Well, this is why I haven’t written a blog post this evening:
I started reading William Shakespeare’s The Tempest today. It’s one of my old favorites—first it was a brilliantly illustrated comic book version that captured my fancy, and from there I went on to read the actual text of the play. As a teen, however, I must admit I found the text pretty dry.
Flash forward to today. Armed with an acquired appreciation for archaic language and some experience in reading it, I took a look at The Tempest and saw it through new eyes.
Dang, it’s good.
Somehow I always find myself amazed when I discover irony, humor, and romance within the writing of stories from hundreds of years ago. I just naturally expect the writing to be complex, wordy, somewhat proper, and devoid of any forms of romantic emotion. I can’t imagine how I came up with this presupposition, but I have it. It’s a good, thing, though, because I’m usually pleasantly surprised.
On the very first page of The Tempest, as I watched the magician Prospero share sharp, witty remarks with his amazingly intelligent teenage daughter, I did my same old double take. My first inclination is to wonder if someone translated the story into modern terms—but no, it’s all classic.
The wit and irony of Shakespeare’s conversations would rival the banter in today’s summer blockbuster movies. And the romantic fervor in the few words of his passages compares to entire novels filled with warm fuzziness.
For right now, my favorite quote of the evening fell from the lips of young Miranda, as she gazed upon the third man she had ever seen in her life. The first she ever fell in love with.
“I might call him a thing divine…for nothing natural I ever saw so noble.”
I just painted an oil in homage to Bob Ross. Has anyone ever watched his show on PBS? With his quiet voice, charming anecdotes, fanciful perspective, and expert teaching skills, Bob would make a painter out of any artist-at-heart. His sweeping landscapes were distinctive in their misty realism. He made his technique look so easy…and while it was definitely simple, in a sense, and allowed anyone to make a really good-looking attempt on the very first try, it downplayed his own talent. One can readily paint a Bob Ross scene, and be gratified to have it turn out well. But it takes a lot of hard work to paint like Bob Ross himself.
He had only half an hour to go from primed white canvas to completed scene. Bob would begin painting in the background—his technique captured a realistic effect with a minimum of details. A soaring sky, some haze-wrapped hills, a meandering brook. All would appear like magic from his brush. Then he would lay in a few trees—daubs on the canvas that took on the look of a thick grove of greenery. Then maybe he would drop in a bush in the foreground, or perhaps a rolling incline dotted with underbrush. The show’s half hour would be drawing to a close. The painting was impressive, as usual. All done, right?
Nope. That’s when Bob would cast an impish glance at the camera, fan brush poised in hand, and ask, “Ready for our Bravery Test?”
He’d take a breath, turn back to his canvas, and paint a black line RIGHT through his beautiful painting. Through sky, clouds, mountains, trees, and all. As a viewer, one cringes in disappointment—he just ruined a perfectly good painting! But under Bob’s rapid brush strokes, in a few instants, that black line became an amazing evergreen tree. Filled with a personality of confidence and power, the tree dominated the peaceful landscape and made the painting. The picture was beautiful without it. But it was incredible when the tree was added in.
The Bravery Test.
This term has been in my thoughts for some time. So this past weekend, I pulled out my oil paints and Bob Ross videos, and got cracking.
I started with a misty background. Found that it’s not as easy as Bob makes it looks, that’s for sure. But I persevered. I’m an artist, right? I should be able to do this. I’m an acrylic and colored pencil artist who has had limited experience with oils, mind you, but I can troubleshoot. So I did. Had a couple “Happy Accidents” (another of Bob’s terms—there are no mistakes in painting, only “Happy Accidents”), but I got through sky and mountains and hillsides and trees. It looked like a mousewords painting, rather than a Bob Ross…but I was satisfied for the first try.
I pulled out a palette knife and laid in a rocky cliff for my foreground accent, then stood back and took a look at it. It was good.
