James Edward Hergel, Canadian Artist: A Collection

…home holds the heart as nothing else can

find me, buried in this frost & moondance rhythm of light & dark

the northern lights have held me hostage, willingly I die with them 

each summer, each dawn

this quiet haven of stilled sweetness,  thick & beloved, pining admidst the lucid shadows of winter—

there, all things are converging & tearing apart

my heart, my heart



I could pretend I know much more about Canadian artists than I do, but one thing I do know, Canadian artists seem to be some of the most illustrative & colourful. At least, my favourites are & I rarely see art from other countries that touches my heart the same way. 

Perhaps it is the bleak long winters devoid of colour, but I gravitate towards the intense images & bold colours. Often there is a fluidity to the lines that reminds me of blowing snow more than water. The shift colour gradients & deep shadows in many artist’s works is so engrossing. 

From a young age I wanted to be an artist, & for reasons I can’t quite understand, I felt very discouraged from this path. Only now do I realize you just can’t fight these things, you must let yourself be taken along for the ride with artistic journeys. For me, I could pretend only, to be anything else. My nature is artistic. 

Whether it’s been music, writing, visual art, fabric art—I am by nature an artist. This hasn’t always meant I’m good at it by nature, or that I’ve not needed to learn the craft, & practice it, it simply means, I see & dream & feel & live most thouroughly when being creative. I am not good with redundancy or conformity. I get tired, bored & definitely unproductive. Some people thrive on schedule, routine & knowing what comes next. I’ve discovered some people ‘hate surprises’ & change. That, I cannot wrap my mind around. 

I struggle to be constant. It is true, I love my own home, most certainly, my own bed; but, give me challenge & variants & an opportunity to learn new things, & I never get tired or bored. I wish I had a little more constancy to get perfected at something. I feel this might be my greatest flaw. But, if life had unlimited time, the slow gradual opportunity to form a skill as layers of sediment forms a ridge eventually, that would be perfect for my learning style. 

Anyways. Enough about me. I really just wanted to share some lovely art today. 

It’s a day when I expect the snow will start falling any moment now, things are looking browner by the day outside, the days are getting very short & dark, so this spark of colourful artwork is keeping me cheery. Enjoy! 

Advertisements

Giving Silence a Voice

I could give this silence a voice—it’s anarchy upon the soundstage of that inner world. 

There’s a mad flailing, like tentacles, foamed in black ink & I notice death has both a particular glare & a particular smell. Both are putrid. Both are hot & cold all at once. 

There’s screaming from those to the left & to the right; I can’t tell if they scream at each other, or the sky, or the earth below their feet. I have a deafness coming over me, followed by a breathless swallow as commotion spins down this swirling drain. I can only consume so much of these silent moments—the one inside the eye of the storm, before that next hail begins; the one after the fact when silence, well, silence just won’t do. 

Silence is the shock. Silence is the doom. Silence is the stunned disbelief. 

Silence is the hungered child who finally hasn’t the strength to cry one more sob. Silence is the hope teetering upon hopelessness. 

Silence is the stench better known as death.  

I tire of silence. I tire of death. 

I tire of screaming soundless echoes where there are no walls or valleys or canyons to bounce upon. 

So there I sit—in chaotic meloncholies of agonies & deafening reverberations of sickening anguishes, howling & wailing—yet more & more, this wild wild wind storm. 

The silence falls, heavy on my heavy chest, crushing what breath remains, choking my heart, subduing my lungs, flung to the ground while running—

How long do I lay here, am I playing, or am I dead? 

Just Another Day…

So there it was, some dream-like agony with a fresh dust of snow—you screaming agony…you poor screaming agony. 

You go, severing life & echoing blood from flaring nostrils, & you cannot love. You cannot. 

You keep gripping needles & guns & knives, plunged deep, and you’re the widening of hate. You’ve got guts in your gills & sorrow strewn upon your hills. You’re anguish—full & raw & slaughtering & empty. 

You’re not even taking a step to slow. You keep coming. Your face is fueled with things I’ve never known, never understood—never have I wanted to. 

With all this death you come dripping, & I’m not listening. You spew another vast hail of hate, & I’m not listening. I won’t. 

You’re nothing but a curse that will fall away from memory. You will fade. You will die in your vast vats of  sticky tumultuous blood. I’m not watching. I’m not listening. I can’t feel you nor see you anymore. 

Thematic 

So September has officially begun & I am so excited (& a little apprehensive) about what this new school & service year will bring. 

