Sleeping Birds – Centers of Calm

by | Apr 6, 2022

Egg tempera painting of sleeping birds on a beach by Daniel Ambrose

Sleeping birds, egg tempera painting. Private collection.

A soft April evening breeze rustles the palms outside my window and stirs a candle flickering beside me. It burns in solidarity and remembrance for those in Ukraine, and for loved ones long gone. A distant train horn blows low and long. I trace its song back through my life’s history.

In 1969, I am a paperboy. The Cuban Missile Crisis is over, Vietnam War is raging, my 6th grade class integrated 16 years after Brown vs. Brown, and Russia is a scary place.

Early morning and evening, I pedaled my bike over rough dirt roads to deliver the local newspaper. Walter Cronkite delivered the world news straight and true, ending his broadcast by saying, “that’s the way it is.”

Mr. Cronkite, how is it now?

Whenever I get snarled up and lost on a journey, it helps to retrace my steps, re-evaluate the bigger picture and plan a better course.

To gain perspective on contemporary times, I have been searching internet archives primary sources for wisdom from historical leaders. If you like, I will share more in future posts.

I’ll begin with the President when I was born, Dwight D. Eisenhower. Following are excerpts from his farewell speech to the world, as outgoing President in 1961.

“Our people expect their President and the Congress to find essential agreement on issues of great moment, the wise resolution of which will better shape the future of the Nation.”

“Throughout America’s adventure in free government, our basic purposes have been to keep the peace; to foster progress in human achievement, and to enhance liberty, dignity and integrity among people and among nations. To strive for less would be unworthy of a free and religious people.”

“Crises there will continue to be… whether foreign or domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties.”

“As we peer into society’s future, we–you and I, and our government-must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.”

“Down the long lane of the history yet to be written America knows that this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.”  – Dwight D. Eisenhower, Farewell Radio and Television Address to the American People.

Mr. Eisenhower, have we lived up to your ideals?

Since my last post in February, I have struggled to write. It is tempting to stray into the cacophony of public topics. But I think there is enough discord in the world. So I’ll steer clear of the cacophony crowd and stay on the path of euphonious voices.

I will write about art, beauty and peace and share wiser words than my own. Among us are those who sow discord, distrust and ugliness for their own gain, and there are those who elevate our spirits, create beauty and seek unity. I join with my global tribe of brothers and sisters in the latter.

In Art and kindness, we find our commonality. In this, we find our humanity.

I chose to celebrate centers of calm in the world, like this egg tempera painting, Sleeping Birds. It is symbolic of a simple desire for peace and beauty universal in nature. It sold in my show at Hughes Gallery in January.

1 Comment

  1. Barbara Hughes

    Amen, Dear, wise and gentle Daniel. I, too, wonder what our esteemed predecessors would think, could they see our nation, now. But I, like you, try to choose the higher road. And I do believe that Love and Kindness will survive and their echoes will resound in in enough hearts to make a genuine difference. Keep expressing yourself, as you so beautifully do, my Dear Friend. Love is the language spoken here.

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