Fathers Day

June 21st, 2017

 

I confess that to me, Fathers Day is not a big deal, never has been. I don’t think my children need the holiday to remind them to be nice to me. And I hope I’m worthy of their honor every day. Sorry to be such a grinch.

For all that, last Sunday at church I was one of three speakers asked to share on the topic. As time was limited I resorted to a list: The things I purposed and applied as a father. You could call them my beatitudes, being brief, and all accompanied with blessing. I’ll share the list below.

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Here we were, left to right, Allison, Hyatt iv, Anne, Cambria, Acacia, Dad.

Prayed a gift for each child, from the womb. This was on the order of “love,” health,” wisdom,” etc. I wanted to see if there would be a unique manifestation of that in each child. And so I did.

Meals together. I might not have even mentioned this but I understand it’s becoming more rare. It’s then that we have our conversations, hear each’s “good news,” impart values, keep friendship alive.

A day of fasting and prayer for each, by Dad. This is something they never knew about and I’d forgotten until putting together this list.  But children need help, it’s rough world.  Prayed for their future spouses too, and their parents, also needing help.

Media governed. Allison, our eldest, has bragged she was raised without TV. 
 It’s usually in the context of someone remarking on her incredible creativity and talent. The lack of TV didn’t hurt, more like the other way around.

Traded TV time for reading time. As the family grew there was an appeal to be current so I compromised: reading for watching. They rose to it, even making it a game, keeping track on a chart.

Paid a wage for reading books of my choice. These were books on their level, but perhaps wouldn’t have been thought of. They were always helpful. And for a brief book report they could earn dollars.

Served their first communion. The kids see adults doing this in church, but do they know what it’s all about?  At an age I thought each was ready we took a walk. I brought the elements. We talked. It was a meaningful time.

Father and child road trips. This was in additional to family travels, of which there were many. The one-on-one experience, when it would happen, was always special for both of us.

Purposeful conversations in the car . . . any topic. This was more than the random passing time stuff, rather an invitation for them to bring up whatever topic they might not otherwise, in an unjudgemental atmosphere. Though they were young, it was talk at adult level.

The “My son” passages in Proverbs. There are a lot of these all though that book, and Proverbs is still the best resource for training a child . . . of any age. Once Hyatt Jr. and I rode motorcycles up through California and discussed these, one at a time, at stops and overnights.

International trips, just with Dad. This came to be something of a “rite of passage” for each. As I was traveling a lot in those days, at their 12th year each accompanied me on some weeks long grand adventure. Allison: Cameroon. Cambria: Guatemala. Hyatt: England and Germany. Acacia: Kenya, Congo, Sudan. Tamara: Colombia. Great memories, just between us.

Saturday Night Bible Study. While he was in high school I encouraged young Hyatt to read the Bible straight through. I said not to get bogged down at the parts he didn’t understand but to make a note of them. Then on Saturday nights, if he wasn’t going anywhere, we’d have our own time, discussing the harder questions. I didn’t always have the answers, but it was good for both of us.

Dates. These were usually lunches, anticipated a week or so in advance to build anticipation. One time, with little Acacia, I asked her what was the best thing going on in her life right then. She just beamed and said, “This!”

Attendance at all events. This would be all sporting events, all music events, whatever, because parents should be prime fans. We never enrolled in sports, however, that would rob us of Sunday mornings.

Church. This is something we did, you might say “religiously” (except I don’t like that word). It’s the right habit for a multitude of reasons. I’ll confess there were times when I myself did not want to go; but I did anyway for the children’s sake. (As parents, we’re always watched.)

Dedicated each one to the Lord, as infants. This is Christian tradition, a promise of the parents, and a spiritual covering of the child from the beginning. We did it for each of our children, and now, as grandparents, we’ve done so, in our own family ceremonies, for each of the grandchildren . . . all sixteen.

Honor their mother. Anne and I, early in our marriage, made a pact to never disparage the other in public. We also agreed to not discuss our child raising differences in front of them. There were times we disagreed, of course, but we did it in private, upholding each other’s authority. Worked well; we had no favorites and neither did they.

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The children as adults on the occasion of the first wedding, Tamara’s. On her right: Acacia and Hyatt iv, on her left, Cambria and Allison.

