Brunswick by the Sea: My Photographic Challenge

Brunswick by the Sea: My Photographic Challenge

Ah… Brunswick by the Sea, it had to have been the most challenging, most difficult painting to photograph, and one which after numerous attempts under different lighting situations, I have been unsuccessful in capturing just right.

The glare, the greens and yellows against… beside… the blacks. Just. Never. Quite. Right.

Down to my last three provinces, and after many months, long past my goal of completing the Canada Legacy Series by September, suddenly, with the new year, some forward movement and success in my artistic endeavours.

Writing, having become a desperate need, took over all my thoughts and took up all the space in my heart for expression for a good portion of 2017. I probably shouldn’t admit this, but honestly, I wondered if my ability and desire to paint had left me, in the empty, perhaps for good.

But this series haunted me. I was so close to finishing the first and most effort and time consuming phase. A part of me was so close to saying it was done, there was nothing left in me to give, to bring… to painting. But, this so close, wouldn’t let it go. Wouldn’t let me go.

It was the longest and hardest artist block I had experienced to date. Despite wanting, longing, needing to write, I often found myself unable to do either.

I’ve disappeared into something, out of sight, away from social media. That’s my way, when there’s nothing coming from inside, I need the abyss, the quiet, the away from everything. I’ve been that way since I was a young girl. When there’s too much stimulation, too much noise, too much of just about everything, including what I love, a tension builds inside that replaces everything and blinds me… and binds me.

When there’s too much, and my too much doesn’t take a lot to get there, my throat aches with the empty. I literally and physically have no words that my vocal chords can produce, not even in whispers. Everything inside me is simply empty, my breath heavy, my body weighted down.  My heart and my soul just wants to be held… in the stillness… in the arms of God… in the arms of my beloved.

This is my greatest life challenge, when the living of and in the world becomes too loud. This is my darkness.

Somehow, in the midst of all this empty, there is a swirling of creation, of life becoming something new, yet again. My last three paintings come out of this nothing, and my book idea redefines itself, a vision emerging within a new form.

Movement begins out of the void. I may find it challenging to be in the world, right now… still…  but creation itself stirs and this has to be where I am.

In the midst of winter, darkness, emptiness, love is deeply alive, even and maybe most especially because it breathes into existence in this place. There is a holiness here.

In the home stretch, long in the coming…Brunswick by the Sea emerges out of this desert.

His Love Endures Forever

His Love Endures Forever

It is a happy day because His Love Endures Forever.

Every day is a happy day in this knowing… even in the midst of the mess… in the silence as my soul awaits for God alone to instruct me in His Word.

His Word… how did it come so alive in me?

One day I wanted nothing to do with it… I did try on occasion to read the Holy Book, but the words… they were garbled. I’d read and re-read and re-read because I couldn’t make them out.

What did they say? What were these confusing words? I’d put it all away, shaking my head, wondering what it was all about, and thinking it obviously wasn’t for me.

Something changed all that. Something I can only explain as His time… to call upon me… to say enough.

Enough of the seeking in all the wrong places. Enough of the years going by in circles, repeating patterns.

Enough of a lifetime of never feeling enough… of doubts… and aloneness, an aching aloneness even where love was everywhere… because worldly love is not the same as His Love.

One day a tap on the shoulder came… a whisper of hope, of love, of peace in the darkness.

Jesus.

He made Himself known to me. He encouraged me to call upon Him in my times of need. He said He was here to help us… in this world. There seemed to be an urgency about it.

He told me to draw Him close and not let go. He walked with me and somehow, He filled me up with hope… with teachings on a new way to live, in the knowing that He loved me.

He loved me?

He. Loved. Me.

My heart quickened. It softened. It opened. Calling upon Him… talking to Him… sharing all that tormented me in my brokenness.

And the Holy Book began coming alive in me…. In my fingertips as I turned the pages… in my eyes that thirsted for the Light coming off the Words… in my heart that filled up with a need to spill over… up, up, up the rivers flowed.

Now, the Words… they are the air I breathe. They live in me. Every. Day. They are my daily bread.

His very Word spoken to me.

“For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.”

~ 1 Thessalonians 1:4-6

Oh yes!

What means this? How is it possible?

There were times in my dark hours, when I’d think of Him and His hand extended… my head bowed… my breathing hilting and labored… pain ruling my body… my ache for the ways I could not make me feel love for myself, and for all the ways this ache hit upon others as surely as a tongue lashing or a beating with fists.

