This sketch is my interpretation of the message in the book of Ruth; family grows out of and is rooted in mutual loyalty.



‘Embrace’ started out as a collage of ink studies of twisted and knotted paper completed as an assignment in course early in my college career.  I mounted my favorite examples of this work onto a 30×40 mounting board, beginning the journey of ‘Embrace’. At first, I was not sure what, if anything, else I would do with this piece. I simply called the piece ‘Knots’ and left it propped against our bedroom wall where I would see it every morning, hoping I’d awake with some revelation that would turn it into a masterpiece! The revelation ended up not coming from me, but from my wife Julie when she was looking at with a somewhat confused expression. She later admitted she was pondering “why did he draw all those people tangle up in their sheets?” Just the inspiration for this piece I was waiting for!

The images of twisted paper knots became two things becoming one, being tied or twisted together each one holding the other. Instead of paper knots, I saw two figures dancing together, two hands grasping each other in cooperation, the passionate embrace of two lovers, and yes, two people tangled in their sheets! Three pastel drawings over these knots represent those interpretations, the passionate kiss in the top left, a loving embrace from behind in the bottom left, and two feet caressing each other in the bottom right.

The image in the top right makes another twist on the idea of the knots. This drawing is taken from a picture in our wedding album, Julie’s hand over mine, showing off our new commitment newly traded rings. This is a reference to the concept of ‘tying the knot’, as marriage is sometimes referred to.

Each of the images drawn of to this page are actions that ‘tie the knot’ between two people a little tighter; a passionate kiss, a surprise embrace from behind, gentle, vulnerable pillow talk after a night of romance, as well as the public vow of faithfulness. Each make our “embrace” a little closer, a little stronger, and secure its lasting presence.


My wife and I travelled to the North Carolina coast this weekend to attend a memorial service for my sister’s newborn. Despite some details needing to be modified last minute, the service was beautiful. I accompanied a couple of guests’ guitar and vocals with my djembe, my father officiated, friends and family shared how the unfolding of Isaac’s life had touched them and continues to spread. The event itself was very small but also extremely intimate, exactly what we all needed to bring closure to what we’d all experienced.

During a trip to the same beach several months ago, Kelly and Bill had walked out on a large sand bar during low tide and wrote the names of the two sons they would soon meet in the sand. As the tide rose, the sea washed this inscription away, as if picking up each letter written and safely tucking them away as if to lock them away in its memory.

After the music and sharing time came to a close, we all made our way out to the shore line, being sure to time our walking processional to be made at low tide. Each of us carried a single white tulip out onto the powdery sand, waiting for the right moment to release it and symbolically releasing Isaac in our own way.

Low tide on Topsail Island leaves many small pools of ocean water dotting the shore like the spots of a sea turtle. As we walked, we passed two of these pools, shaped as small wings mirroring each other. I chose to place my tulip between these two wings where it would move in the breeze until the return of high tide carried it out into the water.

White tulip in the sand with wings of the Atlantic

Kelly and Bill walked passed the pools through the small breakers, up onto the same sand bar they had inscribed their sons’ names as a dedication to their creator a few months before, this time carrying Isaac’s urn with them. Giving him one last kiss, they placed him on the spot where they first carved his name into the earth. Upon returning, they told us a small family of dolphins broke the surface as they sat Isaac down, as if to greet them. That night, the moon rose larger and more glorious than I had ever seen, illuminating the rising tide that embraced Issac’s urn, releasing him into the same ocean that first embraced his name.

We all returned from the water, rejoicing in the memories and impressions Isaac’s short life will leave with us and anticipating the new experiences Liam will share with us as he grows.