That’s it, or at least all I thought of for Fathers day. This is no judgement on others who see things a different way. My main point is the intentionality of it all. The fun was spontaneous, the travel mind-broadening, the one-on-one experiences special, but the training and the influence was intentional.

Happily, all of them seemed to have caught it . . . and are raising their own children in the same spirit.

And that is the greatest Fathers Day gift I could receive.

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As with all these pictures, click to enlarge.

Here we were six years ago at one of our every-two-year reunions. Four more grandchildren have joined us since. I like this picture because it includes Allison’s Vernon (top right) who died last year.
God bless us everyone.

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Anne’s Titles, Hidden Message?

May 20th, 2017

Ascension-th
Change-of-Direction-th
Concealed-Consequences-th
DelIcate-Demands-th
Divided-Attention-th
Elevated-Appointment-th
Field-of-Vision-th
Fragrance-of-Hope-th
Liberating-Yesterday-th
Above, details from new works.

I thought you’d enjoy the following. It’s a “poem” I constructed out of the titles of Anne’s recent work.

In preparation for the Festival of Arts in Laguna where she has summer-long involvement, she’s been producing new art . . . marvelous art, I might add. Besides her great pieces she also adds (after the fact) the most evocative and interesting titles. As I help her, for the sake of her website, with the photography and photoshop work to follow, I interact with the titles. In doing so, this time I sensed a theme coming through. Though there was nothing conscious about it, and the titles were put on in random order at different times, I put them together in a paragraph.

I’m calling all this Anne’s hidden (and unconscious) message, ultimately deciphered by me.

Here’s the list of titles (with sizes), followed by my sentences.

Ascension, 15×8
Bargaining Power, 17.5×12
By Mutual Agreement, 18×12
Change of Direction, 11×9
Concealed Consequences, 16×20
Considering Options, 11×9
Delicate Demands, 20×16
Divided Attention, 14×20
Elevated Appointment, 15×9
Engaged in Play, 16.5×20
Entitled to Play, 13×16
Field of Vision, 19.5×13
Fragrance of Hope, 11×10
Liberating Yesterday, 20×45
Muted Memory, 12.5×10
Opening Doors, 10×24
Open Invitation, 15×10
Orbiting Obscurity, 11.5×10
Overlooking the Past, 22×16
Profound Promise, 20×12
Promised Perspective, 10×14
Quiet Devotion, 11.5×10
Restoring Faith, 11×9
Set Free, 21×10
Voices of Yesterday, 11.5×10
Willing to Ascend, 20.5×11.5

Here’s my take on her “hidden message”:

By mutual agreement, using all bargaining power and considering options, putting aside concealed consequences of delicate demands, orbiting obscurity and divided attention, I propose an open invitation for overlooking the past and the muted memory of voices of yesterday. Yes, a change of direction, an elevated appointment, an ascension, an opening doors . . . all for a fragrance of hope that will include the promised perspective of a quiet devotion and a restoring faith . . . a field of vision with a profound promise that you (and we) will be set free. How? By liberating yesterday, by being engaged in play . . . even entitled to play. Are you willing to ascend?

When I read this to Anne she found it delightful. Maybe you too?

BTW, all these works can be viewed on her website, by name, under “New Work,” here.

Lots of her work, and mine, and daughter Allison’s will be on display at our show this weekend. Here’s the announcement. Come if you can.

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The Road to Emmaus

April 28th, 2017

Last post I shared my wonderment about Good Friday and why it’s not called Black. Since then Easter has come and gone, but is it really ever gone? By coincidence (if one believes such really exist) I was recently commissioned by a friend, Chuck Smith, to paint a rendition of the Road to Emmaus story. It would be for his church.

Do you remember it? It’s part of the Easter story, happening the night of the resurrection. Two men who’d followed Jesus were leaving Jerusalem where all the bad stuff had happened, heading for the town of Emmaus, seven miles distant. Jesus joined them, keeping himself from being identified, and asked what they were talking about. Before long, still without revealing himself, he was telling them the whole story of how all this had fulfilled many prophesies and that it had to happen that way.

By the time they get to Emmaus Jesus acts like he’s continuing on, but they convince him to stay for dinner. He does. When he gives thanks and breaks bread their eyes are opened, they see who he is, and at that second he disappears. They, overcome with wonder, rush back to Jerusalem to tell the others, confirming that indeed he was alive, resurrected from the dead.

