The Light of Goodness and Humanity has been diminished substantially today with the passing of Nelson Mandela... Nobel Peace laureate... first black President of South Africa... champion of anti-apartheid and mentor- architect for a worldwide movement of brotherly love that knows no racial or cultural barrier. His influence reached around the globe... touching the hearts, minds and actions of both young and old.
He has certainly touched my own Soul and helped me by reaching out to me through his unconditional love to help me to reshape and rebuild my own life out of a Darkness and Despair which all but extinguished my will to carry on. The Universe works in its own mysterious ways... stepping forward with untold opportunities and blessings to unilaterally create its unexpected miracles and good works from the most unlikely places and people.
How could a black man so punished and degraded by the tyrannical brutality of white rule... imprisoned for twenty-seven of his ninety-five year life span re-enter later life retaining his optimism, dignity and love of Humanity at large? That question has served to motivate me in my journey to approach living my own life in a better way... and in the service of others. I owe that man much for sharing his own Light to illuminate my own path in darker times.
"Nelson Mandela"-oil on canvas 36x36 inches -1998
Allison Morgan Sherman (17 years of age)
No... this portrait is not created by my hand. It is a competent painting for a young high school student completed while studying under her special caring teacher-mentor, Berkley Brean. Allison was moved to paint this tribute portrait as a part of an assignment to paint a person that she admired. Strangely, her portrait captures not only Mandela's spirit... but as well the spirit of the man... "Mr Brean" who would reshape her vision of the world... and set her upon her own magnificent life journey. Both men spoke to her Inner Spirit... and propelled her forward... in her own terms to serve others as she now does daily in her capacity as Professor Allison Sherman at Queen's University in Kingston.
Kingston is a very long way from Soweto... but Mandela's spirit and work remains alive and well here in Canada and around the Globe on this evening of his passing. For as long as one of us remembers and practises his ministry of offering simple acts of kindness. There is Hope... even for this troubled and confused world of the Present Generation. There is Hope... for as long as there are young people like Allison to pass forward the Light. Neither Mandela or Berk Brean will ever be dead either. Though both have left this life... their kind, generous and unconditional love survive their passage beyond this plane of existence.
Allison left her portrait in my care when she left to study in Venice almost five years ago. I never could figure why that was so... or why she hadn't taken it back. Perhaps... the Universe had a use for it... in my humble hands. I dug it out of storage and offer it proudly on your behalf as a combined tribute with mine tonight Allison. If Mandela, Mr Brean... an "I" share any part in leaving a gift to the world... then you do us proud. Stay your course! The world needs "You"... and many others like to you to carry forward our Hope for a better world in the Future that we shall never see!
I choose to close this evening's post with two quotes from Nelson Mandela. The first of these two quotes comes from his autobiography, "The Long Walk to Freedom." Over the years, this quote has held great relevance and meaning for me personally in my own life. Its very essence quantifies very similar discoveries I have made on my very own "Walk to Freedom."
"I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one's head pointed towards the sun, one's feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity were sorely tested, but I could not, and would not give up on my self to despair. That way lays defeat and death."
The second quote humbles one with its simple eloquence:
"When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace. I believe I have made that effort and that is, therefore, why will sleep for eternity."
This evening, Nelson Mandela has begun his rightful journey of peaceful rest and sleep. But his contributions to all people across the vast face of the world that he has left behind... will live on into that Eternity to which he now travels.
These are two very powerful tenets of belief upon which we all could more meaningfully build and conduct our daily lives. Perhaps, like Mandela and Berk Brean, we as artists can find... and create not only paintings, but that same peace within us... in different parts of the world and share it generously with our fellow man. There are many ways to share the Light!
"I"... am greatly blessed... and wish those blessings upon you as well!
Good Painting to ALL!