For the first time in nineteen years I will not have any preschoolers at home with me at all. All my kids are in school or done school. 

Life keeps changing, so must I, tho I don’t easily. ‘Mid-life me’ is ready for tea & baking & knitting & ripening into something of a ‘granny’ sort without the grandkids. But, ‘Jehovah’s servant me’ sees a door of opportunity opening. I am still a mother of five. Life is never slow or dull, never as quiet as I thought it may be with my youngest being six, but I suppose when they all start back at school on Tuesday I’ll know how loud or quiet my life really will be. 

Last year, my goals of learning guitar & taking more walks & getting more personal study time in, all panned out reasonably well. I didn’t expect how little time morning kindergarten actually affords a mother, & I’m fairly certain seven hours per day with no little kids home won’t be as many when all is said & done as I think it is. There is still laundry, cleaning, organizing, grocery shopping, cooking, baking & if time, breathing to be done. 

This being duly noted, I have set some bigger goals. I love the ministry. I actually do. Our congregation territory is diverse & shockingly fruitful. Even last week I got an amazing new call with a young guy, maybe twenty or so, (why does everyone under thirty look twelve) humble & reasonable minded, strong spiritual need, respectful of his family’s faith (Roman Catholic, they were gone to church when I got him home, not often that people are at church anymore) but completely not impressed with Catholicism. He is delving into Genesis & Exodus & completely cannot stomach the ideas of evolution, & believes the Bible has the full explaination of why the earth is how it is now, and is trying to understand where we go from here. It was a wonderful conversation. I used only the Bible, that had been my goal that day, no literature—just Teach the Truth. This was perfect for this initial call because he really truly respects the Bible. It stands on its own in his mind. He actually said it was so strange I had shown up at his door that day because he had just been trying to learn how Genesis connects to our day. Anyways. Great start and look forward to seeing the progression. 

Meeting spiritually hungry people of all ages in the ministry is why I love the ministry. The appeal to people of all backgrounds, ages & kinds is obvious, and if Jehovah can use me to find sheeplike ones, I’m in. 

So, I’ve set my personal goals. I’ve looked at my life and attempted to find an achievable & balanced approach to both home & ministry. These goals, are not for public display. They are private, between Jehovah & I, and he will teach me where I can go, & perhaps, where I am limited. I am willing to accept both. This week’s Life & Ministry Meeting was perfect for self reflection, goal setting, & inspiration. 

But, one goal I am willing to share is my new daily Bible reading goal. 

Over the years I’m fairly certain I’ve read the Bible several times over. I’ve set the goal before to read it cover to cover in a year, and discovered somewhere in one of the Chronicles, I’m going to fail. Seriously! Anyone who’s done these books knows what I’m talking about. Parts of the Bible are literal lists of names. It’s historical. A genealogy. All serves a purpose, but thick & slow, like reading mud. I mean, if the whole Bible was like Psalms & Proverbs I’m sure we’d have all read it cover to cover uncountable times. Point being, I’m going to attempt something new: a Thematic cover to cover reading. 

Broken up so that one day of the week for each, The Law; History; Psalms; Poetry; Prophecy; Gospels; Letters—this seems doable. I’m actually really looking forward to this. It feels like I could truly enjoy the skip around. I’m kind of like that in life, variety keeps me from losing my drive due to boredom. 

So my main goal is yes, to read the Bible, cover to cover, over the next year. But my secondary goal in this is to find ‘gems.’ Spiritual gems. The kind we’ve been taught to look for in our weekly Bible reading. I’ve loved the new format of our mid week meeting. It has taught me so many new things about teaching & preaching & our organization & Jehovah, but more than that, it’s taught me that just because I did things this way or that, changing how we do things, is good. Changing focus & our entire motivation or way of being, is productive. I am not reading the Bible in a year for any purpose other than to improve my day to day mind set; to practice what I preach; to improve myself; to draw closer to Jehovah. If I can set goals & accomplish them in small, manageable pieces, it helps me set new goals, manage my time & energy, & the joy of fulfilling set goals is a very personal thing, only you & Jehovah have real joy in these little individual goals. He sees you work hard for them, & you & he alone see how he helps you with them. I want stronger faith. It’s been a main aspect of the fruitage of the spirit I’ve been working on for some time. Daily Bible reading with the goal of reading the Bible in a year is going to inevitably help me with my faith. That I am looking forward to. 

