Tuesday, May 22, 2018

VanLife Day 15 or Harvey Milk The Last Jedi

I spent the yesterday evening and today in Colorado Springs with a dear friend.  He lives in a fifth wheel in an RV park and so I was able to park the Kraken in his driveway and boondock there.  He gave me the code to use the bathroom facilities which allowed me my first shower in 15 days.  You would think I would be excited about that but not really. It was pleasant enough but honestly I haven't missed it so much. That's a huge shocker for me but it's the truth.

In my day and a half here we took to trips to Walmart and hiked a bit behind the RV park where he lives.  Most of the time we spent catching up and chatting.  I did turn him on to pita and Creama Kasa cheese and we enjoyed a couple of salads and washed it all down with a blended wine.  It was good company and good food.  The nights were cool and sleeping in the Kraken continues to be a great delight.

Earlier this evening we watched The Last Jedi.  The most redeeming thing about the film was the filming on Skellig Michael of the Celtic Monks beehive huts.  Other than that, I thought it was the weakest film in the Star Wars franchise.

I finished my evening with the movie, Milk, about a gay Jedi, Harvey Milk who would have turned 88 today had he lived to do so.  Instead he was murdered by a homophobic bigot and the rest is history.  He was a powerful Jedi in the resistance in which many of us continue.  He is a giant in the movement for equal rights for LGBT folk.  I watch the movie on his birthday every year and the anniversary of his assassination.  It was much better than The Last Jedi to be sure.

Monday, May 21, 2018

VanLife Day 14 or A John Denver Kind of Day

After Manhattan I headed west.  It was flat all the way to the mountains.  Very flat.  So very flat.  I guess flat with no trees has its own beauty.  I'm sure of it, more or less.  I've been to Colorado but I don't think I've ever driven there.

While on the way I saw so many vans that looked like they might be part of #VanLife.  I wondered about each and everyone of them.  I driven across country many, many times but I think this time I saw more folks traveling or living in vans than ever. 

How to tell the difference?  Is there a difference other than the amount of time you spend in the van?  I think not really.

The weather was perfect, not too hot, not too cold, sunny and I listened to John Denver almost all the way.

I was looking forward to seeing Fr. Rick and celebrating the Holy Mass with him.  It's been a minute or two. 

We had a wonderful dinner and he introduced me to his favorite wine.  He's watching American Idol as I catch up on the blog.  Hopefully I can keep caught up.

Oh, they're singing the Rainbow Connection with Kermit the Frog!  Gotta go!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

VanLife Day 13 or Loaded and Laundered

Well, today was the last day of my Mother's Day show and was time for goodbyes, loading, and laundering the clothes.  I hate goodbyes.  Sometimes they're just for a time but sometimes they end up being forever.  I hate goodbyes and experience no small amount of melancholy.

All in all the show was worth attending.  It's always good to visit Manhattan and catch up with old friends.  Over the years I've developed so many of them and this year I added a few more.  For that, I am thankful.

I'm looking forward to the next leg of the adventure.  I'll be heading to Colorado tomorrow to see a priest in Christ Catholic Church.

Sadly I didn't ride today.  The weather just didn't cooperate.  It was cooler and rainy and as much as I like to ride, I'm a fair weather rider.  And climbing back into the Kraken damp and cold doesn't excite me.

This has been a great inaugural run for the Kraken and I in #VanLife.  We've made it through with flying colors.  I wasn't sure how I was going to take not taking a daily shower but I've adjusted quite well.  In fact, honestly, I don't miss it.  My skin is as happy as it's ever been and my hair softer than it's been in a long time.

Well here's to Colorado tomorrow.  Goodbye Manhattan!  Thanks for a great time!  See you down the road!

VanLife Day 12 or Home Is Where You Park

Downtown Manhattan Kansas - Small Town America

The conventional wisdom is that you find what you look for and I think that's true to some extent when traveling from community to community.  I have always had the ability to find friends and interests in any community I would find myself. 

Back in the late 90's I traveled around in a 24 foot Class C Motorhome and loved it.  I was blowing glass and traveling from craftshow to craftshow with a several different promoters. 

Many of us who traveled consistently with a show promoter did so in an RV of some shape and size.  We would all pitch base camp within the general vicinity of one another and form a little mobile neighborhood.

We'd do all the things that one would do in a neighborhood: throw block parties, have potluck dinners, invite the neighbors over for a barbecue, and even sometimes complain about our neighbor.  Some of us would even try and keep up with the Joneses.  We were always comparing RV's, gas mileage, and storage capacity.  Yes, size matters.

We'd each venture into the larger surrounding community and it was always interesting to hear the stories that made it back to camp, some good and some bad.

Once you got to know the people in our little traveling caravan you could almost guess what kind of experience they were going to have in any given community and at any given show.  It was very consistent and I think it was because they found what they always found because that was what they always looked for.

The same folks time and time again would hate this or love that.  They would have a rotten show or a good show.  Everyone's experience would be different but each individual's experience would be consistent with their general outlook.

I was often teased because I can always find something good in every place I travel and delightful people everywhere I go.  I think that's because that's always what I look for.  I roll into a community and I get excited by just arriving.  I start looking for the interesting, the unique, and the fun in every situation.  Sadly, that's not true of everyone who travels.

I will soon pack up and head off to a different city with a different crowd of folks and most likely a different climate.  I don't know what to expect specifically but I do know what I'll probably find there in general because it's what I always find.  It will be interesting and full of learning experiences.  I'll meet some neat people, have some fun, and find some beauty in whatever place I visit.  It may or may not make my favorites list but I'll no doubt enjoy it for what is.

My mentor in the Episcopal Church, Fr. James Martin, once said that I was the type of person to be at home wherever I hung my hat and he was so right.  Now, I would add, home is wherever the Kraken and I park.

