Making All Things New

Editor’s Note: Jef Murray gained some insights and made some spiritual progress during this past Advent Season, as we all hope to do if we are paying attention. The following are his “ponderings” of that time that he shared in his December Newsletter. He shares them now with you as we all look back to assess how well we prepared…

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We have advanced into Advent. Beckoning us are dream-swept, dusky dawns that drive leaves and devour daylight. A hushed holiday; corn-husked and bare beneath the arcing torch of Arien.

I’m marking all things new this Advent. I blame Brego. For a full season now I’ve ridden rather than driven the tangled turns to Emory each morn. It’s scary on a scooter; not because I fear falling, but because astonishment reigns when no barrier comes betwixt me and fleet reality. Flying through forests at forty, I feel sting of frost and smell damp of coming rains. Rocks ricochet and twigs tap my helmet as I hurl through murky mists.

When I stop and silence Brego’s engine, I hear the drip, drip, drip of dew from dun branches. Stirrings around me startle on the pathless patch of grass before the library: squirrels, sparrows, satyrs, selkies…even seraphim. Wafting clouds curl and plume pearl pink; branches creak and chipmunks sneak.

There is, in fact, much to recommend riding. We live, seems to me, in lockers with portals peering out and about at creation: in cars, condos, trains and planes. Even at home, we reckon through rectangles as we watch TV or ponder portraits. G.K. Chesterton said that “art consists of limitation. The most beautiful part of every picture is the frame.” But is the same true of reality itself? Do we protect ourselves with Plexiglas and plod purblind through Paradise?

In the movie They Might Be Giants, George C. Scott, transfigured into Sherlock Holmes, speaks to us somnambulists: “I think if God is dead he laughed himself to death. Because, you see, we live in Eden. Genesis has got it all wrong. We never left the Garden. Look about you. This is paradise. It’s hard to find, I’ll grant you, but it is here. Under our feet, beneath the surface, all around us is everything we want. The earth is shining under the soot. We are all fools. Moriarty has made fools of all of us.”

And so it would seem. We are walking in Wonderland, but we’ve become accustomed to our customs. Advent should, instead, be a time to tipple; an invitation to intoxication. We need a lightning bolt to drive away dullness and propel us into J.R.R. Tolkien’s Perilous Realm. We need to heed St. Francis de Sales; we must make ourselves familiar with the angels “and behold them frequently in spirit; for without being seen, they are present….”

I fear that all of us are fallen; and one of the fruits of that fate is muddy minds. Where we should see sanctity and glistering glory, we espy instead empty suits and foundering follies. We search for the sacred but discern only dross…unless we awaken. But waking is painful. “Not yet!” we cry, fumbling to disarm the alarm. Yet, like Wally Shawn contemplating the tobacco shop, if we could properly perceive that which encompasseth us, we could not help but be lightning-bolted.

Cold air on bare hands betokens yet another morning of motoring. Christmas lights wink as Brego and I pass by. The foul smell of felled Gingko fruit sears nostrils; but for this moment at least, I’m awake, alive, aware.

I wish the same for you and yours as we seek the solstice and descry the horizon of yet another fresh New Year. And I pray for the coming of Him who will truly make all things new….


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About the Author

Jef Murray is an internationally known Tolkien and fantasy artist/illustrator and counterfeit essayist. His paintings, sketches, and writings sprout sporadically from the leaves of Tolkien and Inklings publications (Amon Hen, Mallorn, Beyond Bree, Silver Leaves, Mythprints) and Catholic journals (The St. Austin Review, Gilbert Magazine, The Georgia Bulletin) worldwide.

Contrary to all sense and sensibility, his images most recently wended their way into The Magic Ring: Deluxe Illustrated Edition by Friedrich de la Motte Fouque and Black & White Ogre Country: The Lost Tales of Hilary Tolkien by Hilary A. R. Tolkien.

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