“Stay close to people who feel like sunlight.”
“Stay close to people who feel like sunlight.”
“A Thanksgiving Poem”
Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906)
The sun hath shed its kindly light,
Our harvesting is gladly o’er
Our fields have felt no killing blight,
Our bins are filled with goodly store.
From pestilence, fire, flood, and sword
We have been spared by thy decree,
And now with humble hearts, O Lord,
We come to pay our thanks to thee.
We feel that had our merits been
The measure of thy gifts to us,
We erring children, born of sin,
Might not now be rejoicing thus.
No deed of our hath brought us grace;
When thou were nigh our sight was dull,
We hid in trembling from thy face,
But thou, O God, wert merciful.
Thy mighty hand o’er all the land
Hath still been open to bestow
Those blessings which our wants demand
From heaven, whence all blessings flow.
Thou hast, with ever watchful eye,
Looked down on us with holy care,
And from thy storehouse in the sky
Hast scattered plenty everywhere.
Then lift we up our songs of praise
To thee, O Father, good and kind;
To thee we consecrate our days;
Be thine the temple of each mind.
With incense sweet our thanks ascend;
Before thy works our powers pall;
Though we should strive years without end,
We could not thank thee for them all.
About the image: The flowers in today’s post came from my Love Notes pal, Arielle W. The image is a reproduction of a woodcut by Claire Emery. I have fallen in love with her work. To see more of her woodcuts, check out her website: Emery Art.
I did not come to photography looking for magic. I came looking for a way to speak my pain. In the process of finding images to portray my darkness, I passed through the shadows into light. Now, I am one of photography’s many lovers, devoted to the art of seeing and revealing. […] There’s something holy about this work, something healing about this search for light. Like the pilgrim’s journey, it’s heaven all the way.
–Jan Phillips, God Is at Eye Level
Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.
–Mary Oliver, “The Uses of Sorrow”
Through a casual Facebook post featuring some of her favorite books, my pen friend Connie F, introduced me to Jan Phillip’s book, God Is at Eye Level [Thanks, Connie!]. With Amazon [birthday] gift card in hand [Thanks, Tee!], I ordered the book and two others on creative and contemplative photography.
The photograph of the wilted sunflower is the result of an exercise in God Is at Eye Level that invites readers to use an entire [pretend] 24-exposure roll of film to explore one strong emotion. It is my attempt to capture the tension between the darkness that walks with me as I deal with grief and trauma and the light I feel I need to project.
But I am learning, day by day, there is value in darkness, particularly if we are using it to move toward Light.
In the quote above, Phillips underscores the usefulness of darkness, its role in our creativity and healing. Darkness is a “gift,” a necessary part of process; therefore, it’s critical that we face the darkness, wrestle with it, deal, so that we might emerge whole, or maybe not as fractured. Running away from it—creating some inauthentic happy place—only imprisons us. The operative word is emerge. Eventually, we “pass through” darkness and into the fullness of Light.
Some of the most exquisite sunflower postcards in my collection were made by Love Noter Lori-Anne C. The intricate details of her paint and ink cards always fascinate me. The card she designed for International Women’s Day 2019 did not disappoint.
I did not miss her message about balance:
If you have the power to make someone happy, do it. The world needs more of that. Know that the “someone” can be you!
I’ve noticed [lately] that women, in particular, must be constantly reminded to take care of themselves. All my life, I’ve watched women put their needs and desires on the back burner while they pretty much served up every part of themselves to everyone else. We extol the virtues of sacrificial mothers and wives as if martyrdom is necessarily their calling, as if any attention to self makes them less selfless–or, worse, selfish.
Some of us are wired for such giving of ourselves, but just in case you have convinced yourself that everyone is entitled to all of you and all of your time, let me be clear: It’s not selfish to put on hold for a moment all the things and all the people vying for every bit of you. It is imperative that you pour some of your time and energy into yourself–to do something that makes you happy, that frees you, that heals you, or makes you giddy.
You can’t help others with only bits and scraps. You have to be balanced and whole–well, healthy–to help others, and you won’t be if you’re only serving others.
So go on. Plan to do something just for you–even if that means doing absolutely nothing.
The world around you is not going to fall apart if you take a little better care of yourself. –S.C. Lourie, Butterflies and Pebbles.