And, I asked myself, “What have I got to lose?” in the reaching out and accepting the hand tendered.

This Way. This Truth. This Light. Stretching out from fingers to air to me. I took His hand, and He became my strength.

I didn’t understand it all. Surely, I didn’t.

I could never understand all the talk about Jesus having died for our sins. I could not wrap my head around that one. It made no sense to me.

I acknowledged Jesus existed. I acknowledged that he died on the cross. But, what sins? How could his death over 2,000 years ago have anything to do with me?

It took months of studying the scriptures and watching movies about the Bible and Jesus… it took me having to recite the events of His life time and again… it took my own life review, praying and making amends… understanding that sin was really anything that kept me from experiencing God’s Love (God’s Love is always there and always endures but that doesn’t mean we EXPERIENCE it, does it?) to make sense of it.

Then one day, as surely as the Holy Book claimed me… it came. I could look into His heart, as He could look into mine. His breath became the air I breathed. His Presence… the Living Waters of which I drank, and it felled me.

It felled me.

Love filled the aching emptiness and broke everything wide open… the mind… the heart… the soul. Wide. Deep. High. Open.

And, I understood the grace of his death was my saving. Does that make sense? I’m reading these words just written, and I don’t know… do they convey what it is for an anguished pounding heart delivered into a new life? From numbness, empty living to everlasting… ever eternal peace and joy?

His death for Love. His death for kindnesses. His death for peace. His death for Truth. His death for All.

His Risen.

Rises in each one of us who is ready and called to believe in the power of Love.

I can see the Love in His eyes. I can feel the Love in His walk with me… in His talk with me… in His heart that finds mine.

What is it like to surrender my ways, my will for the Holy?

I am found. I am new. I have new life.

I am defined by His promises, which are many… and, shaped by His Word.

So yes, oh happy day. Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow. To live, with all that comes with life, the loves and losses… in the knowing that His Love Endures Forever.

In the knowing that He Loves Me… and He Loves You, even if you’ve never heard His name… He Loves you too.

So yes, oh happy day. As brush to paint in the making of this piece ‘His Love Endures Forever’ – a little something to celebrate Him in glory. I’ve got a frame in mind to affix this (heavy textured paper) piece to… please pray I don’t wreck it in the process.

 

His Love Endures Forever by Kiernan Antares

His Love Endures Forever | 18 x 24″ Acrylic on Paper

 

 

Heart to heart, love to love, may His face shine upon you,

Kiernan

xoxo

Love Broke Open: Part Two

Love Broke Open: Part Two

Without the LOVE I wrote about in Love Broken Open: Part One, what are we… really? Where are we? What kind of life is that? Is it living? Really living fully?

The Beautiful World Project came about last year because I was looking for ways to create deeper meaning to my life. I also began asking bigger questions seeking to understand why I was holding back; why I couldn’t seem to give freely to those I loved most in my life, and what prevented me from fully showing up to my life’s work. I wanted to matter in the world, and obviously I was feeling like I was falling short in that department. Way short.

I wasn’t who I wanted to be and maybe part of that was because I couldn’t seem to find my community… you know… the ones who get you, who see you, who embrace you, who make you feel appreciated just as you are. The ones who lift you up and shine a light on all your goodness, enough that you begin to take notice, and live as you were meant to, as you really are and even more. The ones who gather together and will move mountains in their hearts and hands to see you through whatever storms come.

So many paths and beliefs I explored and even adopted for periods of time. Trying to make them fit, when they didn’t. Believing they lifted me up and made me more, but in reality, left me drained… oh so drained and unfulfilled.

Is this mine? No. Is this mine? No. Is this mine? No… again and again.

Where was mine? This call went out from my heart again and again.

Where are we without our people? Who are we without our people?

I was the lone wolf seeking its pack, wandering the desolate mountains for so long that I nearly gave up HOPE. But, where would this leave me… in this giving up HOPE?

Under the crushing weight of this, something glimmered. It was like my heart was picking up signals of some kind, leading me somewhere I knew not. I began to take notice of something so close to home, it was in my back yard and front yard. It was before me and it was behind me.

Something I watched from afar, but never considered for myself as I had relegated it to my NOT FOR ME part of my brain, because it was so contrary to the beliefs I had adopted for over 20 years. But I began to ask myself, “Where have these beliefs got me?”

