Pilgrim Path

This blog is the work of a seeker and poet. Walking stick in hand, I head out into the world, not of the world, but in the world. My words and my friends carry me along and light the pilgrim path of spiritual journeys.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

(and some moments of grace from our sponsor…)

I need a little poetry break. I’ve just returned from 10 glorious days in Santa Fe, New Mexico. During the first weekend, I strolled through the Spanish Colonial and Spanish Contemporary Arts Market reveling in the extraordinary talent and craftsmanship on exhibit and for sale.

Prior to leaving for Santa Fe, a shaman friend told me that God speaks to us between 2 and 5am. I wasn’t sure immediately why he told me this. But, shortly after my arrival in Santa Fe, the answer became clear. During my last visit, I'd become enthralled by the work of a modern icon writer, Christina Miller (
www.iconfusion.com). In the week prior to my departure, I'd been in e-mail communication with Christina, confirming her participation in Spanish Market. During my first night’s sleep in Santa Fe, I awoke shortly after 2 a.m. The message that came to me was that I should spend some time in contemplation with Christina’s icons during lectio divina and write poetry in response.

The next day, I sought out Christina. We met up and I told her of my inspiration. Christina then graciously offered to post one of my "icon poems" on her web site next to the piece that was used to generate the poem.

That evening, after a long day of walking through the Market, I easily and quickly fell asleep. This night, I awoke at 3am with a single sentence on my mind. Try as I might to fall asleep, this sentence continued to repeat until I finally did what I should have done immediately – I got up out of bed, turned on the bedside light and grabbed my journal to write it down. That task done, I laid my head back down on the pillow only to have yet another sentence come to me. After repeating the entire routine, I laid down again. It will come as no surprise to you that at this point yet another sentence came to me. Resigned to a period of writing, I brought the journal and pen into bed with me. After about a half-hour, the words ceased coming and I fell back asleep. In the morning, I lunged for the journal and found some beautiful sentences, but at this time, they're still in the form of an incomplete jigsaw puzzle.

Sunday afternoon, I headed over to St. John’s College for an amazing week at a creative artists’ conference. The annual conference is sponsored by Image Journal magazine (
www.imagejournal.org) and is called "The Glen Workshop." For 7 days, I basked in the company of fellow artists from a wide variety of disciplines and rubbed shoulders with a stellar faculty of writers and artists.

This was my second year at the Glen. Second years of anything are difficult. Usually, when you return to the source of an amazing adventure, your expectations are so high, that anything short of a Second Coming sighting is bound to fall short. However, in my newfound spirit of openness, adventure and spontaneity, the Glen lived up to its original glory and in some cases even surpassed it.

One of the great surprises...and joys…of this year’s Glen, was contact with 2 of the "professionals" in attendance:

Pierce Pettis (
www.piercepettis.com) is an amazing guitarist, harmonica player, composer, singer and comedian. He was the featured musician-in-residence for the Glen who sang and played each night during worship, provided a concert one evening and was lead-in to Over the Rhine (www.overtherhine.com) on another concert night. Through some great luck (for me), Pierce and I ended up talking together quite a bit over the week. Pierce joined our seminar on "Grace, Belief, Rage and Surrender" a couple times, once when he performed a song for us, and the other day he joined us on a field trip to the home of santera Arlene Cisneros-Sena where we viewed some breathtakingly beautiful New Mexican religious art. It was during this trip that I was taken by Pierce’s desire to see a portrait of the Virgin Mary as a poor handmaiden rather than the typical
Queen of Heaven. Pierce was open to sharing his thoughts and visions and stories in a generous manner and I'm grateful for this insight into the world of a greatly talented artist and beautiful human being.

Barry Moser is a Renaissance man. By trade he is an artist – an illustrator. Except for children’s books where this art is very much alive, the art of illustration is sorely under-utilized and under-appreciated. It'd be difficult to name one book as typical of this man’s great talent as he illustrates in many different styles. During a conference in Berea, Kentucky earlier this year, I happened upon a copy of Cynthia Rylant’s book Appalachia that was gorgeously illustrated by Barry. Early in the week at the Glen, I sat next to Barry as we were waiting for the St. John’s University cafeteria doors to open for breakfast. When I mentioned that I had 2 copies of this book for him to sign, Barry expressed great pleasure in my request for his autograph.

Later in the week when my dear friend John (more about him later) came to town, we ran into Barry at the plaza in Santa Fe. He was looking for directions to the restaurant where he and Karin and Linford (from Over the Rhine) had reservations for dinner. We pointed them in the right direction and off they went. But my encounters with Barry were not done for the week by a long stretch.

A major work by Barry is his illustrated version of the King James Version Bible -
known as the Pennyroyal-Caxton Bible (www.rmichelson.com/Artist_Pages/Moser/Bible.htm). As part of the Glen experience, each year, a silent auction is held on various items contributed by students as well as faculty. This year, Barry contributed several numbered prints of engravings of illustrations from the Pennyroyal-Caxton Bible as well as other works.

My eyes were first attracted to his work titled "Paul in Prison." The perspective, looking down on Paul from above, was so unique that I couldn't help but be captivated by this engraving. And so, I placed a bid. In fairly short order, I discovered that Artur, one of the interns from Image Journal magazine, had outbid me. Always a sucker for a struggling student, I made a deal with him that I'd stop bidding on "Paul."

The engraving that next captured my attention was an emotionally raw depiction of "The Death of Moses." The bidding was still in my price range so I added my name and bid to the bid sheet. Once again, upon checking the sheet later in the day, I saw that poet and faculty member Scott Cairns had outbid me. In an instant I realized that a much-published poet would have "deeper pockets" than I. In a conversation with Scott later, I was struck by how touched he was by this picture. Another deal was struck.

So, now I needed to make a serious decision: Was I bidding simply to own "a Barry Moser" or were these engravings really "speaking" to me? After some thoughtful consideration and a review of the remaining pictures, I grew fond of Barry's portrayal of the story of "The Road to Emmaus." With a bid in place (and the knowledge that the previous bidder - Scott Cairns' brother - had left the Glen for home), I settled in for the final countdown of the auction. I hovered over "Emmaus" ready to defend my bid against all comers. 3 -2-1…the auction was over - I'D WON!

Later that evening at the wine reception that closed the conference, I basked in the glory of my victory - one that was hard earned, but also one that made me so heady that I'm not sure who pointed out - I think it was Todd Truffin (
www.truffin.com) - that "Emmaus" was a rather appropriate procurement (for someone on a Pilgrim's Path). Hmmmmm…

More to come tomorrow...

SNEAK PREVIEW: John the Baptist will make a special guest appearance (in words)…


Blogger T.C. Truffin said...

It's only fair to say that I didn't make the connection to Emmaus. I believe a woman whom I do not know made the connection.

11:18 PM  

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