Call of the Artist

Bernie and I are nearing the end of this vacation. After spending a few days in Lafayette LA, we were faced with the deadly storms in the middle south right in the planned path toward St. Louis, MO. We decided to veer to the west where we could drive north outside of the dangerous areas. It turned out to be a wise decision and we managed to get to St. Louis without any weather problems and had a great visit with my brother and his family.

Yesterday we continued our travels and headed to Chicago. This morning we are at the home of a cousin and will spend the day visiting more relatives. More tomorrow and Sunday we head back to Minnesota. We have loved every encounter, every catching up with people we love dearly.

I haven’t blogged in a while. I’d intended to do some reporting of the various experiences we’ve had but for some reason, being on the road keeps me more focused on the experiences than on the reporting. Bernie and I love learning about the history and culture of people through living history and through the telling by the people themselves.

As I learn more, I am always struck by the heroes that have walked among us, ordinary people who have done extraordinary things.  Traveling through Missouri we stopped at the George Washington Carver National Memorial. I have to confess that until this experience, Carver occupied a mosty empty drawer in my memory file. A single paragraph in my history book. I could not have told you  a single thing about  him except that he was African American. I came away from visiting the memorial inspired by a man who loved the natural world and had an insatiable thirst for knowledge. His humility and spirituality were especially impressive and I hope to learn more about him. I added his name to my growing list of heroes.

This morning I received an e-mail from writer Jan Philips who sent out a you-tube video on the life of photographer Dorothea Lange. I knew nothing about her but one picture for which she is most famous of a migrant worker mother. I recognized the photo immediately. Her work inspired the book “Grapes of Wrath” and the movie that followed and finally outrage about the suffering of the workers and a government response as a result.

What was particularly significant about both Carver and Lange is that they reached a point in their lives when service to mankind took precidence over personal profit. Carver gave freely of his scientific knowledge to poor farmers, especially black farmers, so that they could make the best use of their land and help lift them out of poverty. Lange gave up her job to dedicate herself exclusively to the work of exposing the suffering caused by injustice. I feel inspired this morning. I know that I am gifted as are all who read this post. I hope and pray that I am open to using my gifts to serve others…that God’s compassion will be manifest. This is the way of the artist. Noone is exempt.

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