Back in September I participated in a 30 Days of Art challenge. I wrote a post about it, of course. Well, guess what! Sheila D, the challenge organizer, compiled most of the participants’ art [blogs] onto one Pinterest board.
It is inspiring to see so much art in one place. It’s like visiting a huge art gallery–the type where there’s so much to explore that you have to break up your tour into multiple visits–except you do it from a comfy chair in your home or at a coffeeshop.
Just in case you missed all the links, here’s the board: Creative Art Gathering. 🙂
Have a happy week!
is the earth’s
she is obviously
–sentient | salt | nayyirah waheed
It’s the first day of autumn, but with a high temperature of 91°F here in Northern Alabama, one would think it’s midsummer. We have failed Mother Earth and I think she is angry.
Let’s pray our leaders do the right thing: UN Climate Summit
About today’s image: Today’s gorgeous image comes from one of my photographer pals, rift vegan. It was among several photos of flowers she shot between spring and summer. She had three different sunflowers growing in her garden plot–all volunteers! This one is her favorite, and the dark rusty color makes it a perfect sunflower to usher in autumn. I mused earlier today that I have more flower pics than fallen leaves to share for the first day of the season. I’ll share some later in the week. I’m speaking in flowers again as I sort out [and through] the other things in life.
I had a hurtful unkindness earlier this week, a cruel one if I look at it closely. Emotionally exhausted and just plain weary of all the unkindnesses of life, I was on the verge of giving in to the hurt and letting it win. But the God who heals me reminded me of all the beautiful people who shower me with love and kindness every.single.day.
My kindness jar truly overflows.
It’s strange, I guess, but I should be grateful for the unkindness. Such seemingly unnecessary hurts are indeed necessary because they reinforce the importance of compassion and deepen the experience with kindness.
One of my favorite “kindness” poems, written by Naomi Shihab Nye, underscores the work that must be done before we “know what kindness really is.” Though the initial landscape is bleak, eventually, we’ll learn to recognize in kindness the friend or shadow who accompanies us everywhere.
Kindness by Naomi Shihab Nye
Before you know what kindness really is
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
Note about the image: One of my Love Notes friends, Debra D, kindly sent the card above to me as a “just because.” She filled the card with sheets of bright sunflower stickers. Through the card she honors my love for sunflowers and my relationship with my sister Lori. Isn’t there a purple sunflower somewhere? Debra makes the sweetest cards with markers, stickers, stamps, and various types of paper. You can find more of her “creative doings” on her blog, Meticulosity.
You can read about Nye’s experience which led to the poem in an interview here: The Incomparable Naomi Shihab Nye on Kindness.
Love After Love by Derek Walcott
We take a lot of abuse as we try to get through this thing called life, especially if we want to live with as little “drama” as possible. Little by little we give bits of ourselves away and suppress the best parts for the acceptance of others, until there’s little trace of our beautiful, natural self.
We can’t quite love this crafted version of ourselves, but we struggle to recall who we really are. All is not lost. Derek Walcott’s “Love After Love” offers hope for the journey to self-recovery.
If your true self has lain dormant, but you’re constantly at odds with this alien self, I hope you will take the hard road of self-love. Stand up. Advocate for you. Fight for you. Unearth your true self. Find her in the mirror and learn to love her again.
My penfriends have been showering me with sunny blooms and sending beautiful reminders to “face the sun,” so my sunflower wall is growing beautifully wild. I’ll have to share an updated photo soon. Until then, I’ll continue to share the individual postcards on the blog.
About a week ago, I received a postcard from Geraldine (Nannydino on swap-bot) that offers a unique interpretation on the sunflower theme. Instead of growing in a field or sitting in a vase, the sunflowers appear to be growing out of a human.
Pretty interesting. Right?
“Sunflower Humans” is the work of Priyanka Parul, a young artist from Mumbai, India. I love how the human face is replaced with or masked by sunflowers. Are they human? Are the sunflowers a gift? Symbolic of a sunny disposition? A reminder to “radiate sunshine” from the inside out? I’d love to know what Priyanka was thinking when she conceived this piece.
In my search for information on the piece, I ran across a post written in 2016, “Are You a Human or a Sunflower.” There are some conceptual similarities, so I wonder if the artist was inspired by the post.
I hope you have your shades nearby. You’ll need them for our final week of sunflower posts for the year.
May you have a week filled with sunshine and good things.