Mystical Realms Newsletter for October, 2006
- I'm posting this newsletter to Mythsoc at the behest of another member
of the group. Please don't hesitate to let me know if folks think this
is not the best place for these musings, and I'll be happy to refrain
in the future! I also beg forgiveness from any group members who have
already received this previously... Jef
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Happy (belated) Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi! And welcome to my
newsletter for October, 2006! Please feel free to forward this to
anyone you think would be interested in keeping up with me. To receive
these newsletters regularly, drop me a note or subscribe online at:
- The great folks at the St. Austin Review have included one
essay/reflection, several sketches, and many of my painting images in
their Sep/Oct 2006 issue. It also features, on the cover, my recent
painting of "Eve". Entitled "Toward a Definition of Culture", the
issue includes essays by folks such as Robert Asch, Alice Von
Hildebrandt, Joseph Pearce, James Schall, and many others. Many of the
articles discuss the nature of Catholic art, and the whole is well
worth a read (despite my contributions :-)!
- Related to the above, I have added several new painting images to my
website. To see these, please go to http://www.JefMurray.com . In
particular, there is one new Tolkien work, two new Narnia images, one
new religious/sacred painting ("Eve"), one new "Fairy Tale" painting,
and quite a few new wildlife "critters". Do let me know what you think
- When you scan through the galleries, you'll likely come across a few
painting images that not only allow you to purchase prints, but also
originals. I've been threatening to add original artwork prices to my
website for some time now, and this marks my first attempt to do so. I
hope to add prices for many of the works already online that have not
already been purchased. If you have a favorite work that has no price
for the original online, please reply to this email and I can
let you know its status.
- My ongoing art show, entitled "Into the Woods: Tales of Myth &
Magic," will continue at the Defoor Centre through October 28, 2006.
This show includes a generous selection of Middle Earth and
Narnia-inspired original canvasses, plus many large cutout paintings
of wildlife, dragons, and other mythological beasties...over 60 works
in all. The show is quite child-friendly, and kids should really enjoy
the "critters". For a detailed description, please see
http://www.defoorcentre.com/site/events1.asp . Gallery hours are M-Th
9am-9pm, Friday 9am-4pm, and Saturday 10am-4pm (note that Fri. and
Sat. hours are subject to change; please call 404-591-3809 in advance).
Fall is here again. This is the restless season; the season of
disquiet and apprehension. Inevitably at this time of year, Lorraine
and I find ourselves casting about, searching for that ineffable
element that seems out of synch with our lives. We find ourselves
longing for a place of real community rather than settling for
sleeping quarters and a salary.
I don't know when this first started. It seems that every fall and
winter we begin exploring alternate universes. We wander through
websites and pillage periodicals for hints of home.
J.R.R. Tolkien probably captured this disquiet better than anyone. His
entire legendarium, from the Music of the Ainur through the Lord of
the Rings, is permeated with a sense of loss and longing. In Aman,
Tolkien suggests that a true home only existed for Elves, not for men.
Elves, who themselves were at least as close to angels as they were to
men, nevertheless did not have the same restlessness; they loved the
earth as they remembered it, and were content to try to hold onto the
things of the past that they remembered best and loved most.
I have some of this longing as well. I remember times when I sang in a
church that encouraged the use of Gregorian chant, and I loved the
sound and feel of this most ancient of written musical forms. It
harkened back to the time of Christ and beyond, since the chants
themselves derived from the Jewish melodies that were sung in the
Temple; and these long before the rise of the Roman Empire. Despite my
meager talents, I once directed a small schola of singers, intent on
helping others discover the loveliness of these ancient anthems. But
the churches of today seem not to be interested in Latin, and
congregations clamor for cacophony over calm, noise over nurture.
Yet, this longing for the past is not quite what Lorraine and I
experience at this time of year. We live in a metropolitan area and
have done so for all of the 24 years of our married life, and more
years beyond that. Yet, what we seem to want is something smaller,
something more human-scale.
We'd like a church we could walk to, and one that approaches the
Roman liturgy with respect for the transcendent. We'd like a few
small shops and restaurants where we might occasionally wave at
friends while sharing a meal. We'd like family close to hand so that
we could break up fights between the young ones, and a stable
neighborhood where we could offer to walk the dog for a neighbor who
We have no "Kilns" to retreat to, as C.S. Lewis had. Atlanta has a
reputation for paving over its history, and so it does to this very
day. We would love a place to set down roots where we would not be
priced out of our home by property taxes, where neighbors are not here
one day and gone the next. We long for the company of academics and
artists and authors, but not at the expense of nature nudging next to
us; we have expectations of expansive fields to walk through and
striking sunset skies.
So, the search continues....
Are we truly unhappy? No. Are we being forced by economics to consider
leaving Decatur? No. Are we certain that there is a better place for
us to live out our years? No.
Almost certainly, our restlessness is the one that God intended; the
one that Augustine writes of, and which is planted in all "Sons of
Adam and Daughters of Eve" such that they will never be satisfied
with anything less than God Himself. Unlike the Elves, even the
attraction of ancient anthems and aethereal architectures only salves
our souls to the extent that it points us past our earthly bounds...to
our one true home.
Yet, every autumn, the restlessness begins again. We sense the song of
the Elves...are waylaid by their wanderlust. With that first turning
of the leaves gold and brown and crimson, we feel the bluster and blow
and note more keenly the sparking sunrise, ever later, wondering if
this will be the season...if this will be the season...if this will be
Nai Eru laitalyë (may God bless you),