Mystical Realms Newsletter for December, 2008
Welcome to my newsletter for December, 2008! 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 an
email or subscribe online from my website (http://www.JefMurray.com)
or at: http://groups.google.com/group/Mystical_Realms . Notices of
events are at the bottom of this email.
I was pulling cables, replacing my 1970s-era stereo receiver with one
that worked properly. It was late. I was tired. I didn't want to go
downstairs to get the right tools, so I tried to strip the coax with a
small pair of scissors and promptly jabbed them into my right thumb.
No worries, I'm thinking, I'll just bandage up and finish the job. I
did so, but in the process proceeded to slit open the top of my left
middle finger as well.
Now, all of this is not by way of proving my ineptitude, as if such
proof was in short supply. But, once bandages were set and bleeding
staunched, I found myself with a case of limited functionality. I
couldn't wash hands without wetting bandages. I couldn't grasp
anything heavy without my thumb pitching a fit. I couldn't cook supper
because that involved lots of water and deft knife-work, and I was two
I had to start really paying attention to what I was doing.
It's amazing what we miss when we move through life without attending.
Amazing how I'd never really noticed how cleverly the thumb is set up
to grasp things, how supple an un-bandaged finger is. Makes me
wonder how many things do we not appreciate until they're gone,
however temporarily? And even when removed, how many miraculous things
do we still have going on around us, unnoticed?
Maybe limitation is the ultimate path to wonder.
G.K. Chesterton once claimed that the most important part of any
picture was its frame. He wasn't extolling the virtues of professional
picture presentation, but the necessary demarcation between image and
non-image. If there was no frame, there could be no picture, because
all would be picture. We need the frame in order to see what's really
on the canvas.
Likewise, with damaged digits, my world is slightly reduced, perhaps,
but it might also be just so changed that I can see things more
clearly: things like the love of a spouse helping replace bandages or
fixing supper for her anguished artist. Like the joy of not feeling
that I have to constantly be working on the next task, but can instead
pause and notice the golden autumn sun flooding through the windows at
I'm not promoting self-mutilation as a means to meditation. But with
limitation, life can become leisurely. The routine can become regal.
And, at this time of the year, when every moment seems to be filled
with fluster and fanfare, an adagio is a welcome antidote to the
allegro of Advent.
My prayer for you and yours during this season of watchful waiting is
that you will not anguish about the New Year, will not fret over
finances, nor worry about work shortages. But, rather, that you will
take stock. Look around you at the limits that you have been given,
and within those bounds, build a haven for Love and for Light. It is
not too late; Christ is coming.
Nai Eru lye mánata (may God bless you)
- I will have two new book illustration announcements to share in
January. The books in question should be of special interest to J.R.R.
Tolkien fans and historians. Stay tuned!!!
- Related to one of the above, I should have specifics to share in
January about another art exhibit in England that I will be
participating in come spring again, stay tuned!!!
- The Northeast Tolkien Society (NETS) folk have announced the
availability of their 2009 Tolkien calendar. This year, I was
privileged to contribute the cover design and B&W sketches for many of
the interior calendar pages. You can order the 2009 calendar at
- The good folks who brought us A Long Expected Party in Kentucky have
just announced the availability of souvenirs from the event that
include the use of four of my painting images (The Road Goes Ever On,
Outlandish Folk, Many Paths to Tread, and The Party Tree). Mugs,
steins, T-shirts, etc. can all be viewed and ordered by clicking on
the following links:
- John Ottinger is a very gifted blogger and reviewer of sci fi and
fantasy books. He and I met at this year's Dragon*Con, where he asked
me for an interview for his online blog, "Grasping for the Wind". You
can read the results at:
- ADC Books now has an online catalog featuring Tolkien-themed
original paintings and prints from Ted Nasmith, Ruth Lacon, Peter
Pracownik, and myself. In addition, you'll find collectible items and
rare books featured in the ADC Books catalog. Please take a look at