Showing posts with label mystery. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mystery. Show all posts

Sunday, November 19, 2023


Inspiration for painting art is as broad as the universe. Subjects are endless. Some artists choose to have no subject at all, but let colors and line speak and be interpreted entirely subjectively.

For several years I have made paintings that evoke the most difficult symbol: death. It is the subject behind life that nobody wants to look at. The shadow that lingers in the corners of our consciousness, and for most, the unwelcome guest at the banquet of life.

My most recent painting took great effort emotionally, psychically and on canvas. It came in response to the deluge of horrific information that comes on the newscasts every day, especially with various wars raging in the world. In the painting, death is the ultimate victor, while all the combatants and other actors are decimated.

I usually don’t try and describe symbolism in my paintings . . . but in this instance I will:
Two spectral central figures are toasting with goblets of red wine, oblivious to the chaos and destruction raging around them. They are dressed in black, symbolizing the void, absence of light, mystery, mourning and perhaps comfort. Enigmatically they hold goblets of wine. Red wine represents celebration, opulence, strength, passion, love: it is the blood of life. The glass goblets represent the fragility of the vessel which holds life. 
In art, a skeleton is often used as a symbol of death and mortality. The Latin phrase "Memento Mori" translates to "Remember that you will die," and it's a reminder of the inevitability of death.  One skeleton wears a crown of roses representing the fleeting nature of beauty and life. Here, death is happily taking life that disappears forever. 
In the background are burning cities. Mankind is at war and masses of people are caught in the conflagrations of violence and destruction. They flail helplessly against fate. On the left, a terrorist holding an automatic weapon stands beside death. Bewildered people crowd together, not knowing if they live or die. Fists with swords sweep through the air, while other arms and hands reach toward the sky in anguish. A stunned man gazes next to a death figure on the right. There is no place of safety.
In the midst of death, between the two skeletal figures is a child, looking up in bewilderment. Even children are being swept into the void of death.

The painting came as a response to current events. Our current world is in travail with countless threats to the fabric of existence. 

As an artist, I pictured it. For now, and forever as testimony.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Procession of Silence

I knew I had to be on the street, up close at eye level for "La Procesión del Silencio", or the Procession of Silence. It is a yearly grand march winding through the center of Oaxaca. Various churches are represented with somber marchers and holy icons. 

So I left Amy and our friends on the rooftop patio of the restaurant where we had a late lunch and walked a few blocks to the front of Temple Santo Domingo, in centro Oaxaca de Juarez, close to where the solemn parade was about to begin. Amy and the others stayed behind and waited for the marchers to wind their way in front of the restaurant, where they would have a bird´s eye view.

Streets were roped off. Onlookers, mostly locals of all ages with some tourists thrown in, lined each side. The parade began solemnly moving forward; every 100 feet stopping to pause. Facilitators were with each group of marchers, acting as guides. Press photographers were allowed in the street. The atmospheric reverence was more pronounced by pervasive silence in wrapt devotion. “The mystery is further heightened by the metered beat of a drummer, candlelight, shawl draped women, hooded men, the eerie sound of crosses dragging on the cobbled streets, and  illumination of a full moon.” ­ 

I had a good vantage point for taking pictures, and when the procession was near its end, I raced forward to the front, taking pictures again. By the time it reached the restaurant, I was up on the roof with Amy.

I did not grow up with religion, and only became “religious” by choice at the age of 19 when I joined the Bahaí Faith. Amy attended Catholic grade school, and can tell who is who when it comes to martyrs and saints in the Catholic faith.

"Bahá’u’lláh says that religion must be conducive to love and unity. If it proves to be the source of hatred and enmity, its absence is preferable; for the will and law of God is love, and love is the bond between human hearts. Religion is the light of the world. If it is made the cause of darkness through human misunderstanding and ignorance, it would be better to do without it."  
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 287

Sunday, April 08, 2018

True Wisdom

The greatest thing you can do to cultivate true wisdom is to practice the consciousness of the world as a dream.  -Paramahansa Yogananda

In 2008 while I was traveling for one year around the world, life became THE DREAM. It was a subtle shift in my consciousness. As I relaxed into my new role of adventurer and observer, I realized how fluid life is—and how obstinately hard my consciousness had become with years of built up mental formulations. I determined to let go and be in flux. I shook off notions of nationality, race, wealth—all the usual prejudices that are obstacles to oneness. The more I let go, the more I realized the world is phenomenal, fluid—and ever shifting sands.