All the self-help books in the world, workshops, studies… all temporary fixes. None of them could make me feel REAL… or fill me with any sustaining strength or confidence. If anything, they weakened me and they betrayed real LOVE.

Because somewhere inside I knew that nothing I had explored so far brought me closer to knowing, breathing, living and being that THING, that LOVE that was marked in me before I was born. I was closest to it in the unlikeliest (in my mind) of places. As a young girl I felt it, but could not comprehend it… could not see it… until recently.

As the dear man who put me under said in recounting the night my life changed… forever, “It was a snowy night, on Christmas Eve…and Kiernan came… and never left.”

Family together for dinner. I knew what they had planned later, and I waited. Having spent much time contemplating their lives and our lives, I wondered if there was something to it. Something that explained why they were happier, shined brightly, and were living lives of deep meaning, purpose and fulfillment.

So, I HOPED for a moment, an opening.

Never give up HOPE. Please never give up HOPE. For miracles do happen for those who SEEK.

The moment did come; “We have to leave soon for Christmas Eve Service…”

Something in my eyes must have traveled into her heart and mind, and she asked tentatively, “Do you guys want to come?”

GOD bless her. GOD bless her. GOD blessed me.

Smiling shyly, I said looking at my beloved, “Well, I’d kind of like to go.”

To my utter amazement he replied, “Sure, let’s go.”

My heart jumped in delight. I didn’t know that night would change everything… or did I?

A service they had never done before… a lovely woman spoke, an angel with a message, with conviction of her prayers answered years and years ago. It was her story that I understood, because somehow, she was speaking about THAT place inside of me, and I knew that this was where I could be, would be understood. If she felt this way, then others must too… for I had seen it in all of them that night.

The gleem in their eyes. The genuine caring and warmth. The light that radiated out from within… and the strength… oh my word the strength I felt… and I thought, ‘That’s what I’ve been seeking!’ I was being shown IT was possible, this THING that had been calling to me, it was real and it grew bigger… wider… deeper… it took up more space inside of me that night.

Person after person, pulled me in for an embrace… a genuine real embrace. Who are these crazy people who seem to be really alive, really living, really lit up from something indestructible and eternal?

It and they were like no other church I had ever been to, not that there were many as I was raised to figure it out on my own. I danced to the glory of the music and though I tried to sing, my voice could not rise above the swell of emotions in my chest.

It was the same feeling that I had when I was a little girl, on rare occasions in a church. SOMETHING inside me would make me FEEL that LOVE…and now I’ve come to believe it was the Cross, for what else could it be? I knew nothing of any of it, but it was already inside of me…. Waiting patiently for the day I would come to seek it out… To seek Him out.

Despite all this pull, it took two more months of daily, and I mean daily because this would not leave my heart and my mind alone for a moment; contemplation… consideration… pondering… before I would reach out to voice my interest in learning more about the Toronto Church of Christ.

This community who I had been hearing about for years with stories of people uniting in fellowship as a family, caring, supporting, encouraging and uplifting each other in hours of need. Missions… outreach… LOVE in action.

This year everything I think and believe has radically changed… because God has taken my life; my mind, my heart, my lungs, my blood, my bones and my relationships… all of me and made it new.

He has blessed me in countless extraordinary ways because I have devoted myself to living his teachings, his Word… His roadmap for living well and fully. Okay, perhaps not because of this, but rather maybe because he put His mark in me, to answer his call when the time was right. For I tell you, it was nothing short of a call my heart and soul absolutely could not turn away from and ignore.

The time came… and I am answering His call with all of me… how can I not? What He has done in my life in seven short months is nothing short of miraculous and I am in awe and gratitude with every breath I take, with every morning my eyes open and every day I get to live so alive because of His grace.

Right now… in mid-sentence here when the phone rang and it was my Aunt; one of my relationships healed and restored by his Grace. She was calling to find out how my baptism went… LOVE in all things and tears flow.

Kiernan’s Baptism from Toronto Church on Vimeo.

Nothing in this world has restored, filled and completed me like the power of the Holy Spirit. I feel like a different person in so many ways, and not a day goes by when I feel anything less than I’m living more fully alive than I thought myself possible.

“I love the LORD, for he heard my voice;

he heard my cry for mercy.

Because he turned his ear to me,

I will call on him as long as I live.

 

The cords of death entangled me,

the anguish of the grave come over me;

I was overcome by distress and sorrow.

