Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa Preparing to Reopen

IMG_5705Today’s entry in the Our Daily Bread devotional begins with this: “I have always enjoyed the wit and insight of Peanuts creator, Charles Schulz. One of my favorite cartoons drawn by him appeared in a book about young people in the church. It shows a young man holding a Bible as he tells a friend on the phone, ‘I think I’ve made one of the first steps toward unraveling the mysteries of the Old Testament . . . I’m starting to read it!'”

I just checked to see how the Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, California is doing in the wake of the October wildfires that so devastated the northern part of the state. I discovered the facility will be closed until further notice. Efforts are underway to restore the air quality inside the museum with 20 blowers being used to purify the air. Professional cleaners are at work on the air ducts and the Museum’s interior, endeavoring to make the place safe for the return of staff and artwork. Once it is safe, the collections staff will clean the art and reinstall current exhibitions.
I was relieved to see the museum survived the horrific fires, but saddened to learn that Schulz’s home, where he had resided for 30 years, was destroyed. His wife was able to evacuate, but much memorabilia was lost. I thought I might post some photos from our visit to the museum for all you Peanuts fans.

“The Earth Laughs in Flowers”

The Judas Tree, 1909.
The Judas Tree, 1908-1909

In celebration of all that blossoms in May, I’m posting paintings by the American Impressionist Frederick Carl Frieseke (1874-1939) alongside “flowery” quotes from Emerson, O’Keefe, Okakura and Heine along with a Tennyson poem punctuated by a listening larkspur and a whispering lily.

“The earth laughs in flowers.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Nobody sees a flower – really – it is so small it takes time – we haven’t time – and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.” – Georgia O’Keefe

“In joy or sadness, flowers are our constant friends.” – Kakuzo Okakura

“Perfumes are the feelings of flowers.” – Heinrich Heine

The Pink Parasol, 1913.
The Pink Parasol, 1913

“There has fallen a splendid tear

From the passion-flower at the gate.

She is coming, my dove, my dear;

She is coming, my life, my fate.

The red rose cries, ‘She is near, she is near;’

And the white rose weeps, ‘She is late;’

The larkspur listens, ‘I hear, I hear;’

And the lily whispers, ‘I wait.’

Life in the Garden, 1910-1912.
Life in the Garden, 1910-1912
Lady in a Garden, 1912
Lady in a Garden, 1912

She is coming, my own, my sweet;

Were it ever so airy a tread,

My heart would hear her and beat,

Were it earth in an earthy bed;

My dust would hear her and beat,

Had I lain for a century dead,

Would start and tremble under her feet,

And blossom in purple and red.”

— Alfred Lord Tennyson


Self-Portrait, 1901
Self-Portrait, Frieseke, 1901
Hollyhocks, c. 1912-1913
Hollyhocks, c. 1912-1913
The Garden Parasol, c. 1910
The Garden Parasol, c. 1910

Featured Image: “Garden in June,” 1911

{{PD-1923}} – Artwork created before 1923 and in the public domain because the copyright has expired.

Photos Soon To Be Available for Purchase

Crossing Temple Butte, Grand Canyon National Park
Crossing Temple Butte, Grand Canyon National Park
Fluffing Raven, Grand Canyon National Park
Fluffing Raven, Grand Canyon National Park

I’m delighted to announce that my photographs will soon be available for purchase at Grand Canyon National Park and via an e-commerce site I will launch later this month (I’ll post a link when the site is good to go)!

The Grand Canyon Association, the park’s non-profit partner, features only a handful of photographers and my work was chosen from more than 400 submissions. My website will not only have Canyon photos, but also images from Yellowstone, Craters of the Moon, Death Valley, Chimayo, Pearl Harbor, Santa Fe, San Antonio and many other locations around the country. The site will also feature photos of wildlife and scenes from “the road”.

