Blind Faith and Stick Figure Jesus

Sketch courtesy http://www.handdrawnalbumcovers.com/blind-faith-blind-faith/

This is not a review or retrospective of the album released in 1969 by the band of the same name led by Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood. I found the hand drawn representation of the original controversial album cover by happenstance while doing a Google search of blind faith. The website is interesting and included a link to share, so please visit. I think the sketch dovetails nicely with the drawing featured with my poem.

I was born into the Catholic church, was baptized, received my first holy communion, and later the sacrament of confirmation. Like many children who attend public school, once a week I was excused early to attend religious instruction. There I committed to memory the tenets of the church along with the Lord’s Prayer, Hail Mary and the Apostle’s Creed. The language is elevated and beautiful, designed to make us feel safe and loved, and to remind us that we are all sinners.

Shortly after confirmation, I came to realize that the choice to continue my religious education and to attend church was my own. I soon decided that whiffle ball and street football were more interesting pursuits than studying scripture. However, a question raised by a young layperson teacher, who was studying to enter the priesthood, has stuck with me.

“Why did Christ sacrifice himself on the cross for mankind?”

This one was easy, and several kids answered at once, “To open the gates of heaven.”

He smiled, then asked, “What does that mean? Did Jesus come with a key and actually unlock and swing open some huge gate in the clouds?”

What was this? Were we actually allowed to ask questions about our faith and all of the pat phrases repeated to us over and over? At the same time, it was a challenge to look beyond the words to understand the meaning. This was going to be complicated. It is so much simpler to get on your knees, fold your hands and recite what you’ve been taught, “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.”

Like any other artistic trait, some people draw better than others. For most of us, our drawing skills haven’t progressed beyond what we learned in grade school. Ask the average adult to sketch a landscape and the result would be hard to distinguish from the efforts of a third-grader. However, the novice can improve their drawing skills, if not intrinsic artistic ability, through instruction and practice. The same is true of one’s understanding of religion and scriptures through guidance and study.

This similarity is the focus of my subject in Stick Figure Jesus. The young woman becomes five-years-old at her desk while exercising her underdeveloped artistic skills to draw a simple representation of Jesus on the cross, or when she kneels to recite the prayers from her childhood. For the innocent five year old girl, the young woman, and her own children, perhaps this is enough. The speaker in the poem is demanding more.

Art is large, the techniques of drawing are small. Spirituality is large, religion is small. My intention is not to measure the relative spiritual benefits of confession and penance, fasting and dietary restrictions, zazen, or even sun worship as a path to enlightenment, but to show through the image of the child turned woman how little her relationship to God has evolved.

Poison’s Self-Realization Music Survey

I put this survey together quite a few years ago, and I’m sure I would have some very different answers today. You can share if you’re so inclined. Probably more appropriate for Facebook, but the answers are always more interesting than the questions.

  • Favorite musical style:

 

  • 2nd favorite style:

 

  • Your personal eclectic mix (everything else you like):

 

  • Least favorite musical style(s). Why?

 

  • Favorite artist(s):

 

  • Favorite group:

 

  • Favorite songs:

 

  • Describe your favorite musical settings and why they move you. For example, Jazz Quintet, Solo Guitar, Piano & Vocals, etc.:

 

  • What do you look for in a great live performance?

 

  • Most memorable concert you attended?

 

  • Which song reminds you of your spouse / significant other? Why?

 

  • What was your wedding song? Does it seem trite now, or would you pick the same song today?

 

  • Which song reminds you of a lost love?

 

  • Which song reminds you of your child (children)? Why?

 

  • Which song do you most identify with self? Why?

 

  • Which group or artist would you choose to compose your theme song? Why?

 

  • What type of music, or which artist(s) do you listen to when you’re happy? When you’re depressed?

 

  • What song or album gets you in “the mood?”

 

  • What song or album carries you back to your childhood? Why?

 

  • Do you like to sing? Who or what do you sound like? Who or what would you like to sound like?

 

  • Do you play an instrument?

 

  • What’s your favorite music to dance to?

 

  • Most memorable song lyric? Explain the significance in your life.

 

  • What are you listening to now?

 

Candlepin Bowling

I guarantee this place is not on anyone’s bucket list, but you can often find fun in unexpected places. Candlepin bowling at Saco Valley Lanes transports you back in time.

On one rainy afternoon in North Conway, NH, we searched for a nearby bowling alley. The closest lanes are in Fryeburgh, in the neighboring state of Maine. As we approached our destination we passed many neglected homes, and when we arrived, second guessed our decision. On the verge of turning around to leave, we had a change of heart when a carload of small kids pulled up next to us and headed for the entrance.

