Monday, August 18, 2014

on what’s in a name

The first time we said it aloud together, I think we knew, but we let it linger in the air for a while, Clementine Monet. 

Clementine means merciful and gentle, and so far, it’s true.  Monet, of course, is after my favorite artist, the French Impressionist Claude Monet.  Impressionism is a celebration of color and light, a way of seeing and translating the world through a different lens.  At this point, it would be easy for me to go into a lengthy discourse of how that is not unlike the way we live and create, today, I won’t.

And then one day, I read the following excerpt. 

Van Gogh once wrote, “ If you hear a voice within you say, ‘you can not paint,’ then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”  

You can replace the word paint with any dream we might pursue.  There will always be conflicting voices within us—those that whisper about the great dreams waiting to be realized and those that scream that we lack the talent or capacity to achieve them.  Part of the that process is deciding which voices will inform us.  I love how Claude Monet, a French impressionist who brought us an entirely new way of seeing reality, literally turned his back on the Louvre to put his focus on nature.  During his early years in Paris, while other paintings of the great who had found their way into this gallery, Money would go to the window and being to paint what we saw outside.  Monet’s internal narrative was deeply rooted in the wonder and beauty of nature.  He brought with his perceptions an astonishing use of color and movement.

Monet was mesmerized by the beauty around him.  His work is the expression of a man drowning in a universe of overwhelming beauty.  He saw the beautiful everywhere.  He once wrote in his journal, “Every day I discover more and more beautiful things.  It is enough to drive one mad.”

While van Gogh’s narrative was a journey of inner turmoil, Monet became a translator of beauty. 

- The Artisan Soul, Erwin McManus

There was no question.  That was her name.

Clementine Monet, may you be a translator of beauty, no matter your passion or interests. Make the world more beautiful. Fill it with hope, truth, and light.  Reflect the light that shatters darkness, the hope that eases pain of this broken world, and the truth that will always remain.  Paint the world with color. Or words. Or thought. Or action. And certainly with love. Whatever medium you discover, tell your story.  See the beautiful everywhere.


Saturday, August 2, 2014

when we were still just four

This. When everything is still, change is peaking just around the corner, but right now is so tangible that it can be seen and heard and felt for all its rich beauty. Moments like dust particles that dance in beams of sunlight, suspended in the air before a window, till they join others becoming indistinguishable.  (We’ll pretend, if you’d like, that your home is dust free.)

Life will forever be different and new and as it should be. And so it is that today, on this Saturday afternoon, I’m watching time and my reality linger.  However it happened that it’s the beginning of August and 70 degrees is a gift I won’t question.  A thick blanket of rain clouds hang over this weekend and no one is suffocating in the summer heat.  Is it all for me, if so I’ll whisper thank you to the heavens. 

This morning I rocked my big girl for the longest time.  She woke up early, sure it was time to pick up Gigi from the airport.  It wasn’t.  She carries anticipation the way I do, it fills her soul, it dances through her being, nearly visible on her skin.  How many ways do I see pieces of myself in her?  These past few days, how many times have I watched, savoring all I can of who she is in these last moments as the youngest.  Three and a half years old, with wild blue eyes that are growing deeper and more thoughtful by the day, like she sees the world in richer colors than the rest.  Her long arms and legs jabbed into my side, squishing the baby who is also squishing me.  Her silly grey tee-shirt, a smelly security ‘blanket’ is safely in her hand; we rock, in celebration of this part.  The part that comes before the next.  She tries to understand time and how many hours and how many more days, but it’s too much for her little self and how can we really grasp life-changing time in increments?

I’m not often weepy about sentimental things and even now, I just breathe it, feeling the suspension of all we know mixed with what lies ahead.  It’s strangely enchanting, like the first few notes of your favorite song.

