Sometimes I get to have a little taste of heaven - experience creativity and beauty blossoming into magic. It's hard to predict, but when there's a Chihuly exhibit in the area, I know my odds are pretty high. After a morning at the new Chihuly museum here in Seattle, Washington, I wasn't disappointed. 

Our introduction to Dale Chihuly, whose masterful artistry blends whimsy and innovation to create stunning pieces of glass, began several years ago when we saw one of his chandeliers hanging in the Cincinnati Museum of Art. (That picture is part of an earlier blog on Chihuly here.) After seeing more of his pieces in Seattle and the Corning Museum in NY, Dan grabbed some videos from the library so we could learn a little more about the man and his method. We became official fans. 

The Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum opened two months ago; a glass house and outside sculptured gardens nicely round out the several galleries, each dedicated to a series of glass. Although I love the chandeliers, I am often drawn to the Macchia bowls (Italian for spotted) with their rich panoply of colors. Challenging himself to use all of the colors available to him (over 200), Chihuly played with layering the glass, including a white layer to form a "cloud" background. Set under lights, the colors are truly magical.

The plantings in the garden were beautifully choreographed to complement the glass pieces on display; and we were pleased to discover that the Glass House offered a view of the Space Needle between the hanging floral designs. Perhaps my favorite moments, though, were spent under the lighted glass ceiling where strewn shapes and colors created a mysterious underwater effect. Below are several slideshows grouped according to theme.

For more infomation on Dale Chihuly, check out his official site here.
 
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Moses before the burning bush by Domenico Feti

I've been taking a break from Monday's spiritual posts, but my husband, Dan, who blogs over at toucanic.net, had a great sermon yesterday that I thought was worth sharing. Dan was a pastor for many years - we started a non-denominational church in Maryland in the 80s, before heading south to Chile and then Costa Rica - and after a stint as a mission exec is now between jobs. He's been busy on the writing front, however, with some novels and a project on Glory which is in search of a publisher.

Occasionally there are invitations to guest preach; often the text is chosen for him, either through the lectionary, or a series the pastor is moving through. Yesterday found the congregation knee deep in the story of Moses. The Exodus is over,  but Moses must navigate leadership that would try the most patient of men. And what happens when the dissent comes from those one counts on the most? (You can find the scriptural text in Numbers 12)
 
A Day in the Life
Dan Schmidt

You’re  Moses. You’re an Egyptian. No, wait. You grew up in the home of an Egyptian, but actually, you’re a descendant of Abraham. That was hard to accept, given your surroundings, but eventually you came to believe it. Your mother (another surprise) told you, or Miriam did. Miriam, your older sister, who made sure the river didn’t swallow you and that reed basket. Apparently, you started life an adventurer.

You spent 40 years in Egypt, leaving suddenly after killing a man. That’s a story
for another day, but it forced you to hightail it out of town. You went east–far
east, to Midian, the homeland of traders who brought Joseph to Egypt a few
centuries earlier and got the whole emigration thing rolling for the children of
Abraham.

You spent 40 more years in the deserts of Midian. You slipped into a new career,
married, started a family. One day, there was this burning bush, near the base
of a mountain. Horeb. God spoke to you from this bush, the God your mom–and
Miriam–talked about when you were a kid. Long story short, you returned to
Egypt.

Frogs, gnats, hail, and darkness later, you’re back in the desert. You’re not alone
this time, though; you’re leading a million people. You’re heading to Canaan, a
land God has promised to this crowd of people. Your people.

This is not a great job. Not a great life, either.
(more after the break)



 
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Summer Rain by Beata Sasik

Shower the people you love with love, tell them the way that you feel,
Things are gonna be much better if you only will,
Shower the people you love with love...
          
James Taylor

I woke in the night and smiled to hear the sound of rain against the leaves outside our window. Like many others we are feeling the effects of hot weather with little precipitation. Grass is dying, and the flowers need constant attention. But with the nighttime showers, the morning has dawned fresh and cool, and I'm eager to get out into the garden and into the soil, now soft and easy to plant and weed.

Earlier last evening there was another shower; gentle, nourishing words around a birthday Dove bar. Thoughtful expressions of love that made me smile; I could feel my roots sinking just a bit deeper into who I am and who I want to be.

Shower the People You Love With Love by James Taylor has always been a favorite, and interestingly enough, the lyrics were playing in my head when my eyes opened in the morning. We can pray for rain to save the parched land, and it may or may not come. But bringing refreshment to those we come into contact with is only a smile, a word, a gesture away - if we only will.
 
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Boys on the Shore by Albert Edelfelt
Several years ago for my birthday, I hosted a summer salon. Guests brought summer themed poetry, stories, music and art. One friend shared the following poem by Whittier, which he read out loud as part of the evenings festivities. It reminds me of the fun I had yesterday, hanging out in the pool of my youngest daughter's apartment complex.

Dorea never wanted to grow up. Summers in college, she used to earn money by hosting a "dirt camp" at the home of her aunt. Depending on the day's theme, kids might be sword fighting in the woods, heaving water balloons across the front yard, or throwing cheeseballs toward shaving creamed partners on the driveway. Now an actor, Dorea plays on stage, or in the kitchen. Actually, play is an active ingredient of each daughter's life - the oldest, Aletheia engages her art without fear of mess, the middle daughter, Kara, takes dance underwater, or up a ropes course, as she continues to expand her movement repertoire.