If the sound of waves outside my door kept me from falling asleep, I laughed at how accustomed I had become to silence at bedtime. If I found myself in a crowd of strangers in Africa, and I was the only white person, I delighted how the kaleidoscope of human colors before my eyes shifted radically to ebony. Deep in the blackness I went "clubbing" with new acquaintances in Nairobi; dancing all night. Some people must have thought they were dreaming to see me, just as I knew I was in THE DREAM experiencing the night, the African milieu, music and being lost in it.

In Rome, I missed a long distance flight because I was confused by the 24 hour clock. My plane was scheduled to leave at 01:30. I arrived just after noon, and at the ticket counter was told the flight had left 12 hours earlier at 1:30 AM. I was shocked and breathless for a few moments, but realized how THE DREAM had unfolded with a major surprise. I became observer and even laughed at how I stumbled and hurt myself.

During youth, occasionally my young mind would wander into zones that made me question “reality.” Then youthful angst would set in, and fear of being mentally ill would arrive. After all, aren’t we supposed to be on firm footing in the world, knowing from where we come and where we are going?

When, in the spring of 1997, I found myself in a cancer clinic with my oldest daughter, Naomi, who was seventeen, the surroundings seemed foreign, nightmarish. We did not belong there and I was confused. After waiting, a doctor came to us and announced with considerable concern that Naomi had a very large tumor in her hip and it was malignant. The cancer most likely had spread to her lungs and maybe brain. I sensed being in a dream. Reality had shifted so radically that I clearly perceived we were in an unreal world because in essence, we were okay, safe, protected in SPIRIT; even eternal. But death was all over us. What was real?
Six years previous to that episode, while on a family vacation in Oregon, I had a powerful dream that shook me to the core. When I woke I was devastated. The vision was full of mesmerizing and beautiful imagery, spiritual throughout, but I woke with a start when an arrow, sent by a spirit being, pierced the heart of a child next to me. The imagery and symbolism had been profoundly spiritual up to that point. What had happened?
The day at the cancer clinic, standing next to my child when the doctor gave his report I felt an arrow pierce my heart. How are the worlds bound together? What is “reality”? (For more about Naomi and I on our spiritual journey, see my award -winning book A Heart Traced In Sand)

After my extensive traveling I retained a sense of THE DREAM but it tapered off. Perhaps I needed flux. I needed uncertainty, mystery, enough constant change to keep me off balance. I began missing it enough that I have tried to cultivate the sense permanently.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Unraveling Mysteries

After almost 600 posts spanning a decade, occasionally I find myself without a topic to write about. I could go to my poems or myriad journal entries from years past. But with a vast archive of photos, occasionally I select a couple and let them speak. After all, "A picture is worth a thousand words."

I was searching through my photo files the other day and found these two from Paris that I pulled out to take a closer a look.

This is me, doing my "street photography". I am looking into the picture window of an art gallery. On view is a bold, colorful painting of a building with tower and windows. Reflected over the art is the street where I stand. Cars, and stone facades of residences are set at an oblique angle to the building in the painting. My reflection seems to melt into the scene. Appropriate! When I am in "the zone", doing my street photos, I disappear into my surroundings.

I think I was at Musée d'Orsay when I took this "picture within a picture". 
It works on various levels. First is the masterpiece of art; a painting in classic style, skillfully depicting an unfolding drama of momentous proportions. A mother and her child are succumbing to cold in a frozen landscape. Franciscan brothers have come to their aid and are trying to resuscitate them—just as an avalanche strikes close behind. In front of the painting, a couple hold one another and look. The artwork has moved them to intimacy as they share in unraveling its mysteries.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Know Thyself

Know Thyself. 
- Socrates

True loss is for him whose days have been spent in utter ignorance of his self. -Baha'u'llah

I went to see my long time psychologist recently. We have met off and on for many years. It has been the nature of my adult life to be in many predicaments leading to moments of truth. I am a risk taker. I have always learned by doing and experiencing consequences. My father thrived on problem solving his entire life, and I have that tendency too.

The therapist I see is renowned, an author and lecturer. In the past he has traded with me for art.

When I arrived for the recent session, I took a few minutes sitting quietly in a waiting room. I reflected on what I wanted to say, glanced at recent journal passages, prayed that the discussions would be enlightened and bring the highest good. Then I thought of what to talk about. Essentially, I try to be on the path of "heart"; strong and open, feeling truth and mystery, having equanimity and fullness. Knowing joy and pain and being fluid in both.
I chose to talk about feeling stuck in some ways . . . and decided to mention a couple dreams I had had about a year ago that seemed to explain much but I could not decipher all the symbols within them.

Comfortably seated in the office, the two of us made great headway with the dreams in our hour of conversation. He knows me so well, I could refer to childhood memories he knew about. With his help and adept questioning, I gained new inspirations and insights that are helping to unlock closed passages that are essential for me to travel in.

