Posts Tagged ‘God’

So long – for a little while

March 14, 2016

I started to write this post a few days ago and got sidetracked.  I have come to a decision that I have had bottled up for a while,. one which doesn’t have any immediate resolution but offers great opportunity.

I have said in the past that I have a book in me, like pretty much everyone else who has ever written a thought on paper, real or digital.

I have given this a great deal of thought, and determined that I cannot both blog and write a book at the same time.  Since I have blogged, but not written a book, it’s time for the latter to consume my efforts.

Hence the picture below.  The title of the book is “The Buffalo Hunter.”  It will be a collection of a dozen short stories, some of which got their origin in this blog.  The intention is to illustrate it with my photos, giving me the incentive to keep shooting.

Funny, but in a week without posting, I haven’t really shot much, either.  In working through challenges, my camera has been absent from my daily routine.  I really miss it, and will pick it up again in the next day or so.  I have a shoot for work coming up in a couple days, but the artist in me is screaming at being bottled up.

I’ll share some shots as I go along, and maybe post some things from the book-work-in-progress, too.  There won’t be a daily post anymore, at least for a little while, and I figure to have the book finished this fall.

Published? That, dear reader, is a different story.

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Where’s the gold dome?

February 25, 2016
Blue Capitol

Blue Capitol

 

Things constantly change, even when they stay the same.

My original intent was to get a shot of our Capitol building under reconstruction, but I got distracted by the sky. Again.  Our state is going to spend $300 million fixing up this wonderful building, beginning now.  The whole place is surrounded by chain link fence, and scaffolding is gracing a large area of the walls.  It’s a much needed renovation, as the old building is tired and in need of modernization.

The downside to this project is that we live two blocks away, and our whole neighborhood will be consumed with construction for the next two years.  After it’s all done, however, it ought to make a nice neighborhood like ours even better.

Here’s what I find so interesting about this picture.  A few weeks ago, I took a shot of the Capitol on a cold, snowy morning. The dome shone like it was lit up, the gold glistening even in the gray morning light.  Tonight, at sunset, the same dome can hardly be differentiated from the sky.  And the sky is magnificent.

I continue to be amazed at what I am discovering on this 365 project / journey.  My eyes are different now than they were four months ago. If you’ve been reading along with this, you know that I have mentioned this fact a number of times, and it’s likely that I’ll mention it a number of times more in the future.

Something else I’m discovering is that I believe I have a book in me that needs to come out.  I have been rolling this around in my head for years, but I think I have finally determined the literary method of telling the story.  If I can get that off the ground, I’ll share it with you, dear reader, as I go along.

To the few of you who see this, thanks for reading.  I have to remind myself that I didn’t start this with the hope that I would get thousands of followers, but just so I could get some practice writing and shooting.  Nevertheless, I appreciate the fact that you have followed along this far.  May God bless you always!

Hidden treasure

February 22, 2016

 

Our Lady of Peace

Our Lady of Peace

One of the benefits of working in a chancery is that we are surrounded by religious art.  Some of it, as you might imagine, is pretty good.  Case in point is this tapestry.

This photo is just a small section of a good sized tapestry.  I have never known where it came from, even though I have admired it for years and asked my co workers what they knew about it.

Tonight I was getting ready to leave, last one out, when I looked at it and it just caught my eye as a good subject for a shot. It hangs on a wall and is just outside the edge of direct light from a fixture in the ceiling.  It was a little too dark to get the details I wanted, so I took it off the wall and set it in the direct light.

Lo and behold, an envelope was taped to the back of the frame.  I looked inside and there were 2 things; a picture of the tapestry from a catalog, and a holy card from the funeral of a woman.  My guess is that this was a donation from the woman’s family to the Church, and she has gone unknown to me until tonight.

What a wonderful gift to find this generous woman’s legacy in our office!  This tapestry is so appropriately named, as it brings great peace just looking at it.  Our Blessed Mother, in all her splendor.  What joy!

Thank you to this woman for her gift.  I will prayer for the repose of her soul, and thank God for her generosity and love of our Church.

February 16, 2016
Empty

Empty

Ever looked at a playground at night?

I never really paid attention to one until tonight. Every Tuesday we have a meeting of a club I have belonged to for 7 years.  This is a club that is 114 years old and has existed in its current format since the beginning.

