Tuesday, 22 November 2011

On Gifts...cohesion’s golden glaze!

'Laurentian Evening Crescendo' Acrylic on Canvas 48"X 60"

Auditory symphonic landscapes intersected my age nine life when a small cardboard blue turntable box with sound quality to match, arrived at our rural prairie Alberta dwelling. 
Undulating rotating grooves of warping vinyl platters black...
Circular pre-digital vibrations...brought thinly to life...
Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky.
Harmonic wonder...melodies sown...
Strains of scherzo’s scented significance...
Counter melodies wafted, inhaled...
Prairie skies...trumpets towering crescendo...
Viola’s vast grasslands shimmer pacific green...
Woodwinds to percussion crash...wandering brook to waterfall.
Cello’s earthy full throated mist ascends...waters edge to virgin pine...
Home of haunting northern loon.
Imaginations refrain...journey’s modulating shift begins...
Short years later...a teenager, sits high, alone, enraptured...last row...Toronto’s Massey Hall balcony. 
Concert follows magic concert!
Seiji Ozawa, long haired famed Japanese maestro fences oxygen with saber like baton...auditory eruptions...volcanic reds and crash...then...softly repairs to trickled timbre...turquoise whispering...quiet cobalt streams...tantalizing adagio to worlds afar...counterpoints divergent diversity clarified to single voice...Toronto Symphony Orchestra. 
Sounds reverberating potency!
It was here I recognized the value of the original versus the replicated. Layered passionate deep versus skins epidermal shallow. To run ones finger over a textured painting versus the slippery surface of an offset print. To know the hand of the artist danced leaving DNA across that exact surface rather than a metal mastodon spitting hundreds of duplicate images an hour. To be present, touching deep vibration, textured strains showering senses made the ‘trade’ worthwhile. 
The ‘trade’...endless grocery weeks of teenaged shelf stocking...continuously created end-aisled tin thin canned castles...all exchanged for ninety moments thick with awe. 
Forty-five years later, part of my daily diet of soul cleansing sound emits through tiny ear buds as classical music engulfs mornings caffeine reality.
Lest you think I am moved only by high symphonic skies, John, Paul, Ringo and George, the famous Fab four, at Gardens emblazoned with Canada’s blue motif, or Antonio Benedetto the painter crooner, wailed and strummed eclectic chords into my early sixties heart. Imagination wandered its winding path towards diversity. 
Syncopated jazz, big band, blues and funk, rock n roll’s metal wild wail, Latin rhythms steamy cadence, French cafes’ accordion tears or Gregorian chants echoing cathedrals ancient abutments find various place settings at my soul’s full table. 
Sitting mid back, silently in Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral under towering grand organ’s growl, shook me to the core. Today, a contemporary worship band, ancient hymn, or soft interpretation of some fresh folk or love song, each pour individual rivulets of healing, springs deep laden aquifer toward a souls dry and crusty recess. 
What however of todays blog on gifts united and cohesions golden glaze?
Whether philharmonic grand, jazz combo three, heavy metal or Caribbean Reggae, all have similar challenges. Each member comes to music making with a disparate paradigm...standing artistically alone. Yet, combined as a pack of collaborators, they meld, bending into others play...from solo’s ego flight to conjoined harmony, humbling toward the other.
Orchestra’s concertmaster ensures tonal continuity. No matter the genre this simple profound standard must be adhered to. The philharmonic benchmark is note ‘A’ played by the Oboe as foundational truth for each member...
Things must be in tune! 
Jazz brings capriccio improvisation far outside any fenced restriction. In this most difficult of musical genres, we enter the world of genius. Here, musicians innately sense the next players direction, fusing on the fly. Despite freedoms range, leaders still set a vision to meld toward.
Islands we are not! 
Some lead, each plays, all should listen...integral integration to works final culmination. 
Gifts standing brilliant purple need dashes aside of yellow’s compliment to enhance its cause. Mixed with complimentary’s twin, myriads of neutral color graduations impart cohesive magic.
We can decide our note is the most important thing to constantly blow, whether written into score or not. We may think being the only one out of tune is just fine as long as it is loud and incessant. A single player off beat sets our collective teeth on edge...around the bend! When players insist playing their part always as the solo or off a different score, the critics write their sad reviews and end arrives chaotically inglorious. Instead of ushering in heaven, we leave with discordant disappointment!
Unity and beauty require listening closely to the other, melding diversity into humility’s cohesive auditory or visual glow to cover jarring dissonance. 
Playing our part, using supernaturally assigned gifts, paying close attention to rests, cadence and interpretation results in unity that brings masterful peace. 
Adherence to conductors authoritative interpretive vision is key to beautiful unified results. When unity occurs, the audience exults in joyous response...sinews are strengthened and new adherents desire to return with ongoing active participation.
Embrace deeply your furnished supernatural gifts, given to play, not locked away in dust of waste. Standards each set very high.
Engage all full...
Bow to string...
Fingers flash to ivory’s touch...
Sticks to drum skins...tattoo tempos flourish...
Run with riffs, guitars neck in deep massage...
Whatever gift received to play, join the genre that wears you well...made to measure, just for you and kingdom benefit! You may fit philharmonic grand and conversely into metal wild. Enjoy your part and genre, serve there well, but please, don’t insist that your particular styles predisposition is the only that brings value to kingdom purposes.
Take a peak outside the box! Stop and consider the natural world that speaks voluminously of the Creators character as consummate diversity. Whatever gifting you are called to play, engage fully with unique excellence, but please, don’t insist on being a tuba in a string quartette...it never works!
“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” 
Psalm 133:1 (NIV)
“Now there are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but it is the same Holy Spirit who is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service in the church, but it is the same Lord we are serving. There are different ways God works in our lives, but it is the same God who does the work through all of us. A spiritual gift is given to each of us as a means of helping the entire church.” 
1 Corinthians 12: 4-7 (NLT)

