Catching the Light

CatchtheLight1

I tried to catch it. Grab it by the tail or the torso and pin it down to my paper so as to remember it. To revel in the beauty of watching the sun kiss the trees, bushes, yards behind our home. I was just sitting there in quiet, listening and watching the light show.

In a flurry of activity, I grab my pastel box, towel, and board with paper on it. Quick! Get down the golden light in all the places it is glowing right now, build the areas around it- bushes, driveway, tree, house, etc. Oh my…look at that, it’s now creeping over more of those bushes, seeping through the limbs of that tree!

I work rather furiously but with pointed attention and deliberateness. Almost every half a minute, the scene before me is changing. What began as gold in some areas, has diffused to a mint color as it lay over dew laden grass. I couldn’t reflect all these changes in my sketch. I just had to let the light go on its merry way while I added a few more touches to the quick sketch. It doesn’t need to be resolved. It is only a record of a fleeting moment of joy as light invaded the morning. Even now, at this moment of writing in my journal, I’d love to draw for you the sparkling display of shadows now strong and beautiful in morning’s light. I ache with the desire to hold it all, to freeze frame it, to say STOP for a second so I can get all this down, ingest all the beauty, so it comes out my fingers and toes, transforming me from within! But the light marches on and I’m left to try again another day…or later today…to catch in a jar, as it were, a golden moment of simple living.

CatchtheLight2

I am aware through all of this, that I’m watching a picture of life. Light and beauty is ever-changing, evolving, morphing with every second and every hour and as I walk throughout my pilgrim days I feel its ever-changing glow and the ache of not being able to fully take it all in.  My calling is to catch as many of these moments of light as I can and pin/pen them to paper. Record their glow. Trace the contours of where light meets dark.

I’m headed out for a Monday morning walk now. Ready to just soak in more of this morning’s light and let it take me into the day and on into evening… glowing, ever-changing, morphing from gold to mint to so many other colors I will note along the way.

You come too!

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I’m going out to clean the pasture spring;
I’ll only stop to rake the leaves away
(And wait to watch the water clear, I may):
I shan’t be gone long. — You come too.

I’m going out to fetch the little calf
That’s standing by the mother. It’s so young,
It totters when she licks it with her tongue.
I shan’t be gone long. — You come too.

-Robert Frost

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Walk in the Light!

jenniferedwards.com

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Artist Note: Sometimes, when we sketch/draw/paint totally in the moment, quickly, without much thought, letting our fingers just react and respond with color on paper, we may look at what we have done afterwards with disappointment. As I brought this sketch indoors, the pastel colors appeared dark and the overall look was…well…quite sketchy. But when I turned the light on my drawing table, there it was…that light I was so captivated by. There was the scene, perhaps not exact in its representation but at least enough for me to remember it by. This is what we are after as we draw our lives. Drawcumenting your life is not about creating masterpieces of art, but rather attempting to catch an essence, a hint of what captivated us in the moment.

Keep walking and drawing, dear fellow pilgrim. 

Turning

AutumnTurning

The turning is happening. The light has that piercing quality. Some leaves are touched with an amber/ochre hue. Others are graying down as if to get ready for the multi-colored spectacle to come. Crickets and cicadas sing the mornings awake. Clear blue skies dangle their fluffy marionettes. Fall is coming. We are rounding the bend from summer and anticipation is in the air.

I feel it happening every year almost before I see it. An increased longing for something other. A growing desire to be outside more, to spend hours walking, to gaze long at the changing greens, and watch these amazing clouds. It’s as if I’ve been hit with an arrow straight to the heart. It does not kill me. It just lives there aching, bleeding a longing for something I cannot put my finger on.

And then it dawns on me. A light turns on in the fog of longing. Each year I finally grasp what’s happening. Sometimes it happens on a walk. Sometimes, like yesterday morning, it’s while driving my daughter to band camp, seeing the above landscape beside the road. I know it to be a longing for heaven, for beauty, for that intangible something that I always always feel is out of reach, on the other side of some door or gate that I can’t quite get through. This longing drips from the long-armed birches in our back yard as they drop their yellow petals. Are the Birches flower girls, laying down the path for Autumn to arrive? I like to think so.

Isn’t all of living…this wondrous, exquisite taste of beauty here…merely the sprinkling of petals along a path that leads to the wedding day? Yes. I think it is so. And I ache with heaven’s arrow lodged in my heart.

These golden birch petals are strewn across a path that is weedy, rocky and fraught with briars. Life has more than its fair share of heartache and pain. This only increases the longing, the exquisitely painful desire to be united to something which I was made for. The cicadas are singing of the ache right now. Crickets are buzzing with the reminder that the fulfillment is coming! All that we have longed for will be made apparent one day! The yellow birch-petaled path will transform into a golden street, wide and breathtaking.

