Quotable Tuesdays

QT-Virginia

From the original 1897 New York Sun editorial, “Yes Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus.” Read it; it’s magic.

After the Holidays

photo (8)

Happy third night of Chanukah and Merry (T – 15 days to) Christmas.

My family is not particularly religious, but we do celebrate both Chanukah and Christmas, as an ode to our roots, and as a way to bring us all together. My mom was raised loosely Catholic, and professes to believe in a higher power, but has never glommed on to organized religion much. My Dad is a reform Jew from a big Jewish family on the East Coast who took my sister and I to synagogue every year for the High Holy Days, and still does if we’re in town. When I was little, we read about the parting of the Red Sea and the miracle of oil that became Chanukah.

I love the singing of songs, the eating of fried food, and the sense of history that my Jewish heritage gives me, but I never much formed a bond with the God of the Israelites. My sister is a devout atheist; I guess she never did either. In our respective years of life, we have each stumbled upon various forms of value and guidance for this life. Taylor is discovering her own goodness and the power of human communication. I have developed meditation practice and am walking the Buddhist path of discovering the nature of mind. We share the practice of creativity and faith in the power of art to connect and elucidate the workings of the human engine.

This holiday will see all of us, on our various paths, come together to light candles, top trees, wrap presents, and share meals made with love. It’s the big family hurrah! And when the holidays are over, my own path will take me far afield. Come January, I am heading to India to study some of those texts that have been handed down through generations to tell those of us alive today what the Buddha taught over 2,000 years ago. The opportunity came up quickly, and, for now, I mostly feel a sense of giddiness combined with all the uncertainty of what lies ahead. I don’t know what will happen to this little blog in that time, but, as it unfolds, I’ll keep you posted. Happy Holidays!

That to Which We Defer

A fuzzy sketch of Gemmy watching TV.

My grandmother’s visiting. Her presence leaves a trail of TIME magazines, pistachio shells, and the sound of game shows. In the evening, though, when the game shows have mostly gone off to bed, she finds other entertainment. She used to watch A & E Biography, but I think now, as her memory weakens, she looks for shows with shorter plot arcs and punchier narration.

Tonight she was watching The Church Channel. I can’t say that I’ve ever seen it. In this house we mostly watch HBO, sports, and crime dramas. But tonight when I came in to bring her pills, I sat on the edge of the bed and listened. And I heard this,

“Who’re you?”

“A child of the most-high God.”

And you know what? I get that. Religion, history, politics; those are other stories. This story is in me.

Neuron Norms, 22″ x 16″, ink, chalk pastel, and acrylic on unprimed canvas and loose-weave cotton, 2010

Whatever we trust most in this world, this universe, this frame of reference…we are that. That which we defer to, that within which we place our own faith. We are nothing less than the progeny of our own inspiration.

Even when I’m grumpy, even when I’m frustrated and failing, I am what I take comfort in.

Krumholz Lodgepole, Spooning Boulder by Carla Roybal, 2012

Lodgepole pines twisting in the krumholz of the High Sierra. The smell of sage in my own mountainsides. The slow seeping of ink into unprimed canvas. The memory of every artist that ever came before me, those concurrent to me, and those who will follow after. The feeling of my family and the ones I have found along the way to add to that collection. My butt on the cushion in meditation while each little neuron explodes in madness and wisdom.

I am a child of the most-high God.