My wife, daughter and I walked into a time warp. The backdrop for the lanes was ’62 Chevy Impala light blue and the modernized scoring screens were straight out of the 80’s. Stepping cautiously to the front counter my wife was assured by the slightly grizzled Maine character, who could have come straight from central casting, “Don’t worry, I won’t bite you. How can I help you.” My wife smiled and I stepped forward to ask about the pricing and to give him our shoe sizes.

“Have you ever played ten pin?” he asked. I nodded and glanced over at the lanes expecting to see duck pins, the smaller cousin of standard bowling pins, but instead saw the straight candle pins.

He continued with instructions, “You need to push the reset button after each throw and enter the the number of pins you knock down. The computer will keep the totals.” It took a couple of minutes to figure out the keypad and to find the reset button by the ball return, but once we got going, had a great time.

The rules for candlepin bowling are a bit different with three throws per frame, and the ball is skeeball sized, but I think it suited us better. It was a great equalizer as we all stunk equally. I managed to win the first game with an amazing score in the 70’s and my daughter Kate won the second game. Now I just need to figure out how to put one of these lanes in my basement.

 

Paris Redux

“I have tried to unravel
The paths we’ve both had to travel
And now that I have come to see how much you meant to me
We might get to see a better view
Yes, I’m still here thinking of you
Still here thinking of you”

Still Here Thinking Of You lyrics by Carole King

My relationship with Paris was brief, awkward and solitary. Until now, with the exception of family and close friends, I’ve been reluctant to share my thoughts and feelings about this beautiful city that will forever tug at my soul. What can you say about Paris that doesn’t come across as pretentious, that hasn’t been better expressed by countless artists and expatriates? Now, nearly 10 years to the day of my first visit, I’ve had a change of heart, emboldened by the images and insights shared by several of my admired blogger brethren. This list is by no means comprehensive; I draw inspiration from all of my fellow writers.

https://natalieslovelyblog.com/2016/08/27/france-digitals/

https://illusiveroad.wordpress.com/

https://lindseylivings.wordpress.com/2016/08/16/some-paintings/

So many people have Paris near the top of their bucket list, and although I despise the term and its connection to death, the emphasis on checking a box as a sense of achievement at the expense of spontaneity and personal experience, La Ville Lumière has well earned her prominent position. 51 Rue de la Victore was my “home” for three weeks. That address now goes by the name of the Hotel Mogador, but ten years ago, my impression of the hotel and surrounding neighborhood was mad ghetto. My room was cave-like, dark and poorly furnished with a single window that opened into a mine shaft of a courtyard. The sounds of the street level restaurants and bars that shared the structure echoed through this man made canyon late into the night, as did the moans of the amorous couple in the adjoining room one sweltering night.

After crashing in my cave for a couple of hours, I ventured out in the early afternoon to find my company’s office at 47 Rue de la Chaussée d’Antin. Having absolutely no sense of direction, I wandered about the neighborhood until I stumbled upon Sainte-Trinité church which was undergoing renovations. I seek peace in the sanctuary of old churches and this one was magnificent. I settled into one of the pews to collect my thoughts and admired the artistic structure. Love at first sight.

DSC00841
Sainte-Trinité
DSC00840
Sainte-Trinité facade

I did finally find the office, protected behind an iron gate. I felt abandoned by my French colleagues as they seemed little concerned that I was alone in a strange city with no knowledge of the language or my immediate surroundings. Fortunately for me, Paris, for a major city, is surprisingly open and welcoming.

L'Amy office
47 Rue de la Chaussée d’Antin

The memories and impressions of those three weeks have blended and overlapped into a personal montage that included a side trip to Morez and Saint-Genis-Pouilly. If I was a more adventurous soul I would have explored the city at night and traveled on the Metro, but being a child of light I preferred discovering the sights, sounds and people in the warmth of the late summer days, first on the tour bus, then primarily on foot. Save for my time in the office, I ate all of my meals alone, and it was not unusual for days to pass without sharing more than a few words with another human being.

I was lonely, and yet, because it was Paris, I was never totally alone. There is something freeing about being propelled by your two feet and curiosity, and having everything you need for the day in your backpack. La Seine, the Opera Garnier, Notre Dame, la tour Eiffel, la Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay, and especially the simple pleasures of the beautiful jardins du Luxembourg et des Tuileries; at times they overwhelmed the senses. I’ll share more recollections later, but here are some of the sights that sustained me.