Then I called on the name of the LORD:

“LORD, save me!”

 

The LORD is gracious and righteous;

our God is full of compassion.

The LORD protects the unwary;

when I was brought low, he saved me.

 

Return to your rest my soul,

for the LORD has been good to you.

 

For you, LORD, have delivered me from death,

my eyes from tears,

my feet from stumbling,

that I may walk before the LORD

in the land of the living.”

~ Psalm 16: 1-9

 

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Love Broke Open: Part One

Love Broke Open: Part One

I know sorrow. I know hurt. I know pain.

I know suffering and I know unforgiveness.

I know what it’s like to live wondering… is this it? Is this what life’s about?

I know what it’s like to want to believe there’s more to life than just going through the motions every day. To battle depression, pretending that’s not what it is, with a fake smile that doesn’t reach the eyes… the windows to our soul.

Do you?

I’ve tried, oh how I’ve tried to live with love as the focus. I’ve tasted it… I’ve seen it… I’ve experienced it. But, oh so fleetingly it touched upon me, just as a butterfly swirls around tantalizingly, barely landing before it takes off again.

Have you?

And gratitude. All the talk about having gratitude. Have you been like me… plying for it? Trying to tease it out, stretch it out, will it out, beckon it out? Why, oh why is it so hard to live with gratitude, to find it… to see it everywhere, and to live it every day? It shouldn’t be so hard, should it?

Fleeting moments of happiness, love, and meaning. Only to witness them slinking off into the distance as I wave longingly, ‘see you again’ (hopefully). Replaced with trying to will them back, and plagued by doubts and insecurities.

Is this it? This life of mine… it this it?

The Sufi way. The Buddhist way. The mystical way. The New Age way. The Goddess way.

Something was in me, maybe from before birth, maybe as I was being stitched together in the womb… to want to seek and be found… a LOVE that endures…

A LOVE that builds up and strengthens…

A LOVE that heals everything… absolutely everything that ever splintered, fractured, tainted, betrayed, or even broke this little heart of mine.

A LOVE that fills me up and overflows, without grasping for it in desperation, but that shines within and outward, as if powered by a creator, a generator of epic proportions that never dies. That endures the ages and tests of time, distance, and even resistance.

Wait. Is it even… ETERNAL?

A LOVE that is JOY at its simplest, pared down, most bare element.

A LOVE that is JOY that moves me to tears in humble GRATITUDE with every breath, in every day that is given to me. Do you feel them now… these tears that come up from somewhere deep inside and spill up and over, and down my cheeks?

Over the past number of years, I had thought that painting was saving me… was my healing grace. And, in many ways it was, yet it could not touch THAT place inside that I needed. THAT place that would forever transform me. That would turn me inside and out and radiate strength. I knew this because there were things in my outward life that no matter how hard I tried, I could not fix. I could not heal. I could not repair. It tormented me. It tortured me. It caused others pain.

After a time, I began to find myself wondering again… Is this it? Then the Beautiful World Project was being borne… it gave me a new sense of purpose… and it began to work in me… nudging, guiding, calling… the intention behind it was beckoning… wanting to be the story, live the story… I knew could be told… I wanted to be told… even though I couldn’t imagine what it was or what would happen next.

 

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Cardinals, Robins and the Heart of the Canadian Rockies

Cardinals, Robins and the Heart of the Canadian Rockies

“This piece of heaven that I’ve found
Rocky Mountains and black fertile ground
Everything I need beneath that big blue sky
Doesn’t matter where I go
This place will always be my home
Yeah I’ve been Alberta Bound for all my life
And I’ll be Alberta Bound until I die.”

~ Paul Brandt

Singer and Songwriter

Oh to let something bigger than you to run your life… to surrender the fight with the mind’s designs… and greet the day with a new song.

Walking, watching, listening… having conversations with the project and with my creator.

A bright light appears. Brighter than what the mind can imagine. I test the waters… see how it feels…

Discovering that maybe I’m not who I thought I was, who I became as a young one. Maybe that’s not entirely true. Maybe I am who I thought I was, but I pushed it down… buried it, then sealed it shut with what is not love.

Because LOVE is a magical elixir healing absolutely everything. Where does the LOVE come from?

Everyday when I walk, the sing song of the cardinals and red-breasted robins attune my ears, and at night as I lay my head down their sweetness fills me.

AND, I live in wonder at this thing… this pull in my heart.

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