Friday, May 18, 2018

VanLife Day 11 or GlassLife Day 9993

I'm feeling like this post has more to do with GlassLife than VanLife right now.  When you're on a long show, meaning longer than 3-4 days, it can sometimes feel like an eternity. Such is the case as I near the end of this gig.

It's been a delightful stay and I've reconnected with friends, made new ones, and generally enjoyed myself but it's time to move along down the road.  What's more, I'm anxious to do so.

This should be my last longer show for a while.  Typically I limit longer shows in malls to Christmas, St. Valentine's Day, and Mother's Day.  So, I won't have another one like this for quite sometime and who knows where I'll be come Christmas.

I enjoy the music and art festivals quite a bit and all the smaller shows in-between are pretty fun and often profitable too.  When compared to a race, they're like a 50 yard dash as opposed to the longer shows being more like marathons.  You run them each differently.  Your inventory is different, your clientele is different, your expenses are different, and your profit is different.  Longer shows offer stability and security.  Shorter festivals offer opportunity and diversity.  There's a time and a place for each of them.

What do you call a flock of hummingbirds?  A charm!  I've made of charm of hummingbirds in the last couple of days to be sure.  Half a gross to be exact.  After having made thousands and thousands of them over the years, I think I could make them in my sleep and sometimes I think I have.

Production too can become a little monotonous but it also offers time for reflection and thought, not unlike riding a bicycle for me.  I can just kick on autopilot and let my mind wander around a bit.

While I churned out my recent charm of hummers I thought of different paths to my first major destination, the Pacific Northwest and of places and people I might visit along the way.  Colorado would seem to be the best way to go and as luck would have it, I have a good friend, who happens to be a priest in Christ Catholic Church, in Colorado Springs.  I think I'll pop in on him for a bit and see if I can wear out my welcome.

We'll see where the Kraken takes me...

Thursday, May 17, 2018

VanLife Day 10 or We Don't Own Our Next Breath

The Kraken at sunrise on day ten of VanLife.

It was a beautiful morning, the kind that makes you glad to be alive.  The birds were in full chorus and the air was cool and crisp and gentle on my skin.  A soft breeze ruffled the leaves in the trees and the smell of spring was in the air.  I was reminded of the old hymn, "Morning Has Broken" made popular in secular culture by Cat Stevens in the 1970's.

Morning had broken for some, though not for others and I was reminded of an incident that happened the other night at around midnight while I was sleeping in the van.  It's a moment in time I'm not likely to forget.

I had fallen asleep earlier, around 10 pm or so.  It had been a long busy day and I was tired to my bones.  My bed is oh, so very comfortable and my blanket so very soft.  The temperature in the van was just right for sleeping and so sleep came quickly.

I was awoken around midnight by a scream I shan't forget.  It was across between a scream and a wail.  It was followed by two more, each one weaker than the last.  The first one woke me up; the next two chilled me to the bone.  Something terrible had happened.

Being in the van I couldn't tell the direction from which the scream came nor could I tell how far away the person was but I thought not terribly far, though not in close proximity either.

It wasn't long, half and minute to a minute perhaps, that emergency vehicles converged from all directions not far from me, maybe a block or two.  With all the red flashing lights, the sirens, and the sheer number of first responders I knew something terrible had indeed happened.

I didn't sleep for the rest of the night and I when morning broke I would soon find out what had happened.

Google is an ever present companion of mine.  She keeps me informed, up to date, and offers advice on where to eat or what to do from time to time.  This morning she gave me the breaking story on the midnight occurrence.

Two men, described as homeless in the article, had attempted to cross the highway about a block and a half from where the Kraken was parked for the night with me sleeping.  They crossed at the same time a car was approaching.   The driver managed to swerve and miss hitting one of the men but the other one wasn't so lucky.  He died of his injuries.

There were three people there with reason to scream that night and I don't know who all I heard but I felt for all three of them and offered a stunned and shaken prayer.  A man stopped breathing that night and it wasn't a gentle goodbye.

I've said all of that to say this: none of us own our next breath and time is shorter than you think.  My mentor in the church, Bishop Karl Prüter of blessed memory, use to remind us of that and he would often followup with the comment that he could step off a curb and get hit by a sanitation truck at any moment.  I always wondered if he ever had a close call with a sanitation truck when he was younger.

Hummingbird Suncatcher at Crystal Revelations

I do what I do because I love it.  I love creating art.  I love sharing that with other people and I love making money doing it.  I'm an unapologetic wandering capitalistic artist.  I looked around me the other night and took stock of my time making art, traveling/living in a van, and doing what I love and I was happy with my choices.

For instance, that little hummingbird suncatcher you see above represents a very real 10 minutes of my life, six to eight minutes sculpting the bird in the flame and another two to four minuets adding color to it.  That is time I will never get back; time frozen in glass.  And I would do it again.  I'm living the life that I want.

Can you say the same thing?  If you can't, you best get to it.  A gentle reminder, you don't own your next breath dear reader and you could step off of a curb and get hit by a sanitation truck at any given moment.  Don't wait until it's too late to make your life yours.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

VanLife Day 9 or Can I Ask You a Question?

My in Case of Emergency - Davy Jones Locker

(No, I did not put a used bucket on a dining room table.  This is Davy Jones Locker straight from the store.)

When people find out you're living in a van they invariably ask THAT question.  Yeah, you know the question.  You're probably dying to ask it yourself...

"How do you go to the bathroom?"

I usually say, just like you, but that just elicits a little laugh and still the quizzical stare.  So I go into a little greater detail.

Now it's true, I have yet to use Davy Jones Locker above but if I ever need it, it's there.  Right before I departed on this adventure I was watching a YouTube video about pooping in VanLife and the most common ways folks have found to do it and the contraptions they do it in.

The YouTuber had a good point and it's something I always say, "Its better to have and not need, than to need and not have."  I had a moment of clarity and I went out and bought Davy Jones Locker.

