A Taste of Italy Art Exhibit

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My Exhibit includes photos while on my first “Chasing Francis” Spirit Venture in 2012 with photos from Assisi, Rome and Florence. It is at the RoxyAnn Winery in Medford, Oregon.  Come on by for a glass of Cabernet Franc:)

If you are interested in joining us we will be going again next spring during the last couple of weeks in March.   Pax et Bonum

Art For Life … The Rest of the Story

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We are killing our planet!  Our oceans are a prime example.  I am becoming more aware of  how detrimental plastic is to our environment.  And I will be the first to confess that I too have been guilty.  Did you know that over 200 billion pounds of plastic are produced worldwide each year and that only 4 to 7 % is actually recycled.   Plastic pollution now affects at least 267 species worldwide.   These are photos of pollution that has washed ashore:

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100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles die yearly from entanglement.   There are estimates that marine debris kills 1 million seabirds a year.   80% of marine debris comes from land via street storm drains, waterways, and rivers that eventually empty into the ocean.   Apparently we Americans use approximately 1 billion disposable shopping bags that create 300,000 tons of waste each year.  Fish and birds confuse the debris for food.  Plastic has moved into the food chain!  Plastic is not biodegradable.  It eventually breaks down to the size of plankton.

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Fish bites can be seen from marine animals mistaking the plastic for food.  This can be deadly by blocking their digestive tracts and reducing their ability to absorb nutrients.  In addition plastics contain contaminants … a toxic meal.  Scientists on research boats mid-ocean have opened fresh caught fish and found pieces of plastic in their stomachs.

An ocean gyre (jahyur) is a large, slow spinning vortex of ocean currents caused by trade winds.  There are five major gyres in the world’s oceans pulling plastic garbage from every continent and churning it into bite-size pieces for sea life.  It is estimated that 11 million tons of plastic ride the North Pacific Gyre between Asia and North America eventually washing ashore on beaches or breaking down to microscopic pieces.

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When we were on our annual spring trek to Bandon by the Sea in Oregon earlier this year we became aware of the Washed Ashore Project.  All this information is from their exhibit in Bandon and their website.

Artist and director Angela Haseltine Pozzi leads the Washed Ashore community in creating large-scale sculptures of the very sea life that is threatened by the marine debris.  Communities, schools, and state parks gather the debris off of the beaches.   They are then washed, sorted, drilled, cut and processed into art supplies.  Only re-purposed plastic debris found on beaches are used in Washed Ashore art.  

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The Project has impacted the lives of over 1 million spectators.  The exhibit features massive sculptures.

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100’s of volunteers have processed over 4 tons of plastic pollution into art supplies.  Washed Ashore’s traveling educational exhibit of sculptures continues to spread the message internationally.   Activity/Action Books and Curriculum based on Washed Ashore’s Marine Debris Awareness Program can be ordered through their website.

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Use less plastic.  Bring your own water bottle and mug with you.  Use cloth or canvas grocery bags.  Buy in bulk.  Refill containers.  Reduce and re-use whenever possible.  Recycle.  Contact Washed Ashore to start a Satellite Project in your community.  Each one of us can make a difference.

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Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature …” (Gen. 1:28).

“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!  You have set your glory above the heavens.  From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.

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When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?  You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.

You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet:  all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.  O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”  (Psalm 8)

Bearing in mind that ruling requires constant care and wisdom let us each do our part to help preserve our planet … God’s creation.

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Art For Life (pt 2)

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Yesterday I inadvertently sent my post “Art for Life” to my Life, etc. blog rather than  Franciscus Meus where this series Do you like a Mystery? has been unfolding.  This story could easily fit in either, but due to St. Francis’s love and concern for all living creatures and our precious planet I chose FM.  I will therefore place the last post with The Rest of the Story on both blogs because I believe so strongly in it’s message.

IMG_1327The medium.

IMG_1317The art ……. taking steps to save our planet.

 

Clue 2: Art For Life

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A “new” form of art has evolved:

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The photos show the new medium.

IMG_1313It is quite creative.  It’s purpose is to save our planet.  It is “Art For Life”.   The next post will reveal “The Rest of the Story”.

Clue 1: Creation Care

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After God created man (male and female) in his own image … “God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.  Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground. I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it.  They will be yours for food.  And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground–everything that has the breath of life in it–I give every green plant for food.”  And it was so.”  (Gen. 1:28-29)

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With this gift came also a heavy responsibility.  “Subdueing and ruling” require constant care and wisdom.  St. Francis of Assisi is likely the Patron saint of those who care for nature.  Perhaps the first environmentalist and ecologist showing us how to live on this earth in a way that respects and honors nature as God’s creation.