It looked okay, and pretty on its own. But it needed a tree, of course—that was my intention from the beginning. Faced with the thought, though, as I stood there looking at the canvas, I realized I could have gone days without doing what I had planned to. Out of hesitation, or just wanting to make sure I was prepared, or that I was experienced enough with the paint, or had practiced enough with my brush. For whatever reason, I was clutching.
But then I remembered—“Bravery Test.” Just be brave.
So I loaded up a brush with dark paint…took a breath…and painted a line right down the canvas. Within a little while, it became a tree…a pretty darn good one!
THEN—I put the brush in the hand of my 19-year-old photographer sister, and told her, “Paint one. Bravery Test.” She gaped at me, but took the challenge. Taking a deep breath, she painted a line down the canvas. That was a bravery test for BOTH of us—my oil was still wet! But soon she had a perfect little tree, tucked in next to my big evergreen. Because, as Bob always said, “Everybody needs a friend.”
So here’s the result—“Bravery Test,” 8×10, oil on canvas.
Everyone has talent—something that they can do beautifully already. Writing, singing, teaching, dancing, art, technology, parenting, whatever it is. But you may still have a dream or a desire to do something more. Go for it! Be brave! You may not feel prepared, may not feel ready, may not think what you have to offer is “good enough.” But learn from Bob Ross—take the Bravery Test today. Take a deep breath, and dive in, ready or not. There are no mistakes…only “Happy Accidents.”
The result may turn out to be something even more beautiful than you could have imagined.
An eloquent writer in the WordPress community recently posed the challenging question: “If you didn’t know anything about the Kingdom [of God], how would you define it?”
When defining the Kingdom of God, the first verse I think of is part of Luke 17:21: “The Kingdom of God is within you.”
I always drew great hope and comfort from that verse. “The Kingdom of God is within you.” I felt it was a treasure hunt of sorts—it was the Lord telling us that we can look within ourselves and find the holiness of His perfect Kingdom, through the Presence of the Holy Spirit. It made me feel comforted to think of this, because there are times when I feel so inadequate. But then I think to myself, the Kingdom of God is within me, waiting to be discovered! I can do more, through Him Who strengthens me!
Yet who am I, and who’s to say I know what I’m talking about? As I read different perspectives on the subject, I began wondering, what if I’m wrong? When you question something you believe in, and face the thought that it may not be exist in the way you thought it did, it shakes you up inside. It really “rocks” your world, in the earthquake sense of the word.
So I turned to the wisdom of others. I belong to a discussion group in which we discuss the works of 19th/20th century author Grace Livingston Hill; and to this group, I asked the question, “Am I wrong?” Their answers have uplifted, enlightened, and inspired me.
One friend had this commentary, which has helped me find peace and confidence in my own opinion:
“As for this one particular verse, the best way is to go to the original Greek or Hebrew
texts to see what they say. Often, words and phrases in the original text could not be easily translated to English because there just wasn’t anything comparable. I believe it is a mistake to assume that English translations are the final word.
The connotation of a particular phrase can change from Greek to English, or even from Grace’s time to our time. So “within you” may mean something different to you and I than it did to the KJV translators in 1611 and something else to those who wrote down what Jesus said. The huge number of translations is proof that not everyone agrees with everyone else’s interpretation of the original text.
Do you want a perfect example of changing connotation? If I told someone of Grace’s day to “reach out and touch someone”, they would physically touch another person. However, someone from my generation [look out, I’m showing my age] would probably pick up the phone and call someone! There are many other words and phrases that have changed meaning dramatically just in our lifetime—Just read a GLH book to find more! We have to be very careful about reading today’s meaning into yesterday’s writing, especially where the Bible is concerned.
Here’s what I’ve found on BibleGateway.com after reading your post :
Young’s Literal Translation of the Bible by Robert Young is an extremely literal translation that attempts to preserve the tense and word usage as found in the original Greek and Hebrew writings. Here is Luke 17:20-21 in this version, courtesy of BibleGateway.com:
And having been questioned by the Pharisees, when the reign of God doth come, he answered them, and said, `The reign of God doth not come with observation; nor shall they say, Lo, here; or lo, there; for lo, the reign of God is within you.’
