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     I’m taking a painting class and we are learning about edges. Hard, soft, lost, narrow gradated, wide gradated. Where any two volume masses meet, there’s some kind of edge. Think of a lawn chair in the brilliant sunshine with a distinct shadow. A hard edge. Now think of the same chair on a cloudy day. A diminished shadow. A gradated edge. The chair leg in the grass. A dappled edge. My point being that to paint a decent representational picture we need all kinds of edges.

     By carefully look at each mass and determining its relationship to the one next to it is how you do it. Edges are crucial in carving out depth. Is it mountains in the distant background or tall blades of grass in the foreground? All pictures need them.

     Which got me thinking about humanity. We need every kind of human being to make the world a good picture. We can comfortably camp out in our own ilk. Take sides and jump on board. Or cross the floor to something better we think. But it is the same divide with no bridge. The internet has helped us grow bigger camps as if sheer volume makes a side right.

     But I love God’s economy, nothing is wasted. Dialogue can be a bridge. At first I thought washing out my recycling and reusing plastic bags was my contribution to global efforts, and don’t get me wrong, every little bit helps. But I was talking with someone recently and their view was it really doesn’t make one iota of difference compared to the vast amount that entire countries and corporations belch out daily. They were convinced it was simply feel-good strategy period.

     So that got me further thinking that those corporate and national polluters are people just like me. They are made up of hearts and souls, characters and personalities, feelings and emotions just like me. When I’m not getting along with someone or some community there’s edges that aren’t working together. Not that neither one is better than the other, all are needed, it’s just not needed there.

     Dialogue can be a bridge and help diffuse a situation. It can help put the weaponry down. Which I take seriously and bring back to my own circle. I can let go of a resentment, open dialogue, and make time (though I need God’s help). Wars as big as Russia and Ukraine or Israel and Palestine start small but festered over centuries. And I’d say, the world would do good to exercise some communication skills other than bombs.

     I believe how we were raised has a lot to do with it.  Things we learn get seeped in then become ingrained, part of our innards, our psyches. Then anger, violence and fear lives in us and can easily be triggered by another’s anger, fear and mean streak. Social media has been exponential in growing bigger communities so it’s no wonder things are a mess. We never have to step outside of our own thinking. And how’s that working for us, Dr. Phil would ask.

     I once interviewed an elderly woman asking her what would she say was the one thing that helped her live so long. ‘Being adaptable’ was her answer. Isn’t that what we all need. A gradated edge?

Taking that class opened my eyes to the vast number of edges possible and we need them all to make a good picture plane. Doesn’t a world of peace and harmony start in the imagination before it can seep into the heart and soul and start carving out in reality? What will it take to create a world without anger and violence, without the sharp edges to a more inclusive one of dialogue and adaptability with softer edges? 

     I don’t have any answers but like painting, I think we have to dive in and try it. Move from edge to edge, interwining them with each shape, trusting the picture will be complete when you stand back.

And until we start seeing and valuing the intrinsic value of every edge, that we all have a place, nothing will really change.




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