We hold our meetings in a building in a park, and next to the buildings is a playground.  As a child, my idea of a playground wasn’t much more than monkey bars on asphalt. Today that just wouldn’t do, despite the sort of romantic notions we hold over the things of the past.  Some kid falling from the top of the bars and hitting the deck below would be in serious trouble. Today’s playgrounds are much, much safer, and, frankly, appear to be a lot more fun than those monkeybars.

Tonight as I walked across the parking lot and into the meeting, I saw the silhouette of the playground. Here was this place of immense joy and laughter, and it was empty and dark.  That about sums up how I felt tonight going into, and coming out of, this meeting.

The emptiness and darkness were not for me.  Rather, they are for a some members of the club who are going through unspeakable hardship right now.  Rather than detail things, suffice it to say their conditions are not what anyone in his right mind would choose.

Yet here they are at the meeting, men of whom I have grown very fond over the years.  Knowing of their fear, anxiety and profound sadness, I can’t help but believe they come to the meetings for the friendship and support they know that is theirs.  My intention is to breathe in their troubles and breathe out purified air, cleansed by the goodness of God, so that they can breathe again themselves.  The Buddhists have a word for this practice – tonglen.  These guys need all of it they can get.

I left the meeting with a heavy heart, knowing that in spite of the enjoyment of the meeting, these two were facing trials that should have precluded their enjoyment of the meeting, but did not.

So this melancholy is not from them, but only because I feel the pain that encompasses them now.  May God bless them both.

A dark playground is a lonely place.  Darkness in our lives can be lonely as well.  We can pray that God shows us his everlasting love.

Mohammed

February 8, 2016

Mohammed

 

I’d like you to meet my friend, Dr. Mohammed Salih.

Mohammed is a retired educator, having taught in universities and community colleges for many years.  Originally from Sudan, he and his family have lived in Cheyenne or a long time.

Mohammed is also the Imam at the Southeast Wyoming Islamic Center in Cheyenne.  He is a gentle man, a scholar, and just a wonderful human being.

Mohammed joined our Bishop, the Rabbi of the local synagogue, and several Protestant pastors who came together for an extraordinary event, an Interfaith Prayer Service.  This is the second year of the Prayer Service, and it occurs on the first day of the Wyoming State Legislative Session.

It took place at St. Mary’s Cathedral, and was attended by members of the Legislature, the Secretary of State, the State Treasurer, the State Auditor, the Superintendent of Public Schools, members of the Supreme Court, the Mayor of Cheyenne, and a good number of the general public.  We all gathered in prayer for the work being done by our lawmakers and all those involved in the apparatus of a representative government.

There were no arguments, no clashes of personalities, no arm-waving displays of dogmatic imperialism.  Rather, this was just a large group of people coming together in prayer, asking for God’s grace and blessing upon their work.

Mohammed was a big part of this.   I’m proud to call him my friend.

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For more pictures of today’s prayer service, go to my SmugMug site.

To see our Bishop’s blog about this event, go here.

Lamb of God

February 5, 2016
Behold the Lamb of God

Behold the Lamb of God

I’ve shown other stained glass windows on these pages, and each time I shoot them I am awestruck by their beauty.  Here’s the really weird thing – This image, and most of the others I have put here, are from my parish church, yet I would be hard pressed to say that I have seen them before.

Today I didn’t even intend to shoot a window.  Rather, I had an idea about a rack of pamphlets and brochures that I thought would be interesting.  When I took that shot, it wasn’t anything I would show to anyone else.  Then as I looked around and saw the light coming through this window, and I knew what I had to do.

Which is ironic.  Or perhaps Providential.  So often when we are looking for something, we just can’t see it, even if it is right in front of us.  Our lives are like that on a regular basis, always looking for something better, a different way.  We are often driven like this because of anger, or despair, or frustration, or hurt.

We scan horizons, we look in books, we search Youtube for answers to all our questions, yet they all leave lingering doubts as to their validity.

Today I was looking for one thing, but found THE thing.  The Lamb of God, Jesus our Lord and Savior, was right in front of me.  This was the brightest window.  Whatever we are looking for, Jesus is the answer.

Keep your eyes peeled, and your heart open.  Jesus is everywhere, and sometimes he is right THERE.

Thoughts on Sewing

February 4, 2016
Stitched together

Stitched together

Let me clear up any possible misconception right now.  Yes, this is a sewing machine.  No, I couldn’t use it to save my life. This is Sherry’s sewing machine. She acquired this before we were married, and we have been married 33 years.  She has had it longer than she has had me.