For me, I think the 5 gallon bucket and trash bag contraption will work best.  No fuss, no muss. Only time will tell the story to see if it works for me but will I blog about it?

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

VanLife Day 8 or Ride Peregrine, Ride!

Peregrine my Giant Escape City in Manhattan Kansas
I'm excited to be in a community with bike trails.  Now granted, the trails here in Manhattan Kansas are few and far between when compared to the trails back in Fayetteville Arkansas.  However, the important thing is that they're building them here!  That's great!

When I visited Manhattan this last winter for my Christmas show I had hoped to get in a ride or two, weather permitting but I ended up not able to bring Peregrine with me due to the lack of cargo space space.  That was just as well because as it turned out I had neither the time, energy, nor cooperating weather for a ride.

When I realized I would be returning for Mother's Day I knew things would be different because I'd be in the Kraken and have Peregrine at the ready to ride.  I haven't take the time to ride during the show but I'm taking a day at the end of the show to ride the trails, if not all of them, at least some of them.  It's something to look forward to!

VanLife: Day 7 or I Need a Vacation

How about it?! I've spent a week in the van and I think I need a vacation.  You know how you go on vacation and towards the end you feel like you need another one to rest up from the first one?  That's kinda how I feel.

Now, in all honesty, I've worked my craftshow from 6am to 10pm six of my seven days in the van.  So I've spent precious little time actually in the van other than to sleep.  I'm looking forward to some down time soon though.  I've got five more days to go.

The nice thing about van life is that it offers a certain amount of freedom based on finances.  The bad thing about vanlife is that it offers a certain amount of freedom based on finances.  There's a theme there.

I'm looking forward to booking some weekend craftshows that will then allow me time to explore and play throughout the week.  These 10+ day shows in a mall are rough but they afford some inventory building time and climate control.

I'm also itching to get back on my bike and hit the trails.  Good things come to those who wait.

I did manage to break away for a bit and visit Aggieville, a 2 block area off campus that has become somewhat of a college hangout.  It was interesting but it has nothing on the Promised Land of Fayetteville and our Dickson Street.

Monday, May 14, 2018

VanLife: Day 6 or The Shoes of the Fisherman

Today was Sunday and that meant going in later to the glass shop, Crystal Revelations, and getting off earlier because the mall's hours are shortened on Sunday.  Most malls in the United States follow this pattern: opening around noon and closing just before dinner time.  It's a throwback to the old Blue Laws that were in effect for many years which either prohibited outright or limited shopping on Sundays.  I always look forward to Sundays in malls because of that.  It's almost like a day off.

After work and a lite dinner and retired to the Kraken.  For the first time since I've been in the van, I felt like watching a movie or something on my Chromebook.  Always before I've tried to be very quiet because my windows were open and I didn't want to draw any attention to myself nor the van.  Last night I finally felt comfortable enough to do the movie thing.  There was no popcorn but it was a swell movie on a fantastic screen.  Being only a few inches from my face it seemed like an Imax theater screen!

The movie I settled on was an old favorite, "The Shoes of the Fisheman" a 1968 film adapted from a novel of the same title written by Morris West.  In short it's about a newly elected Roman Catholic Pope who sells the Vatican's treasures to help a starving China and prevent a nuclear world war.  There are some side plots and stories as well that are worthy in and of themselves.  You can read a synopsis of the movie here.

One of the things that's memorable to me from that story line is the idea of the Christian church living into its vows, to care for the "least of these"  written about in the Gospel of St. Matthew 25:1-46

1 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. 
2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. 
3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: 
4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 
5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. 
6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. 
7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. 
8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. 
9 But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. 
10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. 
11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. 
12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. 
13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh. 
14 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. 
15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. 
16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. 
17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. 
18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money. 
19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. 
20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. 
21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. 
22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. 
23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. 
24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: 
25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. 
26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: 
27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. 
28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. 
29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. 
30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 
31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 
32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 
33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 
34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 
35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 
38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 
39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 
40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. 
41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 
42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: 
43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 
44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? 
45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. 
46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

Now, I don't pretend to be a good Christian and in my embrace of minimalism I don't for a moment think I'm saving the world nor is that even a consideration of mine.  My motives are purely selfish: in embracing minimalism, I'm saving myself.

Now it is true I'm part of a tiny religious order.  On a good day there are about half a dozen of us scattered around the country.  We're members of the Order of the Shepherd's Heart, an ecumenical Celtic catholic religious order.  We follow a Common Rule that, among other things, encourages us to live simple, thoughtful, authentic, and intentional lives.  I'm not very good at that either but it's what I strive towards.

In my minimizing I think I worried people and I think they asked others around me questions such as, "Is he dying?" "Is he having a midlife crisis?"  "Is he selling things off because he's going broke and needs money?"  Some even asked me these questions themselves.  My answer was most always the same,  "No," I'd say, "I'm just trying to live into my vows."  And that was a true statement because what I was saying is that I'm trying to live authentically as myself, my whole self.

There's something to be said about living simply so that others may simply live and there's also something to be said about living into your vows, or perhaps living into your values so that your life takes on an intrinsic authenticity.  You are who you say you are.  That's part of the notion of one identity that I've spoken of before.

That's the thing that comes to my mind when I watch the film "The Shoes of the Fisherman" and see Pope Kiril, played by Gregory Peck, living into his vows as Pope of the Roman Catholic Church and as a Christian.  He put his money where his mouth was or rather he put the money of the church where its mouth was.  And for that, crowds cheer in St. Peter's Square.

Now it's easy to pick on institutions whether it's the Roman Catholic Church, Walmart, or some other corporation when they're doing something we perceive as wrong or that goes against our particular values.  How much harder is it to turn that discerning eye upon ourselves?  You know, those institutions are made up of folk and folk are folk and there's nothing queer as folk and that's you and me!  There is no us and them.  There is only us.

