I stepped outside one evening to find the moon playing hide and seek among the clouds. Its glow lit up the edges of the gaps and cast multi-colored lights in a halo. I gazed long enough, I hoped, to implant that image in my brain to recall at later moments.
Back at my Photoshop, I retrieved an image of the full moon and a cloudy sky, hoping to marry them into some semblance of my memory. I was using a Distort filter to make the gap in the clouds more natural when I was called away from my work. Upon my return, I was surprised to see the profile that was now present in my design. I turned the different layers off and on, seeking the source of the profile. Finally I realized it was no one layer that bore the profile, but the combination that created it. By now, the original purpose of creating this design had given way to the enchanting notion of this mystical creature with the golden crown dancing among the clouds in the moonlight. At that moment, the only thing left to do was to cast a rainbow upon it, amidst the starlight that now resembled falling snow.
Please share with me the magic that is moonlight.
Two things are going on in my mind here.
First is the background. It’s a variation of a photograph of a small garden at the side of my house. When the sunlight hits it just right, the pinks and the greens just glow. I made a different design featuring fairies. After that, I kept coming back to that photograph, trying this effect and that effect, and really liked when this one turned blue. There’s a space there, just right of center, where I feel like I could get lost in this blue garden as if it would take me to a new dimension.
Second is the text. I was finishing junior high school in May of 1972, when Song Sung Blue was released. I thought it was the first I’d ever heard of Neil Diamond. All I really knew was that to me it was a happy little tune that I enjoyed so much, I went out and bought the 45-rpm. In fact, I still have it.
So I think it was a matter of time before the blue garden and the song title and lyrics came together, here. My tribute, I suppose, to my first favorite song by my favorite singer.
“Before you know it, start to feeling good. You simply got no choice.” – Neil Diamond
With everything there is a season, the world we walk through continually changes, the people we spend time with come and go and yes, we grow older each day. Remember that you are here for a season, take joy in it, shine brightly, love much and cherish the moments you have with family and friends. Your life is a beautiful season that has great meaning with love at the center of it all. ~JB (James Browne, artist)
Ecclesiastes 3 New International Version (NIV)
A Time for Everything
3 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
Honestly, I’m still thinking about this one a bit. The only thing “real” here are the flowers. What is special about these flowers is that they were growing, thriving, in the soil in my backyard even while enduring the heat of the desert mountains. As often happens, the photograph did not match my memory of how glorious these flowers looked in the sunlight. So I cut the flowers from the photograph, and with some layering, achieved a potted plant look. I added the butterflies because I thought it needed some contrast and balance.
Perhaps we need these things in our daily lives. A little contrast, to break up the routine. Balance, to be sure all areas of our lives are being nurtured. Color, to keep things bright. And reminders of the importance of growing, and moving forward, such as lovely flowers and butterflies.
This is a photograph of a portion of a hiking trail I used to haunt. You have to leave the main trail to get to this area. There is a narrow trail by the water. The sunlight filtering through the leaves and reflecting on the water that day just seemed magical. The 23rd Psalm came to mind as I enjoyed the reassurance of a higher power that makes all things beautiful.
Verse 6 says, “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life.”
We can all use some goodness and mercy… and peace.
I got to looking through some of my older photographs and noticed this one from a road trip several years ago. I don’t remember exactly but given the route, it was either New Mexico or Arizona. End of a thunderstorm. I love thunderstorms, the dark clouds, the electricity, the bass of the thunder booming. We used to sit on the front porch at my grandmother’s house during the summer and watch the thunderstorms come. And pass. I remember once, a preacher reading scripture paused on the phrase, “And it came to pass,” taking a moment to reflect on the reassurance that most things in life do, in fact, pass. They come to pass, the good times and the bad times, along with the challenge to be thankful for the good times and hold them in our hearts, and to keep moving forward through the bad times, forward to the next thing, whatever that may be.
Hope sustains us through, either way.
Somehow reminds me of this song:
Now to do some changes
Laughter as well as pain
Now I can dance in sunshine or in rain
Come and follow me,
To wherever the light breaks through…
I love that moment, when the light breaks through.
One of my passions is theater. I enjoy a good movie, but I adore the intimacy of a good stage production. For awhile, I lived in a place that still had a dinner theater, and one season, Cactus Flower, a play by Pierre Barillet and Jean-Pierre Gredy, was among the offerings. This dinner theater production boasted Ann Miller. I had the privilege of seeing Ann Miller dance, live, on a table.
Growing up on the west coast, I wasn’t familiar with the phenomenon that is a cactus flower. These days, I live in the desert mountains. There are numerous cacti in the garden, and each year, the flowers bloomed with a passion. This variety lasts only 24 hours, but with the wonders of technology, today’s design saves one for posterity, open to the fullest before it faded away.
As I worked with the cactus flower, I was thinking of how beauty can be found everywhere, even in seemingly unlikely places, such as a dry desert. And even though these moments may be fleeting, they become treasures of the heart, to be retrieved when one is in need of encouragement.
I also thought about regeneration. The flowers may fade, but the cactus remains, steadfast, and then next season once again, it presents its gift of flowers bursting forth in their blaze of glory. The gifts we have to offer may not be as obvious. It may seem they go unnoticed. Or like the cactus flower, perhaps they are few and far between. But there’s also a chance that someone does notice, that it makes a difference to someone, and becomes one of their treasures of the heart.
Finally, if you look, you will see two spent flowers in the design. Not just one flower, but many flowers taking turns, if you will, presenting their gift to the world. And so it is with people. It is not up to just one person, all the time. But we take turns presenting our gifts.
Thank you for listening as I share my thoughts. I am delighted to present my cactus flower with a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, that the earth laughs in flowers. May this be a reminder to us to laugh when we find beauty in unlikely places every day.