My focus this coming year is family & faith. To keep my kids moving forward in their own relationships with Jehovah; to get this home functioning a little smoother; caring for the physical health of my family & myself; using my time & energy for things that I am proud of—study, prayer, meditation, meal planning, cleaning, organizing, ministry, family worship, learning guitar, knitting, exercise, baking…it’s an endless seeming list. But I’ve come up with a tentative yet flexible schedule, haphazard as it may seem. What a busy life. I’m just so thankful I’ve this circumstance to focus on these things. I’m so thankful for this family. I’m so thankful for Jehovah’s patience. I’m truly looking forward to focusing on the inner workings of myself via daily Bible reading. It’s a small thing but such a big thing all in one. 

Best Described as Vermilion 

The pear tree, planted three or so years ago, seems rather poor at producing pears, a typical issue this far north. What it lacks in fruit production it will certainly make up for, eventually, in autumn finery. 

Every August I marvel as this rather placid little tree turns its leaves the most beautiful shade that is best described as Vermilion. 

This scene from my front window view is rather typical of Canadian urban—cars, pavement, many homes visible. Newer areas often look different, but this area was built in the 70’s so it has typical homes of that era. Larger yards than the new homes have, but still, too close of density for me to ever feel I have my own slice of privacy. How people live in closer proximity puzzles me. I think being raised in the country left me feeling claustrophobic in the city. I see quaint shots from other parts of the world where people truly live in close quarters & it can look sweet—images of old Italian towns & picturesque French villages comes to mind, & I think, I would love that. But here, I find after a decade living in the same house, with mostly the same neighbours, we ‘know’ each other just enough to talk vaguely, but never really like or trust each other. Classic North American suburbia. 

Your proximity makes you aware of each other but not close enough to really know anyone. It’s like you know you’re never in private, but have only a vague facade of community. It’s a strange thing, one that makes no sense to me. We shelter in our homes six months of the year during winter & come summer, we catch up with everyone, then hibernate again. 

Anyway, the point is, I like privacy. I like trees, & fences. I’d like a whole countryside to myself, but that is a dream that has faded like the memory of the old rail-fences on my childhood farm. When we bought this house it had a lovely mock plum with beautiful blooms in spring & leaves that turned from purple to green then in fall to red, but, it was as old as the house & as it goes with most northern trees, the life span was short, thirty years, so it was dying & diseased so we had to cut it down. 

A Mayday, a most weedlike growing tree, had naturally seeded where the Plum tree had stood, and so we are letting it grow for now to give us some quicker privacy. But, also, a Japanese maple, a super slow species has naturally seeded & I look forward to that as well in the fall in the years to come. I noticed, an Oak has also seeded itself in the Juniper shrubs as well, it can stay too. All three of these have varying life spans & growth rates, the Oak being the slowest but longest life span. 

In the mean time, I planted both an Apple & a Pear tree, before I realized there was a Maple or an Oak, thinking they will be my official front yard trees. While they’re growing from seedling to tree, the Mayday will do, and then, when they’re big enough I’ll cut down the Mayday, which is lovely but too common & a massive allergen in the spring, seriously, I think everyone is allergic to Maydays in Alberta. 

The Pear, was my least favourite of these. The blooms are beautiful, but so delicate & fine, a strong spring storm will blow them all off before they can even be pollinated. So, last year we managed three or four really tiny pathetic pears off it, but this year, none. I have kind of regretted this pick of tree because it just doesn’t seem worth it. But, then, every August, as the nights grow darker & colder, it pushes forth the most gorgeous colour. I imagine what one day will be a full sized fruit tree, Vermilion outside my front window, blocking out the pavement view, & I think, yes, it was a good pick, to have this lovely splendor before the six months of indoor life. 

In the morning light, it is so beautiful it can literally make me stop everything & just stare. A small small fragile perfect thing. They say to stop & smell the roses, but stopping to stare is also a small joy in life. 

Wake Me


In what some would be tempted to call Summer all I saw was smoke & the heat was eaten by this intense gloom—vagueness with a sickened yellowy thinness. 

All the greens muddied & all the pinks lost their pop. All the blues murkied & the sky grew thick & slow like the North Saskatchewan. 
Smoke & parched grass & thirsting trees yearning for a last glimpse of summer rains—but they were lost, both rain & desperates, perhaps along the foothills, perhaps along the Great Divide, perhaps somewhere high & howling, where the air is even thinner than here, & where the forests & meadows & mountain flowers are burning. 