Thomas Merton wrote,“For the world to be changed, man himself must begin to change it, he must take the initiative, he must step forth and make a new kind of history. The change begins within himself.”

I think that's the only authentic change we can offer - our own.  And it we strive to do that, we may not change the world on a grand scale the way Pope Kiril did in the movie, but we'll change our world and that's real.  That's authentic.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Dandelion Summer

Dandelion Summer by Brian Ernest Brown "The Painting Bishop"

A friend posted a picture on Facebook of some dandelions and when I commented on how much I enjoyed his picture he suggested it was that time of the year for the proverbial dandelion pictures to be posted. I was reminded of a painting I did several year entitled, Dandelion Summer. 

I've always loved the free little flower.  Why do I call it the free flower?  Well, you know. they come up so freely without any effort on our part.  They're bright, cheery, yellow little flowers that, like grace, most often come unbidden and or unearned.

The dandelion is so very versatile.  Not only are they enjoyable to look at but you can eat them and they make a fun wine!  If you're into painting, they offer up a beautiful yellow color with which to paint, and these are just a few of their uses.  Even the little honeybees love them!

Why people go to such great lengths to eradicate them boggles my mind.  Why would you put so much effort into getting rid of such a wonderful, bright, and hardy little flower only to then pay for flowers you must plant every year and or baby to get them to bloom and grow?!  It just makes no sense to me.

That's how we are though.  We don't seem to appreciate that which is right in front of us as we search for something better.  We miss out on the joy of the little and prolific free dandelion in search of the perfect but sterile hybrid rose.  So it goes.

VanLife: Day 5 or Minimalism and Me

As I wrestled with space in the van today I thought of all the things I've had over the years and all the things one really needs.  Hello room, I'm a collector.

Covetousness is a branching subset representing and blending several of the Seven Deadly Sins, also known as Capital Vices.  Capital Vices, it sounds so 21st century.  Let's stick with deadly sins because they can kill you, if not always literally then figuratively at least.  They are: pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth. Covetousness which seems to be an impetus to many of the seven deadlies is perhaps my favorite sin of all.

Now please let me explain, I don't covet in the normal sense that one might think of when we think of coveting: images of wanting to have the things your neighbor does or your friends at work do or some celebrity enjoys.  Usually when we think of coveting we think of coveting someone else's stuff.  That seldom happens to me.  I'm so finicky or some might suggest, and do, obsessive compulsive, that I seldom find things most other people like to fit into my sense of beauty/quality or offer that sense of completion that comes with possessing something you really enjoy.  No, I seldom covet other people's things.  However, it is so very true that I covet my own things!

I've already suggested that I'm very picky and that I tend to obsess over things matching, fitting, fulfilling, or otherwise pleasing my sense of form and order.  So, when I find something and settle on it, most always it's because it's ticked off all the check marks on my checklist of criteria in regard to my sense of quality.  When that happens, I covet that thing.  I've been known to buy multiples of certain items when I find things I truly see as quality because I'm just sure they'll discontinue it next season, next week, or change it in some way in the next year.  I like things and I like my things to be consistent and once again, in good order.

One of my several storage units after emptying it. It had been full.

As a result of this deadly sin of mine, I've collected tons of stuff over the years and I do literally mean tons.  I have filled house, shops, vehicles, and warehouses full of stuff.  Not all of it treasured items but by and large much of it, in it's own context and way.  I have paid for excess storage facilities all of my adult life, culminating in ultimately having three 14' X 40' storage units, one 10' X 24' unit, and one 10' X 20' unit.  At some of the same time I had a 2000 sqft gallery full of fixtures and inventory, a church full of churchy things, a 1000 sqft home full of furniture, and almost always an SUV, truck, and or van full of miscellaneous stuff.  I must at this point give a nod to my collection of over 8000 books as well.  That was perhaps my most serious collection of all and one of my most dear collections.  I was drowning in stuff and spent tens of thousands of dollars housing it.

I honestly got to the point where I felt all of the stuff I had collected was crushing me and it was.  It was crushing the life out of me one day at a time, week after week, month after month, and year after year.

It was time to do something about all the stuff.  Dare I say downsize?  I started about 6 years ago doing just that and it has taken every bit of that time to divest myself of my collection. I hauled it away, gave it away, and redistributed it as best I could.  I sold some of it, mailed some of it, pitched some of it, donated much of it, recycled some of it, and rid myself of each piece one way or another.  It was a monumental effort that took six years and in many way continues even today.

Now I agonize over every item I acquire or keep.  It simply must check off most of my list on quality and utility or I simply don't acquire or keep it.  If something fails to live up to my expectations after being acquired it isn't kept for possible future use.  It's re-homed, whatever that might mean.

My goal is to keep minimizing as possible and at least when one thing comes in at least one thing goes away.  Today that meant pitching an old worn out pair of tennis shoes and ten pairs of socks in favor of an elegant, utilitarian, and quality pair of Chacos sandals, the Mega Z Cloud to be exact.

My embrace of minimalism has certainly offered a new outlook for me and a new rule by which I measure my life and relationship with things.  Living in a van also helps to bring that into very clear and practical focus when I stumble over things in the night and then go bump!

Saturday, May 12, 2018

VanLife: Day 4 or How I Became a Kelly Girl Glassblower

I find I'm settling into a routine which is a good thing because I'm a creature of habit for the most part.  After four days of #vanlife perhaps I'm beginning to find a balance and a rhythm.

This was the first day that my glass show was fully up and running and that part of the setup work was done.  That's always a good feeling.  Now down to making glass and selling glass.

It always fun when I return to a place I have been several times before.  It's often like old home week.  You catch up with friends and acquaintances, see what's new and what's changed.  Sometimes the more things change, the more they stay the same.  I think that's a very true statement for life in a shopping mall.