It’s a beautiful story, and I was happy to take the painting on, but what aspect?  I did a search of how other artists have approached it over time. I’ll share here part of what I found, and at the bottom, how I did it.

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Here’s an icon painting of the Orthodox tradition, more symbolism than anything. Note the fish on the table. There’s nothing in the story about that, but later in the evening, back in Jerusalem when Jesus revealed himself to the eleven disciples, he asked for a fish to eat as proof he was not a ghost.

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The account by the prolific, 13th century painter, Duccio di Broninsegna. Being pre-renaissance, he didn’t have the rules of perspective worked out yet. Depicted is the moment of arrival at Emmaus, the two were inviting Jesus to tarry.

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Here’s a more familiar take by Swiss artist, Robert Zund, painted around 1900. It’s a fine piece of composition and story telling.

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This is Friend of the Humble, by French painter, Léon Augustin Lhermitte, in the mid-1800s. Though he had access to all the colors of the pre-impressionists, he chose monochrome for the evening-lit room. At this moment, having broken the bread, the eyes of the disciples are opened. Note the wait staff has little idea what’s happening.

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The dramatic renaissance artist, Caravaggio, painted the scene more than once. Anne and I saw his work in person while in Italy. Majestic, incredibly real, full of action and drama. Here the climax of the story is just moments away.

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Here’s Rembrandt’s take, an artist who painted a great many Biblical images. Note the extreme dark to light to dark again, and the power of the expression as the diner recognizes who he’s been listening to, a split second before, poof, he’s gone.

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There were more I researched, and more I’ve found since. In the end, after consultation with friend Chuck, I went with the moment of arrival at Emmaus, when Jesus was about to take his leave but was coaxed to stay. There’s meaning in it for all of us. The Lord has plenty to offer, but won’t push himself on us. Still, at our request he will stay, and dine. Left is a detail of the di Broninsegna piece shown at the beginning of this little art history overview. (Double click for larger view.)

in-situ

Emmaus Road, oil over acrylic, 67×47.

Here’s to give an idea of the scale as I shared the finished work at a friend’s house before delivery. Hope you’ve enjoyed this little overview. It’s a painting to keep the story alive. In a sense, it’s always Easter.

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Black Friday

April 14th, 2017

Easter-Night-cropped-115

I’ve sometimes wondered why they call today Good Friday and the big shopping day after Thanksgiving Black Friday. Seems to me the titles should be reversed. Aren’t all the sales intended to be great? So great that stores open before dawn, with lines already formed? Isn’t that the inaugural day of shopping for Christmas? Isn’t it a good Friday for shoppers and sellers alike. Why it’s called “black” is a mystery.

On the other hand, why do we call this day, “good,” when history’s most innocent man was subjected a gruesome, public death. I don’t get it.

The Roman governor couldn’t find anything in him worthy of death . . . or worthy of any punishment at all. So instead he just flogged him within an inch of his life. For that we call the day “good”?

What about the mock trial, conducted by an advanced society that knew all about justice—illegally conducted at night, with “witnesses” whose accusations didn’t match or make sense, and a fist to the face against the accused without recourse? What was “good” about that?

What about the desertion and denial of his closest friends at the moment of greatest need? Was that “good”? I think not.

There’s more: like the cynicism of the purple robe—appropriate for a king, but that’s not how they meant it. And what about that crown of thorns jammed down on his head, likely of the one- and two-inch variety. I wonder if that sadistic weaver punctured his own fingers. Would he have called that a good Friday?

Speaking of that, forehead wounds, with the myriad of tiny veins just below the skin, make for a face completely covered in blood. Not a pretty picture. Certainly not “good.”

There’s more: like being crucified naked, a public shame. “Good”?

And crucified! . . . an expression that rolls across the tongue as casually as hot cross buns on a stick. Loathsome spikes pounded through muscle and bone and with the weight of the body hung out to die. Thirsty under scorching sun with only vinegar offered to quench? What kind of day is this? Not “good.”

Then just to be sure he died they pierced his side. It was finished, and they called it “good.”

Why’d it happen? Why did everything go wrong that could? Because, they said, he claimed to be the Son of God. They didn’t like that. They put him away for “good.”