OperaLouveEiffel 2DSC00908DSC00895DSC00901DSC00894DSC00890DSC00887DSC00874DSC00854DSC00852DSC00848DSC00837DSC00829DSC00827DSC00798DSC00757DSC00900DSC00747DSC00709DSC00678DSC00677DSC00669DSC00667DSC00647DSC00652Champs ArchDSC00625DSC00720DSC00866DSC00877DSC00929DSC00927DSC00917DSC00915

 

Darkness of Skin

Sharing poem written by my son Cliff

The increased darkness of skin
akin to sin
We can judge a man
Beat a man
Kill a man
without repercussion
As long as he is justifiably dark enough to warrant such hatred
Words of hate
can freely exit the mouths of a lighter shade
and incite similar feelings
Mistrust
Misunderstanding
Misguided fear
if we continue to turn a blind eye
And continue our history of blind hatred

How can we live in the land of the free
Under the pretense of innocent until proven guilty
And watch men and women killed in plain sight
Because of the darkness of skin?

Our politicians speak without conscience
Our police act without consequence
Racial division in our everyday consciousness
And we are to pretend that this is not an ever growing problem?

If we are to grow
and succeed
How do we continue to make decisions based upon the darkness of skin?

Stick Figure Jesus

Five year old on her knees

eyes closed to her world

hands clasped, or cupping air

in prayer

to the God of Man

fish

Five year old at her desk

draws a stick figure Jesus

smiling sun with a face

beside puffy white clouds

veiling heaven

fish

Religion, Religare

Green-eyed, earth bound

assassin of the spirit

False security of thy balustrade

Imprisons my soul

fish

The young woman prays

As it was, so it shall ever be

Five years old on her knees

Eyes closed and averted

from judgment

fish

“Bless me father, for I have sinned,”

I have killed the Buddha

served sour milk to Ganesh

I’ve eaten swine on the Sabbath

and worn white after Labor Day

fish

Five years old at her desk

Defined by adolescent artistry

and faith

draws a stick figure Jesus

for her daughters and sons

Writing Meetups

I tried to add this site as a link under my menu category for writing, but want to share and save where it can be easily found. I’ll explore in more detail, but it looks like a great worldwide and local resource for my fellow writers.

http://www.meetup.com/topics/writing

10 July 2016: Clarification, links to meetups for all artists, not just writers.

Philin’ In – Act Four

The saga of James Dolan, Phil Jackson and Isiah Thomas will bring new meaning to the phrase Triangle Offense.

Jimmy’s thoughts drifted back to the beach. Isiah was standing to his left, facing the minister who stood under a bough of roses formed into a heart shaped arch. The minister was speaking directly to Jimmy.

“James, have you prepared your vows?”

“Actually, I had planned to write my own, but decided that a song by my hero Eric Clapton perfectly expresses my feelings.”

With that, Jimmy lifted his guitar from its stand next to the alter and played the opening riffs to Change The World. As he started singing, the crowd was startled by his odd high-pitched falsetto.

“‘If I could reach the stars
Pull one down for you,
Shine it on my heart
So you could see the truth:
That this love inside
Is everything it seems.
But for now I find
It’s only in my dreams.

And I can change the world,
I will be the sunlight in your universe.
You would think my love was really something good,
Baby if I could change the world.

If I could be king,
Even for a day,
I’d take you as my queen;
I’d have it no other way.
And our love would rule
This kingdom we had made.
’til then I’d be a fool,
Wishing for the day…

That I can change the world,
I would be the sunlight in your universe.
You would think my love was really something good,
Baby if I could change the world.'”

“Hey James, I need you to sign off on this. Are you on board with the trade for Rose?” Jackson was shaking Dolan with one hand while he waved a paper and pen in the other.

“Rose?” Dolan looked puzzled, but continued, “Yeah, rose is good. I like rose,” he agreed as he signed, then handed the paper back to Jackson.

“Great! Then it’s settled.” Jackson rolled up the paper and stuffed it into his pants pocket. “One more thing…let me run this by you for the press conference.”

“OK?”

A mischievous smile spread across Jackson’s face. “What’s the difference between the New York Mets and the Titanic?”

“Phil…I don’t see what this has to do with…,” Dolan tried to interject.

“The Titanic hit an iceberg before sinking, and the Mets can’t hit anything.” Spittle flew out of Jackson’s mouth as he cackled at his punch line. “That should deflect the focus from our personnel moves.”

“I’m glad somebody’s having a good time,” the owner shrugged.

Jimmy delicately held a single rose as he stood facing Isiah. The minister was nearly finished.

