Thursday, December 24, 2009

Bethlehem Backdrop


It's been raining hard all day. Weather reports further north and west suggest misadventures galore in snow and ice, so I guess we should be happy with simple old dreary in St. Louis.

Last year around this time, on my way west, I stopped to see my friend Todd and wife Eileen in Kansas City. It was snowing then, in early December, and I arrived on the scene as Todd was scrambling a little at work to finish a backdrop for a Christmas pageant where he teaches. I helped him paint the scene as we caught up on each other's news. As we worked, Todd was fielding phone calls from family members about a health crisis in Minnesota. I stayed at their place that night, and headed across Kansas the next day.

Todd was kind enough to send this picture along days later, even as a very sad story played out for his family.

I am thinking of that evening, strange and worrisome and genuine, tonight.

God bless us all, in all our pageants, this Christmas Eve.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Year Later


A year ago today I was holed up in Utah, ruminating on the professional arc that had brought me there and then, sifting through personal matters at the tail end of a sabbatical. Today–my forty-ninth birthday–I find myself in an improved position. Not in a material sense. But I've been more productive, more focused in the 12 months just past.

Last December 16th I wrote:
I have gone back to drawing the world. So today I’ll draw some rocks in a blank book. Later maybe I’ll paint the rocks in gouache. Or maybe I won’t. We’ll see. But at this late date, two years shy of a half-century, the act of showing up, of looking and listening, has been revealed to me as a wonderment. I expect to enjoy what comes next. I don’t know what it will be, of course. But I do know what it’ll be built out of. This. Now. Here.
My blogging has fallen off considerably, for good reasons I'll articulate soon. Tasks, plus a little tumult as well. But I like where I sit tonight, and I look forward to next year with a strong sense of anticipation. More soon.

Image: D.B. Dowd, Grinnell, Iowa, sketchbook gouache painting of two trees on a very cold day in February 2009.