I spent a great deal of my life working in malls.  My first management position was in a Swiss Colony in the Battlefield Mall in Springfield Missouri and later in a Morrow's Nut House owned by the same company.  Those jobs opened the door to management positions in other stores within that mall and those positions ultimately led me to a General Manager position of a candy company that operated 10 stores in four states, all in shopping malls.

I became acquainted with all aspects of the building, owning, marketing, staffing, supplying, merchandising, maintaining, opening and closing of mall stores.  I worked with lots of different management teams and franchise companies on various construction projects and community marketing programs.

I was what was called a Mall Rat.  I lived and breathed the Mall life.  I was pasty white in those days.

Its funny how life twists and turns.  It was ultimately my familiarity with malls and franchising that I was able to find my way into the glass business.  I had just completed a contract with a company with multiple stores and interests where I had opened and staffed five more dollar stores for them, two in Chicago and one three in Tennessee.  I was ready for a new challenge and I answered an ad in the local paper.

The ad was for someone skilled in opening and franchising stores in shopping malls.  I thought perhaps it was friend playing a trick on me because I had said to him earlier in the week at a dinner party I threw that jobs like mine were getting harder to come by without moving out of the Ozarks.  Out of mere curiosity more than anything I inquired about the position and I realized it was the real deal.

The company had contracted with Kelly Girl, a headhunting/temp agency, to find a suitable candidate for the position.  In order to pursue the job, I had to become a Kelly Girl and so I did.

I eventually met with the owner who was a lampwork glassblower.  He had a little shop up at Lake of the Ozarks in central Missouri and he wanted to spread out his operation to shopping malls and amusement parks.  I knew immediately that I was the person for the job and I also knew immediately that some how, some way, I would become a glassblower.  I sold myself and we arrived at a mutually beneficial contract.  My one caveat was that he teach me how to blow glass and to this he agreed.

Little did I know he was incapable of teaching me how to blow glass.

I fulfilled my part of the bargain.  I used my contacts and expertise to get him into two different malls, two different shopping centers, and one theme park.  I took him from this side of bankruptcy to being relatively financially flush and moderately successful.  In all that time, he never once gave me a lesson.

When I reminded him of his contractual promise, he said,  "You've seen me make enough hummingbirds.  Hop up on the torch and make one."  And then he walked away.

I hopped up on the torch and made what look like a fledgling hummingbird just hatched out of the egg that had been subjection to radiation poisoning.  I wasn't pleased with my finished product but I was excited about the possibilities.

He returned only to puff himself up after looking at my attempt at making a hummingbird suncatcher and say, "I've been doing this long enough to know whether a person has an aptitude for glassblowing or not and I'm sorry to tell you, you'll never be a glassblower and that little mess will never hold together."

It's odd how a person can at once experience and the cold chill of dismissal or indifference and the fiery heat of rage.  Right then I dismissed him and his opinion and raged at his words.  I simply replied,  "Squat and watch fella!"

I left his employment with a white hot self-righteous indignation and a forged determination to become at glassblower, come what may.

It took a while.  There was no YouTube in those days and the craft was pretty secretive.  If someone knew you wanted to learn to make glass and you were watching them, they'd shut down on you in a heartbeat. I wasn't sure where or how I was going to learn the craft but I knew I would.

In the meantime I went back to doing what I do, managing stores in malls.  I took a position with Bailey, Banks, and Biddle Fine Jewelers which worked its way into management training.  They were part of the Zales Corporation which had just emerged from bankruptcy and they were in the process of closing some of the less profitable stores. They wanted me to become a store closer.  This wasn't something I wanted to do because I fundamentally disagreed with their methods though I understood their need to do it the way they did.

During one Christmas the mall leased out a kiosk space in front of my store and low and behold, they had leased it to a lampwork glassblower.

It was one of those moments that the 19th century British author, Charles Williams, would describe as an infinite moment: a moment that if recognized and seized could change the course of one's life forever.

I soon met the glassblower and I kept my mouth shut.  He, on the other hand, did not.  His name was Jerry Capel and he was warm, inviting, inquisitive, talkative, and full of zeal.  He had also been blowing glass for about 40 years at the time of our meeting.  He saw in me my appreciation and attention to the glass but I let him approach me about me learning how to blow glass.  I didn't want him to shut down on me like the rest had.

Let me back up a bit, while I hadn't met him, I had seen him in my former employer's gallery several times, so I knew who he was but my former employer had made it a point to keep us from meeting.  I was soon to understand why he had kept us apart.

As we got acquainted, I shared with Jerry the story I shared with you dear reader, of my escapades with the fellow who told me I'd never be a glassblower.  That was one of the few times I would see regret in my new friend's eyes. 

Jerry told me the story of teaching my former employer only a year or two before and suddenly I understood what had happened.  I had unwittingly been duped by a person who was not what he portrayed himself to be at the time and he was not capable of teaching me how to blow glass because he hardly knew how to do it himself.  He used me and his usury was premeditated.

My new mentor however, was capable and more over he was eager to teach me.  He loved glass and would share his talent and expertise with anyone who would sit still long enough to listen and watch.  Seldom have a met in my life people with such a zest and passion as he had.  We became student and teacher and good friends as well and developed a relationship that lasts to this very day.  He didn't teach me everything I've learned about glass art but he taught me everything I needed to know to be successful at it and imparted his passion to me.  For that, I will be forever indebted to this man who changed my life in a moment.

My dear mother helping me out at my very first Christmas show.

I soon quit my job and never went back to managing stores and businesses for other people.  I became a glassblower and the following year I had my own little booth at a mall for Christmas.  My journey started 28 years ago as of this writing and the rest, as they say, is history.

Long story short, that's how I became a Kelly Girl glassblower.

Friday, May 11, 2018

VanLife: Third Day or Sleeping in Shifts

My third day and night were exhausting.  Setting up at a craft show is always tiring.  You get hot, sweaty, dirty, and grimy during the best setups.  A hot shower is always welcomed before bed on those evenings and something to look forward to.