Featured photo: Sunset at Navajo Point, Grand Canyon National Park

Desert View Watchtower Ceiling
Desert View Watchtower Ceiling

The End of Night? From The Starry, Starry Night to the Overpowering Street Light

Grand Canyon National Park Star Party. NPS Photo.
Grand Canyon National Park Star Party. NPS Photo.

For nearly a year now, I’ve had the privilege of living and working in Grand Canyon National Park. In late June, I was among some 1,100 attendees participating in one of the four nights of the 24th annual Grand Canyon Star Party. Astronomers from across the country, operating nearly 50 telescopes that were set up behind the Visitors’ Center, invited folks to get a glimpse of the planets in our own solar system as well as nebulae and star clusters sitting millions upon millions of light years distant from us.

The evening took me back to my childhood in Massachusetts where I spent many, many nights out under the stars looking up at a resplendent Milky Way. I am heartbroken to note that, if I were to return to the town of my birth today, it’s more than unlikely that I would catch even a fleeting glimpse of that Milky Way. Eight out of ten Americans today won’t ever live where they can see their own galaxy, their own solar system. More than two-thirds of Americans and Europeans no longer experience real night—that is, real darkness—and nearly all of us in the world live in areas considered polluted by light.

16131044In Episode 31 of On the Road with Mac and Molly, I chat with Paul Bogard, author of The End of Night, about the disintegration of what is natural into what is artificial. In this critically important book, Paul opens our eyes to how much we lose cooped up, as we are, under a perpetual glare.

At one point in the book, Bogard tells of a visit to the Museum of Modern Art in New York where, he suggests, one can see “real darkness.” There, he notes, fifty million people each year pass by a painting of “a small, dark town, a few yellow-orange gaslights in house windows, under a giant swirling and waving blue-green sky.” In The Starry Night, painted by Vincent Van Gogh in 1889, we see our world “before night had been pushed back to the forest and the seas, from back when sleepy towns slept without streetlights.” The Starry Night is “an imagined sky inspired by a real sky much darker than the towns we live in today.”

The Starry, Starry Night, Vincent Van Gogh, 1889.
The Starry, Starry Night, Vincent Van Gogh, 1889.

In a letter from the summer of 1888, Van Gogh described the night sky he saw overhead during a visit to a French beach: “The deep blue sky was flecked with clouds of a deeper blue than the fundamental blue of intense cobalt, and others of a clearer blue, like the blue whiteness of the Milky Way. In the blue depth the very stars were sparkling, greenish, yellow, white, pink, more brilliant, more sparkling gemlike than at home—even in Paris: opals you might call them, emeralds, lapis lazuli, rubies, sapphires.”

Street Light, Giacomo Balla, 1909.
Street Light, Giacomo Balla, 1909.

For most of us today, when we can see stars, most of these appear to be white so the idea that stars come in different colors seems wildly impossible. But, Bogard insists that if one were to “gaze long enough in a place dark enough that stars stand in clear three-dimensional beauty,” one would “spot flashes of red, green, yellow, orange and blue.” When Bogard made the visit to MoMA, he was in search of not only The Starry Night but also Giacomo Balla’s Street Light, a painting, dated 1909, that is so little known that the museum doesn’t even keep it on display. While Van Gogh’s painting depicts, what Bogard calls, “old night,” Balla’s is a painting of “night from now on.” Bogard notes: “In both paintings, the moon lives in the upper right corner, and for Van Gogh, the moon is a throbbing yellow presence pulsing with natural light. But for Balla, the moon has become a little biscuit wafer hanging on for dear life, overwhelmed by the electric streetlight. And that, in fact, was Balla’s purpose. “Let’s kill the Moonlight!” was the rallying cry from Balla’s fellow Italian futurist, Filippo Marinetti. These futurists believed in noise and speed and light—human light, modern light, electric light. What use could we now have of something so yesterday as the moon?”

