Sunday, April 29, 2018

The Scribe in the Woods

The Scribe in the Woods

A hedge of trees surrounds me, a blackbird’s lay sings to me, praise I shall not conceal.

Above my lined book the trilling of the birds sings to me.

A clear-voiced cuckoo sings to me in a grey cloak from the tops of the bushes.

May the Lord save me from judgement; well do I write under the greenwood.

-Ninth Century, Old Irish

Day Three The Seven Days of Creation: Groundbreaking

"And God said, 'Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.' And it was so. God called the dry ground land, and the gathered waters he called seas. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, 'Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.' And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning the third day." -Genesis 1:9-13
Day 3 of Creation: "Groundbreaking"

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

Imagine the forces in gathering the seas and creating the earth! The shear heat as the core of the earth forms, spills over and gives birth to dry land. The primal forces of rocks and mountains shoved toward the heavens creating cliffs, caves, plateaus, and valleys!

I tried to capture the movement, shear power, and controlled chaos of the third day while seeding the readied ground with the very beginnings of the wild growing things, vines, flowers, grass, and trees.

No front loaders, bulldozers, earth-movers, or the like. Just the awesome hand of God and His unlimited imagination. God of Power, God of Might!

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Kraken Meets Peregrine or VanLife and Biking

As many of you know and most of you will find out, I'm an avid biker.  No, not the of the gas powered variety but of the muscle powered persuasion.  They're much more stealthy and healthy.

I have been toying along time with biking across the United States but have felt inadequate to the task.  Never fear, that's still on my bucket list but first I thought I'd do a little exploring in #VanLife.

However, that being said, I couldn't possibly embark upon that kind of an odyssey with out my beloved Giant Escape City, affectionately named Peregrine.

I purchased Peregrine about eight months ago from Lewis and Clark Outfitters in Fayetteville Arkansas.  Side note: they're an amazing group of folks and I highly recommend them!  Peregrine succeeded Dominic, my Globe Vienna, which I dearly loved.  He had been a gift from a dear friend and I put many, many, many miles on Dom over several years.  Though I've already put several hundred miles on Peregrine, he and I are just getting to know one another.  He's a swell bike, quick, agile, sturdy, utilitarian, comfortable, and pleasant to look at.  All I could ask for in a bike really.

My brother and his fiance gifted me with a wonderful bike rack just before Christmas this last year.  I was going out of town on a craft show and wanted to take Peregrine with me.  The bike rack they gave me is absolutely wonderful: a Swagman XC.

Due to various challenges, I wasn't able to take Peregrine with me at Christmas and that is just as well.  I spent December in Manhattan Kansas at a mall there and it was bitter cold for the most part and I worked around the clock blowing glass so I wouldn't have gotten in much bike riding.

So, for the first time, the Kraken got to meet Peregrine today.  It would appear to me a good match and the bike rack seems to be perfect for my needs.  I'm looking forward to the possible exploration to come!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Blackout Panels & Curtain for Stealth Camping

So as it turns out the blackout panels and the curtain were the most expensive  endeavor for the van.  I'll detail my final cost in an upcoming post.

For the blackout panels I used "plastic cardboard" or corrugated plastic sheets and Reflectix reflective insulation.

I cut the plastic panels to size and then used 3M Spray Adhesive Hi-Strength 90 to laminate the Reflectix insulation on both sides.  I used the 90 because it was heat resistant and I thought that perhaps that might be better given that the panels would go in the seven windows in the van.

I used craft paper to trace the pattern of the windows and then transferred that pattern to the plastic sheet and cut it out with an xacto knife.  The panels fit really tightly so I added gorilla tape pull tabs to each of them to help in removing them from the windows.  All in all, it worked well and took about two days to complete at a cost of about $120.

The black out curtain I lucked into in the clearance isle of a Wal-Mart.  They were standard curtain panels of about seven feet tall.  I cut them down to about four feet and hemmed them with permanent fabric glue.  I hung them from a tension rod between the cab and the cargo area.  The three foot remnants I also hemmed and kept for possible future use. The curtains were on sale for about $20 each and I used two panels.  With the fabric glue and tension rod my cost was $56.  This brings my total to around $176.

Honestly, this was the most challenging part of the buildout but one that I'm very pleased with in the end. The panels fit surprisingly well and the curtains are perfect.  I'm also glad that I doubled the amount of Reflectix I used.  I like the way it looks on the inside and it does double duty as insulation.

The Kraken is one step closer to #VanLife!

I Want To Know What It's Like

I was so moved by this that I wanted to draw particular attention to it on To Love So Well The World.

This video is a reminder that we live in the Land of the Brave and the Home of the Mostly Free.