Soli Deo Gloria
J. Douglas Thompson...SDG
Copyright 2011

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

‘Thoughts on Doubt, Death and the Birth Canal’

The Journey to Mystery

Fear of the unknown deeply imbeds my life struggle! 

Wanderer’s sunset jogs inexorably towards wests horizon, to set, leaving either the glow of reflected light or flat dullness and drab.
Western culture prods me to reign in thoughts of the ‘D’ word. Rather, distracting with neon thin, hedonistic, frenetic, party-seeking pleasure quests, digital or otherwise...tempts with myriads of ‘joy toy’ alternatives. Just get me to the next slot machine, race day, sports event, jazz or blues bar, favorite magazine or spiritual seminar!
Anything, please, whatever...anywhere...just not toward pondering burrows deep. 
Fun filled diversion and rest bring indispensable balance, but when distraction becomes intractable obsession, dissonance...our only melody track, incessant noise or visual pollution obscuring any thought of depth, the soft voice inviting the accosted crusted soul grows muted.
Life is mystery...death a curse! 
Life beyond death...greater mystery.
Is there anything after my personal sun sets, or just the nihilistic view that life consists of nada, eternal darkness the destination where my DNA is swallowed and enveloped into nothingness as prescribed by many eastern mystics?
Admittedly, at times I wander along doubts wet trails, sometimes slipping.
When considering life after life a possibility, I contemplate various aspects of my earthly surroundings and am drawn toward cadmium yellow chinks scintillating through purple dark. 
In my life as an artist the natural world presents daily visual scores setting my heart racing and toes keeping pace. Each autumn brings glimpses that spring and summer follow the deadness and cold of winter. 
What?  Dah!...of course spring follows winter! So what!
Recalling decades of years struggling through depression, I seriously came to doubt if leaves would ever return in spring. Yet, despite what seemed interminable months of black opaque, there they came, green translucence of filtered hope, repeatedly each May! 
Natures stage opens...black tie platters present annual four-act plays. Flood lights come up on green birthing of innumerable actors...life’s roles play their high summer sky show-off parts...autumn tops off with cherry jubilee celebrations to life’s success...then with winters death, curtain falls...light fades to black...the gathered leave...the orb circle sets...light to follow dark...to follow light...to follow...
"Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can't see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being. So nobody has a good excuse." Romans 1:20 (The Message)
So, okay, in the natural world, death follows life...life follows death, seeds are planted, die, germinate again. Surely that doesn’t give rational reason toward belief that I will in reality inhabit a promised new redeemed body, joining together throughout eternity with others whose faces I know and to whom I am known, involved in highly creative projects of joy and fulfillment far beyond human imagination.
This sounds like very good news indeed...but...
A metaphor recently swooped in, lit on my wandering mind, and began pecking away with deliberation as to the possibility of this Christ promised afterlife. 
Macro-lens thoughts zoomed on sperm and egg and their ensuing journey of growth together into previously unknown discovery. 
Fusing deep in veiled drape, mysterious duplication entwine woven pathways, layer over layer, toward new life’s tapestry, fully unique, one of a kind among billions. 