Paul Bogard
Paul Bogard

In his book and in Episode 31 of On the Road, we travel with Bogard around the globe to find night where it still lives…showing exactly what we’ve lost, what we have left and what we might hope to regain. We hear how the loss of night is not only a loss of beauty above us. More light at night does not, as some insist, ensure greater safety and security; properly designed light at night does. Exposure to artificial light at night has been cited as a factor in health concerns ranging from poor sleep to cancer. Light pollution is also threatening the health of the world’s ecosystems as everything from reproduction cycles to migration patterns are adversely affected by artificial light at night. But there is hope. Light pollution is one kind of pollution we can readily fix. And, as the jacket cover of the book proclaims: Bogard’s “panoramic tour of the night, from its brightest spots to the darkest skies we have left gives us every reason to flip the switch—tonight.”

Here’s a link to the show: and a link to a short clip of Paul Bogard introducing the book:

Drink in art each day so worldly cares won’t obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in your soul

Flight into Egypt, by He Qi, China. In our collection.
Flight into Egypt, by He Qi, China.
In our collection.

“…[One] should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The silk tapestries seen here represent the combined efforts of Chinese Christian artist He Qi and a group of Chinese silk weavers in a small town about an hour from Suzhou. Suzhou embroidery goes back more than 2,000 years and is considered the finest of the three major styles of embroidery in China.  The images are hand embroidered onto fine silk with silk thread that has been dyed to match the colors in He Qi’s paintings. It takes about a month to weave each of these tapestries.

Wedding at Cana, He Qi, China.
Wedding at Cana, He Qi, China.
In our collection.

I’ve Finally Started Tweeting

This image by an Ethiopian artist of the biblical figure Ruth is in my collection.
This image by an Ethiopian artist of the biblical figure Ruth is in my collection.

I’ve finally opened a Twitter account. I’ve begun posting there on Christian spirituality, wildlife, wild places, art, travel, photography, companion animals, poetry, literature, soundscapes, habitats, books, writing, politics, social issues and…

You’ll find me under D.F.G. Hailson. I hope you’ll look for me and will connect with me there. Of course, I’ll still be blogging at this address.

Photos by Donna Hailson.

All Things Snoopy

On October 2, 1950, three kids – Charlie Brown, Patty and Shermy – appeared on the funny pages of seven newspapers. Over the next 50 years plus – via television specials, a Saturday morning cartoon, books, live theater productions, recordings, amusement parks and 17,897 comic strips – these three, along with Snoopy, Woodstock and others in a sizable cast of characters, have taught us and entertained us.

In the garden at the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center in Santa Rosa, California.
Charlie Brown “under construction” in the garden of the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center in Santa Rosa, California

The Peanuts Gang was the invention of Charles M. Schulz and, today, visitors to Santa Rosa, California may explore the art and nuances of his craft at a museum that carries on his legacy.

Schulz was born in Minneapolis in 1922 and 12 hours after his birth, an uncle gave him the nickname “Sparky” after the racehorse character Spark Plug in a popular comic strip of the time, Barney Google. Thus, almost from the moment of his birth, Schulz had a connection with comic strips. Early on, “Sparky” showed an aptitude for art and, following service in the European Theater of Operation during World War II, he launched into a career in the funny papers.

Snoopy atop his doghouse

In Episode 26 of On the Road with Mac and Molly on Pet Life Radio, I chat with Karen Johnson, Director of the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center. We hear about the Peanuts Gang, its creator and the museum. And then, we center, most especially, on all things Snoopy from his doghouse decor (a pool table, Wyeths and a Van Gogh . . . ); to his impersonations (from a moose and a pelican to Mickey Mouse); his moments at the typewriter (“It was a dark and stormy night . . . “); his alter-egos (who doesn’t love his WWI flying ace and his battles with the Red Baron?); his “band of brothers” (siblings Spike, Marbles, Olaf, Andy and Belle); and his connection with aviation (from NASA to the U.S. Air Force).