The Amplified Bible covers both —the brackets are part of the translation and are not mine. “Nor will people say, Look! Here [it is]! or, See, [it is] there! For behold, the kingdom of God is within you [in your hearts] and among you [surrounding you].
American Standard Version: neither shall they say, Lo, here! or, There! for lo, the kingdom of God is within you.
New Life Version: It will not be said, ‘See, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For the holy nation of God is in you.”
Wycliffe New Testament: neither they shall say, Lo! here, or lo[!] there; for lo! the realm of God is within you.
Worldwide English New Testament: People will not be able to say, “Look, here it is!” or “There it is! That is because the kingdom of God is inside you.’
Many versions (like NIV) include both “within” and “among” with one or the other as a footnoted possible translation. On BibleGateway, some are saying within and some are saying among, so it looks like the jury is still out.
Jesus did, after all, say specifically that His Kingdom was not of this world in John 18. In Luke, the pharisees were asking about a literal kingdom on earth, but Jesus seems to be pointing out that it couldn’t be seen here or there, it was somewhere that it couldn’t be seen.
Be encouraged and listen to what God is speaking to you. After all, He’s got the FINAL, final word.”
Another friend shared this definition of the Kingdom with me:
“The kingdom of heaven is the church living out the purposes of its king Jesus while we wait his return to rule his kingdom on earth.”
A third friend summed up both perspectives beautifully with her own:
“The Kingdom is within each of us who are true Christians, and the Kingdom will also be an actual happening/place one day in the future for those of us who believe.”
I’m grateful for the question, the challenge to my beliefs, and the wisdom of others. I do believe, as I always have, that Christ’s kingdom will come on earth some day. In the meantime, I hold with confidence to the notion that his Kingdom truly does exist inside us, too.
I know it does, because I have seen it, in all its glory, within others.
In here there be many tales to tell, says I…
Tide of Tales ACEO
This be me celebration for “Talk Like a Pirate Day”…arrr
They say dead men tell no tales…but live ones be sure to go on about their adventures…
A while ago I created an ACEO to commemorate the home run ball that broke Hank Aaron’s record. Since I wanted to have the artwork ready to go live as soon as the ball sailed into the air, I painted it a day in advance. Knowing that the Giants would be playing a home game, I was hoping that if Barry Bonds did indeed hit the home run, it would clear the walls of the park and come to rest in McCovey Cove—a happening that they call a “Splash Ball.” Being a fairy tale artist, I thought it would be cute if a mermaid was the one who wound up claiming the ball, while humans buzzed around in their boats, searching for it in the background.
Well, Bonds did in fact hit his home run the following day—but it wasn’t a Splash Ball. So I did what I could and entitled my piece, “#756—What If??” It sold to a collector, and everything was hunky dory. Oddly enough, Bonds’ very next homer sailed into McCovey Cove. I thought to myself, perhaps what this mermaid actually has is home run #757.
Well, in the news today, I see that the real home run ball #756 has been purchased by someone who plans to let the public decide the fate of the item. He has an online poll open, with three choices: 1: Brand the ball with an asterisk; 2: Launch it into space; and 3: Donate it to the Hall of Fame.
Bonds’ home run before that, ball #755, also sold to a person who will let the public decide what he should do with it. His poll has two options: 1: Destroy it; or 2: Donate it to the Hall of Fame.
It seems to me that home runs #755 and #756 have a slightly precarious position. The possibility exists that they might disappear off the face of this earth—literally.
Looks like the mermaid just may have caught the most valuable ball.
Now for the question—what would I vote if I voted? I think I’d use the same mindset I have for politics: I believe that the office of the President of the United States deserves respect, regardless of what one’s feelings toward the person in the office may be.
So I’d say send them to Cooperstown, out of respect for the game itself.
The other alternatives, however, may drastically increase the value of my ACEO.