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So, the question … What do these photos have to do with our responsibility to care for what God has so generously given us?  The answer will amaze you.

The Cathedral of Assisi

The Chiesa di San Rufino is the Duomo or the Cathedral of Assisi.  The cathedral is the seat of the local bishop.  Rufino was Assisi’s first bishop, it’s Patron Saint, and was martyred and buried here in the third century.  It was inspirational to be in the same church where St. Francis and St. Clare were baptized.  It was also the bishop blessed Francis’ “spiritual awakening.”  It is still the official baptismal site for the village of Assisi.

The Romanesque facade is believed to have been completed in the early 13th century.  The interior is Neoclassical.  It was beautifully restored after a 1997 earthquake.

The facade is divided vertically into three sections and horizontally into three stories with a row of blind arches between the the first two.  All three portals are richly sculpted with red marble relief in the lunettes and geometric designs and figures around the entries.

Two lions stand guard at the central portal, with one eating a Christian martyr and the other clutching a ram in its claws.

Over the central portal the red marble relief depicts Christ enthroned beneath the moon and a star, with the Madonna del Latte to the left and St. Rufinus to the right.

The central rosette shows symbols of the Evangelists surrounding the intricate rose which is supported by three extraordinary figures standing on unidentifiable animals.

As I entered the rear of the church my eyes were immediately drawn to the two fine statues of St. Francis and St. Clare by Giovanni Dupre in 1888.

artistically edited due to poor lighting to an ‘antique’ style

artistically edited due to poor lighting to an ‘antique’ style

The next attraction was actually the floor.  Large glass panels exposed parts of the ninth century foundation.  Apparently after the 1997 earthquake inspectors discovered graves under the paving stones.  It was a common practice to bury people in the churches.  I have seen this in ancient Scandinavian churches as well.  It is also likely that this church was built upon old Roman temple ruins.  A cistern is also visible from the rear of the church.  The Diocesan museum is underneath the church as part of the foundation of the early church of San Rufino where the saint’s sarcophagus and ancient art can be seen.

The floor also displayed large red marble reliefs, one with the Franciscan Tau and the other with “abba Father.”

The baptismal font has a black iron gate around it and a terracotta cover over it (installed in 1882).  It is here in the San Rufino that Francis was baptized circa 1181 and Clare was baptized in 1194.  Eighteen years later it was here that Clare heard Francis teach and decided to dedicate her life to following Jesus.  Emperor Frederick II is believed to have been baptized here in the early 1190s.

Above the entrance to the chapel to the right stands a fresco by Giovanni Andrea Carlone, The Sacrifice of Elijah.  It depicts the contest between the prophets of Baal and Elijah.  Each prepared to sacrifice a bull and called on God to light the fire.  Elijah’s prayer was answered the prophet of Baal was not.  The people consequently returned to the one and only true living God and killed the prophets who had attempted to lead them astray.

There is also a beautiful Processional banner from the early 16th century which is variously attributed to Berto de Giovanni or Dono Doni and was incorporated as the altarpiece of the  Altare di San Giuseppe in San Rufino in 1670.  It depicts St. Joseph showing the Virgin’s wedding ring to an audience of kneeling men and women with a landscape of Assisi behind.

The predella (the base of the alterpiece) contains three panels depicting the Holy Family with SS Antony of Padua (on the left) and Bernardino of Siena (on the right) by Dono Doni.

The slide show has photos of Pope John Paul II and of the rose window looking from the inside with filters to appreciate the detail.

As always, with any visit to an inspirational setting such as the Chiesa di San Rufino, all the photos in the world can not capture the “Holy Spirit’s” touch on my heart or soul when sitting in this cathedral … all alone … in absolute silence.  I can hear Him “calling me” … “Come follow me.”

I can only answer with the simple prayer … Here I am Lord.  Show me how.  I am willing.  Help me stay on your path.

Spirituality of Place

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In Chasing Francis, Ion Cron  explains that a ‘pilgrimage’ is a “way of praying with your feet.”  One generally goes on a pilgrimage “if you feel there is something missing inside your soul, and the way to find it is to go to sacred places … places where God made himself known to others.  In sacred places, something gets done to you that you’ve been unable to do for yourself.”

He further introduces the concept of “spirituality of place” where something mystical happens through spiritual energy of past events (is a special place) to you, the pilgrim.  He uses the example of going to Yankee Stadium with his uncle.