Ooops, I'm in a van...  I did the best I could with a sponge bath and it was quite refreshing.  I am somewhat amazed at how well I'm adjusting to not indulging in daily showers but as I often say, time will tell the story.

The day was a bit grueling but everything was finally setup by the evening.  I again needed to make a supply run to Walmart for various necessities.  Say what you want about Walmart but as a small business person it was been extremely helpful over the years and in many ways, has made my business possible.  I wandered around the store collecting my goods, paid my bill and headed back to the spot where I would park the van for the evening.  On the way I grabbed a 2$ burger for dinner and some cold water to wash it down with.

With dinner finished, I settled in for the night to read and took note of the temperature and how blessedly cool it felt .  There was even blustery breeze. It was a welcomed sensation against my tired and tortured skin.

I'm currently reading a book entitled Walden On Wheels: On the Open Road from Debt to Freedom by Ken Ilgunas.  I'll let you know what I think. Is he a Henry David Thoreau? Probably not but we'll see. It's an interesting read so far.  

Sleep came in shifts and for me that evening, it was a split shift.  My new bed is exceedingly comfortable and the breeze was so nice but my mind was running amok and took its own sweet time settling down.

The good news is that I solved the biggest space hog issue I have but that's a story and photo-op for another day.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

VanLife: Second Night or Peppermint Soap Saves the Day

Konza Prairie Kansas Valley Lookout Point
I don't think we're in the Ozarks anymore Kraken!

Well, we (the Kraken and I) arrived in Manhattan Kansas after a bit of a drive from the Ozarks.  The drive was uneventful except that Google routed me in a way that might have been a more scenic driving experience but it was most assuredly longer.  Sometimes she has a hard time and thinks I'm riding my bike when in fact I'm driving.  Be that as it may, I arrived in one piece if perhaps a little sunburnt from the sun streaming through Kraken's driver's window.

I unloaded the show (Crystal Revelations) from the van and began my setup in the mall, the Manhattan Town Center.  I made my expected pilgrimage to Walmart t acquire those miscellaneous things I forgot and or needed and headed back to the mall.  I called it a night at 10pm and headed out to find a place in the mall lot to park the Kraken.

The Kraken at Manhattan Town Center in Manhattan Kansas

As I drove around the parking lot I experienced déjà vécu. Well, not really I suppose, because these were actual memories that surfaced.  I remembered staying here several times years ago when I was driving a 24ft Class C Motorhome and doing art and craft shows.  In those days I was traveling with a promoter.  I happened upon my favorite place to park and remembered why it was my favorite place to park.  It's a little oasis in the concrete desert that is a the mall parking lot.  With a few trees, bushes, and grass it felt a little more campish rather than my boondocking reality.  I backed in and then I settled in, waiting patiently for the temperature to fall enough for me to sleep comfortably,

I grabbed my Kindle Voyage and read myself to sleep only to awaken with the sound of distant thunder and the gentle tap, tap, tap, of raindrops on the Kraken's metal roof.  Noticing how delightfully cool it had become, I snuggled into my blanket and drifted off to sleep again.

I awoke bright and early to my first morning without a shower.  I made my way into the mall and one of the restrooms  therein.  With the help of a sink, a washcloth, a hand towel, and some of Dr. Bronner's Pure-Castile Liquid Soap, the peppermint variety, I was refreshed and smelling clean.  Time for a new day!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

VanLife: First Night or the Fantastic Journey Begins

My first night enjoying #VanLife was pretty sweet really. Oh, sure there were and are some links to work out in my interior design but by and large it was very comfortable in so many ways.

I had the occasion to visit a friend/mentor, Jerry Capel, and pick up a few supplies on the way to my Mother's Day show in Manhattan Kansas to sell art glass. A visit with Jerry is always fun. Whenever we get together we always laugh, plan, scheme, dream, eat pizza, along with some decadent desserts, and just generally share our lives and our faith and have fun. Having known one another for about 27 years, we have a bit of shared history and have long ago perfected our social interactions.

The night went pretty well as expected and we laughed and told stories late into the evening, enjoying ice cream and one another's company. Jerry retired to his house and I to the Kraken parked in his side yard by a studio his daughter Renee tinkers away in creating art and beautiful things.

Earlier in the evening we had loaded 6 folding tables in the Kraken adding to his already full interior along with some packing material in the form of boxes, tissue, and shopping bags for my coming show. When I climbed into the van, at least my bed was clear! However, moving around the van was like trying to horizontally navigate a storage unit with about 2 1/2 feet of headway.

My windows were open and there was a cool breeze flowing through the van across the top of my body. When I built my bunk, I positioned It 2 to 3 inches below the window line thinking that I would enjoy the cross breeze ventilation keeping me cool in the evenings. My plan worked like a charm. It was delightful.

There was rain and possible thunderstorms forecasted for the early morning hours. I wondered how well my van would stay dry with my windows open and if I would need to wake up and close them. This made me sleep lighter than I would have liked but all in all I slept pretty well in my new bed. As luck would have it, it rained but no rain came through the windows and the breeze was exquisite. The gentle pitter-patter of the raindrops on the roof of the fan lulled me in and out of sleep.

All in all, my first night in Van life was fantastic! Even now, I am listening to a choir of birds singing as we begin morning prayer together, welcoming a new sunrise and a new day.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Future Perfect Tense

I will have returned to Eureka Springs Arkansas sometime before my death.  That much is certain, unless death comes suddenly and surprisingly.  However, even so, perhaps even then, I will have returned to Eureka Springs after my death.  All the best ghosts do you know after all it is the most haunted place in America, so the tour guides say.

Be that as it may, I returned today to call on my wholesale accounts and to deliver some handblown glass hummingbird suncatchers to one of my favorite little stores, the Velvet Otter.

