Posts Tagged ‘river’

They’re Coming, and I’m Ready

August 18, 2016


The whole secret of the teacher’s force lies in the conviction that men are convertible. And they are. They want awakening. Get the soul out of bed, out of her deep habitual sleep, out into God’s universe, to a perception of its beauty, and hearing of its call, and your vulgar man, your prosy, selfish sensualist awakes, a god, and is conscious of force to shake the world.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Journal, April 20, 1834

Today the anticipated feeling arrived. Today I rose to enter my classroom, free of any further meetings this week, free to retreat to my classroom, my sanctuary, and prepare for the arrival of students Monday morning. I still have tomorrow, and Saturday, if necessary to finish preparations, and my spirits are rising.

Monday is when the magic may begin. Students will enter my world, my sanctuary, my playground, Room 114 of Martin High School. They are invited to enter my arena of ideas, of enthusiasm, of new beginnings. Art, philosophy, literature, the humanities, the core of human creativity–these are the forces beckon all of us to partake in the Event. As Whitman wrote: “the powerful play moves on, and you may contribute a verse.”

I have been told that my students are lucky to have me. I always appreciate that kind word. But it is I who am lucky to have them. They are the ones who keep me alive. They are the ones who challenge me. They are the ones who ask questions I can never anticipate. The curiosity is epidemic, and they are the carriers, not I. So I look forward to a new year, to new beginnings, to a new hope.

After a week of watercolor dormancy, I am happy that I got to pick up the brush again this evening. My friend Wayne White shot a magnificent photograph while kayaking the Big River in Missouri, and was kind enough to send the image to me. I’m working hard to reproduce the wonders and floods of feelings I get every time I look at this image and remember one of the highlights of my summer vacation. Thanks, Wayne.

And thank you for reading.

I paint in order to learn.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.




The River Calls to Me

July 25, 2016


River Bluff photographed by Wayne White

Everything flows; nothing remains.

Heraclitus of Ephesus

Cooling rains have darkened Missouri this Monday morning for a spell. Over coffee, I’m enjoying a quiet space before I pack and drive ninety minutes to join two high school comrades for a fishing excursion on the Gasconade River. Reports of smallmouth bass activity are encouraging, and I am ready to leave civilization for awhile once again. The rhythm of advance and retreat has punctuated my spiritual pulse throughout the life cycles between society and wilderness, public and private. From my early years in the ministry and later years in education, I have recalled with interest the traffic patterns of Jesus as recorded in the Gospel of Mark, a life of advance and retreat between the Galilean villages and the wilderness. Every time his public ministry heated up with intensity, a pericope follows recording his withdrawal into solitude. Likewise my vacation stretch over the past week has vacillated between a roomful of relatives or friends and my withdrawal into quiet solitude.

My imagination wanders down many corridors as I contemplate that pregnant passage from Heraclitus, as he viewed the essence of reality as a river–always flowing, changing, and never remaining fixed.  Later, Parmenides would counter with his worldview of Being as a static, eternal essence, with change existing only as an illusion. My personal view sees both extremes, like that bluff pictured above, holding steadfast as a river flows past it. The older I get, the more initrigued I become with life, looking over my own past, as well as studying the history of our magnificent globe, pondering the changes while at the same time seeking some kind of bedrock, some fixed point, some kind of an anchor.  I think we all do that.  Every time I retreat to a vacation and abandon my personal day-to-day work schedule, I think on the myriad of details that flow by around the clock, and muse over what matters, what remains fixed in my consciousness and desire.  Moments like this are the best portions of a vacation, to me.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Back from Eureka Springs, Arkansas, June 14, 2010

June 14, 2010

In the Stream

I have finally returned from a one-week plein air watercolor class I taught at the Eureka Springs School of the Arts in Arkansas.  The experience was fabulous for me–seven adult students very enthused about studying watercolor and applying techniques en plein air. I think that I actually learned from the experience more than they did–I honestly found them that inquisitive and stimulating.  They have inspired me to work even harder in exploring this enterprise.

What I have posted is an attempt at poured watercolor.  Those of you who have followed my blog will recognize the subject matter–I painted this before, only smaller (this one measures 12 x 16″).  I am the fly fisherman, and the setting is Beavers Bend, near Broken Bow, Oklahoma.  I’m working from a photograph my wife took while we were there in summer 2009.  On the first day of waterc0lor class in Eureka Springs, we were greeted with rain, so we chose to work inside the studio.  During the afternoon hours I began pouring the upper half of this painting to demonstrate pouring techniques to the students.  On Friday it rained again, so we stayed inside on that day as well.  It was then that I decided to make the lower half a fly fishing composition.

This painting is still in progress. There are plenty of rough edges to file away.  Hopefully I’ll get back to it this week–I have plenty of other tasks that have managed to stack themselves around me and my studio.  Tomorrow I hope to get back outside for some more plein air activity, although Texas is nearing triple digits daily and isn’t too pleasant for outside tasks.