Mystical Realms Newsletter for June, 2007
Welcome to my newsletter for June, 2007. Please feel free to forward
this to anyone you think would be interested in keeping up with me! To
receive these newsletters regularly, please drop me a note or
subscribe online at: http://groups.google.com/group/Mystical_Realms.
Notices of new paintings and events are at the bottom of this email.
We continue without rain. Between the heat and the constant winds, all
of Georgia is browning or burning. Grass shrivels, leaves droop.
Wildfires in southern counties pump smoke into Alabama, Florida, South
Carolina. The odor and haze of burning brush causes Atlantans to dial
911; they report conflagrations that seem imminent, sure that some
building blazes only a block or two away.
Those of us in urban canyons wonder at the crackling air. It feels
wrong. Mosquitoes which normally torment us lie in dormancy; they
coccoon in cracked canal beds.
Lorraine and I were driving once through swamps along the Florida gulf
coast. Firefighters had torched part of the wetlands to clear out the
underbrush, and at one point the tongues of flame came to the very
edge of the road. We went from daylight into twilight in moments. I
slammed on the brakes because I could only see a few feet ahead.
With windows tight shut, we crept more than drove through this shadow
world. Odd shapes loomed on either side, never quite resolving
themselves. We wondered, first privately, then out loud, whether this
wasn't something more than a normal fire. It occurred to us both that
perhaps we'd had an accident; perhaps what we were experiencing was
neither of heaven nor of earth, but rather a glimpse into a place
where smoke and fire and embers burned without end.
These fires make me think of our passions, and how they come and go.
We're addicted to advancement, sycophants of style. We have a personal
prejudice that to really _live_ is to be an explorer of every new
conviction and cult. We prove our "aliveness" by keeping up with the
latest diet, following the exploits of the latest celebrity, humming
the latest tune.
But these, like the wildfires, are passing things.
G. K. Chesterton put it best: "The whole curse of the last century has
been what is called the Swing of the Pendulum; that is, the idea that
Man must go alternately from one extreme to the other. It is a
shameful and even shocking fancy; it is the denial of the whole
dignity of mankind. When Man is alive he stands still. It is only when
he is dead that he swings."
This, then, is the challenge; we must learn to quiet our souls.
Let the earth bake and the flames fill us with the illusion of
novelty; it is still only in deep silence that we can hear the
whisperings of God. And it is only by being still that we can know
that we're truly alive.
- I have completed the preliminary conversion of my website,
www.JefMurray.com, into two different sites. The latter will continue
to highlight my oil-on-canvas paintings of sacred images, imagined
fairy tales, and scenes from Middle Earth. The second site, at
www.JefMurrayWildlife.com , will include all of my oil-on-wood cutout
paintings ("Wildlife Silhouettes") of "critters", both realistic and
whimsical. Please check them out and let me know what you think! I'd
also appreciate pointers to any problems or inaccuracies you come
across with either site.
- At http://www.JefMurray.com , I have posted two new Tolkien images
and three new "Once Upon A Time" images. I've also updated the
sacred/religious gallery to include the "St. George" painting posted
last month. Do let me know what you think of these new works!
- At http://www.JefMurrayWildlife.com , I've begun the long task of
placing listings of _all_ available Wildlife Silhouette originals so
that they can be purchased online. There are brand new images in the
first three galleries ("River & Reef", "Cloud & Cliff", and "Field &
Forest"), plus some older works that haven't been online in quite a
while, if ever. JefMurrayWildlife.com is oriented towards
nature/wildlife lovers, so if you have friends who love the great
outdoors, please let them know about the site! I think scuba divers
and aquarists, in particular, will enjoy it!
- The May/June issue of the St. Austin Review (StAR)
(http://www.staustinreview.com/ ) is out. It features a number of
excellent articles on liturgy, plus my first regular foray into the
world of feature writing(!). With this issue, StAR inaugurates a
column entitled "Fenestrae Coeli", or "Windows into Heaven". The
column will highlight the work of contemporary Christian visual
artists from around the globe. The May/June column discusses the work
of Tommy Canning, an extremely gifted Catholic artist from Scotland
(see http://www.art-of-divinemercy.co.uk/ ).
Nai Eru laitalyë (may God bless you),