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dear dad,
I have a little shelf in my office that gives honor in some tiny way to members of my family. On it is a small woodcut that Mom made, a self-portrait of Lochlan, a sepia photo of my grandmother Mutti in a thoughtful pose, and a few other trinkets, including a bulldog. Many years ago I found a small antique ceramic bulldog and bought it because the stubborn face it made reminded me of you. I held on to it for years, and finally got rid of it because I thought it wasn’t a nice way to remember my father. Soon after that another bulldog almost exactly like the first came across my path, and as though giving in to an insistent argument, I bought it and kept it.

I was curious to hear that you’ve taken up a new subject for your paintings, appropriately modest after your recent years of homages to great and consequential figures such as Rembrandt, Bartok and Einstein. You’re suddenly in love with bulldogs, researching them online, drawing them, painting them and imagining yourself being interviewed by them.

I can see why you would love bulldogs. They possess the sort of beauty that you admire – not the easy, widely agreed upon beauty of young brides or chrysanthemums, but the awkward beauty of an absurd map of wrinkles, a foolish underbite and lopsided eyes. They have big hearts and impossibly enormous smiles. Their build gives them a solid grip on the ground, making them sturdy and dependable. If you tug at them and they don’t want to budge, they won’t budge.

Your new interest doesn’t surprise me, since for years you have been my personal bulldog. This is just one of many examples of how connected our thoughts are, how deeply linked we are. I don’t understand the importance of the bulldog, but I’m willing to utilize it to help me begin speaking to you. Perhaps the bulldog will play a role in the unfolding story, or perhaps it is just a sentry at the door – we’ll see.

A little over a year ago I was embraced by the power of the Messiah. I will never be the same again. I have given myself over to an extraordinary process of transformation, and am so grateful to have been drawn to the bosom of God through Messiah, and to have been given the gift of timeless communion with the Lord. All I want anymore is to be what God wants me to be.

You may be surprised at how deeply you are woven into what I am experiencing. You've shaped my thinking, teaching me to be a risk taker, to challenge assumptions, think for myself and find my own way. I have often felt that I learned to love God from watching you make art, which you would surely agree is ironic considering that to my knowledge you haven’t cultivated a relationship with God. I won’t presume what your position is with the Almighty, since He may be working within you in ways that I will never know or understand, and that even you may not understand. I don’t need to know about that.

I do need to speak of God’s presence in my life. I need to shout it, sing it, paint it, and I am just beginning to discover how to let divine glory shine through my art. Magnifying God in my own unique way is what I live for. It is the only thing that remains after all the other stuff is gone – the kids starting their own life; the belongings that just take up space and don’t give much back; the movies that are less and less satisfying; the relationships that we can’t hold on to. At the end of the day, or the end of the life, all I have is the promise that I am and will always be a member of an eternal body.


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easter drenchingseeds planteddisaster into opportunityraised In the churchbeginning to reveal himself

loyalty to my faithwhat about the holocaust?painting Godsaved from what?completely

acknowledgements