—If you want to paint pictures, paint from photographs. Paint from life if you want to paint.—The visceral experience of sitting there and noticing something, and being able to put it down. That is really what life is all about, paying attention. The person who smells the roses, is the person who makes the time. It is in that moment of notice, that you are calm and singular of focus. This is usually when other things call at you, beckon you, that you must stop; that you make the time and…notice. It is when you are being challenged, it is when you are hurt, it is when you are really truly happy, it is in the big and the small ways that you take notice…and you remember it because it was important.

As I live my life out here, I try to paint the beauty I see. I tell you of all the wonderful people that are out here. If I just take a look. Take the time to look.

Look to YOUR left and YOUR right and see what is before you. See how many nice things there are? The people all around you are just the same wonderful people that are around me. The views I paint, the flowers I paint, the mountains, the lakes, the fields, and the people. They are from your backyard. I walked through your town. I walked through each of your towns. And one is just like the next, filled with good people. I never run through towns. I run on the open road, but I walk through every town. Even the ones that everyone tells me are bad.

You all think that it is OZ out there, where there are idiots, witches (with a B), tiny men with giant egos, floosies, and flying “F-in” monkeys. But, out here is really Kansas. Auntie Em’s are all around you. Don’t you remember what Dorothy found out in The End, she had it in her all along. The courage, the heart, the intellect you wanted you have had it in you all your life. You are already home. You are the next saint. It is just a decision away. Decide to love, and repeat…because you want to. Be the good witch.

Today I had to go into a library shelter to wait out the tornadoes that were touching down on the freeway a half a mile away. The hail really was BIG. For a boy raised on the west coast…this was interesting.

In the shelter, everyone kind of looked at me with my tunic on and said a collective, “Oh great I trapped in a storm basement with a guy named “Peace Artist”. I went to the library today to research art. Then, just as I was going to leave, the call came on to go to the shelter. The shelter was just the most protected office space in the library really. In fact it was Doreen’s office.

I had a gut feeling today to bring some sketching paper. In the shelter I offered to draw for anyone, perhaps a portrait. Everyone thought it nice, but were uncomfortable to accept. But then Christina asked me to draw her dog. She gave me her Iphone and I drew her dog. Meanwhile Doreen, was busy making room, getting enough chairs for everyone, and making coffee. “Irish Creme anyone?” you could hear her asking. What kind of amazing souls are these people?

People started asking about the pilgrimage, how far have I come, what am I doing it for, but when I replied I could see a visible change of peace come over their faces. What I said I think changed what they were doing and thinking. I said, “That I have made up my mind to do is to live everyday like its last. If today was my last day, and judging by the storm outside it might be (although I doubt it).” Now mind you this is a state of the art in library construction, and the building is only like 2 years old; it was the safest place you could be. But I continued, “if today was my last day, how would I want to go out? I said I couldn’t think of a better way than to be like Doreen and all of you, compassionate in the very last moment.”

Doreen did what she could to love people when they were afraid and in discomfort. When a woman in a wheelchair, and some elderly people came in, people sprung to help. A man went out and got chairs for all the people he could. The elderly people didn’t take a chair so a woman with a baby could. Doreen passed out coffee, found games for the kids to play, and made small chat with people to make them feel OK, like she does this all the time.

People were the love to each other at perhaps not our “darkest” hour, but they were there for each other when there was an emergency. And I was drawing pictures and beaming love, it is what I could do. I was so happy to watch these people loving on each other in the “what could be” last moments. The husband and wife holding hands. The kids playing, not crying, just entertaining themselves with their new “friends of the moment”. I am an adult, and I looked around and I saw my “friends for the moment”, we weren’t playing with games, but we were playing the big game…who are you when it really counts?

I see my job as being a bee. Everyone is a flower. I go around and seek to find the best part about each person, to extract their nectar and what is best about them, the I share it with you in paint and prose. In a way, it is a way to cross pollinate the ideas of one with others. The whole word really is a garden, won’t you tend it?