Light the Advent Candle Two

Hmmm…don’t know where this archive got away from me!

On Saturday night…the night before the second Sunday of Advent, I went out to the tree lot that is always set up at this time of year, next to the Soby’s store.  It was a blustery night.  I like going to the same place every year.  The guy has a trailer…and a heater…and he always chats with me about the trees and he cuts slivers of discarded tree ends for me to take home and put in a basket on the table.  The smell of those wee bits of wood is heavenly.

So, I hauled the tree home and set it up on my own…and invited the children to come home for Sunday dinner…ribs and baked potatoes and corn…and for the tree decorating.  We even managed to get the cranberries on the tree this year.  It was a blessing-night with my girls, but sadly my son wasn’t home this year and so it just wasn’t the same.

It is a marvelous thing to see the dazzle of a lit Christmas tree in the evening.  As I look at the variety of coloured outdoor lights that have recently appeared, I think that it all makes perfect sense that we make the effort to bring light into the darkness during this season.

Philippians 1:4–6, 8–11

Brothers and sisters:
I pray always with joy in my every prayer for all of you, because of your partnership for the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus. God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
And this is my prayer:
that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value, so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.


Angels and Such: Journeying Toward Christmas

Fourth Sunday of Advent: Peace

 I know!  I know!  I was busy having a rant about OUSTING on a Sunday evening…what’s with that?  Well, I will change my tone for the moment!  I was so grateful for the courage of our priest as he addressed the issue of angels, on so many different levels….from the moment that our hoards of children were blessed and went on their way to Sunday school, through the readings and nicely into the homily and hymns.  The Gospel reading follows and I will cite Holy Scripture as my source.

Gospel Lk 1:26-38

The angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said,
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.”Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
But Mary said to the angel,
“How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?”
And the angel said to her in reply,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God.”
Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her.
It’s a mystical thing, feeling like angels are with you.  I don’t know if you’ve ever had that experience.  I once read a book about Padre Pio while flying to London, so that I might join my daughter on a back-packing trip from Palermo, Sicily up the west coast of Italy to Venice.  Those of you who know me well, know that I am not keen on flying and I found the words of the book I was reading very helpful…in fact, I had a peace come over me, once I spent time in prayer, a peace I could only explain by an intervention of sorts.  I have many ‘unbelievers’ in my life, so I completely understand if you consider me a lunatic at this point in this writing, but let me just reiterate that my peace could only be explained by an experience of divine grace.

Friends are angels.

This teddy-angel was a gift from Glori years ago.  She and I go back to 1973.  Glori IS an angel!  She has sewn countless quilts for young ladies who have found themselves pregnant out of marriage.  Presently, she is busy decorating the Sunday school room in her church.  She does so much to show her love to the world.  In my mind, and by my definition, she is a single example of an angel in my life.

Jack and Jarrett

I have a couple of ornaments that I hang on my tree as a way of remembering two of the angels that I’ve lost in this lifetime, Jarrett Alley and an artist-friend, Jack.  I think that life is interesting because while there isn’t a year when we don’t lose someone who we love and care about, we also see new babys born, bright-eyed and full of innocence, and we observe the celebrations of birthdays, graduations and marriages.  There is such mystery on this circle we share! 

Discovering Tim O’Brien

View From My Window

The Christmas tree is lit up this morning and the world is beautiful and white.  I’ve enjoyed my coffee in the quiet.  Last night was late; rum and eggnog, the smell of nutmeg, the tree ornaments hung with care on the tree.  This morning, the adult children sleep and I enjoy the quiet and some reading.  It’s a perfect day for pancakes and bacon, absolutely perfect.

While the house was quiet, I visited Tim O’Brien’s website and looked closely at the details of his portraits.  It is a wonderful thing to be able to pour over his blog entries and to realize the research required to arrive at such polished work.  Also, I enjoyed watching the film centered on the creation of the Krampus…seeing the exploration of a single piece from its original concept.  If my readers follow this process and then read O’Brien’s perceptions, after watching his own video, it is an amazing thing to discover that truly, an artist gets ‘lost’ in the creation of great works.  The process of creating is many-layered and ‘magical’.  An example of his work is the Young Lincoln below, borrowed from here.  I highly recommend reading this post as it captures the research and the process, as well as provides a close-up detail of the work.

Tim O’Brien’s Young Lincoln

I have such an appreciation for the technique that O’Brien uses and can’t help but recognize an affinity with  Attila Richard Lukacs portraits. It appears that there is a distinctive difference in the brush work, with Lukac’s being more fluid, but the intensity and clarity of images by both artist feels, for me, similar.  I want to be clear that Attila Richard Lukacs has explored a variety of things including polaroids and a collection of abstract works, so I am making reference to a specific body of his work.

Attila Richard Lukacs

Attila Richard Lukacs image collected from here.

While Lukac’s work has been deemed controversial, I also think that Tim O’Brien’s work certainly invites a conversation.  While the viewer may get completely drawn into the highly technical work, there is also an edge to the work that can not be denied.  I’m not certain with either Lukac’s or O’Brien’s work, which of these attractions is stronger.  It’s a ‘chicken or the egg’ kind of experience.

Suffice it to say, I treasure a day that begins with beautiful things…a tree, snow and art.


Yesterday….wide open field and Allen Sapp sky…
Prayers for a young boy…a student of mine who passed away 12 years ago…
Sitting with the lights of a Christmas tree…
Reading a good book and finishing it the same night….Turtle Valley by Gail Anderson-Dargatz