Knowing that today’s afternoon temperature would reach well over 100, I went outside and sat on the patio early this morning. In the distance I could hear the hum from freeway traffic and nearer to hand the cock-a-doodle-doo of some neighbor’s secret boarder. Then, after a few minutes, came the delicate chime of church bells. It was Sunday, I recollected, and the bell, in a sweet voice, was summoning parishioners to an early service.

The sound immediately brought to mind a painting I had seen many years ago, “Angelus,” by Jean-François Millet. In this deeply meditative picture a man and woman are standing, heads bowed and hands folded, while on the ground about them lay the tools they have been using to dig potatoes. Millet said of the picture, “The idea for Angelus came to me because I remembered that my grandmother, hearing the church bell ringing while we were working in the fields, always made us to stop work to say the Angelus prayer for the poor departed.”

Traditionally, the church bell would be rung at 6 a.m., noon, and 6 p.m., not only acting as a marker for the beginning, middle and end of the work day, but also to remind people of the day’s spiritual dimensions. The bell’s duty was to say, “Wake up! Be present.”

The demands of the world are constantly vying for our attention – money, jobs, relationships, politics, the future ….. Even as we lay in bed at night, thoughts struggle for dominance in our consciousness. Like a sword, the clear, sharp sound of a bell cuts through that incessant mental chatter to remind us that Life is not the situations we find ourselves in, not the past we might regret or the future we may fear, but Life is this very present moment in which the bell is ringing.

It is no coincidence that bells and chimes are used throughout the world, in many cultures, for this same purpose – from the giant gongs of Far Eastern temples to the bells of Christian monasteries and the delicate cymbals of meditation halls.

The ringing of the bell gives a voice to the inhabitants of mineral world, that silent kingdom which appeared at earth’s birth and will be there at the last. Impenetrable, immovable, mute, the minerals are the silent witnesses of history – and perhaps their steadfast nature is the most appropriate agent to act as a reminder of this transitory life.

In calling us to attention, the bells reminds us to be grateful, to be aware, to be present, to willingly participate in Life, as did Mary in the drama of  the Annunciation

V. The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.
R. And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.
Hail Mary, full of grace,
The Lord is with Thee;
Blessed art thou among women,
And blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Pray for us sinners,
Now and at the hour of our death. Amen
V. Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
R. Be it done unto me according to thy word….


Art Update

When I first started to blog a few years ago, I would post something at least a couple times a week. I had a lot to say and was eager to be in communication with the larger community. Fortunately, that phase passed.

I also used to go to the neighborhood park several times a week and my visits there were not only a source of renewal but the inspiration for poetry. This last year my visits have been fewer and my creativity has turned from words to pictures.

For many years I have enjoyed working in brush and ink wash on rice paper and my work has appeared in many exhibitions. This year, however, my interest has returned to the drawing of mandalas, something I first did many, many years ago when I was young and broke and could only afford felt tip pens and paper.


In the last several years my mandala art has incorporated a lot of color, a nice change from the black, white and grey of ink wash. Typically, these designs were geometric and had a purity about them. Earlier this year that all changed when I began more freehand drawing in the designs, using geometry only as an underlying foundation for composition.

Moon Fairy
Moon Fairy

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I wasn’t quite sure what these kind of designs might be called. For lack of any better description I’ve decided to call them Folk Mandalas. So I have been busy creating dozens of designs, some of which I have included below.



I am not a draftsman or illustrator and many have a primitive look to them. I think they might classified as decorative art rather than fine art. Designing them is a thought-free zone, bringing about a peaceful state of mind. The meditation is in the making rather than in the viewing. The medium is ink and markers on Bristol board.

Meanwhile, in the bizarre way that life works, I began teaching a small mandala class for the geometric designs. This led to an invitation from a local senior center to teach, followed by another senior center. Then the city library called and asked if I would be interested in giving a demonstration on an art day they have planned. Next week a local paper will have an article on mandalas.

Life is funny, isn’t it. Some things that you want badly and pursue, never happen; and other things that kind of poke along year after year suddenly catch fire. Go figure.

If you go to my art website, you can see a sampling of these new type of mandalas listed on the Folk Mandala page. Thanks for visiting.


crowAbiding in stillness,
Watching, watching.

Trees and grasses
Eat their fill
Of Father Sun
While Mother Earth
Melts winter roots
In the mud.

Resting in stillness,
Watching, watching.

Large black leaf drops
To ground:
Head cocks,
Breaks fast in the grass.

Being in stillness,
Watching, watching.

An old man with a white beard
Wears a bright orange turban;
A child points.
Cane ready,
The brown and gray woman
Sidles past geese.

Remembering in stillness,
Watching, watching,

A red ball with blue stars
Rolls by:
The no-more boy is remembered.
It is as if it is
The first time.

Abiding in stillness,
Watching, watching
Eternal spring.