And later, my boy, a few months shy of age six, sits close by my side as we watch The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.  We spent the last few weeks reading segments at bedtime and finished last night.  He’s naturally a sensor and found many parts too intense for his little spirit, so we turned it off and talked about Mario, airports, and video game things.  Naturally, I’ve heard more than I’ve ever cared to hear about video game things, but he’s quite knowledgeable on the subject (thanks to his daddy) and I just listen, because seeing this person he’s becoming is a treasure.

Pretty soon, another creature will join our little tribe.  This family we are growing, it’s our story unfolding.  It’s the beginning of theirs.  It’s all the best and hardest and most beautiful things.

But this is today, as we know it, when we were still just four.

Lingering particles of dust suspended in the light.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

July 16, 2014: a love letter

Soft white curtains hang at the windows and through them, light shines.  Today, the air wafts in too, because we’ve been given a break from the oppression of humidity and extreme heat.  And just beyond the front porch, crepe myrtles are in full bloom.  Hot pink blossoms are doing a slow dance in the breeze and I revel at the way the window is filled with light and color.  I call them myrtles, like they are dear old friends who gather for brunch on a Tuesday morning, wearing gaudy hats and one too many spritzes of perfume. 

Last night, after we said good night to the children, we caught the end of the sunset from the porch swing.  It’s my belief that if the sun is going to set each night with a grand display of artistry, then it should be acknowledged if only for a moment.  Our street is bordered with large trees and uninspiring power lines interfere with the view.  We are given but a portion of the sky, where the trees part, so a portion we will take. 

We rocked slowly with the sleepy street below, where its people full of oddities and issues, linger behind walls and windows.  We once thought it would be something of a circus, when we met our quirky neighbors who played the roles of cat ladies, drug dealers, and the rough-around-the-edges-and-everywhere-else-too resident grumblers.  As it turns out, we’re the only ones they like and thus, reap the benefits in bags overflowing with garden harvests.   An occasional firefly pierces the dusk and we are at ease together, in the real and transparent place of knowing and being known. Laughter is sweet, deep, and rich, ripe with exhaustion and appreciation for all the blessings and responsibilities of this life.  And something finds us in the quiet, in the closeness, the questions we still ask, the dreams we dare to dream that have not yet been birthed or eroded with time and its practicality.  The ones we’ve asked from the beginning and perhaps until the end.  The life we’ve collected is woven into the words and pauses, our matching heartbeat of adventure sounding in unison echoes in the silence. 

A tall, five-year-old boy wearing pajamas and a hat cracks appears at the front door with a stuffed crocodile in hand, to let us know that he was just telling his crocodile that they were going on a trip to the moon, in outer space, which is where the aliens live, but he didn’t know the names of the planets with aliens and so he needed us to tell him.  Is that okay that I came out of my room to ask you, he says, and surely, it must be, so we mention a few planet names and satisfied, he returns to bed.  Again, laughter lingers in the warm summer air. 

Another little one stretches and contorts my abdomen, there is little comfort to be found in these last days and weeks before her arrival, save hot fudge sundaes and nightly foot rubs.  What have we gotten ourselves into, we ask.  It’s a question that needs no answer, but we respond in playful blame and banter as we consider the days ahead. 

It’s a beautiful madness, our wandering tale.  Our hearts beat strong with love and bold dreams and unwavering adventure.  Our minds and bodies are tired with its responsibilities and realities.  But, it’s ours, together and that’s the thing.

Oh, let us acknowledge the adventures of today and ponder those of tomorrow.  Let us face life with courage and hope, knowing we never desired easy and dull.  May we always ask questions and never stop.  May we laugh in the dusk of summer and winter snow— even when our laughter betrays our exhaustion (and that fact that we have no idea what we’re doing).  And in that comfortable space of being known by each other, let us dream, always.

Another day ends as the lights of our sleepy street flicker on to keep watch.  We move about, filling water glasses, closing blinds, and re-covering little ones with blankets that have fallen to the floor. 

And again, tomorrow.