I had such an experience in 2004 when my wife and I visited Copenhagen.  I had not been there in 40 years.  But prior to that we (my Danish parents and I) would spend 2 weeks vacation time there every year.  It was and still is quite safe to walk the streets of Copenhagen.  My parents would allow me to leave the hotel at 11:30 am and walk to the ‘Old Fort’ and catch the King’s Guard marching down the streets.  I would walk beside them all the way to Amalienborg Slot, the Royal family’s castle in the city where the ‘changing of the Guard’ takes place everyday at noon.  When the king was home there would be a band playing, as well.  If it was the King’s birthday the Guards would change from their blue uniforms to their red dress uniforms and have a large parade through the city.

After so many years it was like stepping back in time.  Hearing the orders being ‘barked’ out, the clicking of their heels on the cobblestones, and following the visitors as the soldiers worked their way around the square in the castle brought back great memories and it was extra special this time because I was sharing the experience with my wife.

I am willing to bet that you, too have experienced a similar ‘spirituality of place.’

We are only 2 weeks away from our “Chasing Francis pilgrimage.”  I am not certain what to expect.  I do not necessarily believe that there is ‘something missing in my soul’ but perhaps there is.  I have determined to be open to what God will do in me.  Already, by reading Ian’s book and ‘When Helping Hurts’ I sense a yearning for even a ‘deeper’ prayer and quiet time, as well as a need to somehow begin ‘simplifying’ our lives and doing ‘something more’ to help the poor, especially in our community.

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.  It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope–the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”  (Titus 2: 11-14)

Chasing Francis

“Chasing Francis is written in a genre called wisdom literature, which is a very delicate balance of fiction and nonfiction, pilgrimage and teaching.” Ian Morgan Cron wrote this very witty and engaging novel apparently after much research and gives credit to many authors whose writings or ideas influenced passages in his book.  There is a study guide at the end of the book to help us get the most from his book and he encourages us to get on line at www.chasingfrancis.com to learn more about Saint Francis.

“Chasing Francis is not a history or a spirituality book, though it contains elements of both.  It is a novel that touches a little something in the inner troubles of most of us who try to follow Jesus faithfully in a modern western environment.  Delightful!”

JOHN  MICHAEL  TALBOT, founder, spiritual father, and general minister, The Brothers and Sisters of Charity at Little Portion Hermitage

“By guiding us to wrestle deeply with a crisis of faith experience and by re-introducing us to a giant of faith, Ian Cron paves for us a path of grace, humility, and ultimate joy even through our “ground zero” darkness.  This is a life-changing work.  I now find myself “chasing Francis” in my life as well as in my art.”

MAKOTO  FUJIMURA, artist/writer, New York City

Having read Chasing Francis myself, I too feel that Ian touched on something that has been tugging on my heart.  There is a part of me that feels I have not been truly satisfying my thirst for God.  I desire to somehow make more of an impact in “my world” for my Jesus who gave his all for me.   Does “my world” see me as being different in any positive way or am I so much like the world that I am not making an impact?  How many of you upon introspection feel the same?

Introduction to Franciscus Meus

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“For I know the plans I have for you,”  declares the LORD

“plans to prosper you and not to harm you,

plans to give you hope and a future.”

   Jeremiah 29:11

 Welcome to  Franciscus Meus.

I did not really have any big plans for traveling this year.  But I believe God has opened a door that I cannot ignore.  A couple of weeks ago an incredible opportunity presented itself.  I met David Rapp of Water’s Edge Community Church and Discovery Venture Tours.   He has arranged a debut  Spirit Venture or ‘pilgrimage tour’ to Italy “CHASING FRANCIS:   Assisi, Rome, and more.”

David has been taking groups of youngsters and adults all over the world for many years.  He  designed this tour after the current popular novel, “Chasing Francis” by Ian Morgan Cron.

The package consists of 7 nights in Assisi and 3 in Rome and will include tours, excursions, historic pilgrimage sites, prayer, Eucharist celebrations, engaging discussions over great Italian food and wine, and as you can well imagine there will be nonstop great photo opportunities.

This is an invitation for you to join us and hop on this Spirit Venture to Italy from April 11th through the 21st.  We need more pilgrims.  There are still a few openings.  Unfortunately this is very short notice.  You only have 9 days to sign up.  David is hoping for a group of no more than 20.  Go to www.discoveryventuretours.com  and get all the information and the itinerary.

My blog on Chasing Francis is entitled Franciscus Meus, “My Francis,” and will include thoughts on Ian Cron’s book and interesting facts about Francis and eventually photos from the tour.  Come ‘pilgrim’ with me. Click here to read all my Franciscus Meus posts.