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Bogs and Other Murky Things

Pitcher Plant Revised

Pitcher Plant, Volo Bog

My daughter and I went to prowl around the Volo Bog again the other day.  It was a lovely day, cool enough for us to really slow down and look at stuff.  The Pitcher Plants were getting ready to bloom, along with starflowers and a few others.  I’m happy to have this real bog right near my home.

I’ve been pondering things like fantasy, science fiction, sports… I hear people say, with all seriousness, that the human race will need to colonize Mars because this planet will prove unable to support us.  I see people get lost in the worlds of vampires and zombies and identification with their local sports team.  Finally I asked myself why this bothers me so much and this is what I’ve decided: it seems to me that people sense that they are disconnected from their true selves, but aren’t sure what that really is or where to find it.  And so they move, switch jobs, distract themselves with alternate worlds.  In “The Power of Now” Eckhart Tolle writes, “If you saw an angel but mistook it for a stone statue, all you would have to do is adjust your vision and look more closely at the “stone statue,” not start looking somewhere else. You would then find that there never was a stone statue.”   I think that is how it is with everything.  We won’t need to buy more stuff or build bigger houses or consume more substances if we can learn to look deeply within our own selves to find our eternal connection to what is real.  And when we are there, we won’t need to trash this beautiful generous and life -generating planet because we will discover that we already have enough.  We won’t need wars or frightening regimes to control us or tell us what to believe.  We won’t need a new world order because we’ll see that the one we have is well worth taking care of.  I don’t fault entertainments like fantasy or sports, I just feel nervous when I see society go unconscious in the pursuit of it.

By the way, I’m not saying angels are real…although they might be 🙂

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Unfinished Transformation


I tried to paint an abstract…I really did.  It was fun, too, for awhile, until I couldn’t stand it anymore and had to start putting in form.  It looks to me like this painting really wants to be a landscape.  The bird was a real joy for me~I spotted him as I was walking the trail last summer. It was very hot and he was poised there, still for long enough for my lowly point-and-shoot to focus on him.  Yay!  At home I pored over my field guides and my best guess is that he is a Dickcissel.  I will be giving more substance to the compass plant he sits on, while endeavoring to keep the overall feel light and free.

This and another thing came together in my mind as a meditation.  I cam across the movie, “The Nun’s Story”, with Audrey Hepburn.  It looked like a heavy movie but I’m a big fan of her’s so I watched it anyway the other day.  I was struck by what seemed to be a central teaching for the nuns~ the Grand Silence.  They learned to silence their thoughts so they could hear God.  I liked this idea, and I wondered to what extent any of us could reach for that within our lives without entering a convent or monastery. Not that I think there is anything wrong with them~not at all.  I find the idea of them quite beautiful.  What I mean is, I wonder what positive change can a person bring from within a worldly life if they focus on transforming themselves rather than others. I suspect there is great fullness to be found in that inner stillness.  And light.  And freedom.  I suspect that things like road rage and red light cameras and materialism dissolve. I feel lighter already 🙂

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Jim and Katie on Dune Trail

This morning I thought I’d share this painting I did a few years ago of my children.  They are sitting on the Dune Trail, gently enjoying a small snake that has come across their path.  We are lucky to live in a place where one  needn’t  fear the snakes.

I feel almost a mystical tie to Illinois Beach State Park.  When my family first moved to Illinois in the 70’s, my parents took me there to see it.  I remember seeing a young lady in a park uniform putting out flags and something like a bell went off inside me.  “That will be me one day”, I found myself thinking.  Then I forgot all about it until my life had taken me down several other roads.  Life zipped along, to the day someone suggested that I might want to monitor butterflies for the Nature Conservancy.  OH!  magic.  It became my life~nets, workshops, days on the trail counting butterflies.  My children grew up, it now seems, on this and other trails.  Now when we walk the trail we find layers of memories all along the way.  One day I remember that young lady and am startled to think, yes, that did become me one day.

Now my children are grown-ups (wonderful and awful all at the same time!)  and my knees tell me they are done chasing butterflies.  It is a difficult decision to pull away from something that meant so much to me for so many years, but it has been time to for awhile.  There is a new monitor at Illinois Beach, I am told.  I feel like the old racehorse that runs the fence when he hears the bugle, but I know it is time for me to turn my focus.

Yesterday I had a reception jointly with another artist at a gallery I joined this spring.  I feel like I’ve come home all over again~all these years I thought nature people were my tribe but I started to notice how isolated I felt.  I don’t really belong in that world.  But at this gallery the artists come and hang out together.  Hours fly by as we discuss media and method.  I found my peeps!!! Funny how that can happen almost by accident, isn’t it?