But the skies went dark, ominous and fearful, convincing the centurion he was who he said. It’s another reason, those dark skies, that this Friday should not be called “good,” but “black.”

It’s a mystery, these reversals of terms. In the end, reality also reversed. Two days later the tomb was empty and the sightings began. A whole new reality came to be with us, and has never left.

What could we call that but “good”!!

Easter-Night-with-me

PS Here I am a year ago Easter, painting live at Saddleback Church, San Clemente. I call it Easter Night, on the day that really should be called “good.” Click on it for details.

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A Word for Me (?)

February 28th, 2017

Hyatt-painting-Naviety-115
At the easel. An angel behind? What a thought!

Here’s a pearl. We’ll see if anyone recognizes it as such.

Three days ago I was at a conference where, among other things, some people who were apparently equipped to have special messages for specific people spoke them out. These are deemed prophetic, and if it resonates, can be encouraging . . . even supplying the courage to go out and do whatever it is.

My experience in this area is always a bit cautious, a mix of skepticism and belief. In this case, some seemed general enough they could easily apply regardless. Others were quite specific. During a break I approached a couple of the individuals who had received such and asked if they felt it was unique to them and helpful. They each answered in the affirmative and gave me details of why.

Okay. But not everybody was receiving. Most were just looking on. Including me.

But at the end of the day, as everyone was leaving, a young woman I didn’t know came up to me and said she had seen me in her mind the day before. I was younger, she said, and with dark hair. We laughed at that. She said she’d received a word for me, which she’d written down.

“Okay,” I said, “Read it to me.” She did. Here it is in full.

The Lord knows your name.
You are going to move forward quickly.
There is acceleration on your life—increase and acceleration.
The Lord sees you as a young man—with much time and much to still accomplish.
He is encouraging you to take a step, and when you do, great acceleration will happen.
Lots of quick movement in the Spirit and in the natural.
You will be very encouraged to see this happen, and see how quickly this will happen.
Step forward. Now is the time.

The Lord says He is in this. Be encouraged.
Everything He has shown you and told you in the past is all true.
Dream bigger.
There’s an angel who stands behind you when you paint.
You have a supernatural anointing for supernatural increase—and an anointing to give it away.
Many will experience increase and acceleration and will also benefit from your step of faith.
Now is the time!

So there it is. I asked if she’d give me the piece of paper and she did.

You’ll recognize a certain vocabulary, but of more interest is the repetition of certain points. Truthfully I don’t know quite what to make of it. What the step is that I’m to take is not known to me. In the past, steps of any significance have required either great courage or great sacrifice. Like, loss. If that’s required here, I can only hope I’m up to it.

I will say that an angel standing behind me while I paint is a powerful thought. I could wish instead that I stand behind him and he do the painting! But it’s never that easy.

I’ll also say that as of yesterday morning I’m out of my slump. Remember my mention of that in my last blog with a number of pieces ending up in the fire? Yesterday I attacked two large works that had me stumped for weeks, transformed them both, and now they’re already hanging, still wet, in our Laguna gallery!

What’s next? Who knows? If you think this resonates, let me know. Or if you are encouraged by these words, then more power to you, too.

Either way, we’re all blessed.

______

PS  Tomorrow evening (March 1) I’ll be the guest speaker at the Huntington Beach Art League. This is a large and dynamic group where I’ve done this before. Besides a talk, I’ll be doing a live painting demonstration. It’s 7:30–9:00 at the H.B. Senior Center, 18041 Golden West Street. Open to all.

PPS  Thursday evening, this week, Anne and I will be in the Sandstone Gallery for the Laguna Beach Art Walk. I usually paint live during these events. All the galleries on the street are open. It’s 6:00–9:00.

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Fake News, My Dying

February 14th, 2017

A-Hyatt-at-Easel
A photo from the working session in Crestline last year, alive and well then, and alive and well still.

Here’s a funny one. I recently got an email from a friend and earlier working colleague I’d not heard from in many years. We knew him from when we served with the Canada Institute of Linguistics (CanIL) in British Columbia, 1997 to 2001. He wrote with concerns for my health.

But why? Here’s what he said:

Hello Hyatt,

Greetings from your old haunt in Canada. It’s been so long. As I walk around the building here your numerous paintings remind me of our times together.