But back to the pool. As the hot afternoon lazed on by, we were greatly amused by the antics of two brothers, aged 12 and 10, who cheerfully and imaginatively entertained themselves with mock fights over swimming goggles, splash contests, and a version of tag where one person starts on the pool deck and the other tries to swim across the pool without being caught. Every time the waiting partner looks and the swimmer hasn't left the edge, the "waiter" take one step further away. It seemed, no matter what, the swimmer almost always lost. Watching these barefoot boys, we found ourselves blessed by the joy and freshness they exuded, and, like Whittier, wished them back the delight of their youth. 

Although children, especially when freed to explore and create, may more easily find the treasures Whittier's poem describes, I shudder to think these moments need to end with our entrance into "adulthood." Creativity and imagination, connection to nature and wonder are gifts too precious to be packed away, stored like outgrown boots and parkas in some attic trunk. Perhaps we need the summertime to re-discover the fun of our childhood: the sense of freedom as one heads into the woods, hiking a new trail, the thrill that comes with jumping waves at the beach or slipping on a pair of waterskis, the wonder of gazing at a sky filled with stars, the thrill of seeing baby birds learning to fly, or harvesting the first plump tomatoes.
 
It's never too late to be barefoot again, to take off the leather that keeps our feet from connecting with the pulsing life that surges through the soil beneath our soles. Being young is truly a state of mind. Bless the barefoot child you were, and resurrect him or her as often as you have the opportunity. 

Barefoot Boy
John Greenleaf Whittier 
 
Blessings on thee, little man,
Barefoot boy, with cheek of tan!
With thy turned-up pantaloons,
And thy merry whistled tunes;
With thy red lip, redder still
Kissed by strawberries on the hill;
With the sunshine on thy face,
Through thy torn brim’s jaunty grace;
From my heart I give thee joy,— 
I was once a barefoot boy!

Prince thou art,—the grown-up man
Only is republican.
Let the million-dollared ride!
Barefoot, trudging at his side,
Thou hast more than he can buy
In the reach of ear and eye,--
Outward sunshine, inward joy:
Blessings on thee, barefoot boy!
 
Oh for boyhood’s painless play,
Sleep that wakes in laughing day,
Health that mocks the doctor’s rules,
Knowledge never learned of schools,
Of the wild bee’s morning chase,
Of the wild-flower’s time and place,
Flight of fowl and habitude
Of the tenants of the wood;
How the tortoise bears his shell,
How the woodchuck digs his cell,
And the ground-mole sinks his well;
How the robin feeds her young,
How the oriole’s nest is hung;
Where the whitest lilies blow,
Where the freshest berries grow,
Where the ground-nut trails its vine,
Where the wood-grape’s clusters shine;
Of the black wasp’s cunning way,
Mason of his walls of clay,
And the architectural plans
Of gray hornet artisans!
For, eschewing books and tasks,
Nature answers all he asks;
Hand in hand with her he walks,
Face to face with her he talks,
Part and parcel of her joy,--
Blessings on the barefoot boy!
         
Oh for boyhood’s time of June,
Crowding years in one brief moon,
When all things I heard or saw,
Me, their master, waited for.
I was rich in flowers and trees,
Humming-birds and honey-bees;
For my sport the squirrel played,
Plied the snouted mole his spade;
For my taste the blackberry cone
Purpled over hedge and stone;
Laughed the brook for my delight
Through the day and through the night,
Whispering at the garden wall,
Talked with me from fall to fall;
Mine the sand-rimmed pickerel pond,
Mine the walnut slopes beyond,
Mine, on bending orchard trees,
Apples of Hesperides!
Still as my horizon grew,
Larger grew my riches too;
All the world I saw or knew
Seemed a complex Chinese toy,
Fashioned for a barefoot boy!
Oh for festal dainties spread,
Like my bowl of milk and bread;
Pewter spoon and bowl of wood,
On the door-stone, gray and rude!
O’er me, like a regal tent,
Cloudy-ribbed, the sunset bent,
Purple-curtained, fringed with gold,
Looped in many a wind-swung fold;
While for music came the play
Of the pied frogs’ orchestra;
And, to light the noisy choir,
Lit the fly his lamp of fire.
I was monarch: pomp and joy
Waited on the barefoot boy!
 
Cheerily, then, my little man,
Live and laugh, as boyhood can!
Though the flinty slopes be hard,
Stubble-speared the new-mown sward,
Every morn shall lead thee through
Fresh baptisms of the dew;
Every evening from thy feet
Shall the cool wind kiss the heat:
All too soon these feet must hide
In the prison cells of pride,
Lose the freedom of the sod,
Like a colt’s for work be shod,
Made to treat the mills of toil,
Up and down in ceaseless moil:
Happy if their track be found
Never on forbidden ground;
Happy if they sink not in
Quick and treacherous sands of sin.
 Ah! that thou couldst know thy joy,
 Ere it passes, barefoot boy!