When will we determine that the rights observed for some should be observed for all?

Writing Rock Talk

Writing Rock Talk

By Brian Ernest Brown
6 June 1991

The wind rocks
the trees to talk
as I sit on the rock
colored with chalk
of loves crock
now we talk...

She offers,
“let us write
of our plight
of what’s wrong and right
in a poets sight tonight.”

I think,
I can’t write
on command
putting together words that band
like pearls in a strand
that rhyme and make sense!

The Not Quite Dead Yet Poet’s Society
will eventually come to notoriety
some may call this piety
I call it Writing Rock Talk!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Count Your Blessings

I found this duo, Amy and Lauren, on YouTube some time ago and love their music. This rendition of “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” encouraged me to post this note about counting your blessings. Please, listen to the music and read on…

I use to pass out a note entitled “Count Your Blessings” along with a yellow legal pad to folks who worked and or lived around me and I tried to encourage them to take a look at the good things or positive things in the their life. 

We often have a tendency to forget the blessings in our lives especially when things get tough.

My humble endeavor met with such open hearts that I want to pass along the encouragement here online. Sadly I can’t give each of you your own yellow legal pad but you can acquire one and then make your own list of blessings.

If you find the idea of worth, pass it along to your friends, family and or your work mates. You know, we can change the world, one person at a time by helping change their heart. Fostering an attitude of gratitude is a great way to do it.

Count Your Blessings…

Before I get to my shared list of blessings, I want to take a moment and share with you something somebody shared with me the other day and I think we all need to hear a story like this from time to time. It’s good for the heart and the soul!

“There was a time when I was in a state of utter despair, immersed in guilt over promises made on which I had not delivered. I went to my vocal coach, Fred Wilkerson, weeping copiously. 

He asked what was the matter. I responded, “I’m going crazy. I am almost at the brink of suicide.” He offered me a legal-size, lined yellow pad and a pen. He said, “Write down your blessings!” 

Furious that he didn’t understand my condition, I shouted, “Don’t talk nonsense, I’m telling you I am going crazy.” 

He said, “Write down that you could hear me say ‘write down’ and think of the millions who cannot hear the cries of their babies, or the sweet words of their beloveds, or the alarm that could help them seek safety. Write down that you can see this yellow pad and think of the millions on this planet who cannot see the smiles of their growing children or the delight in the faces of their beloveds, or the colors of the sunrise and the softness of the twilight. Write down that you know how to write. Write down that you know how to read.” 

Wilkie, as he was known, gave me that lesson in 1955. Fifty-five years later, I have written 31 books, essays, plays, and lyrics for songs — all on yellow pads. I remain in an attitude of gratitude.” — Maya Angelou Performer, Poet, and Author

Here are some of my blessings that I should always keep in mind:

I'm thankful for a body, that works as it should, for the most part, given the amount of abuse and or neglect I've heaped upon it over these 48 years.

I'm thankful for a sound mind, though some may disagree with its soundness, and my natural and restless inquisitiveness.

I'm thankful for hands that can type and preform delicate motor functions and which are skilled at crafting, caressing, and creating.

I'm thankful that my family, neighbors, friends, and teachers along my way taught me how to read and fostered a love of books and the pursuit of knowledge in me.

I'm thankful for my one good eye and for the redundancy of the visual system my body was born with, so that when I destroyed one of those eyes out of stupidity that I had another one to fall back on.

I'm thankful for my first bike and every bike since that carried me into a life long love of riding, exploring, and playing.

I'm thankful for a faith that is as intricate, informed, and structured as it is fluid, exploratory, and grace-filled.

I'm thankful for friends, family, acquaintances, lovers, and even a few adversaries who help to teach me how to live in relationship and offer me a glimpse of the infinite diversity within infinite combinations that makes up the human perspective.

I'm thankful for my many animal companions who shared my life and taught me about unconditional love, responsibility, and companionship.

I'm thankful for steel cut oats and pizza. ;-)

These are just a few of the blessings in my life but there are so many more to be thankful for. Maybe you can add a few things on your own yellow pad!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Day Two The Seven Days of Creation: Water From Heaven

“And God said,’“Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.’ So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so. God called the vault sky. And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.” -Genesis 1:6-8
Day 2 of Creation: "Water From Heaven"

“Water From Heaven”
24″ X 36″ Acrylic on Canvas
By Brian Ernest Brown, OSH
“The Painting Bishop”

I really enjoyed this one, capturing the separation of the waters from the heavens was a task I wasn’t sure I was up to but I turned up one of Liam Lawton’s cds , “The Could’s Veil” and away I went. This also seems to be among the favorites of the series but I’ll let you be the judge.

