When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one, and a lily with the other.  ~Chinese Proverb

Bread feeds the body, indeed, but flowers feed also the soul.  ~The Koran

Persians are supposed to be the greatest gardeners in the world. I do not work them, but merely paint them. I don’t know why, it just seems that I aught. They are so prepossessing, colorful, and resplendent…how could one not want to paint them. For me, painting a flower is similar to the feeling one has at Christmas. The joy, the life, the present, and all the hope is there in every flower waiting to be but observed.

Flowers always remind me of my father. His gardens have always been the center of his universe. My grandfather is known to all as a master gardener, even as he approaches 90, a saw or a pruning hook is never far from his hand. Two movies always remind me of my father, “Lawrence of Arabia”, and “Gandhi”.

Last night I watched the 1982 film “Gandhi” by Sir Richard.  Attenborough’s masterpiece has had a special place in my heart for quite sometime. He said of it, that he hoped we find it “entertaining”. By contrast, I find it inspiring. Although it was a simplistic view of a man’s life (how could anyone tell the story of any man’s life succinctly in three hours let alone the life of Gandhi) it was a story beautifully told. Countless times throughout the film I wished to have been there to have painted what the lens of the camera viewed.

More importantly, by stringing together famous words and statements of Gandhi it allowed us an entree into the philosophies of non-violence and class consciousness, that seemed anything but a la carte. However, it is upon seeing it again, with new eyes, eyes of a person willing to lay down his life in the cause of peace, that I have found it to be the most inspiring. The familiar quotes still carry their accustomed weight when heard, but it is the simple phrases, and the humility of the man that causes my heart to quake with diffidence.

So then, why the flowers? Fragile, flowers are easily destroyed, and yet with few exceptions theirs is a life that continues to give despite previous atrocities or pain. Their pungent perfumes offer themselves to all who would subscribe. Fragrant and odoriferous, they seek only to give, to bird, bee, or man they care not.

Summer set lip to earth’s bosom bare,
And left the flushed print in a poppy there.
~Francis Thompson, “The Poppy,” 1891

Today I had the good fortune to paint Nathan’s wife’s Dalias. I camped out on his curb with my pastels in hand, he must have thought me quite odd. Once he ascertained my intentions, we became fast friends. Nathan is a true servant to others, as a fireman he gives of himself and his skills in ways few others in our society do. I believe that to be a fireman is the greatest public service a man/woman can do in the normal sense. It seems in stark transition to those who would like to “serve” their country, by enlisting to kill men of another land. One uniformed officer runs into a fire to fight for lives, the other creates a fire fight to take them.

I found this old home, a bit of a shack really, to be so…delightful. Being one of the oldest in the neighborhood, it surely was at sometime the “helps” quarters, being too small to be the farmhouse. It’s dilapidated shingles and siding offered the viewer a true sense of irony when compared with the nouveau-riche suburban delights that flank it. Like Gandhi, it seemed to say, I am of the common man, I make no pretense, I function…that is my purpose. Being inspired by the movie Gandhi, I too hope to be used, to be of purpose, and to be of help.

 

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