Brîndușa Art

Wood Painting

Brîndușa Art - Wood Painting

A Cloud of Your Own?

Clouds… More specifically, word clouds (sorry if you were thinking of fluffy white things). They are a fun way of organizing recurring words in any given text. Here is an example of a word cloud built with words that appear on this site (courtesy of Tagul):

Cloud 3

I like word clouds. But my thoughts took me beyond ways of making a web page look more interesting, by using fancy tags… I got to thinking about key things in my life.

Ponder this: if your life were a written page, what words would stand out to anyone reading it? What would best describe it? Which things are important for you? What would you like to increasingly characterize your life?

It is useful at times to pause and reflect on such questions, to decide on changes we might need to make…

For those of us who are rather visually-oriented, a reminder we can daily look at can help significantly. So why not include all these personal life words in a custom-made word cloud of your own, to display in your home? Something to remind you of those important things you don’t want to miss in your life.

That is the very thing I did for my family. Here is our home word cloud with a vintage, shabby chic feel to it. What we love and would like to have in greater measure in our home life…

word cloud2

May each thing that stands out in your life be worthy and noble, something that would illustrate the unique way in which God put you together… with your own talents, gifts and interests… And may it be a precious thing of beauty!

Everyday Need

“A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.” ― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

rose closeup b

Beauty … with Cracks?

“Perfection has a price, but I cannot afford to live that life. It always ends the same… a fight I never win.” – lyrics from one of JJ Heller’s songs. (She’s an American Christian folk singer whose music I greatly enjoy.)

God is perfect. We are flawed and might as well come to terms with it. It’s liberating. Perfectionism can only paralyze and bring despair.

Isn’t it wonderful that perfection is not necessary for some measure of beauty to exist? Even here, even now. Cracks and all.

imperfection

As John-Boy would put it …

home 2b“At night, across the mountain, when darkness falls and the winds sweep down out of the hollows, the wild things with their shiny eyes come to the edge of the clearing. At such an hour, the house seems safe and warm, an island of light and love in a sea of darkness. At such an hour, the word ‘home’ must have come into being, dreamed up by some creature that never knew a home… In his yearning, there must have come to mind the vision of a mother’s face, a father’s deep voice, the aroma of fresh-baked bread, sunshine in a window, the muted sounds of rain on a roof, the sigh of death, the cry of a newborn babe, and voices calling ‘Good night’… Home… an island, a refuge… a haven of love.”

(Extract from John-Boy’s journal, in one of the episodes of “The Waltons”)

Dragostea face dintr-o casă un cămin...

Dragostea face dintr-o casă un cămin…

To have such a home is to be blessed… It may not be a large or fancy house. It may not even be a house at all: it may be a small apartment, an old boat, or a hut. But if it is a place of warmth and love, where you can freely share your thoughts and dreams, your accomplishments and your failures, being accepted as you are, faults and everything… it is a thing of beauty, a thing to be treasured!

love begins

A Bit Closer

So we are one year closer to the end… There is no telling what the new year may bring – it may be much better … or much worse than we can now imagine. May we live it all so that we have no regrets in the final day. For now, it is certainly worth celebrating the friends, the blessings, the gifts of love that we enjoyed in 2013… and it is worth remembering the unpleasant episodes from which we can learn something useful for the future.

My personal wish for the coming year is what this plaque says…

favor b

Happy New Year, friends!

Merry Christmas! But What If It Isn’t All That Merry?

There’s something special in the air right before Christmas – whether you actually celebrate it or not. Colorful lights everywhere, cheerful songs, shiny globes, snowmen, Santa Claus, gifts, candles, decorated trees… A more or less general frenzy of buying things for the loved ones. And – at least on the surface – a feeling of benevolence and kindness towards your fellow man.

wreath

However, in spite of the happy bustle, there are people for whom this time of the year is not all that merry. For some, it carries bittersweet memories of the last Christmas season they had with a beloved one who has since departed… Some may have such a hard time trying to make ends meet from one day to the next, that any talk of decorations and gifts is painful… especially if they have children. And others are simply alone… and all the family fun all around forms a background against which their own loneliness and sorrow are felt all the more.

We tend to forget that the greatest gift given to humanity did not come in a cozy place, surrounded by the warm glow of fancy candles and the sparkle of winter decorations, with carols gently hummed in the background. It came to poor people, in a very uncomfortable place for a woman giving birth, in less than sanitary conditions. There wasn’t much coziness about it; actually, there was a good bit of pain.

But in spite of the gloomy surroundings, it was good news of great joy! How could it not be joyful to hear that unto you – you, with your less than picture-perfect life (even you, outcast and smelly shepherds!) – is born a Savior…

The greatest Gift of all was the Baby Himself, “God with us”… And oh, the Gift can be enjoyed and treasured even if you lack the other ‘trappings’ of Christmas!

The greatest gift

It’s Now Or Never

only nowI love many of Edgar Guest’s poems. Take this one, for instance:

Tomorrow

He was going to be all that a mortal should be
Tomorrow.
No one should be kinder or braver than he
Tomorrow.
A friend who was troubled and weary he knew,
Who’d be glad of a lift and who needed it, too;
On him he would call and see what he could do
Tomorrow.

