In the Darkness

The depths of Autumn are leading us to the beginning of winter. Leaves are falling, the days are shorter, and our spirits tend to go as dark as the nights are long. And the mood can change as quickly as the equinoctial weather. But in the darkness of all this change, while all seems to die and grow still, great beauty waits to be found.

If you look up into the great Kansan skies this time of year not long after dark, you’re bound to see a few straggling Arctic Snow geese gliding effortlessly through the airy, wispy clouds between them and the starry jewels above.

There is something ethereal seeing the three layers in motion above you: the geese flapping just above you, the clouds, and the stars…this perspective shows that the stars are more permanent than we here on earth.

The remaining work in this post shows something a little different than the usual visual fare, but these blends of lettering and illustration have been very close to my heart for a long time!

Years ago I used to take notes in the sermons at Mass in order to train myself to stay awake during them. And during mediations sometimes I would draw in order to contemplate better. The last few years I’ve blended word and picture together when really thinking about something, anything. I’ve realized that’s how my ol’ noggin works best! (I think I would have don’t better in high school if I had known this!)

I recently got back into the habit, but this time, instead of long bulleted outlines, I blend picture and word with EVERYTHING.

My head THINKS in both IMAGE and WORD, and after realizing the Christ is the Word made Flesh, perfect image of Our Father, and that we are meant to be images of God too, it felt appropriate to discreetly capture the thoughts of the Sunday liturgy and sermon in a quickly little entry in my pocket notebook.

One of my greatest influences came from nature journaling.

Travel journaling nature journaling helped me understand how I think (thank-you Fr. de la Tour!). I’ve always had to break things down using pictures. That’s how I have figured out some of my biggest projects, from teaching to event organzing.

It was while modeling nature study for my students that I realized drawing pictures about the specimen and labeling what I noticed about the specimen sparked even more connections in my little noggin. Those connections have since produced many journal entries, little articles, guest blog posts, sketches with their musings, poetry, ponderings, and great conversation with friends and family.

Above is from my nature journal from the month of November around three years ago.

It captures the bright maple leaves, brightest in their dying moments. In the background is The WWI Memorial Arch which honor the fallen bright lights of the self-sacrificing heroes of WWI from St. Mary’s College. The text links the visible (the leaves) and invisible layers (the fallen heroes) to the reality held up in the Liturgical year at this time: death is part of life, and it is only the beginning. The final life, the everlasting life begins with death, just as a new season begins with the falling leaves and a still, cold winter.

Above is the pictoral fruit from a meditation on Fr. Le Roux’s Letter about the Humility of St. Peter. Where else would Peter have fled to in his darkest moment, his betrayal of Christ? Perhaps it was the compassion and fathomless humble compassion of Our Lady that saved him from the same fate as Judas?

Finally, below are notes from a sermon from a well beloved community member’s funeral.

It was in this sermon that the priest, an adopted son of the deceased, shared the incredible story of this great man’s earthly pilgrimage.

Somber scenes, but somehow, they make life make more sense, and easier to shoulder the burden of the day and keep on our earthly path to our heavenly goal.

Did these little snippets of beauty bring hope, wonderful and joy into your dark November days?

Thanks so much fro reading and looking!

If you would be interested in carrying a little pocket sketchbook with you, I wholeheartedly recommend the
Moleskine Cashier Journal, Soft Cover, Pocket (3.5″ x 5.5″)! It’s blank, feels wonderful in the hands, and is super discreet, fits into most little places, and best of all, you can pick your favorite color!

The Moleskine Cahier Journal, Soft Cover, Large (5″ x 8.25″ is my go to journal – it’s slim enough to take anywhere, especially when you’re traveling and don’t want to take a huge bulky book with you!

Finally, if you’d like to read and study a book of someone who is a fine example of captivating writing and simple yet exquisite supporting pictures, Eric Sloane is the man for you!

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