Ichabod–Where is the Glory?

There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,

The earth, and every common sight

                 To me did seem

            Apparelled in celestial light,

The glory and the freshness of a dream.

It is not now as it hath been of yore;—

             Turn wheresoe’er I may,

              By night or day,

The things which I have seen I now can see no more.

William Wordsworth, “Ode on Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood”

At the time of this writing, I find myself seated in a crowded but congenial cafe, sipping coffee and using my journal as a net to capture the butterflies of flitting thoughts. I find myself yet again drinking great draughts from a life on the move, and while sitting here scribbling, these words from Wordsworth drifted through my mind.

I am saddened when I recall these words from the poem, because in them I hear abyssmal sighs of regret from a man in his thirties, convinced that his best years are behind him–those years of youth, alertness and innocence. And it appears that he was correct. As I recall, Wordsworth had emerged successful in his writing by the time he reached his thirties, and though later honored as Poet Laureate, had already plateaued yet would live another forty or more years. Throughout my life, I have heard on many occasions those regretful words of creative souls who felt they had lost their creative edge.

I learned long ago that the Hebrew word “Ichabod” is translated “Where is the glory?” The damning implication is that it has departed. That was the sentiment of the original reference in the Jewish scriptures, and in the nineteenth century with John Greenleaf Whittier’s  poem “Ichabod.” Both pieces of literature are chilling as they lament a glory that has drifted away from youthful Israel and from youthful America.

Emerson and Thoreau also had much to write about the ways in which aging people experience the evaporation of childlike curiosity, flexibility and openness to the mysteries of the world around. With all honesty, I testify that I am not suffering from that at all; I feel the glory still radiating around me as I move through this marvel of a life on earth. If anything has dulled for me, it is the ability to capture these sensations in words or paint, if indeed I ever possessed those abilities at all. I still find myself chasing the means for capturing and sharing this glory.

Since last weekend, I have found myself bathed in beauty. I savored the hours seated in my booth at Artscape in the Dallas Arboretum, soaking up conversations with countless patrons and chatting it up with new artist acquaintances. I have serenely rearranged my work in The Gallery at Redlands and experienced yet another relaxing stay in the Redlands Hotel. I laughed through a morning slot with the broadcast team on Smooth Rock 93.5 FM. I returned to Dallas to deliver a work of art to a patron at White Rock Lake. Over the past several days, I have spent over fourteen hours gliding along Texas highways, watching the landscape unroll before me like an endless manuscript open to renewed translation and intrepretation.

Times like these leave me feeling like a wandering mendicant. But at Artscape I met a true wandering mendicant, a genuine itinerant artist:

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Jim Tunell, photographer, in a booth across from mine

April 1 of this year marked the twelfth year Jim Tunnell has lived on the road, travelling in his RV from the Mississippi River to the West Coast, from Canada to Mexico, criscrossing the expansive West. Visiting with him in his booth was probably the closest I will ever get to experiencing an extended conversation with Jack Kerouac. Jim is a photographer working on the publication of his first book. The website posted below will provide information for anyone wishing to know how to purchase that work, or any of his other pieces.

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I enjoyed the freshness and vitality of Jim’s stories of life on the road just as much as I have enjoyed those extended times visiting wih my other mendicant friend Dave Shultz who is probably traversing and photographing New Mexico as I write this.

shultz

Photograph by Dave Shultz

And my former art history student, Katie Dillow, now a museum curator, is exploring national parks in Utah and posting her photos and memories online.

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Photograph by Katie Dillow

As I think over what my fellow creative spirits are accomplishing in their travels, I myself am now laying out plans to do some exploring as well, hoping to capture some of that splendor on paper with watercolors and the printed word.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to capture the Glory.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

 

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