All posts by Mike

I currently live at Gov Island, Indian Lake, Ohio, as full-time chaplain for our retreat house. My interests are writing, drawing/painting, gardening, composing music. Spent the previous 16 years as missionary in Kenya and Zambia, Africa. As for the rest of my history, was stationed in Japan while serving in the Navy, used the GI Bill to pursue my BS in Chemistry. Worked as chemist at UDRI for several years. Met and joined the Society of Mary and lived at St. Al’s in Cleveland, OH for several years before going to Africa. Now that I have been back in the US, spend my time catching up with the above hobbies!

ART GALLERY – December 2017

Welcome to my Art Gallery!

Presented this week are my latest paintings and drawings.

These series are mainly flowers draw on large 17×23 watercolor paper, two other selections of buildings.

The first selection is Violet Iris drawn in watercolor.  There is a light rose wash under layer to the whole flower and allowed to dry before the blue and violet was added to bring out the depth.

Violet Iris 17×23

The second selection is a Yellow and Purple Iris, colored using pastel pencils.  A light grey and blue background helps bring out the colors, especially the yellow.  The flower was outlined in places with black ink . I purposely aligned the flash of the camera on the lower tongue of the pedal.

Yellow/Purple Iris 17×23

The third choice is a Deep Pink Hibiscus in watercolor.  A grayish brick-like background blends in nicely with the colors, not interfering withe pink.

Pink Hibiscus 17×23

The fourth piece is called a Trillium, found in the wild woods of Ohio in the early spring time.  Painted in watercolor the background is a blue used in the leaves.

Trillium 17×23

The fifth selection is initially drawn with pencil, but the flowers of the purple cone and black eyed Suzanne’s are colored in watercolor.  I have been using this technique of what seems like an incomplete painting in several of my pictures with overwhelming positive responses from the general public at my last showing at Gallery St John in Dayton, Ohio.

Wild Flowers 17×23

The sixth piece is called a Yellow Columbine in watercolor.  I added the brown background which is more similar to the yellow.  A light violet would be more the complementary, a mix of blue and red.  The brown works, but doesn’t bring our the yellow as much as the violet would, and almost mutes the flower.

Yellow Columbine 17×23

The second to last selection is a Japanese Pagoda in a fall scene.  The painting was done in watercolor using blue to paint in the negative space between the red, yellow, and orange leaves of autumn causing them to almost jump our of the picture.  Contrast this to the Yellow Columbine in the previous selection!

Pagoda 10×15

And the last piece is called The O’Connor’s Cabins in black ink and pastel pencils.  As in the previous selection with the Wild Flowers, only the houses have been colored in.  (The grey shadows on the white paper is the photographic interference from the lighting and not the drawing.)

O’Connor’s Cabins 13×17

Thank You for your time in viewing my drawings.  I hope you have enjoyed seeing them as much as I have drawing them!

MUSIC ROOM – November 2017


…to my MUSIC ROOM. 

Featured here are my latest music compositions from the last time period posted.

I enjoy writing for various musical instruments and their different combinations, like string ensembles, with a variety of themes from inspirational to classical.  Of course, piano is my favorite instrument, so that will be featured in many of the pieces.  Lately I have been composing for piano, cello, and tenor recorder, simply because those are the instruments in our Music Composers Group (MCG), consisting of a Concert Pianist, a Cellist, and a Tenor/Soprano Recorder.

Here are my latest selections of music!

For music go to:


My First Selection is called “From The Inside Out” written for piano, cello, and oboe.  The oboe is filling in for the Tenor Recorder.  The piece would be perfect for a violin on the Tenor Recorder part, matching up with the cello part.  The piece is Easy Listening, smooth with beautiful melody and harmony lines.  The composition changes to another key without hardly a notice.  You probably want to have a sip of wine first before listening to this piece!

From The Inside Out

The Second Selection is called “Morning Prayer” from Africa.  Sorry I don’t have anyone yet singing the words, since they are not only beautiful but the melody is intimately linked to the words.  The trumpet plays the voice part quite nicely with the piano accompanyingI have used dotted accents to emphasize certain words as you can hear from the trumpet.  I found this prayer in an old prayer book used by our former New York Province.  Here is the first refrain: “You have let me pass the night in peace, O God.  Let me pass the day in peace.”

