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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

To Coin a Phrase: It's the Children, Stupid!

"First Daffodil" 16x20 acrylic on canvas (now showing at Coconut Point SW FL Co-op Gallery)
Somewhere between childhood and adulthood, we lose our imagination. We bump into reality. We scrape our knees on expectations. We feel the slap of human adversity. Oh, that we could capture the awe of discovery as children do.

My three-year-old granddaughter mailed me a picture of a "person." The only recognizable parts were the round ball for the head and a robe for the body. Her mother wrote the caption: "This person is starting to grow feathers and turn into an owl." Sure enough, there were scribbles (feathers) where arms should be, and the eyes were round saucers with dots.

"With these Hands -- Hope" 16x20 oil on acrylic under painting
Children have a lot to teach us about letting go and about suspending belief, if only for a moment. They teach us to ask questions like: what if? Why? and How? Great thinkers and leaders of the past asked those questions, and today we reap the benefits. Spiritual leaders of the past asked similar questions and their answers renewed faith and restored hope in times of suffering.

For a short time, children are pure and undefiled. They are suspended in time, sheltered by a birthing cocoon. As Wordsworth penned, "they come trailing clouds of glory from God who is their home." If more parents recognized this fleeting, fragile period of blessedness, they might be more respectful of the life placed in their care. They might be more gentle, more tolerant, more forgiving of the crying infant flailing about in a new body in a strange new world; an infant "trailing clouds of glory" from its creator.

"Day Dreams" 11x14 oil on canvas
One of my favorite photos of my oldest son and daughter is titled: "The burial of an ant." The children are playing in the sand, and they spy an ant lying on its back. Recognizing the ant is dead, they proceed to cover it with sand. Their sadness over the death of one little ant made me smile. My lessons on respect for life had sunk in. Payoff, I guess, for all those baby birds we rescued, the stray dogs and cats we took in, my refusal to kill a mouse in our house that drove me scrambling up a chair for protection. If there was another way, harming any living thing was the last resort. In our house, we all became experts at trapping stray mice or lizards in a glass jar and depositing them outside.

"India Rising -- The Lost" 18x24 mixed media on canvas
This respect for life seems to be slipping away in our society. More people are using violence or murder as a means to solve problems. If they can't fix a relationship, or if it's inconvenient, they eliminate it. If someone gets in their way, slows them down, or makes life difficult, they wipe them out. Even greed plays a part in our society's lack of respect for the rights of others.

Children bring us back to basics. They force us to examine what's really important in life. Their wonder in discovery, their appreciation of simple things, their willingness to believe, simply because we tell them so is a remarkable testament of their faith and trust.

"Mother and Child" brush drawing in oil on panel; monochrome