So often now, the summer is a haze & a wall of flames, with everything birthed in spring, weakened & blazing. Sputum & air condensing & spilling out in huffing gasps of breathlessness. 

What is the sun, & where does it live now? Surely not in the horror of Harvey? There is no sun found there. Not in India, Bangladesh or Nepal where it seems all the water of the earth is to fall. 

So while we weep in the dryness & burn & burn, they weep in the water & drown & drown. I fear seeing their soft, swollen bodies pillowed up—where is the escape from flood or fire or death. Death is hungrily mawing at us all. 

How far can you run & what refuge will you find?

Life takes one more step closer, & the tiredness steps into the weary foot. Wake me when the rains come. Wake me when the rain stops. But wake me. Good God, wake me. 

Wartime Poetry

“In my faith,
I will always stand firm, . . . On my own I could never remain.
With my life, I will even stand firm,
And as I my last breath confer,
You should with that dying gasp hear: I stand firm”
—Franz Wohlfahrt

The story of neutrality is one seldom told or understood & frankly, I don’t think in today’s politically rife atmosphere, appreciated. 

Very few understand that neutrality is a different stance against the powers that be. It is not a lack of seeing injustice. The fighting of injustice tho, can be a strange monster filled with paradoxes, an endless maze that again can lead you back to becoming the problem. 

Seeing how Jehovah’s people the world over refuse to stand for one government or another, that is part of what gives us our unity. Refusing to stand for a cause humanity of the day has deemed worth fighting for prevents us from fighting each other. Seeing that history has proven, there is no winning side in war, that death & anguish are the main victors of all war, and that inevitably, bad rulers return, this has become such a reminder, to remain neutral. 

This is difficult in the face of injustice. My heart yearns for justice as equally as another’s. But, to know the true source of justice, and to patiently await His timing in procuring it, that takes a faith & a courage that must be cultivated everyday. 

The stories of our brothers & sisters imprisoned in various places & at different times is so faith strengthening. 

The acknowledgement by some of the great injustice that was done to Jehovah’s people who refused to participate in the Nazi reign of terror, willing to die to remain neutral, is faith strengthening. In the Allied countries, we were thrown in prison as well, and actually, truth be told, here in Canada, we were sent to work camps as well, tho gas chambers & guillotines didn’t await us here. 

Here tho, post World War II, the Witnesses were a major component in legally establishing freeness of speech & religious freedom. Before their battles that went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada religious freedom & free speech, was not legally established in Canada at all. The main stream religions, Catholicism, along with the main Protestant faiths, Lutheran, Anglican, Presbyterian, United, seemed to be the main religions of the people, and very entwined with governmental affairs. It was a step away from traditional religion to be politically neutral, and to follow Jesus example of being “no part of the world.” 

It seems, that tho other “Christian” religions claim to follow the Bible they forget Jesus reaction to the people wanting to make him king while he was here on Earth, & they forget what his response was when Pilate asked him about his kingship. Christ himself said his Kingdom was not a part of this world. So, since Jesus Christ is our king, we as well, do not support the kingdoms or governments of this planet. We follow our King’s example & we await the time when he will establish his kingship over the whole globe, correcting the problems mankind seems to flourish at creating. Jesus, while on earth, healed the sick, cured the blind, fed the masses both physically & spiritually, and even raised the dead back to life. This was an appetizer to what awaits us in the future when he becomes king over all the earth. It seems a very foreign concept to these so called Christian faiths that they should not be embroiled in the conflicts of this world currently under Satan’s rulership, that as well is a biblical teaching, that “the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” 

One thing I know for sure: neutrality tho not easy, marks me as being no part of this world. I love people. I hate injustice. It literally is heartbreaking when you hear the bad things that happen to good people. But humans cannot fix this mess. They’re going to try. But thousands of years has proven they cannot fix a world under Satan’s rule. Only Jehovah can appoint a King that will rule us well. His choice, not only has been given the power to fix things, but also the compassion by being sent here to live as a human as well. What a wise choice. Until then, to remain neutral is both a challenge & a joy. 

Read a brief article on how one Austrian town recently commemorated the stance of neutrality by Jehovah’s Witnesses during the Nazi reign of terror in their community. 

I Cannot Raise the Gun…

I cannot raise the gun with you. I cannot shoot down the wicked. There, they stamp, tall busts bellowing, a holler against some imagined injustice. Yet, I cannot raise the gun with you. I cannot shoot them down. Like splintered roots, the weeds, they rise, they rise. For every fallen, five rise. 

Have you seen the blood upon me? 