“Morning Prayer” from Africa


My Third Choice is called “Holy Heart” from the words of St. Thomas More,  a martyr against the cause of the arrogant King Henry VIII to obtain a divorce.  “Lord, grant me a holy heart.”  The prayer is from the same above prayer book.   I have used the trumpet, a great substitute instrument for the voice part.  The piano is playing the accompaniment with the trombone coming on the second part.  The trumpet takes over again in the third and last section.  The trombone give the brass part a nice contrast to the trumpet.

“Holy Heart”


The Last Selection was originally called “God Be In My Head” which I changed to “sarum primer“, using all small case letters.  The words are from the same prayer book as the above songs.  I am not sure what the Sarum Primer is, possibly from Ireland(?)  The violin is playing the voice part with the cello and piano.  (God be in my head and in my understanding. God be in my eyes and in my looking.  God be in my mouth and in my speaking. God be in my heart and in my thinking.  God be at my end and my departing.)  The above prayer is made up of five two line stanzas.  The middle two, “…in my mouth…in my heart,” are in the middle section of the piece that has a faster pace and is repeated.  The fifth stanza ends the piece.

Thank you for listening!

Welcome to listen to more music listed in the INDEX.

(Respect my copyright: (c) 2017 Michael F. Nartker, S.M.)

MUSIC ROOM – October 2017


…to my MUSIC ROOM. 

Featured here are my latest music compositions from the time period mentioned above and before.

I enjoy writing for various musical instruments and their different combinations, like string ensembles, with a variety of themes from inspirational to classical.  Of course, piano is my favorite instrument, so that will be featured in many of the pieces.  Lately I have been composing for piano, cello, and tenor recorder, simply because those are the instruments in our Music Composers Group (MCG), which we are blessed with a Concert Pianist, Cellist, and Tenor/Soprano Recorder.

Enjoy my latest selection of instrumental music!

piano(Respect my copyright: (c) 2017 Michael F. Nartker, S.M.)

First Selection: I would like to present my most recent compositions beginning with the following:Mirror of Hope“.

This piece was originally called “Luna Moth,” but during practice our cellist played it in the minor key as a warmup.  It sounded different, but we all liked it.  So I decided to rewrite the composition starting in the minor then switching to the Major, minor, and then ending in the Major; sort of playing on the title, which I renamed.

For this piece I am using the oboe, English horn, and piano, written in Bb minor and then alternating with G Major, at a slow meter of 65, 2.41 minutes.  The first section in the minor is played by the cello and sounds kind of hopeless.  The second section breaks in with the hopeful sound of the Major played by the oboe with the cello joining in harmony.  In the third section both oboe and cello slip back into the minor, but the last short section of the piece the cello closes in the Major!


Second Selection: was written for our celebration of our Founder of the Society of Mary title “I Am A Brook” who always referred to himself as a Brook, in the sense that nothing could stop him, neither difficulties nor trials.  For the voice part I am using the oboe, my instrument of choice, and the Steel String Guitar for the piano part.  It is interesting that this “finale” app not only allows the switch but sounds quite good.

The piece is written in F Major and Moderately at 70 meters, 2.55 minutes.  The refrain is really in two parts which is played in full at the beginning.  After the first verse the first part of the refrain is played, and after the second verse the second part of the refrain is played, and after the third verse the full refrain is played for the final time.


Third Selection: was written to the words of a prayer by Saint Thomas More called “For A Holy Heart” which I named “Holy Heart“.

The simple piece is written in G Major at a meter of 80 and using the Trumpet for the voice part with Piano and Warm Pad.  This instrument, the Warm Pad, gives me the sound closest to what I want.


Last Selection: is called “God Be In My Heart“.  The words were taken from a prayer book with the title “Sarum Primer,” which sounds a little Irish.

The piece was written in C Major using Oboe, English Horn, Tuba and Piano.  Even though the piece was written at Adagio or 70 meters, it does move along.  The song begins a little slow in the first part, the piano moves it along in the second part with its triplets.


I hope you have enjoyed my compositions.  Feel free to listen to past composition using the index at the opening page of this blog!