As I drove home, reflecting on realizations, I saw people walking about, and noticed how they held themselves and how they dressed. I could "see" the psychological being that formed the outer picture.  Then I felt compassion because it is not easy being human and everyone tries.

Observe all men; thy self most. - Benjamin Franklin

Charity is in the heart of man, and righteousness in the path of men. Pity the man who has lost his path and does not follow it and who has lost his heart and does not know how to recover it. When people's dogs and chicks are lost they go out and look for them and yet the people who have lost their hearts do not go out and look for them. The principle of self-cultivation consists in nothing but trying to look for the lost heart. - Mencius (4th century B.C.)

Some people say they haven't yet found themselves. But the self is not something one finds; it is something one creates.- Thomas Szasz

Sunday, April 15, 2012

An Incredible Story

I heard an incredible story recently. At the health club I attend, I had just finished swimming and went to soak in the hot tub. I got in, and a woman looked intently at me and said, “Are you Steven Boone? I lived near you some years ago . . . and have read your book, A Heart Traced In Sand. My name is Cassie”  I did not recognize her, but nodded hello and we began talking about my former neighborhood. Soon the subject came to loss and death. She said she had lost her husband, mother and father, all within a short time span. We talked about soul life, and then she began recounting her story. It is as follows:
Her mother died in October, and some six months later, in March, Cassie traveled from New Mexico to Pennsylvania for a memorial gathering in the community where her mother had lived. At the neighborhood park where the memorial was to happen the next day, by chance, she met a man who had known her mother. They said hello and chatted, and then the man asked after her mother. Cassie replied that her mother was dead. The man acted surprised and then asked when the mother had died. Cassie said, “Last October.” At this, the man turned pale, and suddenly walked away.

The next day, the same man was at the memorial, and Cassie followed him to pursue their conversation. He said, “Well, just a month ago, in the evening, I saw your mother outside of our house and went to talk with her. After I came back inside, my wife went out to talk with her. We both spoke with her, and she seemed fine.”

Since the conversation, Cassie has stayed in touch with the man, and he confides that the event has radically reshaped his thinking.

This is another reason I call this life, THE DREAM.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Best August Blogs

This weekend I am posting some of my best blogs from the month of August since 2007. Here they are:

Eternity In An Hour, 
August 19, 2007

August 17, 2008

THE DREAM Unfolds, 
August 24, 2008

Woven Together Into Eternity,   
August 02, 2009

August 30, 2009

August 08, 2010

A Marvel,
August 21, 2010

Sunday, August 08, 2010


Life is a gift, and every being is special and unique. Simply meditating on this can bring awareness of God. Each person carries gifts to share with the world, and although outer wealth varies considerably, I think that the richest people are those that abundantly share the gifts of their talents and innate abilities. A Navajo Indian saying goes, “A person may be lacking in hard and soft goods, but if he has a song, he is not poor.”

Each day I am aware of the gifts that come to me, and often hear myself saying aloud, “Thank you!” When I go to art openings at many of the local galleries on Friday evenings, I am able to stroll through rooms full of incredible artwork, made by the artists that have consecrated themselves to producing dazzling objects that broaden our appreciation and awareness of life and its possibilities. The crowds mingle merrily, partaking of refreshments provided by other people who also serve up their unique talents as organizers and brokers for the artists. Last Friday, after going to the openings, I went with a friend to an evening ballet performance at The Lensic, a stately performing arts theater downtown—made from the able vision of an architect and the skilled hands of craftspeople. To watch the dancers move beautifully and with élan to fulfill the inspiration of choreographers is sometimes breathtaking. Other talent comes in to play as well, such as set designers, lighting technicians, musicians and composers. All this genius consecrated to make the magic of a performance. This is true wealth.

Yesterday afternoon I received a rub down from a friend who is skilled in massage. I felt blessed receiving his loving touch that healed the soreness in my body and reinvigorated my tissues, muscles and bones. In the quiet of our communion, I could listen to the song of the birds outside, sharing their melodies with creation. Then, in the evening, I went with a friend to see a movie called Inception, a sci-fi thriller based on a concept of psychic espionage, directed by Christopher Nolan, starring Leonardo Di Caprio. This film is the result of a huge collaboration of talent among a myriad of individuals, culminating in my being able to buy a ticket, walk into the dark hall of a theater, choose a comfortable seat and let myself drift into a fantasy world that looks and feels real—sometimes more than “normal” life, and then while experiencing this alter-reality, receive the gifts of beauty, excitement, knowledge, and inspiration that are gathered inside.