My face is torn open. I’ve the skull inside, the flesh giving way to its hardness. Inside, I’m alive & dying. My eyes have seen the lamp shade skins of the dead. I’ve seen that the hatchet can dive in & yet Death, that fickle friend, may leave you crawling to the grave. I’ve seen such spitting hate, spewing as the bath bares the soul to Sheol. 

My skin, every so slightly raised to golden from the sun, warm & beckoning, but never dark enough, it glows. Ghostly. Or ghastly. All in stunned aching silence but for this: let them scream. 

Let them raise their anger. Let them spit. Let them holler. 

…and this, the forest of me, does not hear. 

Inside, peace came washing over me. Inside, the young girl, brown & curled hair, & lips whispering in prayer, I heard none of it. My ears have refused to hear. Inside, the young girl, pale & blonde, grabbed the other’s hand, and we walked, souls as they are, complex & intwined, we are one little girl, & neither of us will listen. 

…and when you raise the gun I will ask why—fortitude is a passive courage, despite the possibility of rage. Rage leads to rage. I must resist the hunger & the pain, the cold. Against that, what is there to oppose? 

You raise the gun. The shot, I did not hear, but felt. It lays, lodged in my chest & I’m asking, what of my silence has offended you? Was my refusal to feed this fire your fuel? Fight your evil! Fight it then! Watch, as it consumes your heart & soul. Watch as it creeps from the justice within you to become the administer of what you hate. Watch as you shoot down, bleed out, fall, & rot all the heathens as the emerge, one by one, millions upon millions. How heavy the toil, the toll, the tumult. Fight it and become it. 

I sank…my lips still so silent, but for the gasp of surprise. My eyes, they will stay locked, and they will haunt you. I promise. You will see them when you die. 

We’ve Woven


the way we’ve woven
moonlight into madness just to taste
the terror & the dream

your little laugh-line lingers
there, upon your cheek, a kiss
of who you are underneath
the worry, beyond the reaches of
regret
how heavy life is, i know, i know
its baskets of burdens piled high
like unopened gifts begging
to be unwrapped & examined, joyously?

so often it must be, that you’ll sit,
amidst the gifts sobbing, leaving them unopened
their heaviness being postponed
but still, i can feel it, that weight,
as can you.

i weave with this moonlight
something light, a certain, madness, a terrifying madness, of
lightness, & some unknown, yet dear, dream

Lost In Translation

here i am, lost in
the murmuring translations upon these prairies—
the hard english glazed in sharp french, a drizzled bitter of
distain & broken tongues & backs
there, fresh off history’s bloom
raw with rape-red & bruise-blue
a meandering river of tears
that tinkle with light that scorches unending

there, the tangy berries of despair unleash themselves against hearts
that wander the rolling—what was it you’ve been looking for?

all the shadows crawl free across the scarred landscape, downs & meadows, rigor mortis trees with sharp nails stretching high against my prairie sky, drawing the blood from the sunrise, in long, flowing ribbons

…and then the storm, heavy & booming, drumroll upon drumroll, that can never wash
everything clean

i sit there, smoke of muskets & the sharp sound of both the arrow & the plunging thud of axes, digging deep, swift to the grey
drawing forth vast oceans of blood & misery & turmoil, i feel the women, pushing forth spawn after spawn on the land—
these aching children full of rage

there, the ground, hungry again after the digestion of so much gluttonous misery, it’s howling,
tongue lolling out, dry but salivating
you, your perfect face, shining in the rise of the sun, small lines, fresh sun-scorch, a small streak of dirt where all tragedy lies, just under the temple, deep inside the brain, heart pounding—there,
in the hardened earth, you feel deep below, the mantle crack, the core, swell to tide, all the fires burning, all of history repeating
there, i, small & silent, so trembling in imperfections i glow white & crimson, i sit so quiet, watching the quaking prairie storm

the low growl inside me rises, gutteral, small flecks of timid
falling way to force until it is strong, sure, loudening against time’s awkward push upon me
i’ve a small scar, one deep but small on the outside, tingling with a dulled memory of this excrutiating pain, & now its aching, both to be left & to be touched, these bruises & their oxymoronic pleadings
the silver line tingles in the last rays before the clouds & there it is, glowering in sad silence

the starlings, rise & fall, sacred tribal dances upon the sky—warm, mixing with the cool

i hear the grass shiver, scratching upon the bare of my leg as if a child, begging, UP!

but all must face the wind & become either tame, or so very very wild