MUSIC ROOM – July 2017


…to my MUSIC ROOM.  Featured here are my latest music compositions from the time period mentioned above.

I enjoy writing for various musical instruments and their different combinations, like string ensembles, with a variety of themes from inspirational to classical.  Of course, piano is my favorite instrument, so that will be featured in many of the pieces.  Lately I have been composing for piano, cello, and tenor recorder, simply because those are the instrument in our Music Composers Group (MCG).

Enjoy my latest selection of instrumental music!

pianoRemember the copyright: (c) 2016 Michael F. Nartker, SM.

The First Piece is called  “Remembering” and is written for Piano and Soft Pad.  In this piece is more of an Easy Listening genre, so I have added the Soft Pad to give it more of that dreamy sound with the piano.  I find that the piano helps to define the notes more clearly, or they may get lost in the Soft Pad sound.  The first part of the piece sets the mood, but the second part has the lovely melody.  In the third part the first half of the beginning of the piece is repeated for the ending.


The second selection is called “Ever So Lightly”.  The melody is a good old foot tapping piece written for Piano, Oboe, and English Horn.  There is short interlude after the first part that leads into a solo between the Oboe and the English Horn.  The beginning part is repeated for the ending.  The cello was replaced by the Oboe and the tenor recorder by the English Horn.


The third piece is called “Breakthrough“.  This piece combines the   Piano and the Soft Pad again but in a more fanfare genre.  This is a good piece to play while driving since it will keep you to a steady speed.  No racing here.


The last selection is called “Hear Me“.  It is written for piano, cello, and tenor recorder, but I have substituted the Oboe for the tenor recorder and the English Horn for the cello.  It is a nice melody that intertwines the cello and tenor recorder together with the piano entering and exiting throughout the piece, as though leaving the other two instruments to dance alone.

Thank You for listening to my music.  I hope you have enjoyed it, and please return for more.


ART GALLERY – July 2017

Welcome to my Art Gallery!

First in this presentation I would like to show a few selected pictures that will be showed at the “Art On The Beach” first weekend in August 2017 at Old State Beach, Russell’s Point, Ohio, Indian Lake.

Second, at Mount St. John’s Gallery, I will also have a show called, not surprisingly: “Around Indian Lake” with drawings of sites from around the area, especially Governor’s Island.  Below will be a few selected pictures that will be in the show.

And Third, I would also like to present some of my drawings when I was in Manziana, Italy for a Sabbatical of the surrounding areas, and some paintings from cities in France.

1-The first selection is called “Four Cabins“, which I have presented here with the drift-wood frame made from wood that we retrieve from the lake, usually after a storm.  With this piece I have added dark brown matting.  Notice that the trees, grass, and foliage have not been colored in, but only the cabins!  Also I have added a slight hint of boxing in the picture with a line interrupted by the tops of the trees to give the picture more of a realistic touch.  The cabins are colored with pastel pencils.  The cabins are located on Indian Lake that I frequent when visiting a friend.

Four Cabins


2-The second selection is called “Four Boats“, in a regular frame with grey matting.  I have not colored in the trees and the foliage in this drawing either.  This is my favorite of the Lake pictures.  This drawing is taken from my friend’s picture in our local calendar.  The boats are colored with pastel pencils.

Four Boats


3-The third selection is called “Four Lawn Chairs“.  This picture doesn’t show it, but is framed in drift-wood.  Notice the reflection in the water of the chairs and the fire!   The picture from which I drew from shows the shadow in the house outlining objects on the wall.  The chairs were colored in using pastel pencils.

Four Lawn Chairs


4-The fourth piece is called “Governor’s Island Bell“, which we ring to call folks to meals.  This piece is unframed and is painted in acrylics and around to the sides of the canvas, the piece can be hung without framing.  Our Retreat House is located at the former Ohio Governor’s Hunting Lodge, approximately 4 acres completely surrounded by water.  This bell is located by an old mulberry tree near the entrance walkway to the “old house.”

Governor’s Island Bell


5-The fifth piece is called “Governor’s Island Chapel“, located at the beginning of the property and surrounded by about two acres of trees.  The chapel was originally the old section and was the care-taker’s home.  The sacristy and the entrance was added later.  The chapel is officially called St. George’s Chapel, but no one uses or knows that name unless they are an old-timer!  The painting shows mainly the entrance with a little of the old house showing on the right of the picture.  This painting is done in watercolor with white matting.  The frame is not showing.

