What’s Coming Up
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We are so excited to announce the release of The Shangri-La Shack Literary Arts Journal, Volume 2, Issue 1!
The Spring/Summer 2012 edition of The Shangri-La Shack Literary Arts Journal compiles poetry, short stories, paintings, and photography with themes of nature, relationships, personal development, memories, aging, spirituality, and more. Enjoy expressive writing and artwork from established and new writers and artists including Valentina Cano, John Cullen, Francis DiClemente, Rick Hartwell, Karen K. Hugg, Jon Kolb, Don Kunz, Kaye Linden, Kathryn (Nordan) Lynch, Mira Martin-Parker, Bob Meszaros, Lance Nizami, Richard Peake, Matthew Popadiuk, Cynthia Nitz Ris, Mary Shanley, Yvette A. Schnoeker-Shorb, Patty Somlo, Crystal Lane Swift, PhD, Jessica Tyner, Kirby Wright, Eleanor Leonne Bennett, Emily K. Bright, Willy Conley, Leah Givens, Nathan Healy, Sarah Katharina Kayß, and Nina Snowden.
Order your print copy today to support this pure avenue of expression and to experience the passion and talent of these amazing writers and artists.
Submitting your creative writing and artwork to Shangri-La Shack just got easier with Submismash. This site helps you manage your submissions to various publications. Check out our new profile http://shangrilashack.submishmash.com/submit and submit your poetry, short fiction, photography, or visual art for the Spring 2012 edition of The Shangri-La Shack Literary Arts Journal. Don’t forget that all submissions are due by April 17, 2012!
Also, if you have a video or music file, please submit it to email@example.com. We can still feature it on our website and possibly even link to it from the online journal. Hope to hear from you soon!
The Shangri-La Shack Literary Arts Journal is now accepting submissions for the Spring 2012 edition.
We accept previously unpublished creative writing, poetry, short stories (no longer than 15 pages), and visual art* (painting, sketching, drawing, digital art, photography, video, etc). In addition to quality of work, preference will be given to pieces that exmplify Shangri-La Shack’s mission to express and evoke appreciation and gratitude for the gifts of the world we live in. Themes include nature, relationships, modern issues, spirituality, and more. Artists and writers will be spotlighted in the featured artist section of the website* and select pieces will be published in the Spring Edition of The Shangri-La Shack Literary Arts Journal. Please send submissions for this online literary arts publication to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than the Spring deadline: April 17, 2012.
*Let us know if you do not want to be included in the featured artist section of our website.
*Please note that the online magazine is in full color, however, the print edition is in black and white with the exception of a visual art piece to be displayed on the cover in full color. When submitting art pieces, please include a color and grey-scale version. Otherwise, if chosen, your piece will be subject to black and white conversion by the publisher.
There are many spectacular performance art productions we have the privilege of experiencing year after year during the holiday season – The Nutcracker, A Christmas Carol, The Grinch and more. But upon witnessing the National Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Handel’s Messiah at the Kennedy Center this year, I am convinced that no other show could so truthfully enrapture it’s audience in the reality of Christmas. Handel’s gift of the oratorio Messiah is the complete amalgamation of all of the experiences, emotions, and significance of Christ’s life on earth. Handel conveys not only the birth of a child, but the gift of our one and only Messiah – birth, life, death, and resurrection all in one breathtaking work of art.
This visionary piece was written in the midst of a dark time in Handel’s life, full of despair, illness, poverty, rejection, and embarrassment. Once revered as London’s most important producer of opera, Handel had fallen victim to the changing trends of the music world, which had veered away from opera, leaving him nearly bankrupt by 1739. But, in true Christmas spirit, Handel’s gift was brought back to life when in the depths of his own poverty and despair, he accepted a request to compose a performance for a charity series in Dublin to benefit those in need. Messiah impregnated Handel, with the joy, rejection, death, and everlasting triumphant reign of our Savior Jesus Christ, and poured out from him in a new and enthralling format of an oratorio, which has permeated the spirits of millions of people year after year now for centuries. Handel was said to have told a servant in composing Messiah, “I did think I did see Heaven before me and the great God Himself!”
