All Creatures Great and Small
On a Wing and a Prayer ...
Introducing ... "Grace",
one of the new pieces from my latest collection
We are living in a state of grace now amidst Summer’s blessings, full upon us with its bountiful sunshine, foliage and animal life. While we humans settle back to blissfully soak up the sun’s rays, the sound of bees buzzing methodically from flower to flower is interrupted only by the sudden whir of a hummingbird, the meandering journeys of a few butterflies and the dart-and-dodge of the dragonfly, letting us know that while we may be taking a break Nature’s smallest creatures are still going about the business of productive living.
Residing alongside these tiny beings there is much abundant and powerful horse spirit, especially in the Headwaters Region where over the last couple of weeks we welcomed thousands of horse enthusiasts during the Pan Am Equestrian events. Also during this ‘summer of the horse’, I was thrilled when American Pharoah made his mark on history by winning the Triple Crown of American horseracing (the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes), the first to achieve this impossibly challenging feat in 37 years. The horse-crazy little girl in me proved to be still very much alive and well while witnessing the Pharoah’s unwavering courage and strength ... my own heart pounded every second of that final race, right along with the drum of his hoof-beats.
I have always felt that out of all creatures horses seem to be particularly touched by the hand of God. The two graphic black and white horse drawings in this newsletter are a sneak peek at some of my newest work, created in honour of the great ‘soul-full’ spirit and essence that permeates these magnificent animals. It all began with ‘Grace’ (featured at the beginning of this newsletter) who 'arrived' in a sudden burst of energy the day of the Belmont Stakes. It seemed American Pharoah’s boldness and brilliance ('Bold' is the name of the second drawing above) had affected me exactly the same way another regal racehorse, Secretariat, touched my twelve-year-old soul, oh so many moons ago in the early 1970’s. His run for glory was even more successful, setting several records that to this day remain unbroken. The 'heart' of both these horses reminds us how inspiring a true champion can be.
That rare and brilliant champion spirit was well captured in the 2010 movie Secretariat which told the story of both 'Big Red' (as Secretariat was nick-named) and his equally spirited owner. Randall Wallace, the movie’s director, in an interview with Hannah Goodwyn of CBN.com said that Secretariat’s story “is about pure joy. The horse loved to run. He loved being alive. He loved using the gifts that he had. The woman who owned him (Penny Tweedy) had to do that too, against the challenges of other people who didn't believe that she could do what she did… for a championship heart is a normal heart until it hears and responds to the call of a miracle.” My favourite words from the movie itself, which truly capture the quintessence of both horse and human spirit, were when Penny Tweedy (played by Diane Lane) says: “it's about life being ahead of you, and you never know how far you can go unless you run at it”. If you are ever in need of a winning-against-all-odds kind of story, Secretariat really delivers.
Such a strong connection with ‘all our relations’, God’s creatures, is something I have felt all my life and I credit my parents who, while raising me and my siblings in a suburb of Toronto, had the foresight one summer to seek out a farm vacation and broaden our education. That one summer turned into many, many delightful summers lasting throughout my childhood, instilling not only a life-long appreciation of how to live in harmony and rhythm with Nature’s seasons, but a genuine love for the many animals I was blessed to help care for and raise.
Although I can't claim any 'parental' rights to the kestrels I reported on in my last newsletter, it turns out that they too have had success in raising two healthy babies over the last few weeks. One evening I was treated to the ultimate reward of seeing the little ones in flight-training performing their ‘circuits and bumps’. In aviation this refers to a touch-and-go landing maneuver that is common when learning to fly an aircraft. It involves landing and taking off again without coming to a full stop. The pilot then circles the airport in a pattern known as a ‘circuit’ and keeps repeating the maneuver, allowing many 'soft' landings to be practiced in a short time. If you can imagine baby falcons awkwardly making their own first tentative circuits around their airport nest, then you get the picture!
It was my own mother that inroduced me to the phrase that is the title of this newsletter, “All Creatures Great and Small”. Based on a hymn that was one of her favourites, those simple words are now some of my favourites as they speak to the joys to be found living alongside all things bright and beautiful. Watching the daily activities of the kestrel family on my own local stage as well as following the thrilling story of a champion racehorse unfolding before a global audience, fills me with the same delight I felt as a little girl on the farm experiencing the Circle of Life first-hand.
The biggest take-away though from these interactions with other creatures is the message of profound hope and positivity they provide. It is a message that tells us not just to live, but to live passionately, with joy and exuberance and to tackle the ‘circuits and bumps’ of life with grace so that when we face the really big race we too can make our run for glory.
As we bask in the lazy days of summer I will be taking some time off to recharge but please check my schedule for upcoming opportunities to try Zen Doodling or other workshops such as Inner Alchemy on Thursday, August 6 or Animal Spirit on August 22. You can also take a spin with a full day painting experience creating Celtic Harvest Spirals. Whatever your pleasure, I wish you joy during this fullness of summer and hope you are able to take time to do whatever it is that makes your own champion heart sing.
May you enjoy the dance!
Artist & Healing Arts Practitioner
Dancing Moon Designs
Illuminating the Creative Spirit ...