I received word the other day that your health is not good and I wanted to inquire if it was true. Please, if you are able, let us know how you are doing and how we can pray for you.

Danny

_____

If I’m able? What’s this?

Here’s my reply (excerpted):

Hi Danny,

How great to hear from you. But I must say, along with Mark Twain, the rumors of my demise are greatly exaggerated! Even the story of my illness seems to be another example of fake news.

That is, unless you’re speaking prophetically and I should stock up on miscellaneous medicines just in case.

But in fact, we’re prospering. I would be interested to know of what you heard I’m suffering, and who you heard it from.

_____

To this he replied:

Hi Hyatt…

I’m so glad to hear that you’re keeping well. About where I heard rumors of your poor health, I received the following from our communications department:

Today I was updating our donor database to make the changes requested by our donors and I came across this bit of news.  Hyatt Moore requested that we take him off our list, giving the unsubscribe reason as “I’m dying.”

And now you know why I wrote! I thought, “The poor guy is packing it in and I had better get my farewells in before it’s too late!”

Keep up the good work and say hello to Anne!

_____

This explained it. Here’s my reply:

Danny,

Ha!  Now I know that somebody does read these things. I don’t remember asking to be taken off the CanIL list specifically, but it’s not unusual for me to do so, receiving so many mailings. These days it’s easy to unsubscribe to lists, but not without explaining why.  So the “I’m dying” has been my usual answer. Seems final enough . . . and there is some truth to it . . . just not eminent (I hope).

In any case I genuinely do appreciate your concern, had it been real. There’s much yet to do before I’m really dying.

_____

Then finally, his last response:

Haha… You’re horrible!!! So you’re the originator of the “fake news”! Well thanks for a good laugh this morning.

_____

That’s it. Maybe it’ll give you a laugh too.

Funny, though, how it does tie in with my blog subjects of late like Aging, and Obits. But we’re well, both of us, presently still doing art and enjoying life in Crestline, California. (More on that next time.)

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Obits

February 6th, 2017

Anne-newspaper

Anne, just setting up, her press behind her. Who knows what creativity will follow? Meantime, it’s a life.

Anne and I are in Crestline. It’s in the same mountain cabin, two hours from home, that we had the use of last year. Once again we’ve moved in with all of our art-making materials, rearranged the space into a double studio–for painting and printmaking–and have two weeks set aside for just work. It’s work we like, making it really play. Same thing. It’s life as we’ve designed it. How long it will go, who knows?

As we were setting up, spreading out protective newspaper on table tops Anne got to reading content. It’s just like her . . . in the middle of all the activity everything stops while she ponders something she’s come across. This time she happened to be in the obituaries.

It was a double-column piece about four inches long . . . a lot, it seemed for a death notice. Actually it was among others about the same size. Later I got to reading them too, retrieving the paper from the trash, by then used and blotched with printing ink.

I must say they were all fascinating, particularly when well written by a loving fan (family or friend). The one that first caught Anne’s attention was of a woman, a world traveler, event and reunion organizer, collector of interesting things, photographer, and on and on and on. We found it all quite inspiring.

Another was of a man with many credentials, military, board positions and CEO of more than one company. Also described was his fun spirit, family involvement, “love of the Lord,” and a mentor of his children and others.”

There were more details, and more people, and of course much more that could have been said for each. I got to thinking that the obituaries is the most inspirational section in the whole newspaper.

By coincidence, just this morning I’d read a line in one of my favorite books: The day of death is better than the day of birth.* That’s because once a life is lived there’s something to say . . . unlike at the beginning. And if a life has been lived well, there’s lots to say.

Who will do the saying, and how well, is beyond our control. What isn’t, however, is the content and meaning we put into it before then.

It got us thinking again today about how we’re living our lives now, and how we want to ongoingly.

It’s good for all us to do. Who knows, maybe there will be something to inspire another someday as they spread their newspapers around?

____________

* Ecclesiastes 7:1 More on this in It’s About Life, available here.

3 Comments

Reading

January 30th, 2017

open-window
Reading opens windows to the wider world, and beyond.

“The book that’s too expensive is the book you don’t buy.”

I heard that once and it resonated. You never know what you’re missing in a book you don’t read.