While this bold and revolutionary piece caused some controversy in allowing “actors of loose morals” to speak the words of the New Testament, I think Handel knew that it had to be done that way. As Jesus mingled with and showed compassion to the undesirables and sinners of his time to show them mercy and give them a taste of everlasting life, so Handel wanted these people to feel our Lord’s love inside of them by speaking the Word, singing His praises, and performing the songs of Heaven. Handel said, “I should be sorry if I only entertained them; I wished to make them better.” And upon experiencing this performance, the one resounding thought I was left with, was the life-changing power of speaking the Word, performing the music of angels, and allowing the Holy Spirit to speak through us in the form of art.
The first song in Messiah literally walks you down a path – the strings beckon you along the way with their bows supporting your back as you hear the words: “Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” At this point you are not quite sure where you are going, but you feel yourself put to work making a way in your heart for something great. The soloist brings power and the choir brings joy. The peaceful happiness builds as you learn why exactly you are preparing this way: “For unto us a Child is born…His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” And so the music physically zooms throughout the concert hall – an electric current that jolts everyone into sheer joy and excitement – that jittery feeling that fills us all when we are filled with the Christmas Spirit.
Part I transitions into Part II with the chorus singing “His yoke is easy, and His burden is light.” This contrasts how light the burden is that we carry when we follow Jesus, and we soon find out that our load is so light because Jesus is about to lift all the weight off our yokes and place it upon himself. “He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief,” is echoed by the singers. Yet these words would fall flat on our deaf ears without the eerily enveloping cry of the orchestra. I think only a stringed instrument has the capacity to sing the despair, pain and rejection that Christ suffered in his lifetime. The words, “Thy rebuke hath broken His heart,” pierces the hearts of all in the crowd, and fills their souls with, “Behold and see if there be any sorrow like unto His sorrow.”
Then right in the midst of our drowning sorrow and compassion for our Lord – the trumpet sounds, the drum pounds, and the voices of many form together to sing the ever redeeming Hallelujah chorus, which has brought crowds to their feet for centuries.This is the ultimate victim to hero, underdog story and we all stand because it gives us hope for overcoming the pain, rejection, and sorrow in our own lives.
One of the most special aspects of Handel’s Messiah is that the story continues on after the Hallelujah chorus – as if to say, right in the midst of a most supreme joy: wait, there is more. Not only do we celebrate that Jesus has overcome his pain, but we learn why he did so and what it means for us. We are filled with the understanding of why Christmas is important. The chorus announces, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” The trumpet sounds from the heavens, a most pure and angelic sound, “We shall all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.” The finale is filled with tears of joy as the drums announce “Him that sitteth upon the throne.” And, we all stand to praise him.
In the Gospel, Jesus tells us, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:19-21.
In a time when the value of our earthly belongings seems to continue to drop, yet the cost to acquire and sustain things goes up, this is a message of great hope. This year I watched my IRA investments drop by about 10% almost every month. I felt horrible when I saw this. That was my future, that I had laid up in banks and entrusted with a financial company to nurture and grow it for me. While I hadn’t even looked at these investments in the several years I had them in there, I turned into a woman obsessed – checking them weekly and tracking the values on a spreadsheet so I could watch them drop and drop. It was as if I was watching moths eat up the paper dollars and rust decay the metal coins.
I had put my treasure in the stock market, and so I had put my heart there, and I felt saddened and betrayed. All those minutes I had spent logging in to my account and tracking the loss on a spreadsheet, I could have spent sitting with God, talking happily about our everlasting life and love he has shared with me. That treasure is not in the hands of some unseen financial advisors. It cannot be eatten away and dwindled down to nothing. It is on the cross with Jesus. He has insured our real treasure with His life, so that all I have to do is turn in this life for the new, everlasting one.
