Out of the Blue Bliss

Years ago while I was creating designs for my parish’s liturgy committee, I decided to enter a liturgical art contest.

My art didn’t place in the contest. Not even a mention. More than a year later, one of the images of my work appeared on the cover of a magazine owned by the company from the contest.

It was my first time as a published artist. It didn’t register with me at the time, even when I opened the magazine and saw my name for the cover credit. As I look back on it, I am glad I put myself out there by entering the contest. The experience fostered a seed planted long ago.

I am acquainted with several artists who volunteer their time to illustrate sacred stories. You never know where it will lead, for me the experience was far richer than getting notice on a magazine cover. In fact, I would describe it as bliss.

Cover art by Mary A Livingston  6'x9' in fabric

Cover art by Mary A Livingston
6’x9′ in fabric

A Little More of that Back Door Bliss

Today is All Saint’s Day. I once had a wonderful golden retriever with today as her birthday, we named her All Hallow’s Tessa. A well bred, well trained, loveable girl. But this is not about how well she hunted or the number of spirits she lifted when visiting nursing homes and the sick.

This is about how she changed the course of a little boy’s life.

When placing puppies from a litter we scrutinize each possible owner with an application and references. Since our dogs are high energy bird dogs, almost all owners are hunters or families that include dogs in activities.

Such was one new owner, a young boy soon to be 11 years old. He had waited for a puppy and proved to his mom that he was ready. Of course. she knew she would have to provide a safety net. The application was in and approved before the pups were born.

We assist our owners in pup selection. We spend weeks with the pups and know their personalities. Truth be told, the puppies choose. Milo would pick up his puppy last.

I often post photos of pups online so the new owners can watch them grow. Everyone liked the little boy with the blue ribbon, his photos were most commented on.

The day came for pups to go home. One by one the new owner’s came. Each time little blue boy sniffed the air, walked about ten feet from the other pups and just laid down. He was waiting, these were not his people.

Finally Milo came. His mother got out of the car. I will never forget her words, “We have a problem.”

She went on to explain. Milo informed her at breakfast that the little blue boy would be his pup. God told him in a dream.

I smiled. I told her it all worked out, little blue boy waited for Milo.

She grew pale and said, “But we don’t do God.”

I smiled again, “Apparently, Milo does.”

While we spoke, Milo slipped from the car and his puppy met him in the grass.

Milo told us he looked up Tessa’s name and read about All Saint’s Day. So when in his dream, God told him the little blue boy was his puppy, he believed God. His mom was visibly shaken as she took care of the paperwork. Nothing like an awakening to rattle an atheist to the core. Been there. A door had opened, Milo boldly walked through. His mom cautiously followed.

God slipping a little bliss through the back door.

Tessa all ready for a visit. She was an active participant in Rx Pets. She often carried a basket of fun while cheering people.

This  photo was taken a few weeks before she died, spring 2012. Today is the first birthday without her. Many lives were touched by this wonderful girl.

Odd Duck

I was different.

One of the boys grabbed the snake from her cage, she bit him. He dropped her and she quickly hid behind textbook boxes. The kids all stepped back. When I reached into the six-foot boa’s hiding place, she calmly slid into my hand. We became friends. It was the first week of school, I turned 11 that week. I liked drawing pictures, racing bikes, climbing trees, snakes, and math. I was an odd duck.

In all fairness, I understand her perspective. The program instructor from Seed Planted 4. When the program instructor told me that I was not good at art, that I should focus on math and science. I was crushed. She did not do this to be mean, she was trying to help me. The circumstances were such:
I lived in a poor community.
I was from a poor family.
I did not have a good home life.
I had a high math and science aptitude.

The instructor viewed math and science as my way out of cultural poverty. This was back in the days, those unenlightened days, of girls don’t like math. I was an odd duck. I liked math and was good at it. The numbers just made sense. So when she announced that I had a class where I could learn anything, I said, “I want to learn to draw,” my request did not sit well with her plan for my future.

Truth be told, I don’t think she relayed the message from the expert who looked at my art. I did not receive direct feedback. It came from the instructor, not the source, and the instructor had an agenda.

The saving grace for growing up. My favorite teacher. My grandparents.

Art finds a way in, no matter the path we take.
When the front doors are closed, we may just find a back door left ajar and have a chance to sneak bliss on the naysayer’s watch.