Today, as is my habit on Sunday mornings, I went to a nearby store that serves refreshments and sells newspapers and magazines. I bought the Sunday edition of the New York Times, and then sat on the patio under a clear morning sky, in the shade of an umbrella with flowers blooming all around, to read leisurely, drink a cup of coffee and munch a pastry. The New York Times is substantial, and it takes me all week to read the Sunday paper since it includes many special sections. Here again, I appreciate the work of many, from designers to editors, journalists and photographers—all sharing their carefully crafted gifts.

Tomorrow night I go to a ballet, Madame Butterfly, by Giacomo Puccini at the Santa Fe Opera. An entire book could be written about just this one composer and the gifts of endowment that he shared with the world.

I know that most of the world’s people live without the plethora of opportunity and culture that I appreciate. Yet they find their own songs to sing. And so, I leave you with a photograph to look at carefully. This blind man was alone on a street in Hanoi, Vietnam, when I snapped his picture. He played his song on a homemade flute, and around his neck were many more flutes, strung from a cord. I suppose if you asked him, “How is life?” He would respond, “Good! As long as I have my song, I am not poor.”

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Chain Of Events

My mother has begun entreating me not to travel in South America because of “murders”. But then, my mother has barely ventured past her backyard for twenty years and experiences the outside world vicariously through reading volumes of books. Some of my friends too, when they hear of my plans to wander around in South America, express concern for my safety. One person cited a recent article about murders in Sao Paolo and Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. 11,000 in six years, and these were by the police. Rio is my first stop in South America, when I arrive to experience carnival.
THE DREAM is what matters to me, and I only want to experience all that comes to me. I trust the future will arrive bearing gifts, and so what if some gifts are unpleasant? If I desire to be safe and secure all my days, then I would not take risks that might lead me away from my comfort zone. But I need to be united with the matrix of existence and this leads me to live without barriers and go into mystery, or the opposite of safe, because it is where life abounds, but also death.
One of my best experiences in Africa was in Nairobi. One night I went to a dance hall in a poor neighborhood. I must have been the only white person for miles, and this was immediately after some civil unrest had seen rioting in the city that left scores homeless. Entering the darkened passageway to the club, I felt a tinge of fear, remembering that my mother had pleaded with me not to go to Africa because “They will kill you there, just to steal your shoes!” When my friends and I were inside and I got used to the dark, I realized that the way people looked at me, that maybe I was the first and last white person they ever expected to see in this place. Here, THE DREAM was unfolding and I found it perfect. I was in deepest, darkest Africa and that evening, I loved the night. A live band played steady African rhythms and I joined in the dancing, bonding among strangers. I liked what they liked, and had fun despite some stares.

Last night, I returned from a three-day visit to Chicago, where my lovely daughter Sarah performed in her last dance works at Columbia College. Now she is a graduate, and I am proud of her accomplishments. While I drove home from the airport late in the evening, I had to smile thinking of how remarkable travel is, and that it is a chain of events. Then I said a prayer of blessing to all those that assisted me along the way. Often we take for granted the little touches we receive. I thought back to the porter that opened the door for me at the hotel as I stepped into the cold air to walk to the subway. At the subway turnstile, I had to ask to get a ticket and was given directions by a young woman who then smiled and said, “Have a happy holiday!” Then the ride to the airport, and as I stepped off the train, the woman train driver leaned out her window as I passed by. I said “Thank you,” and she smiled, and said, “Your welcome!” In the corridor, a man played Christmas tunes on his saxophone. At the terminal, everyone was helpful going to the gates. We had to take off so many things at the metal detectors that I joked with the young woman behind me that soon we would be nude. She laughed as she took off her shoes and I finished taking off my belt, and said yes, the guards like their jobs. But we were being protected to insure our arrival. In the air, the stewards were polite and jovial. At one point, a steward announced “whoever had opened her nail polish on the plane, please put it away immediately because it could make other passengers sick.” I sat next to a young woman arriving home from a college exchange program in France. We traded travel stories. The pilot announced it was a stewards 35th birthday. Everyone applauded and cheered. On the shuttle bus from the terminal to the parking area, a young man was wearing shorts, although it was almost freezing outdoors. We joked and he said he was coming from Phoenix. Several of the passengers joked and laughed. I said I was arriving from Chicago, where several days earlier, people were wearing two coats when they went outdoors. As I retrieved my car from the airport parking lot at 10 PM, the attendant took my cash and said, “Drive safely, and have happy holidays!” I pulled on to the highway, turned on my radio and listened to a wonderful program about the Beatles and their music. Someone had put great care into the production for the free enjoyment of others like myself. At that point, I gave thanks and prayed for the blessing of all those who had touched my life and who I touched.