Each morning he stacked up the letters he’d write
Tomorrow.
And thought of the folks he would fill with delight
Tomorrow.
It was too bad, indeed, he was busy today,
And hadn’t a minute to stop on his way;
More time he would have to give others, he’d say
Tomorrow.

The greatest of workers this man would have been
Tomorrow.
The world would have known him, had he ever seen
Tomorrow.
But the fact is he died and he faded from view,
And all that he left here when living was through
Was a mountain of things he intended to do
Tomorrow.

("Collected Works of Edgar Guest"
Cutchogue, NY: Buccaneer Books, p. 72)

Do you find it as easy as I do to put off things until tomorrow… or next week/month/year… ? A time which may very well never come.

The truth, of course, is that tomorrow does not belong to us. Five minutes from now is a time that does not belong to us. All we have is right now. And we should fully live in it, in the best meaning of the word. Not as in, ‘I won’t give a dime about what will come of this, who’ll get hurt, I’ll do it, because I’ve only got one life to live.’ No, rather as in, ‘I’ve only got this moment. What thing of eternal value can I fill it with, so that I won’t regret it when it’s gone?’

So, if I want to focus on the people who I say are dearest to me, I should do that now. If I want to tell someone how much s/he means to me and how grateful I am for that word or gesture of kindness, I should do it now. If I want my offspring to have happy memories, of a warm home life, those memories need to be made now. If I mean to turn off the small things that so easily distract and look into my child’s eyes, fully listening when he wants to share something about this neat little insect he found outside or the new Lego machine he invented, I better do it right now. If I want to welcome the new day with moments of quiet, breathing in the beauty of the world in the cool of the morning, it needs to happen today.

It is now or never, folks… ‘Tomorrow’ is a dream land that we may never reach. Whatever it is that you want to make room for in your life… the time for it is now.

 

When Darkness Creeps In…

Everyone’s life is sooner or later marked by moments of intense grief – or even prolonged periods of it. Pain is universal. Whatever your worldview, you get to experience troubles. Nothing can exempt you from suffering of some kind, be it:

  • losing someone you loved;
  • being betrayed by someone you trusted;
  • feeling unloved and/or unlovable;
  • suddenly finding out you have cancer or some other terminal illness;
  • having an accident that leaves you disabled for life;
  • struggling with intense poverty;
  • aching to have children and not being able to;
  • being hurt by people who don’t understand you and abuse you verbally – or worse;
  • losing your job;
  • ……………………….. (feel free to fill in the blanks with any other scenario that you can think of).

People find different ways of coping with problems, but at times things can just seem totally overwhelming… and then the dark night of depression creeps in. It can happen to anyone. No belief system can make you immune. And though some people may even blame you for it (‘This wouldn’t have happened to you if you…. had been a better Christian/ hadn’t made a wrong choice somewhere/ etc.’), there is no guilt automatically attached to it.

When confronted with the very real issue of the presence of evil in the world, especially when that evil suddenly hits one personally, people can sometimes waver, can ask ‘Why?’… They can get assaulted by doubts and questions that have no easy answers. Is God aloof from pain? Does He care?

God can take the raw honesty of such questions, the pain, even the occasional anger. Read the Psalms – those people knew a thing or two about having all manner of hurts, and pouring them all out to God, confused feelings and everything.

Some time ago (when reading the novel Christy, by Catherine Marshall), I came across a few lines that deeply resonated with me:

“… you have questions on your mind. I’m glad you do. Perceptive people like you wound more easily than others. But if we’re going to work on God’s side, we have to decide to open our hearts to the griefs and pain all around us. It’s not an easy decision. A dangerous one too. And a tiny narrow door to enter into a new world.

“But in that world a great experience waits for us: meeting the One who’s entered there before us. He suffers more than any of us could because His is the deepest emotion and the highest perception.” [emphasis mine]

It may take a while, but you can come out of the tunnel of pain and find that God did care even while you were in the dark… In fact, He was holding you even in there. There can be a measure of comfort even if you do not (yet) have answers about every painful event you go through.

darkness

Nothing is wasted, beauty can eventually come out of the pain…

darkness

brokenhearted

Everyone has his/her own story and struggles of which the rest of us may never be aware. If you have read this far, I do hope that you will leave with a bit of encouragement in your heart. These paintings were made with the very intent of offering comfort – at the time I made them, to my own heart… I hope that now yours will be comforted as well.

 

 

Let Me See

earth heaven

I have always loved these lines by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, but it was reading a particular blog post which inspired me to make the painting in the image above. This was the post, from a blog I love to read. Read it if you will, it is worth it.

Some paintings carry a very special significance for me. It is not just a matter of how well I consider they have turned out. It is what was going on in my heart at the time, all the intense longing that went into making them … They are a prayer of sorts… only not expressed in words. Such was the case with making this plaque.

Oh, that I may indeed see and savor life’s moments constantly… and maximize my joy by not rushing through life while doing the necessary work allotted to me… but taking the time to really pause and see. To see the beauty in all the great and the little things surrounding us day by day – the golden sunlight bathing the wall toward dusk, the cheerful sounds of a sparrow, or the fresh, crisp air of the morning. To live intentionally and not drift away, carried by the mad rush all around… To enjoy the gift of those quiet moments that can help one recharge emotionally and regain her bearings. To fully live in the moment – in the best meaning of the phrase. To be grateful for each glimpse of beauty, each of the thousands of gifts that God generously scatters all over us. God, may it be so!