“If anyone objects to this union, or feels threatened by the expression of heterosexual man love, speak now, before the NBA February 18th trade deadline, or forever hold your peace.”

A bright-eyed woman with dark, short cropped hair, pushed aside the crowd.

“What’s going on here? Who agreed to this? Have you all lost your minds?” She addressed the minister directly, “You better end this right now before I get everybody arrested.”

“I beg your pardon, Ma’am,” the minister responded defensively. “Same sex marriage is legal in this state.”

“I’m not talking about that, you fools…” Isiah realized what was happening and bowed his head sheepishly. The woman was Lynn Kendall, Isiah’s beleaguered wife of over thirty years.

“Isiah is already married to me! Let’s go Zeke!” Isiah obediently followed behind his wife as Jimmy fought back tears. First Anucha Browne Sanders and her trumped up accusations of sexual harassment against Isiah, and now this. Another strong-willed woman ruining his chance at happiness.

“‘Baby if I could change the world…,'” Jimmy slowly retraced his steps across the beach as he dreamed, along with millions of Knicks fans, of what might have been.

Philin’ In – Act Three

The saga of James Dolan, Phil Jackson and Isiah Thomas will bring new meaning to the phrase Triangle Offense.

Jimmy walked along the beach, making his way to the makeshift alter. This was the happiest day of his life. As he turned the corner, emerging from the row of sea roses, he spotted his beloved.

“Jim…James! I thought about what we discussed the other day and maybe Kurt Rambis is not the answer.” Phil Action Jackson towered over Dolan like a gaunt, enormous bird, as he roused him from his daydream.

“What is it Phil?” he asked, unable to conceal his annoyance. “What was the question?”

“About who should coach the Knicks?”

“So, you’ve finally decided to coach the team yourself?” Jackson now had Dolan’s attention.

“No way Jimbo! I already told you, that would be ridiculous. How about this?” Jackson’s huge hands framed the air marquee in the space between them, “Jeff…” he paused for effect, “Horn-a-cek.”

Dolan glared at Jackson.

“Well, what do you think?”

“Phil, you’re really testing my patience. As it is, I’m still paying Derek Fisher. What happened, you couldn’t find one of the Van Gundy brothers?” he asked mockingly. “Maybe we should call Isiah. His record at Florida International wasn’t a total disaster.”

Although Thomas’s record over three seasons at FIU was 26-65 and he never won more than 11 games in a single season, measured against the benchmark that is the New York Knicks organization under the leadership of Jackson, Dolan’s assessment was not totally off base.

“I already called Isiah’s agent, and was told he’s auditioning for a summer theatre production of Othello.”

“Isiah’s auditioning for the part of Othello?”

“No, Desdemona,” Jackson informed him as Dolan slowly nodded.

“I guess that makes sense. It is Shakespeare.” An idea slowly coalesced in Jimmy’s mind as an opportunity presented itself.

“Is the part of Othello still available?” “‘Put out the light, and then put out the light.'”

Jackson, who had already lost interest, turned on his heel and left the owner alone with his thoughts. Jackson lamented, “Why can’t you be more like Jerry Reinsdorf?”

Philin’ In – Act Two

The saga of James Dolan, Phil Jackson and Isiah Thomas will bring new meaning to the phrase Triangle Offense.

Dolan burst into Jackson’s office, his $500 loafers sliding across the carpet.

“Phil, I have an idea.”

Jackson, who had been lounging on the office sofa in his boxers, sat upright and grabbed his pants that were draped over the sofa arm. Pulling them up and tucking in his shirt, he rolled his eyes as he asked, “What is it now Jim?”

“I think you should coach the team,” Dolan announced.

“No can do James. No coach of my preeminence would manage this group. I’m waiting until we get Lebron, Durant, Hardin and Curry. I have a legacy to maintain.” Jackson walked over to the conference table in the corner of his office, rolled out one of the leather armchairs, and careful lowered himself into the seat. Empty food containers, left over from lunch, littered the table. Glancing over at Dolan, he folded his hands and waited for his reaction.

Dolan was agitated by Jackson’s dismissive attitude. “What makes you think you can sign all of those guys?”

“Because of these, baby!” Jackson held out his hands, splaying his fingers to proudly display his championship rings.

“Yeah, that’s great Phil, but…huh, what is that green stuff?”

Jackson sucked the mystery substance from the top of one of the golden rings. “That would be wasabi,” an amused Jackson grinned.

As Jackson chuckled at his back, the disgusted owner stormed out of the office grumbling under his breath, “Why can’t you be more like Isiah?”

Website Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