April 26, 2018

The Art and Magic of Community

The "Stone Sisters" Sacred images from a Zimbabwe stone sculptor.  Painting by Abie

The “Stone Sisters” Sacred images from a Zimbabwe stone sculptor. Painting by Abie

Today starts the 15-day blogothon of C4 Atlanta, which is a website that supports artists of all kinds.  To participate we all commit to writing a blog each day and to read two other blogs.

C4 asked the question, “What do you want to be remembered for?”  At 66 that is already on my mind.  Life stretches out before me, but the road is not as long as it used to be and they have raised the speed limit. The scenery is flying by.

Today my blog  started slowly.  In fact it started the same way my painting and my writing usually start out, with creative stalling.  I fooled around with the technology of the blog rather than create.  I found it easier to focus on the technology than to write what was is in my heart.

So how would I want my friends, and a number of my enemies to remember me? As a community builder.  This blog and my heart are wrapped around the art and magic of people coming together in community in spite of the things that keep them apart.

This afternoon, while thinking about this blog, I decided to walk around our city of Decatur, Georgia. Sun and the warming temperatures attracted walkers and runners.  Couples turned into Mac McGee’s bar for a drink. Children made up games as they played on the grass of the town square. Diners at outdoor tables enjoyed the late afternoon of the first day of March. It was good to be alive.

It is easy of course to feel good about community on a lovely weekend afternoon.  But the commitment of people to each other is not limited to the walkers on the town square.  It is more than the progressive supper we are planning among neighbors on our street.  As I write, the art and joy of community are being experienced in places we tend to believe are the least likely to have deep community. I know.  I have experienced the joy of community among juveniles from the court system, prisoners in a Peruvian jail, and neighbors in the shantytowns that encircle Lima.

The magic and the beauty of art and human commitment grow out of community but also shape community in more ways than I can imagine.  In fact that is what I hope for in these days of blogging.  I want to expand my view of what community and art can mean.

In today’s edition is a painting inspired by Zimbabwean stone carvers, I call the painting The Stone Sisters.  Three women talking about their lives.  Three women  creating magic.

No, I don’t want to miss the joy of community.  I want to slow down enough to savor community even as the scenery of my life is flying by.  I am reminded of the words of poet Mary Oliver,

 “When it’s over, I want to say:  all my life

I was a bride married to amazement.

I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms

…I don’t want to end up simply having visited the world.”

I am looking for amazement.


  1. Wow such a beautiful poem. Speaking from the heart is always moving, thank you for sharing. Community builder, what a great way to look at the world.

  2. Sandra Hughes says:

    I enjoyed your ability to take me on a journey through your creative process and your experiences in Decatur – made more potent for me because I know the area and have performed on the Square. … Stone Sisters connected me with an ancient source that informs and enriches our current world.

  3. McKenzie says:

    Beautiful.And wonderful quote from Mary Oliver. Peace.

  4. Abie, this so resonates with me—”Life stretches out before me, but the road is not as long as it used to be and they have raised the speed limit. The scenery is flying by.” What a picture that painted as I am of that same age, and living in NM the scenery is stunning as it flies by. I love your commitment to building community.

  5. Well written! I too was stalling on my blog. I had a goal of writing at least once a month, but missed January. So I saw this and knew it would be a good kick start. Community builder is a great goal. I feel the same about my little town and love to soak it all in.

  6. very beautiful!

  7. Thank you for connecting your passion for art to your passion for community. Creative solutions emerge from the same spirit source. I wish you well on your continued journey.–Carol Hays

  8. Jon,
    Wonderful writing! I laugh at the creative stalling. So funny to hear how similar a process it is when we think that it is only OUR process.

    I love the exercise of doing something every day for a period of time, and giving new habits a chance to form.

    Can you put a link in your post for C4 Atlanta?

    Looking forward to reading more here and peeking in on the other website.

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