Sherry has a sewing room where we keep our ironing board and our iron.  Each morning I go in there to iron something to wear to work, a task I have been doing for a long time.  This morning I noticed the shadows as they cast themselves across the machine.  There is a south facing window in the room, and at 7:30 a.m. the sun is shining through as it starts its arc low across the southern horizon.  Today the blinds were just right to make me take notice of the stripes across the face of this piece of equipment.

Sewing has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.  More accurately, it’s been a part of the women in my life for as long as I can remember.  My mother was a wonderful seamstress, and she spent many hours running material through her Singer.  That always seemed to be the best time to talk to her – when she was busy with her hands and I was watching the TV in the same room.  Deep stuff, like girls, school, girls, my future, and girls.  She always understood, never tried to tell me what to do, and made me believe she really listened to me, because she did.

For my senior high school picture, my mom made adenim leisure suit for me.  I can see you cringing – and laughing –  right now, but in 1975 it was cutting edge.  I don’t know where that picture is, but I can see, and feel, that suit right now.

My sister-in-law Sharon is a legendary seamstress.  She made clothes for her two girls while they were growing up, and not just simple things, either.  She taught her skills to her daughters, Carole and Jayne, who picked up the craft and make clothes for themselves, their children and grandchildren.

Sherry would sew, then not, then sew, then not, then sew throughout our married life.  Maybe ten years ago, she got an interest in quilting and went down that road.  We both know of women – I don’t know any man quilters – who have gone into the quilting thing like men go into the tool/hunting/biking thing.  They have yards and yards of fabric filling up cabinets and closets in their homes, and they churn out quilts by the dozens, or so it seems.

Sherry has made quite a few quilts, but our house isn’t littered with them.  She gives them away.  She is working on two quilts for grandchildren right now, and this sewing machine is seeing a lot of use.

Which brings me to the thoughts I had when I was ironing.  Yesterday I wrote about nails holding things together for a long time.  Quilts, while not hard and stout like nails, hold things together as well, but in a much more complex manner.

When Sherry makes a quilt, she spends hours and hours cutting out little pieces of fabric, putting them into some sense of order, ironing them and then sewing them together.  I’ve seen her stay up quite late working on her quilts, not because of a deadline to finish them, but because she just loses track of time.

Her quilts are a lot like her life and our family.  She has spent years selecting the fabric of our lives, making sure that what we have is strong and durable, and it can withstand multiple cycles of clean/dirty/clean.  She takes these disparate pieces of fabric that is us and our girls, and irons them, taking out the wrinkles that distract from the beauty of the fabric.  Then she takes her scissors and cuts off the rough edges.  She sews it all together, making this batch of fabric – us – come together as one beautiful piece of art.  That finished product is a marvel to behold.  And while there are imperfections, that’s OK, because this life quilt was built out of love.

I love seeing this sewing machine.  I love what it represents to me, that connection to the strong women in my family.  I love that it is a tool that allows Sherry to make her useful art and share it with others.  I love the fact that she has used this same sewing machine for so long, never looking to acquire a new one simply because it was new.  And I love the stripes across it, giving it a depth and texture that I’ve never witnessed before.

And all that from ironing a pair of pants.

 

Almost there

February 3, 2016
Old nails

Old nails

wrote about my basement project a few days ago.  I was optimistically thinking I might get the floor in this weekend, but I knew a significant amount of work remained to be done, such as tearing out the old floor.  Lo and behold, Sherry attacked those old floor boards with a crow bar and a sledge hammer, getting them up off the ground and into a pile for me to take out to the garbage scow trailer.

Which is what I did tonight.  Underneath the floor boards were 2x4s that were, at one time, the solid underpinnings of the boards themselves. Today as I removed them they were little more than sawdust in places, having been in place against the dirt for about 110 years.

The nails were not of this time, either.  The heads were square, as were their bodies.  They showed no signs of weakening, and a better man could have pulled them all out, straightened them out and used them again.  I am more sensible than that, however, and they remained in the boards that are now in the garbage scow trailer.

This deconstruction / reconstruction thing is a thought provoking endeavor.  Those boards were the parts upon which everything was held, the very foundation of the floor.  They were not treated, or made of cedar, or anything like that that would have helped preserve them. They were just boards laying on the dirt.  The years were not kind to them, and I am certain that water got into that room at one point and accelerated their deterioration.  Today when I picked them up off the dirt, even though they gave the appearance of being solid, they crumbled apart, offering no support whatsoever.