The Velvet Otter is a quaint little antique/gift store on Highway 62 out at Inspiration Point.  For many years, it was a glass shop owned and operated by a lampwork glassblower by the name of Jerry Driggers.  I loved visiting his shop as a kid, watching him blow glass and often watching the sunset out his back windows overlooking the White River.  It's a picture perfect place.

Periodically I get to missing Eureka Springs and I have to get my fix.  I had been experiencing withdrawals of late and so it was time to return for a bit.  My trip was shorter than expected.  After I got there, I just wasn't feeling it.

It's a beautiful place and if you've never visited it you should.  It's a wonderful little Victorian Village out of the late 1800's sprinkled with hippies, artists, spiritualists, religious fundamentalists, survivalists, motorcyclists, poets, writers, romantics, and misfits of various kinds.  Just about everyone will find something to love in Eureka Springs.  I certainly have.

It has many beautiful Victorian homes in the downtown area that rival the great Painted Ladies of San Francisco even and it has a very interesting and eclectic shopping district full of artists, craftspeople, and unique shops.

It's a place to see for sure and one that I will have returned to some day if time allows.  I've visited Eureka Springs on and off throughout my life, I've loved there from time to time, I've lived there for about a year, and had art galleries there over the years but it's the springs that will always call me back.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

BikeLife Fayetteville Arkansas

I've been biking for about 45 years, as of this coming June.  I received my first bike ever as a birthday present when I turned four in 1973  It was an early 1960's Metallic Green Schwinn Typhoon.

My father had purchased it or traded for it on the road.  He was an over the road truck driver or rather a mover all his life and he had picked up the bike during a long haul.  He touched up the metallic lime green paint and put a new red seat on it.  He also covered it with state stickers for every sate he had been in during that particular run.

It was absolutely amazing - a bike all my own - with sparkle streamers no less!  It was perfect, except that it was made for a teenager and not a four year old.  To even hope to attempt to ride it I had to put two bricks on each pedal.  Needless to say, pedaling it was near impossible.  Lucky for me, our yard was sloped from front to back and we had a deep lot.

I would push my bike to the edge of the gravel driveway and as I attempted to hop on, I'd give it a shove in an attempt to ride it.  After lots of bloody lips, scraped knees, and bruised elbows I could finally balance and ultimately ride that bike down the slope of the yard to the rosebush thicket in back where I learned how to jump off a bike and roll.

I don't remember how long it was before I could pedal that bike but I do remember the upgrade I made to it when I could, again thanks to my father: "Fun Kie Feet" bicycle pedals!  Joy of joys, I could ride barefoot and I did, for years.

My mother and father separated two years later and I wouldn't see my father again until I was in my 20's. That was probably the only gift my father gave me until we were reunited but it was a gift that would forever change my life!

I don't know how long that bike lasted.  It was older and well worn when I got it and the fenders were wicked sharp.  After some pretty serious injuries and some mechanical issues my mother replaced the bike with a newer used bike more suited to my age.  It was a Schwinn Stingray with sissy bars and a banana seat.  Now this was a bike I could ride and I road it everywhere and I do mean everywhere!

My life as a child was full of other used bikes, most of which had to be painted.  I had a copper colored bike with black banana seat and matching black handlebar grips, a blue and yellow bike but my favorite was a beautiful chrome bike.  It was so handsome and I felt like James Bond on that bike!

My chrome bike was stolen twice.  The first time the next door neighbor stole it back for me but when it was stolen a second time it was gone for good.

I wept.  It was the end of the world!  Until another bike was procured.

My father bought me my first used bike, my mother bought me my second used bike.  I bought all the rest either with money from shining shoes or money from collecting glass pop bottles to return to the store for the deposit refund.  Later I graduated  to mowing yards.

My brother (age 6) and I (age 9) with a bike in the background.
Growing up, we never had a car and so I either walked, hopped on the city bus, or I pedaled my way around town - most of the time I chose the bike.

As a teen I had a series of favorite bikes and ultimately graduated to riding ten speeds and great distances.  I would ride 30+ mile rides weekly and about once a year I would participate with a small bike club a neighbor had started and we would do a 100 mile ride through the Ozarks.  I was never without a bike.

That is until I moved to Branson Missouri as an adult.  I stopped riding and didn't ride again for 17 years.  In those 17 years I ballooned to 325 pounds and at 6 foot tall that was pretty serious.  It wasn't until I escaped Branson and moved to Eureka Springs that a bike graced my life again.

Dominic and I  on my birthday. Photo by Dale Caldwell.

A new friend, Dale Caldwell, gifted me with his 2009 Globe Vienna Hybrid, named Dominic, for my birthday.  I don't often covet other people's things but I had coveted his bike and it was love at first sight.

Riding in Eureka Springs wasn't really a viable option for me.  It had been a while since I had been on a bike and with my weight the hills might have very well killed me.  So I started to look at moving to Fayetteville Arkansas which was rumored to be building some amazing bike trails.  After researching the options for better jobs, better schools, better everyday shopping, and bike trails, I decided to move.  Dale moved first and I moved to Fayetteville a month or two later.

To shorten an already long story, I put many, many, many miles on Dominic riding the trails of Northwest Arkansas.  In the process I lost 80-100 pounds.  And it was pure joy.  In many ways, that wonderful bike saved my life and changed me forever.  I decided that as long as it was within my power, I'd never again be without a bike.

I had Dominic for about 4 years and then he found a new home with a fellow who was almost in the same situation as I had been in when I started riding again.  I hope they have been happy together.

My next bike was a 2017 Giant Escape City.  It was the first new bike I ever bought for myself and kept but that's a whole other story.

I named him Peregrine and you can read more about him by clicking this link.

I plan on keeping up a running blog and a running vlog on #BikeLife as I explore #VanLife.   Check back often and be sure and visit my YouTube Channel.

