Which is harder, rock or water? Even ice can be smashed by a rock, right? But when you see a canyon like this you know the answer, water wins every time in the long haul. Gravity consistently moves water towards the path of least resistance and over time, these paths become the great canyons of the world. Moving water wins over time.
In the same way, being a a gentle but consistent advocate for growth, change, beauty and love over a life time makes a dent in the universe, a phrase made famous by Steve Jobs. Without love, technology is only used towards selfish ends, but with love, it has the power to multiply influence and transform entire communities. People over estimate what they can accomplish is a year, that is why New Years' Resolutions seldom live to see the light of March. But we under estimate what can be done in 5,10,20 or 30. I sit here at 62 and some people think of that as too old to start something new. But heck, God willing, I have a good 20 or 30 years to do art. If I do it with love, who knows what kind of dent I can make. You do not have to do something "great" to make that dent, simply doing something "good" over time will the get the job done beautifully!
I am reading a book titled, "The Essentialist." The thesis - life will be more focused and productive if we boil everything down to what is most important, say "yes" to that, and "no" to everything else. Nonessentialists say "yes" to everthing and everyone and scatter their life to the wind and whims of others. Simple but oh so hard to put into practice.
In my thinking about water, it strikes me that nothing is more essential to life itself...much of the life on our planet actually breaths it!!! We can go weeks without food but only days without water. The Psalmist likens us to sheep who depend on their shepherd to find water in the desert, pasture to feed and rest and protection from predators. My experience of the life of faith is that it is not passive dependence, but active following. God is always leading towards life, being aware, each day of the opportunities to find and give life are the path to the green pastures and still waters. Sometimes those opportunities are difficult, even dangerous. But life is still there, not in hiding and hoping circumstance change.
I am getting ready to make a major change in my life - moving from Canyon Road, by the literally flowing waters, to the canyons of buildings downtown at 125 Lincoln. It has already been a series of difficult choices and decisions. But it seems to be the direction of opportunity to find and give life to me. We will see how it all unfolds, but the mystery of faith assures me I will find life if I just pay attention, each day.
I looked at the paintings on my wall today and 9 of them were about water! Because this was not planned, I began to ask myself "why"? The connection between water and life is both foundational and inexorable. Only in the most imaginative SciFi is there life without water. Almost all cultures and religions both celebrate the gift of water and use it in religious rites. The great ancient cities were all near great rivers and ports. In arid lands, nothing is more valuable and precious. Who can forget the early scene in Lawrence of Arabia where a man is killed for drinking from a well without permission from it's owner! The painting above is an imaginary bend in the Chama River, bringing life to the high desert of New Mexico long before people modified the landscape.
Rivers in particular, seem to capture the movement of life and it's journey. Beginning small, they grow and grow, gaining input from others, finally emptying themselves into some vast, mysterious ocean where all others also end. Sitting by a river, I like to just close my eyes and listen to the almost musical quality of it's sound. I often reflect on where I have come from and where I am going, what life am I bringing to others and how I am impacting my world. Things that are important, not the urgent mental clutter that controls us so much of the time. Perhaps that is why I paint them.
Tom C. McGee, Jr.
Musings about mystery, art and spirituality.