It was not until 1957 that Snoopy walked on his two hind feet like a human.
It was not until 1957 that Snoopy walked on his two hind feet like a human.

Karen explains how Snoopy’s character evolved over time to embrace more and more of the fanciful. We also hear why Schulz believed the best idea he ever had in the strip was to move Snoopy from inside the doghouse to the rooftop.

All photos taken at the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center by Donna Hailson.

Snoopy and Woodstock sharing a snack in the garden of the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center

George Beverly Shea: A Life Lived “On Pitch”

George Beverly Shea. Photo by BGEA. Used with permission.
George Beverly Shea
Photo by BGEA
Used with permission

Beloved gospel singer George Beverly Shea, 104, of Montreat, N.C., soloist of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, died Tuesday evening following a brief illness. News of his passing has taken me back in memory 22 years.

In 1991, the Graham Association created a profile of my life and ministry for airing during one of the crusade telecasts. I was just starting my work for the Lord and I was stunned to learn that my profile would be the second in a series that began with that of baseballer Dave Dravecky.

Graham’s message for that program was entitled “Who Is Jesus?” I can still hear the voice of Cliff Barrows introducing my segment. And, of course, George Beverly Shea’s comforting bass-baritone filled and lifted the hearts of those in the stadium seats at the Meadowlands in New Jersey along with the hearts of those listening from their seats at home.

The Graham Association, in announcing the passing of Mr. Shea, noted that since he first sang for Graham in 1943 on the Chicago radio hymn program, “Songs in the Night,” this dear man had “faithfully carried the Gospel in song to every continent and every state in the Union. Graham’s senior by ten years, Shea devotedly preceded the evangelist in song in nearly every Crusade over the span of more than one-half century.”

Born in Winchester, Ontario, the son of a Wesleyan minister, it was in the choir of his father’s church that he first sang publicly. He went on to perform live before an estimated 200 million people and he recorded more than 70 albums. The New York Times, in a reflection, noted that, “Of the hundreds of songs he sang, Mr. Shea was most closely identified with “How Great Thou Art,” a hymn that became the de facto anthem of Mr. Graham’s ministry.”

Other songs for which he was known include “I’d Rather Have Jesus,” for which he composed the music, and “The Wonder of It All,” for which he wrote words and music. He was the recipient of ten Grammy nominations and a Grammy Award in 1965, and he was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Grammy organization in 2011. He was a member of the Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame (1978) and was inducted into the Religious Broadcasting Hall of Fame in February 1996. Shea was also inducted into the inaugural class of the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists’ “Hall of Faith” in 2008.

George Beverly Shea, 104! What a long and blessed life he led! Cliff Barrows celebrated his 90th birthday earlier this month and Billy Graham’s 95th will arrive in November. I can’t begin to express my gratitude to the Lord for these men. As I sit here reflecting, I realize that – in SO many ways – my life has been what it has been because of what the Lord has done for me and in me through them.

I’ve mentioned the telecast profile but, what is far more important to note, is that I came to faith in Jesus Christ at a Graham Crusade at Nickerson Field in Boston, Massachusetts. Dr. Graham’s signature is on my Master of Divinity diploma from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary; he was one of that institution’s founders and chairman of the seminary’s board during my years there. As a student, I was required to train in and engage in evangelism through one of the BGEA phone centers that was activated each time a Crusade aired. Later, I served as a visiting professor in evangelism and urban ministry at Gordon Conwell and required the same training and engagement of my students. I contributed to The Billy Graham Christian Workers’ Handbook and worked with the BGEA on a film for use in the telephone training centers. I was a delegate to Lausanne II (Manila, the Philippines, 1989), one of the series of events called by the Lausanne Movement, which was founded by Billy Graham. I am a Christianity Today Book of the Year honoree and Billy Graham founded that magazine. I was one of the first students invited to participate in the Arrow Leadership Program, founded by Billy Graham’s brother-in-law, Leighton Ford. The list of life intersections goes on and on: I am a product of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

Graham said at Shea’s 100th birthday celebration in February 2009 that he couldn’t have had a ministry without Shea. And I certainly can’t imagine what kind of ministry, if any, I might have had without Billy Graham, George Beverly Shea and others who are and have been part of the wonderful BGEA team. For how many thousands (millions, perhaps?) might this have been so? But, the Lord, in His great providence, called these precious men to His service and we are all the richer for it!