The only thing holding the framework of these boards together were the nails.  Nails forged perhaps by a blacksmith, or made in a factory back east manned by immigrants, were still able to complete the task they had been assigned so long ago.

We have been warned against building a house on a foundation of sand.  While our house was built on stone and sits solidly upon the earth, the floor in this room was not.  If our lives are built on the shifting sands of instant gratification that is our modern culture, they become like the wood on my floor and crumble at the first challenge to their stability.  If our lives are forged together with the iron of faith, nothing can make them come apart.

My intention is to build a strong foundation for the new floor.  I hope that, a hundred years from now, the owner of this house never has to think about replacing the floor.

January 13, 2016
Cosmic accident?

Cosmic accident?

I was in the middle of a discussion last night with some of the most literate, well-educated men I have ever met.  We were discussing a book titled The Privileged Planet, a fascinating tale of how an incredible number of things had to come together to provide for all the things required to support carbon based life, aka human beings.

The point of the book, and the man leading this discussion, was that this didn’t all just happen by accident.  Our world, our universe, isn’t simply a random happening. Rather, beginning with the Big Bang and carrying on for the next 13 billion years, the universe continues to expand, and the improbable story of human existence came into being and flourished.

For some reason that I cannot figure out, brilliant men are unable to even acknowledge the possibility that God could have a hand in this, much less that he exists at all.  One of the group called it a “myth,” and then proceeded to tell us that there was just no way that with all that space out there, there simply must be other planets that support carbon life forms similar to humans.

Yet there is no evidence for it.  None.  We can say we just haven’t found it yet, which would be accurate, but it’s also accurate that there is not even a hint at it.  So these bright guys are willing to place their faith in something that has no evidence at all, based upon their conclusion that, due to the sheer size of the universe, there simply must be other planets with life as we know it.

Think about this for a few minutes – there is lot’s of evidence of the existence of God, and there a billions of people who believe in His existence.  There is no evidence whatsoever of life forms on other planets, even after many years and billions of dollars spent looking for it. Given an opportunity to believe in an evidence-based God and no-evidence of extra terrestrial life, they choose the aliens.

Every time I look in the sky and see the wonder and the beauty of creation, I am dumbfounded how others can look at the same sky and fail to see the hand of God in it.  I understand that orange clouds at sunset are functions of light shining through prisms and reflecting off water vapor in clouds, but when we look at them and see beauty, the fact that we see beauty is, in my mind, greater evidence of the existence of God than the orange clouds themselves.

I’m grateful to God for all that he gives me, which is everything I have.  This sunset, between Douglas and Casper, Wyoming, was an awesome gift.

This world an its inhabitants are no accident.

Christmas is NOT magical

December 25, 2015

(Be sure to read the whole way down.  Lots of pictures here.)

I went to Midnight Mass last night at the Cathedral of St. Mary in Cheyenne.  It’s our home parish, and I don’t normally go to this Mass on Christmas as it is just too late, and I am too old. But this night was different, as I wanted to capture the images of Christmas Mass and share them with you.

Angel

The Cathedral was all dressed up for Christmas, a true miracle of light in the midst of the darkness.  As I wandered around before Mass, I found lots of small spaces that contained great surprises. HP9A0314-2 HP9A0308-2 HP9A0306-2 HP9A0462-2 HP9A0428-2

Angels were everywhere!  But what else would expect on a night like this.

 Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields
and keeping the night watch over their flock.
The angel of the Lord appeared to them
and the glory of the Lord shone around them,
and they were struck with great fear.
The angel said to them,
“Do not be afraid;
for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy
that will be for all the people.
For today in the city of David
a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord.
And this will be a sign for you:
you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes
and lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel,
praising God and saying:
“Glory to God in the highest
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

All dressed up

All dressed up

Raising our prayers to heaven

Raising our prayers to heaven

It has become cliche to describe Christmas as magical.  That would be so very, very wrong, though, as magic has nothing to do with it.

The birth of Jesus was real.

Magic is illusion.

Jesus is truly the son of God, consubstantial with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

Magic implies fooling people.

Christmas is telling the truth.

Magic is performed for our entertainment.

Christmas is given to us for our salvation.

Magic is an empty promise, shallow trickery.

Christmas is the fulfillment of a promise.

Merry Christmas.  May God bless us all.

 

 


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