Day Seven The Seven Days of Creation: Day of Rest

"Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. " -Genesis 2:1-3

Day 7 of Creation: "Day of Rest"

"Day of Rest"
24" X 36" Acrylic on Canvas
By Brian Ernest Brown, OSH
"The Painting Bishop"

When was the last time you rested? I mean, REALLY rested? I bet you don't know do you?! Or if you do remember it was more than likely some time ago. God thought it was important enough to do it and in fact He thought so much of it that He blessed the day and made it holy. It should be equally important to us. One day of the week to enjoy creation, one another, and ourselves. What's that worth? Priceless! Take time off and keep the day holy. None of us own our next breath. I know that I'm really bad about taking time off but I intend to turn over a new leaf and would invite you to do the same. It's never too late until it's too late! Enjoy!

Friday, May 4, 2018

Day Six The Seven Days of Creation: From His Hands

"And God said, 'Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.' And it was so. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

Then God said, 'Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.' So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, 'Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.'

Then God said, 'I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.' And it was so.

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day. " -Genesis 1:24-31

Day 6 of Creation: "From His Hands"

"From His Hands"
24" X 36" Acrylic on Canvas
By Brian Ernest Brown, OSH
"The Painting Bishop"

From His hands we were made, in His image, and he said we were very good. God delighted in our creation even with the certain knowledge of our culpability in His crucifixion. I imagined the nail marks in those life giving hands as He sculpted us from the earth and the bittersweet moment of our creation as I worked with the paint on the canvas. If God has such unconditional love for us, and we were made in His image, why do we find it so hard to have unconditional love for one another, also made in His image, regardless?

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Day Five The Seven Days of Creation: Feathers and Fins

"And God said, 'Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.' So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them and said, 'Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.' And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day." -Genesis 1:20-23

Day 5 of Creation: "Feathers and Fins"

"Feathers and Fins"
24" X 36" Acrylic on Canvas
By Brian Ernest Brown, OSH
"The Painting Bishop"

Being a great lover of the ocean I really enjoyed this painting and all the things that happened to pop up as I went. I kept envisioning the great "sea monsters" of the deep and what fun God must have had creating the myriad of birds that live on this planet and the exotic, almost mystical, sea creatures that swim the oceans. For me, this painting not only delights my vision and encourages my imagination but it also it seems to have a way of conveying a symphony of sound to my ears. If I try hard enough I can just hear the wind and the waves...

Humanities: A Love Affair Begins

Brian Ernest Brown 1986
This blog has been stirring around in my mind and heart for a long time it would seem and in reflection, my love of the humanities has forever been a part of my life I suppose. However, it came into clear focus in my high school humanities class taught by Mr. William "Bucky" Bowman my junior year.

For the most part, I consider my high school years to be a waste of valuable time and something I simply endured because I was forced to.  Had I known then, what I know now, I would have dropped out and taken my GED and jumped straightaway into college.

Ah, but as the saying goes: too soon we get old and too late we get smart.

There were, from time to time, glimmers of light and life beyond those parochial walls and I count my humanities class among them.  Two other endearing and life changing classes were to be found in my four years of Latin and two years of  journalism.

The year was 1986 and my humanities class was a pilot program that had just been introduced to the R12 high school curriculum in Springfield Missouri by Mr. Bowman who worked on the school board as well as taught within the system.  I was giddy to be part of the pilot program at Glendale.

That class opened me to the world in a new way.  It helped to begin my cognitive development in a way that encouraged me to see the interconnectedness of all things, but particularly in regard to the human experience and its development through philosophy, literature, religion, art, music, history and language.

I gained a fuller appreciation of this cognitive awareness when I attended college and more especially, later in seminary.  However, it all started in that little classroom with a teacher that would admonish me, in my yearbook, to work harder in college than I did in high school.

While I have always been an ardent student I have not always been the best student. Mr. Bowman called me dingy but I prefer to think of myself as differentially distracted.

One of the things that struck me most from that humanities class happened on the very first day.  It was my exposure to a quote, which I use on the header of this blog, attributed to Publius Terentius Afer, more commonly known as Terence, a Roman playwright who lived around 170 BC.  It was inside the front cover of our textbook.

"homo sum humani nihil a me alienum puto" ~ "i am human i consider nothing human alien unto me"

I latched onto that quote like a drowning man latches onto a life-preserver.  I wrote it down on a little piece of paper that I used as a bookmark for many, many years.  In fact, it wasn't until this last fall that I finally consigned that little scrap of history to a burn pile in an effort to simplify my life and and to embrace minimalism but that's a story for another time...

That one line quote represented to me then and represents to me now how I saw and continue to see myself.  It continues to guide and inform much of my study, outlook, and life.

As a result, I consider myself a Christian humanist of sorts.  In the world of the Christian Church I would be considered a bit of a heretic suffering from Pelagianism, a heresy named after a Celtic monk, Pelagius aka St. Morgan.

If you'd like to learn more about Pelagius, please follow this link.

In short St. Morgan embraced, as do I, a particular view of creation that focuses on the essential goodness of human nature and the freedom of the human will but that too is a story for another time...

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Day Four The Seven Days of Creation: Final Frontier

"And God said, 'Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.' And it was so. God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day." -Genesis 1:14-19

Day 4 of Creation: "Final Frontier"

“Final Frontier”
24″ X 36″ Acrylic on Canvas
By Brian Ernest Brown, OSH
“The Painting Bishop”

The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars created on the fourth day. Can you imagine, in the words of Carl Sagan, the billions and billions of stars out there? Growing up with science fiction all around me, space captured my attention like nothing else could. The possibilities of life on other planets enthralled me. The depth and beauty of space awed me. As an adult and as a Christian God’s joy and creativity in the creation of the universe captivates and astounds me. I hold dear a dream of exploring the final frontier after I pass from this life someday: to walk barefoot on the moon, with moon dust between my toes. What a treat!