This morning I’m pausing to say thank you. I wonder how many times I’ve driven past sunsets I didn’t watch or sat in the car looking my phone and ignored the gifts He gives just because I didn’t take the time to pay attention.
Vacation has a way of making me slow down to look around. This photo certainly displays the beauty of what God created. Look at those colors.
My kids make me slow down. My daughter picked these on a walk around our neighboorhood from a bush in an empty lot. Sweet.
Difficulties can slow me down. Sometimes in a good way.
One of my former co-workers walked into my office yesterday and handed me this note and a donation. It made me think about the fact that our lives entertwine with others. I haven’t seen her in a long time. And yet, when she heard about the arson at our church this week she acted and gave encouragement and grace. Made me cry. It also made me want to pause and touch other people in their pain. Made me grateful.
How about you? What causes you to pause and notice? What makes you grateful?
I took an art class as a child. My parents firmly believed that children should be exposed to a variety of activities to try and see where their interest and talent lie. I was definitely interested in art. I was not talented.
While in Amsterdam recently we toured the Van Gogh museum. What I knew before the visit about Van Gogh was limited to a vague idea that he’d chopped his ear off and wasn’t he the guy who painted Starry Night? And those Water Lillies? Oh wait. That was Monet. But Starry Night and the ear. Yup, that’s Van Gogh.
Turns out after the four floors and several hundred paintings that I love Van Gogh. Tortured soul that he was. There were a couple of stories and one painting that bore into my memory. Good art is like that. It becomes a part of who you are and how you view the world.
Vincent Van Gogh had several unsuccessful careers prior to becoming an artist. He was fired from being a pastor for being overzealous. At that point he decided he would be a painter. Just like that. Decided. He had no training and frankly no idea if he had any talent. I viewed several of his first paintings. They were awful. Simplistic. Much like what I drew when I took my childhood art class. I love this early optimism. I love that he didn’t give up. Van Gogh painted over two thousand paintings in just over ten years. During one period of his life he only consumed bread, tobacco and coffee so he could use the rest of his money to buy paint supplies.
“What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?” Vincent Van Gogh.
In 1888, Van Gogh left Holland for France hoping to start an artistic community. When he found out his friend, Paul Gauguin had agreed to come, Van Gogh started to paint to decorate his room. The paintings he created? Sunflowers. I love that among Van Gogh’s most famous paintings are ones that were created solely to decorate for a friend.
I wish Van Gogh’s story didn’t have chapters of depression and asylums and shotguns. I wish it was just beauty and joy and good surgeons and redemption. But I’m grateful for the paintings. My favorite painting was painted in the last few weeks of his life. Wheat Field Under Clouded Sky. I think part of the message of Van Gogh’s life is that beauty is there even in the pain.
The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore. Vincent Van Gogh
My husband and I celebrate our thirteenth wedding anniversary today. He’s a great guy. I’m blessed. I’ve been thinking a lot about marriage lately. About marriages that fail and marriages that succeed; why I got married and why I stay married. What I didn’t know and what I still don’t understand. About what I hope my kids’ marriages look like. About grace and commitment and friendship and passion and comfort.
For our tenth anniversary we went to Ireland. Everything in Ireland was fierce. Blustery weather, dark clouds, brilliant rainbows, the heady scent of burning peet, rough wool sweaters, spray painted sheep.
Scalding hot food and blistering cold showers. Hot tea, homemade butter, oatmeal, cream and vegetable soup and blood pudding. Churches, cemeteries and castles. Guinness and dancing.
One day we took a ferry out to Inish Mor. Its an island off the coast of the Connemara region. The island is home to the 2000 year old fort Dun Aengus and to my absolute favorite place on earth.
The cliffs of Inish Mor.
It occurred to me as we stood by those cliffs that in the USA this would never happen. We’d have warning signs and fences and legal disclaimers and nets. We have too many rules. Maybe its too many attorney’s. I think in Ireland they figure if you fall off the edge of the cliff its your own fault. Why wreck the view for everyone else?
Standing on the edge of the cliff with my spouse might be the most alive I’ve ever felt. Terrified but exhilarated. It was so worth the risk for the view.
Ireland is a beautiful, dramatic, heartbreaking and soul-searching country. Its cheerful and playful and majestic. It is not a place for the weak at heart. It’s a little like a good marriage.
I love you Aaron. Happy Anniversary. Wanna go back to Ireland with me?