Governor’s Island Chapel


6-The sixth selection is called “Magic House, Assisi” in Italy.  I find this house interesting, not expecting to find images of magic in Assisi, even though they are common in Italy, since Assisi is the home town of St. Francis.  The drawing was done in watercolor and framed with a dark brown wooden frame and white matting with a black interior lining.

Magic House, Assisi


7-The last selection is called the “Taize Village” located in France.  This drawing is done in watercolor and framed.  The famous monks of Taize are located there, not far from this street going back.  If one heads down this street and turns left at the next street up ahead, you will see the village church where Bro. Roger is buried.

Taize Village, France

This concludes my presentation of recent and not so recent drawings.  Hope you visit my show at Art on the Beach, Russell’s Point, Ohio and Mount St. John’s Gallery.

I hope you have enjoyed my pictures.

+Thank You for your time visiting my blog!


MUSIC ROOM – May 2017


…to my Music Room.  Featured here are my latest music compositions from the time period mentioned above.

I enjoy writing songs with lyrics taken from the psalms, popular poems, and my own  compositions. The many themes included, among others, are inspirational and easy listening melodies.

I also enjoy writing for various musical instruments and their different combinations, like string ensembles, with a variety of themes from inspirational to classical.  Of course, piano is my favorite instrument, so that will be featured in many of the pieces.

Enjoy my latest selection of instrumental music!

piano(Remember, these songs are copyrighted (c) 2016 Michael F. Nartker, SM.)

The First Piece is called “Hear Me” and written for piano, cello, and tenor recorder.  However, I have used the tuba for the cello and the oboe for the tenor recorder for a interesting sound.  The original piece was written as a duet between tenor recorder and cello, which sounds quite nice with these two excellent instruments, and with the piano added later.

The piece is written in 4/4 meter, Adagio (70 meter), in the key of C Major and opening with the main theme of six measures and repeated three times before moving into the second theme of ten measures, then closes with a coda.  You will have to listen to the piece to see why the first theme is repeated.


The Second Selection is called “Clod Hopp’n” and written for piano, cello, and tenor recorder, but the cello is replaced by the tuba and the oboe replaces the tenor recorder.  The pace is much faster, 120 meter to make a lively piece to even dance by.  It is a fun piece to play and hear.  You will not be able to keep your foot still.  The piece is written in 4/4 meter and in the key of G Major.


The Third Selection is called “Luna Moth“.  The original piece was written with lyrics and called “Moon Moth”.  This piece is written in E minor and in 3/4 meter, Adagio (75 meter) for piano, tenor recorder, and cello.  As you will see by now, all the selections have the same substitutions for the cello and the tenor recorder.  The main reason for the substitution is that the pieces sound much better rather than with the original instruments due to the poor sound or imitation of the instruments.

This slow moving waltz, seems almost mournful at the beginning, but towards the end one learns from the lyrics that it ends in joy.


The Final Selection is called “Wherever You Go“.   This piece was originally written with beautiful lyrics from the book of Ruth 1:16-18, and both this and the other piece can be found in previous posts on this blog.

The piece is written in Adagio (70 meter), 4/4 meter, in the key of Eb Major, and written for Warm Pad, cello, and tenor recorder.  The same substitutions are for the cello and the tenor recorder.


I hope you enjoyed these pieces.

Thanks you for your listening time!

READING CHAIR – Gospel Commentary: Good Shepherd/Good Gatekeeper

Good Shepherd Sunday

John 10:1-10

“I am the Good Shepherd.  My sheep recognize my voice!”

We recognize the Lord’s voice through hearing the Gospels proclaimed every Sunday, the Word of God.  And the Good Shepherd calls us by name.

I have heard from the Brothers who have gone to the Holy Land, that one day they took a trip to the Lake of Galilee but stopped in the hills sides on the way for a lunch break.  The shepherds had also taken their break and were beginning to break up and head back to their respective homes.  Their sheep were all mingled together but at the sound of the voices of their shepherds heading home.  They called to their sheep as they walked away and the sheep fell in behind them.  Slowly the mass of tangled sheep separated, with each strand of sheep following their shepherd, going on their way.

