shows lovely Glen Lake.”

In case you can’t read the legend:

[Native Americans] tell of a mother bear and her two cubs who long ago tried to swim across Lake Michigan. Nearing this shore, the exhausted cubs lagged behind. Mother bear climbed to the top of a bluff to watch and wait for her offspring. They never reached her and today she can still be seen as the “Sleeping Bear,” a solitary dune covered with dark trees sand shrubs. Her hapless cubs are the Manitou Islands that lie a short distance away.

So sad, but so beautiful.

I received the black bear below just yesterday. Christine was in Colorado, saw the postcard, and thought of me. How sweet!

Colorado Black Bear. “This Colorado native lives throughout the mountainous areas in the ‘Centennial State,’ but is seldom seen, due to its timid nature.”

When Eileen V, another Love Notes pal, posted an adorable fox postcard in the group, I swooned because …well foxes.  A few days later, I found the foxes in my own mailbox–courtesy of Christine B.

Foxes by Amy Hamilton

This is such a fun, educational postcard.  My favorite is the Fennec fox. Do you have a favorite fox?

I’ll get to more postcards soon–when I can squeeze in a moment or two for scanning.

Until next time…Have joy!