Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

Slow lightning

Slow lightning

Ralph Waldo Emerson once called enthusiasm, “leaping lightning.”

I wonder what he’d call a quiet enthusiasm. Crawling lightning? Probably an oxymoron. But that’s what my love of drawing is. I am deeply, totally committed to capturing my thoughts and experiences in images. It’s not just something I do – it’s an outworking of who I am.

But I’m not one to shout about it. I just do it. And share it when I can. Quietly.

So, at 8:18, I am drawing, as I do on all my flights. Only this time, I have an audience. A brother (around age eleven) and a sister (possibly fourteen) fill out my row and I am suddenly aware that they’re watching me.

Taking out my ear buds, I smile. They say, “You’re really good!” I thank them. Then I ask the boy, closest to me, “Do you like to draw?”

“No, not really,” he answers and returns to his video game.

I notice his sister is filling in a page in one of those complex coloring books. We talk about her enjoyment of art. I ask her if I can draw something for her and she requests flowers. As I begin my attempt – floral illustrations not being my forte – I see that she now has paper out and is drawing a flower herself.

And a little later, his game finished, her brother starts drawing. I am amused to see what is on his phone’s screen. Yes, this is a win.


This is how passions are passed on. Hand-to-hand. Rubbing shoulders. Close enough to observe as a course of life. It’s how I received my love of gardening from my father, watching him tenderly nurture his tomato plants. Or music from my brother, overhearing his guitar through late-night walls. Or birds of prey from sitting with my friend, Scott, on lonely mountain ridges tracking migrating hawks.

It’s how I am learning a love for poetry from T.M. And an increased desire to pray from the brothers here at Ailbe.

Coleridge wrote, “Nothing is so contagious as enthusiasm.” Even if it is subdued. Even if the lightning is reduced to the slowness of a warming glow.

Loving Father, thank you for those people you put in our lives who help us to see what they love, who pass on to us the priceless gift of enthusiasm. Make us open-handed people, willing to pass on our own passions – especially our zeal for you.



Bruce Van Patter

As a freelance illustrator, graphic recorder, and author, Bruce is on a lifelong journey to delight in the handiwork of the Creator. And he’s always ready for fellow travelers.

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