I was so saddened and discomforted this past weekend when I went to a different church than usual and the Pastor spoke on the subject of finances. I expected to hear him reference verses like this one in Matthew, or to talk of giving to the needy. Instead he bounded onto the stage in expensive looking jeans with an iPad in hand and lights flashing. As a representative of Jesus’ word, I felt that he was really sending the wrong message. His sermon was about how God wants us to acquire property and physical things. That it is good to build up property on this earth so we can have a place for ourselves in this world. All that was running through my head were verses like Matthew 19:21, “Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’” Weren’t these the words of Jesus?
It saddens me that people so often have to work up defenses for their actions and then preach that way to others. The Lord’s message is one of hope, love, humility, giving, and faith. Not of acquiring wealth on this earth and worrying about not having enough stuff.
We should all rejoice in what we have, rich or poor or smack dab in the middle. It is all given by God. There is no need to defend your wealth if you use it to spread God’s love. And there is no need to worry about not having enough earthly property, because you can’t take it with you. This verse in Matthew always makes me think of the Egyptians buried with all their earthly belongings. “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” It is sad to see the piles of unused stuff in those pyramids, as it makes me wonder if their hearts stayed down there, instead of in a mansion in Heaven prepared by God.
Jesus beautifully shares that we do not need to worry, “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet our heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” Matthew 6:26 and “Therefore do not worry, saying ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ for after all these thing the Gentiles seek. For your healvenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6: 31-33.
Ahhhh, we can relax and no longer worry of money, whether too much or two little. That which we need will be given to us. All we need to do is seek God and His love. Sounds much more enjoyable to me than worrying about acquiring things for the moths to eat away.
Sandy Feet Events invited The Shangri-La Shack out to their Grape Day 5K, a fundraiser for the Escondido Sunrise Rotary. We enjoyed sampling some blended chicory teas and coffees for the runners, supporters, and Grape Day parade attendees. This was a great, welcoming group and we really enjoyed being part of such a fun, positive event.
Expression has no boundaries, and in the case of homeless artist Ron, who is not bounded by a house, a family, or a job, his expression has found itself visible from the heavily trafficked 8 freeway in San Diego. While a home and job are things that many of us take for granted; without these core elements, Ron has found the freedom to express himself using items found alongside the San Diego River.
Ron has been creating natural art since he was a child he says. In the past few years during which Ron has called the fresh air his home, he has made 13 distinct structures, and he has plans for endless more. Past pieces included Stone Henge, Peace on Earth – Broken Hearts and Shattered Dreams, an X-Men Tribute, and others.
This featured piece, which he has titled Dark Castle, was influenced by the good vs. evil themes of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings series. The nearly 6 foot tall, rigid, dark, symmetrical structure called the Dark Castle is guarded by legions of large, rigid rock soldiers that are planning an attack on the White Castle. The loosely gathered, asymmetrical, “fairy-patterned” good castle is much smaller, and is populated and surrounded by small, smooth, round pebbles. The good soldiers don’t form the structured ranks that the dark side approaches in. Instead, they are freely scattered upon the ground. The white rocks of the good castle are very hard to find, says Ron. He spends hours hunting out these beautiful and rare pieces. And, while vastly outnumbered, Ron shares that of course good will conquer evil with its greater wisdom.
Ron goes on to tell us of the struggles he has had with the San Diego police ticketing homeless people like himself for sleeping in public places like the San Diego riverbed. He goes into detail about his efforts to do the right thing, including paying $5 each way to ride the bus to court to plead not guilty, to which the case is usually dismissed. Maybe the rigid dark castle, with its rules and aggression, is an artistic demonstration of his feelings of oppression. Or maybe it is simply a way in which Ron keeps himself busy to distract himself from his current situation.
While he currently has no job, former construction worker Ron shares his hopes that one day someone will ride or drive by and appreciate his work and hire him to do work in their yard. In the meantime, he plans to continue sharing his rock art with passerby’s on the bike path and 8 freeway. His next piece, he says, will be Route 66 – an outline of the U.S. featuring landmarks along the historic cross country route. He hopes to make it an interactive experience for the viewers, asking people to put their initials on rocks and place them in the states they are from.