In 1998, Shea told The St. Petersburg Times: “I hope that when I die, they put on my tombstone, ‘He was always on pitch.’”

To be “on pitch,” you must follow the correct frequency, you must sing true. From the perspective of many, including this writer, George Beverly Shea lived his life on pitch.

The Wonder of It All

There’s the wonder of sunset at evening,

The wonder as sunrise I see;

But the wonder of wonders that thrills my soul

Is the wonder that God loves me.


O, the wonder of it all! The wonder of it all!

Just to think that God loves me.

O, the wonder of it all! The wonder of it all!

Just to think that God loves me.

Verse 2

There’s the wonder of springtime and harvest,

The sky, the stars, the sun;

But the wonder of wonders that thrills my soul

Is a wonder that’s only begun.

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of your much-loved George Beverly Shea, whose music has thrilled our souls and reminded us of the wonder of your great love for us all!

Featured image: George Beverly Shea by BGEA. Used with permission.

Following Ruskin’s Lead

Roughfolk Falls, Spearfish Canyon, South Dakota
Roughfolk Falls, Spearfish Canyon, South Dakota

John Ruskin was a leading English art critic, social thinker and philanthropist of the Victorian era. He was also a watercolorist who lamented that most individuals do not take the time nor make the effort to see what is right before them.

In The Art of Travel, Alain de Botton notes that Ruskin believed one way to “possess beauty properly was by understanding it, by making oneself conscious of the factors (psychological and visual) responsible for it . . . [T]he most effective means of pursuing this conscious understanding was by attempting to describe beautiful places through art, by writing about or drawing them, irrespective of whether one happened to have any talent for doing so.” Ruskin was motivated by a desire to “direct people’s attention accurately to the beauty of God’s work in the material universe.”

Ruskin not only sketched but also “word-painted” (writing so as to cement his impressions of beauty). He not only described what he saw but analyzed the effect on himself of what he saw in psychological language (“the grass seemed expansive, the earth timid.”) In the Alps, he described pine trees and rocks in similarly psychological terms: ” I can never stay long under an Alpine cliff, looking up at its pines, as they stand on the inaccessible juts and perilous ledges of an enormous wall, in quiet multitudes, each like a shadow of the one beside it – upright, fixed, not knowing each other. . . All comfortless they stand, yet with such iron will that the rock itself looks bent and shattered beside them – fragile, weak, inconsistent, compared to their dark energy of delicate life and monotony of enchanted pride.”

Ruskin calls us to sketch and word paint, to search into the cause of beauty, to penetrate the minutest parts of loveliness. Rather than just walking down a lane, he calls us – on that walk – to look up and observe “how the showery and subdivided sunshine comes sprinkled down among the gleaming leaves overhead, till the air is filled with the emerald light. . . to see here and there a bough emerging from the veil of leaves. . . to see the variegated and fantastic lichens, white and blue, purple and red, all mellowed and mingled into a single garment of beauty.”

Should we choose not to see, not to sketch and not to word paint, we may just pass along a green lane, and when we come home again, have nothing to say or think about it but that we went down such and such a lane. Perhaps if we follow Ruskin’s lead, we may begin to find a walk down a green lane, or a moment in the company of a sanderling, or the contemplation of the rain on a windowpane, an adventure. We may begin to truly see, understand and be stirred to love.

Photos by Donna Hailson.

Sanderlings. Topsail Beach, North Carolina. Photo by Donna Hailson
Topsail Beach, North Carolina