Reading is a gift. I’m always grateful for the one or ones who taught me, long since nameless. Not that I’m so good at it. I tend to be terribly slow, lose concentration, forget eighty percent by the next day (or the same day), or fall asleep in the process. But for all that, what I do gain makes me more aware, slightly smarter, and a little bigger than I was before. I’m incrementally enlightened.

My life might be very small in comparison to all things, but reading expands my borders, exponentially.

It’s a gift we take for granted. Most of us don’t even do it much, what with all the other media that comes at us quicker and requiring less effort. But extra effort usually pays, in every field.

And in books you can find something about every field there is. Even a great deal about it.

As I see it, a book is generally written by someone who has thought more about a subject than I have, usually a lot more. So there’s a teacher-student relationship. But the learning is up to me; I can take it all in eagerly or put it down any time. All the knowledge I could ever want is all around me all the time. Reading is how I get it.

Not that all reading is for information or biography or history or inspiration or philosophy or self-help or how-to. Sometimes it’s just for the intrigue of story . . . the beauty of language, the transportation of thought and the sharing of minds . . . in fiction or non.

Whatever we read, we’re more for it.

It’s a gift.

And thanks for reading this. (I hope it helped.)

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Reasons

January 23rd, 2017

A-list-of-reasons

A long time ago I came to the realization that reasons matter most. It’s basic. We do things SO THAT something else happens, or can begin, or is satisfied. Without reasons it all goes dry.

I remember experiencing that in earlier days. There was a lot I hadn’t learned yet, but through a series of circumstances, even “successes,” I’d come to the conclusion that there was no great reason to strive further. You’d think that was ultimate. Perfect. Complete. But it was just the opposite; I was left empty.

We need to be active, occupied and purposeful to be happy . . . to be compete human beings. But we can’t be these things in a vacuum, doing them for their own sakes; we need reasons.

Even the writer of the book of Ecclesiastes said it, a number of times in a number of ways. He’d reached the heights of what a human being can do and have and experience but in the end found it all meaningless. He’d lost his reasons.*

Without a vision the people perish. That’s another from Scripture.**

At the beginning of this year, around the time I often reflect on where I am and what’s next, I wrote a list. But instead of activities and goals, I listed reasons. What are the deep seated motivators I can identify for doing anything. For living.

It was good. It even helped pull me out of a slight slump. How I might address these things can be varied, and changing as I go. But the reasons I do them are fixed, foundational, and life-savingly motivating.

I recommend it. You may not need such a list. Your sense of reasons may be so overwhelmingly complete you don’t even know they’re there. That’s good.

On the other hand, it might help. Do it SO THAT. It could make all the difference.

______

* For this and more, see my book, It’s About Life, featured at right.
** Proverbs 29:18

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Time for Learning

January 16th, 2017

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Okay, Da Vinci wasn’t Hindu, but he never stopped learning.

Many years ago I did a short course in comparative religions. Actually I was teaching it, which is the best way to learn. It was in a setting of young people who were even more naive than me so it was easy. Of the many things I learned, one in particular stood out.

It came out of the section on Hinduism. It wasn’t anything about the religion, per se, but more the culture, their view of life stages, a later one set aside for learning.

In our culture, that’s early. We have a whole, long process for orienting youth to be conversant citizens of the wider world. After the required years, there are options for more of the same but deeper, continuing on from there with all manner of specialization. That’s us.

How ever many years we spend at it, though, finally we tell ourselves, or we hear it, “That’s enough. It’s time to get on with real life.”

Of course there are exceptions, but among the Hindus it’s different. In their view there are four stages of life.

Childhood is for the instilling of basic values and character.

Early adulthood involves having a family and full focus on providing for it. Happily, grandparents are on hand, living right there or very near by, to help with the children.

And that’s the third stage, when there’s finally time for real learning. Learning is what defines this time of life.

The forth, by the way, has to do with hitting the road, becoming ascetic and begging for a living. I couldn’t relate to that so much.

But that third stage, the “still strong but not as stressed with expectations on every side,” reserved for the rest of education, that inspired me. And still does.

For the Hindu, this has most to do with the study of God. I like that too, though my understanding of Deity is certainly different. Still, I take inspiration from their model . . . mine, to learn in every subject that interests, including God.

It’s a great stage when you think about it. And there’s so much to think about.

Agreement anybody?

4 Comments