When we think of creation often our thoughts are caged by ages of interpretation of Holy Scripture and the familiarity of the story but can you imagine the creative forces? Can you imagine the power? Can you imagine the joy? Can you imagine the love? I did, if only in my limited ability. God is indeed an awesome God!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Day One The Seven Days of Creation: Let There Be Light

"And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light day, and the darkness he called night. And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day." -Genesis 1:3-5
Day 1 of Creation: "Let There Be Light"

"Let There Be Light" 
24" X 36" Acrylic on Canvas
By Brian Ernest Brown, OSH
"The Painting Bishop"

I hadn't painted in years when I picked up the brush and began this next series of paintings.

My friend Juanita had encouraged me to set up a painting studio at the Branson Mill Craft Village in Branson Missouri many years ago and we'd paint together. We had just watched some YouTube videos of a fantastic artist in Asheville, North Carolina by the name of Jonas Gerard. He was just so lively and it looked like so much fun and boy did we need to get a little wild and sling some paint!

We got excited! And others around us got excited too and wanted to paint with us. We invited them to do just that, as they were able or wanting. Some took us up on the invitation and we developed a wonderfully fun little painting studio. We hoped our little studio might become a place for other crafters and people to unwind and let loose.

We both had always wanted to try our hand at abstract painting and so I dug out my brushes, put together my easels, and we both bought lots of acrylic paint and many, many canvases. I also bought a new cd player to crank up praise music by which to paint. What fun!

I'll be showing some of the paintings here on the To Love So Well The World blog but I wanted to start with this particular series on The Seven Days of Creation from the Book of Genesis in the Holy Bible. These paintings are 24" wide by 36" tall and are primarily acrylic on canvas. Enjoy!

Friday, April 13, 2018

Things Artists Hear

I have been a professional artist for over 20 years and I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard one of these statements, I'd be rich! People say the silliest things without even thinking about what their words might really mean.

Occasionally, throughout my career, I've been known to turn the tables on them and ask what they do for a living. Then I would try in some way to relate the statement to them and their livelihood. Sometimes it hit home but most of the time it went over their heads.  That being said, I felt a little better all the same.

Charter For Compassion

Compassion is in short supply these days and is sorely needed in every aspect of our lives. Sadly it is often lacking most in our churches and seldom expressed through our faith. Please join me in signing the Charter for Compassion and during this new year let compassion be a clear expression in your life while also reflecting it in the lives of those around you.

 If you do nothing else today, please visit the Charter For Compassion.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Saintly Wisdom Guiding Social Media Interactions

Saint Isidore Patron Saint of the Internet

Having been recently updating this blog with various social media links et cetera, I was thinking about how we tend to interact with one another these days in social media and other digital communications.

Just wanted to pass along some saintly wisdom we could look to that could help govern our email and social media communications on the internet. These sage sayings might be useful guides for us all as we attempt to communicate in this sterile, impersonal, modern age of cyber space in a respectful manner.

All too often it’s easy to forget that there’s a person on the other end of the communication and we lapse into unkind practices. I find it very appropriate that we look to ages past and saints long gone to their heavenly reward to aid our efforts.

 Our guiding rule as we type our emails, posts, and various other social media interactions should always be:

“Let the tongue have it’s rein firmly in the heart.” –St. Columbanus

 A good thing to remember when companioning our brothers and sisters:

“Oppression is not only evil, it is blasphemous because it makes a child of God doubt that s/he is a child of God.” –Archbishop Desmond Tutu

A good thing to practice with our brothers and sisters during disagreement:

“He [the monk] should not speak evil of, or harshly reproach, another, nor should he put anyone to the blush. Never should he violently rebuke anyone or carry on a conversation with a boorish person, and his speech at all times should be noted for its lack of boastfulness.” –Monastic rule of St. Ailbe

 When we take ourselves too seriously remember:

“Pious humbug is an invention of the devil.” –St. Comgal

When you’re feeling a little full of yourself and tempted to speak down to a companion think on this:

“Do not ever think yourselves better than the rest of your companions who share the same faith.” –St. Cuthbert

When someone new comes to the list seeking fellowship keep in mind:

“Do not despise those faithful who come to you seeking hospitality. Receive them, put them up, and set them on their way with kindness, treating them as one of yourselves.” –St. Cuthbert

In the haste of irritation be mindful of your free will and your choice of posts:

“The freedom to choose makes us like God: if we choose evil, that freedom becomes a curse;if we choose good, it becomes our greatest blessing.” –Pelagius

And when you interact try your best to see Christ present in the other person:

“See in each herb and small animal, every bird and beast, and in each man and woman, the eternal Word of God.” –St. Ninian

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

Much of my build-out was based on my bed.  I needed as much room as I could get without sacrificing a decent bunk to sleep on.  A good friend of mine had suggested I look into a Zinus Memory Foam mattress and that's just what I did.  I managed to find a narrow twin which is only 30 inches wide a 75 inches long.  So it would be long enough for a 6 foot tall person like me to sleep on but take up as little width as possible in the van.

