When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny.”~ Paul Coelho

"Some Mad Hope..."
A young and vital child knows no limit to his own will, and it is the only reality to him. It is not that he wants at the outset to fight other wills, but that they simply do not exist for him. Like the artist, he goes forth to the work of creation, gloriously alone.
Jane Harrison

Jude Harzer Artist/Art Educator

Jude Harzer Artist/Art Educator
My art is a reflection of my effort to recognize and embrace the beauty in the world around me, even when it seems most difficult to find. Contact me at judiharz@aol.com or visit my website at http://www.judeharzerfineart.com

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"Most of us have two lives- the life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands resistance."Steven Pressfield

"The greatest freedoms are freedom from regret, freedom from fear, freedom from anxiety, and freedom from sorrow."
Thich Nhat Hanh

Friday, December 19, 2008

Seeing Beauty When It Seems Most Difficult To Find

"I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it.... People think pleasing God is all God care about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back." ~Alice Walker, The Color Purple, 1982

I remember reading this in college. The words struck me because I always knew that if you look hard enough, despite the "noise" and ugliness,the unkindness,the pain...God is there. Beauty is there. It is however sometimes hard to find.But it is there.God(which for me equals beauty,hope,the goodness and potential within us all),can be found in the smiling face of a child, the kindness of a stranger,vibrant purple flowers growing amid a field of weeds...

Alice Walker's, The Color Purple, often makes me think about my students,..actually all children and people in general. We are naturally attracted to the physically beautiful,the talented,intelligent,funny or socially outgoing.It is human nature really and certainly all of those qualities are evidence of beauty. But the more satisfying beauty, for those that wish to "see",sometimes is not quite so obvious.

During the first several weeks of school, I make an effort to "see" all 700 of my students. There are those who are outwardly naughty and misbehaved. You can't help but notice them and learn their names quickly but the beauty is in the fact that they demand to be seen. They make you very aware of their existence and that is actually wonderful because they command attention,good or bad, and will be cared for. Then of course there are the attractive,the sweet,the gifted and talented...the children who are "easy" to teach and "easy" to love.They provide a refreshing, constant source of beauty and inspiration." ..their beauty is "easy" to see. Finally, there are the silent,the mentally or physically challenged,the "plain", the painfully shy,the abused,the misunderstood,the "faceless" who seem invisible to most.Beauty is equally within those children, those people...it is quietly concealed and more difficult to find,especially if you have a limited and superficial understanding of what beauty is. But I assure you it is there.It is what lies beneath the "mask" that often offers the most beauty. In all of us, "true" beauty is not in appearances. It is in our goodness, our kindness and generosity, it is in discovering who we are.

So throughout my year,I do make a concerted effort to see and help my students discover their own beauty. It is my job as an Art educator but it is more importantly my mission as a parent and as a person.It is amazing when you actually stop and talk to a person who probably would go unnoticed by most, and ask them with sincerity, how they are and who they are. You will witness an immediate physical and emotional transformation. Sometimes the response is one of suspicion or surprise, but for a moment, they realize that someone cared to see....I think I will do a purple painting:)

May you always find beauty in the world around you.

Jude, Art and Inspiration