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Tag Archives | small painting

A Little Cottage on an Emerald Isle

Irish Cottage painting by Jen Norton

When our daughter was about 9 months old, we traveled to Ireland (for the second time) for the wedding of some very special friends. Their family owns a traditional Irish cottage in the Cork countryside where we stayed for a week. It’s been renovated for traveling guests and now boasts a modern European kitchen and electricity. The indoor trench formerly used to wash out animal waste, should you have to bring your cows indoors during inclement weather, has been removed. The thatched roof has been replaced by a newer, less-upkeep version. It did, however, still have the meat hooks hanging from the ceiling (as it turned out, we never needed them). Each morning the proprietor would come down and light our fire for us, warming the 5-foot-thick-walled house up to a nice cozy temperature. We were traveling with other family members…enough that we needed a large van to carry us all from place to place. My husband, being an ambulance driver and the only non-drinker, got the job of primary chaperone. It’s not an easy job in a land with narrow roads and left-side driving. On some country lanes, one must pull in his side mirrors and inch by oncoming farm trucks, narrowly missing collisions on one side and the hedges on the other. It’s safe to say “shoulders” on a road were not an Irish invention. Then of course, there were the times you just have to stop and wait for a heard of sheep as they cross, just like the picture postcards! The real fun happened after our van broke down and the only replacement we could get was a 15-passenger manual transmission van! NO ONE but my husband could maneuver it…and he had to do so with a new mom (me), his own mother and a nun screaming behind him at every bump and tousle. He held his stress in check, but I know if he were a vengeful man he would have unleashed the cry of a Banshee on us during that trip! Oddly, each night he gladly volunteered to walk our colicky time-zone-traveling baby around in the quiet sheep pastures while I slept. I’m sure he was secretly regaining his calm out there in the midnight fog. There is nothing like removing noise and distraction to reconnect with your soulful self. In the end, we all survived, our daughter cut her two top teeth and took her first step, and the trip was remembered as lots of “good craic” had by all.

You can buy my little Irish Cottage painting here, or a print of it with an Irish Blessing here.

Consider the Lilies

Lillies and Birds © Jen Norton

Lilies and Birds

Today’s Advent Art Meditation is from John 3: 16-21

If you’ve ever been to a football game, you’ve probably seen people holding up signage with today’s verse which begins: “God so loved the world that he gave his only son…” (who started that tradition anyway?) Think about what it would be like to give your only child to a cause, knowing he’d be harmed and killed. Military parents take that chance all the time. Abraham was going to burn his only son upon God’s request. Personally, I wouldn’t be so willing so I’m glad I’m not a biblical character. The point is, God went all the way. He gave all he could so we would not be lost to darkness.

My dad was a neat freak and a bit of a perfectionist. When he died, the priest who was going to facilitate his funeral service asked us what one thing would sum up his philosophy. Almost without hesitation, my two sisters and I said, “Never do anything half-way.” He wasn’t an easy-going guy. He wasn’t easy on us. But I guarantee if you hire me or either of my sisters for a job, it will get done and it will get done well. We’re not half-way people either.

God isn’t a half-way God. He doesn’t want us to be half-way children. I’m not saying we have to do everything perfectly. But we do have to try our best and practice to get better. Just in case we have trouble believing the teacher He sent, He gave us clues in nature. In Matthew’s gospel Jesus says, “Look at the birds of the air” and “Observe how the lilies of the field grow.” God cares for them, so how much more will he care for you whom he loves? Seek Him first and all shall be added.

The lilies know how to trust in Creation. The birds do not worry. But somehow, way back when, we stepped out of that Garden of Eden and became ego-driven beings. So in spite of technically having all we need, we have forgotten how to share and have become riddled with anxiety and insecurity. In controlling our environment, we’ve forgotten how to be part of it. We need a teacher. God sent the only guy qualified for the job…His son.

The Christian model is what I know, but even if you’re a follower of another belief system, you can observe the flowers and the birds. See how the flowers grow in clumps, supporting each other? See how they burst forth with all their color just before they die? See how the birds fly along the currents in amazing formations? We may still need to attend class, but they don’t need a teacher…they just know.

This original has been sold, but you can still purchase a signed Art Card here.