A fierce wind blew through our valley last night. Its teeth gnawed at our flag and left it in threads and drove trashcans down County Road 335. When mixed rain and snow fell, the Lower Blanco with its gray trees and dead grass came alive. A blanket of bright green carpet now extends to the bank of the Blanco River behind our house. A new fresh season appeared on the landscape overnight.
The newness of another season is clawing at us and is looking different these days. Just a few years ago I sat at a banquet and a dear friend made the comment that he surmised that probably only people over 50 read my column. Another guest at the table argued she didn’t look 50 and he must not be referring to her. I sat horrified that I was writing to old people and was that where my life had brought me.
At the time, I thought I was writing to a younger audience. Now, I’m wondering if only over-70s are reading my words as I look around at my Sweet Al’s daily box of meds and a cane in the corner. The calendar is filled with doctors’ appointments and our children are calling just to check on us.
Things look different on the surface, but there is a newness flowing through my veins; it’s like winter has passed and spring is heard in the land. Definitely a paradox: old is becoming young, making dreams real.
A friend sent an article to me on C.S. Lewis as a reminder to encourage me that my dreams are a process and they do not happen overnight.
It notes that Lewis let his faith impact everything he did and includes an explanation by Lewis that his seven Narnian books began with pictures in his head that, at about age 40, he tried to make a story about.
He explained that he had “very little idea how the story would go” until “Aslan came bounding into it” to pull the story together.
The book “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe” was written in 1950 and the movie premiered in 2005, 55 years later. Lewis lived 64 years, until 1963. He only saw in part the manifestation of the fullness of his story.
Madaleine L’Engle wrote 60 books. In “Walking on Water,” written in 1972, she addressed the question, “What does it mean to be a Christian artist?” I devoured her book in the ‘70s. I was a Christian artist without a platform. At the time, the organized church really didn’t know want to do with artists like me. I am sure they saw us as a threat and much less spiritual than they were.
“A Wrinkle in Time,” written by L’Engle in 1962, was made into a movie by Walt Disney Pictures in 2018. She passed away in 2007 and didn’t see her story on the big screen.
One of my favorite books is “The Art Spirit,” written by Robert Henri. He was a great teacher and American artist and the book was published in 1923. He passed away in 1929.
When I was painting and teaching art, I quoted and taught his concepts to all of my art students. I underlined quotes, made notes, earmarked passages and literally destroyed three copies of that single book. His words written in 1923 said so much to me as an artist in 1980, I had to share his words with young artists. Art looks different today, but the principles of art still remain true. Time has not changed anything except the surface.
In a quote from his book, “The Art Spirit,” Henri states, “Art is the inevitable consequences of growth and is the manifestation of the principles of origin.”
We start with creative bones and we grow into who we are by the end of our days. Where we stop creating, other artists will continue.
Henri wrote, “Where those who are not artists are trying to close the book, the artist opens it, and shows there are still more pages possible. The world would stagnate without him, and the world would be beautiful with him.
“All manifestations of art are but landmarks in the progress of the human spirit toward a thing. The artist disturbs, upsets, enlightens and he opens ways for a better understanding.”
Great writers and artists have learned the process of art and have passed their knowledge on to us through books, paintings and movies.
But as we begin to create, suddenly Aslan comes bounding into it and he pulls our story together. We must be faithful to live our story and let Aslan rule as the King Lion. His spirit will carry the message to whomever He pleases.
Final brushstroke: As artists and writers, our art and words will continue. When seasons of our lives try to close the book, the artist opens it and shows there are still more pages possible. We must dig in, hang on and allow the wind to blow through our lives and change the landscape. Blessed are those who are called artists. He will give life to it.
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