I want so much to linger long in imagining that grand wedding feast. But I, a pilgrim, must get up and walk on, through my day, among the weeds and briars, keeping my eyes peeled for yellow birch leaves along the way.

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“Apparently, then, our lifelong nostalgia, our longing to be reunited with something in the universe from which we now feel cut off, to be on the inside of some door which we have always seen from the outside, is no mere neurotic fancy, but the truest index of our real situation. And to be at last summoned inside would be both glory and honour beyond all our merits and also the healing of that old ache.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

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I am a sojourner here, day in and day out, drawing the “petals” I find along the path. Won’t you join me in this pilgrimage through life? If you want to explore more about drawing and living an artful life, please visit jenniferedwards.com.

Wandering

Straight&Narrow

I wonder.

Is this what it means to walk the straight and narrow path? ‘Cause that’s surely what it feels like…meandering, wandering (aimlessly, it feels) toward an end or purpose I know I have, but which often eludes me in experience. Is being a pilgrim just this? Putting one foot in front of the other, setting each foot down where you think it needs to be for the moment, trusting you’ll know where to step next when that moment comes?

BlissMixedMedia

Every day I make something. A drawing. Maybe two. A few stitches. Some penned lines. But none of it seems to be moving toward a grand target or goal.

Every day I do stuff. Lots of stuff. Make meals. Drive a kid to band camp. A load of laundry. Maybe two. But again, none of it seems to be taking me in a piercingly focused direction. Days upon days of wandering. A wilderness of it.

Wandering

It is still summer. Summer always feels like this to me. Once the school year gets underway, there’s at least a sense of beginning and ending, of quarters and semesters, of holiday breaks and weekends. It’s the very thing I’m sick of come the end of May. And now, the extended break from a school-day schedule feels like a wilderness. I’m sounding a lot like an Israelite.

Yet it helps me to grasp this. To realize again, every day, that I’m a wanderer, a pilgrim in the in-between. When I start longing to “go back to Egypt”, that’s my cue that I’m right where I’m supposed to be for now, sojourning in the land of the Now and Not Yet. My job is to keep on walking, keep on making, and curb the grumbling.

Yes, these are pilgrim days for sure.

Still.

DBGCabin&Well

I am a pilgrim.

Still.

The truth of this hits me at times with a force much like a bucket of ice over my head on a hot summer’s day. It is both arresting and freeing.

Arresting because I realize afresh that I’ve done it again. I’ve sat down on benches along the path and settled in for home, or tried to make it home, or perhaps more accurately, wrestled it into being home. It’s so natural and knee-jerk in me to do this that I don’t even realize it until I’m confronted with things so UN-home-like. Friends battling cancer, marriages ailing, addiction tearing families apart, financial woes, etc. These will surely not be part of our forever home. You would think, given the daily press of all these UN-home-like things that I would always keep the notion of being a pilgrim, a sojourner, in the forefront of my mind! But no, I all too easily fall into the stupor and fog of its-not-supposed-to-be-this-way and why-is-this-happening. These are the mantras I mutter when I’ve lost that knowledge of being a pilgrim, a wayfarer…the conviction that this is not my home.

DBGPath

When I realize and reaffirm that I’m a pilgrim, such a feeling of freedom pulses through me. It may seem strange, but I at once feel less burdened, lighter, energized to take up my walking stick, aka my drawing pen, the divining rod that God has given me to search out life-giving beauty in this wilderness of daily living. I am no longer crushed under the weight of “why isn’t this home?” I’m bolstered in my resolve to seek out for shafts of light emanating from Home, scents of loveliness wafting through the ofttimes putrid air, flowers blooming among weeds and roadside trash, melodious tune’s seeping through the cacophony of pain and heartache.

I’ve been drawing a lot lately. Yes, a lot…in earnest really…as if my pen is searching, searching, line after line, recording the days, in order to find that ribbon of love from Home as I walk the path of my days. Sometimes I’m aware that I’ve caught the end of that ribbon as I draw. The hairs on my head stand on end as I draw, knowing that I’m pinning the beribboned line to the pages of my sketchbook. I felt it sitting at the Daniel Boone gardens drawing my surroundings.

DBGBridge

But sometimes I am not aware of having caught Home’s ribbon and yet I draw and draw knowing that I may see it later in the day as I look back over my drawings. I may not even see it for weeks, or months. Or ever. That is ok. I keep on…pen in hand…my walking stick marking the days, pinning and penning the ribbons of light and love that are surely here, along the path of our sojourn far from Home.

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I am a Poor Wayfaring Stranger. Emmylou Harris.