I added it to my Amazon wishlist and behold, my very first patron and a very good and thoughtful friend of mine bought it for me as a surprise.  It arrived ready to unbox, unroll, and inflate.  I was beyond tickled and excited!  This single event kind of made the whole thing real for me.  I would really be sleeping in this van out there the world somewhere and soon!

The link I added above is not the mattress that was purchased for me. Sadly for you, dear reader, it would appear that Amazon is no longer carrying that exact mattress that I now have but offers a hybrid of some description instead.  I'm just glad my friend acted when he did and purchased my original choice.

The instructions said to let the new mattress inflate for 72 hours before use so I had to wait three days to try it out.  In the meantime it made sense to try and pack my glassblowing show back into the Kraken to see if everything would indeed really fit, tables and all.  It took no small amount of arranging and rearranging but finally I was able to get it all in with a little room to spare and without blocking the windows which was a big goal for me.

This exercise in spatial relations reminded me very much of those finger puzzles I would get as a kid which had square tiles of letters in a plaque with one square empty from which you could shift and maneuver the letters around to make words.  You simply had to move "A" to move "B" to move "C" to spell CAT.  Well my friends, it would appear that I have been able to spell CAT with this build-out.  I hope it functions as well in reality as it looks here in preliminary preparations.  Only time will tell the story.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

The Easter Resurrection: Grace Spilling Over

"Dancing Jesus" Sterling Silver Pendant Crafted by Brian Ernest Brown

We’ve all heard the Easter story many, many times. We’ve heard it told at least every Easter throughout our childhood and hopefully if we’ve been faithful attendees at church we’ve also heard it on into our adulthood. We’ve heard it so many times that, dare I ask, has the story has become less inspiring and awe-filled and simply repetitive and sadly maybe a little more mundane to us? Or am I wrong and we’re all moved to tears every time the crowd yells, “crucify him” as the Passion narrative is re-enacted?

I myself am moved to tears and near speechlessness during the Passion narrative year after year but even so, I am left with the question that I imagine haunted the minds of the apostles and friends of Jesus, the question of “okay, what now?”

I have a sterling silver cross I crafted many, many years ago while in college that I call, “The Dancing Jesus” and I think this image is part of the answer to the question of “okay, what now.” Unlike so many other representations, the crucifix pendant I crafted is somewhat abstract and demonstrative rather than a creation of representational realism. Christ’s body forms the cross in an almost sensual way and if one looks hard enough one can see life, movement, triumph, and celebration within this small silver interpretation of the crucifixion, an interpretation I call “The Dancing Jesus.”

The inspiration for the pendant came after reading a passage from the Gospel of St. Matthew 27:51-53. Never before had I realized that others were resurrected during that time! How had I missed that? Well, as it turns out many of us have missed that little fact all of our Christian lives. Wow!

The vision I was given was one of dance, of celebration, of triumph, of empowerment, and of love. It was as if a light, unable to be contained, spilled out of the darkness and brought light to the dark corners of the world, to the darkest corners of our souls. In the moment of Christ’s death, overpowering grace spilled out upon the entirety of creation and changed the whole world. The joy and permeating grace couldn’t be contained and it seeped into the depths of rock and soil and transformed or re-created men and women long dead, raising their bodies from the earth and empowering them to go out and proclaim the Good News – the earth shattering, death defeating, empowering love of God: Christ is risen!

While it is important to recognize our own sinfulness and need for grace during this time of the church year let us not stop there, soaking up grace and reveling in our own individual salvation. Let us not neglect the empowerment that is offered to us as Christians to “raise the dead” in celebration and remembrance of what Christ has done for us, indeed for the entire world!

"And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." -Marianne Williamson from her book A Return to Love

That is the meaning of Easter! That is the empowerment that Christ offers each one of us! That is what we are called to do by virtue of His crucifixion, death, resurrection, and ascension! As Christians we are called to love fiercely and sacrificially, we are called to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth, we are called to baptize, and we are called to empower others to do the same. That’s what Christ did for us and is still doing!

I invite you to do the same this Easter season. May the overpowering grace of this Easter Resurrection pour over you and forever change your life! May Christ illumine the darkest corners of your soul and shine through your life in this broken world and may you go out and change the world for the love of God! Let your light shine so that you may empower others even as you have been empowered by the Light of the World.

Blessings upon you and yours this Resurrection Day!