Over the years we hear the gospels read each Sunday and slowly we become familiar with them to the point that hopefully our daily decisions are made in the light of them.  The familiar wrist bands that have the letters “WWJD” written on them, or “What would Jesus do?” were popular several years ago, reminds us to call to mind the Good Shepherd in difficult situations, “What would Jesus do?”

Besides this being Good Shepherd Sunday, we could also call it The Good Gate-keeper Sunday.  Jesus is the Gate through which the sheep enter green pastures.  My fellow seminarian also mentioned that the sheep compound or sheep-fold is surrounded by a tall stone wall build out in the pastures where the sheep can enter at night with the shepherd, but there was no wooden gate.  There is nothing, just an opening.  Once the sheep entered, the shepherd lays down in the opening.  That way anyone entering will have to step over the shepherd to get to the sheep!  Jesus is our Sheep Gate leading us to greener pastures, protecting us, laying down his life for us.

To recognize the Shepherd’s voice, we have to spend a lot of time with the Lord…through Scriptures, and once a week is not enough.  If you want a closer relationship with the Lord, you have to spend more time with him, as in any relationship.  You may have friends that you try to get together once a week, but find it difficult because of family obligations.  I am sure in the beginning you had spent more time with them when the relationship was first growing.  These may have been relationships before marriage.  In order to keep the relationship alive, you still have to spend quality time with the person.

Spending time with the Lord requires they same quality time.  I know some people with children/ grandchildren use the evening time after the kids are in bed to spend with the Lord through Scriptures or Spiritual Reading.  Spending time with the Lord through your family, counts.  For example, you may talk about the Lord to your young children, or even discuss the Gospel Readings after the Sunday Liturgy with them.  Many family members pray regularly during the week, even though it may be the short time before they all go to bed.  My mom would read to us from the “Bible Story Book”.  Imagine all eleven of us crowded on the living room sofa.

There are many voices today that try to impersonate the voice of the Good Shepherd, and some for profit.  Even Jesus knew that such people existed; whether false prophets, corrupt religious leaders, or the money changers in the temple.  “Those who try to enter by going in another way are thieves and robbers!”  We need to know the voice of the Good Shepherd against all the other noisy background voices competing for our souls.

As a community, we know each other.  So when someone new comes to our liturgy, it takes a while for us to get to know them and get used to their presence.  We give them time.  And when they have attended our liturgy over a period of time we feel they have joined our community, sometimes we may even know their names.  Their mere presence over the weeks is enough for us.  In a way, we have become Good Shepherds as a community.  But as an individual, we still represent the Good Shepherds through our words and actions when we influence others in good ways, leading them back to the Lord.  That is a Good Shepherd, merely someone who leads another back to the Lord.

The time comes in our lives when we become the Good Shepherd ourselves to others.  Today there are too many Gatekeepers, those who keep people out because they are different form our community.  The early church had too many gatekeepers.

Orthodox means right or correct belief or teachings.  But who determines those who are right or wrong?  The split between the Roman and Orthodox Churches was over the “filioque” clause that the Roman Church added to its Creed.  Who was right or wrong there, the Roman Church?  In the end it was just another way to describe how the Holy Spirit proceeded from the Father and the Son: “and the Son” or “filioque”.  Whereas the Orthodox believed that the Holy Spirit proceeded from the Father through the Son.  The Romans pictures the Trinity as a triangle; the Orthodox pictures the Trinity as a straight line!  Who is right, who is wrong, who cares?

Pope Paul VI admitted that it was two ways  to view the Trinity and thus ended the 800 and more years of separation.

Today’s nitpicking over the Liturgy (or whatever) will be tomorrows quiet resolution and acceptance of differences.  We need more Good Shepherds, not more Gatekeepers.  We can leave the Gate-keeping up to the Good Shepherd who laid down his life because of all the bickering.

We are called to be “Other Christs”, and that implies being Good Shepherd, that is, to lead others to Christ.  That is why we pray to Mary, as she formed her son, may she form us into other Christs that we may lead others to him.