Hiding deep in black inks darkness without cognition, there it lives, nine gestational watery months. Ultimate tapestry’s exacting sequence knitted...embryonic embroidery...bathed in Creator’s image...by Creators hand. Even pain of imperfection due to humankind’s tragic trip up, offers glimpses of the Father’s face and care.
Warm in watery womb, it could be transported at 30,000 feet crossing vast oceans with all the grandeur of earths offerings streaming by...oblivious. 
Hiking high mountain trails, conveyed on motherhood, yet experiencing neither magical vistas nor honey fragrances proffered by wild blooms, only skins dimension beyond. Water laps summers shore while feathers red sing lovely tunes...unaware...shades tightly drawn. Floating lazily above Caribbean turquoise, neon fish dart corals pink...all unseen.
The baby is there, alive, becoming, yet unaware of what’s just beyond...one dimension removed!
Signals shout...gestations done...full orbed emergence screams passage through births canal toward life’s new light. 
Reality...red paper thin...life-altered dimension becomes actualization. 
Warm recollection of recent climes sends cries for comfort nine months known, unsure the new. Inexorably in time, eyes widen...endless possibility focus...vast freedoms explore wonders unbelieved.
Ideas of heaven are culturally diminished to sad little expressions of riding fluffy floating cotton balls while mindlessly picking six-string harps. If that is heaven, imagined by advertisers of cream cheese et-al, then it doesn’t do much for this boy!
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of humankind
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 
1 Corinthians 2:9
This, one of several pitons of hope, driven into life’s craggy precipice is where I often cling. Hanging, swaying at times, while winds of doubt assail, he who makes the promise, climbs aside with spikes of faith, helping me swing out and over toward the next foothold to climb yet again. Leaning back, faith anchored strong with carabiners connected, hammered into cleavage deep, despite misgivings.
Jesus, in His claim of divinity, promises something far beyond the present! He promises far more than returning to the hopelessness of pantheistic eastern thought that presents the viewpoint that I will just return from light to become a dissolving strand of DNA into a vast cosmic sea, melding with everything into one faceless entirety.
He promises revolutionary extensions of the uniqueness of my image, my face, reflecting His, stretching into the vastness of a very formed eternity. He promises mind-blowing existential opportunities so far beyond what I now see as reality, defying comprehension. Any joy filled activity here, multiplied exponentially with multiple dimensions of new possibilities added to the mix. 
I’m given minuscule glimpses of future wonders to come by receiving tastes of intimacy through authentic warm relationships here and now and uncounted varieties of designed awe. Eternal freedom to enjoy each other, His creation and Him without loss and brokenness is the ultimate promise of completeness. 
Eden regained. Shalom restored!
During my short sojourn here on this little cerulean planet, I’m still dark in the womb, seeing hints only of what’s to come...but hints, nonetheless! 

Rumours of a further world reinforce my days as I ruminate and attempt to give impressions with paint, the grandeur of myriad signs, revealed and renewed constantly in the natural world.
Until I breathe my last assigned breath here and travel the dark ‘D’ tunnel toward that long rumored dimension beyond the darkness I cling on to this nailed hope by provided faith. 
Soli Deo Gloria
J. Douglas Thompson...SDG
Copyright 2011

Afterglow...Baie Ste. Paul, Charlevoix, Quebec, Acrylic on Canvas