Friday, August 31, 2012

Caretakers of God's Creation: God's Stewards were Here

I like to think of myself as a Care-taker.

The image of caretaker might be one like this- 
someone who's responsible for a piece of land  and everything on it;
 All of its functional and beautiful  parts. 
Or the image of a mother embracing her babe.

 I think when we look at our lives this way-
 see ourselves as called  to be caretakers- 
we stand up a little straighter- 
and take a little more pride in everything we do
 From raising our kids to what we feed ourselves-
  -physically and spiritually-
 to how we keep our homes, 
how we connect with one another and nature.
From the careers we're paid for to the dishes we do.

Everything we're in contact with, we've got a responsibility to.

It's our craftsmanship-
 -our pride in who we are-
 and how we care for ourselves and others-

 that special stamp we leave on everything
 that says 
"God's steward was here."

 I see a smugly smiling cartoon character laying on a lush green swath of grass with a pair of exaggerated scissors trimming it just to his aesthetic.  

I like the idea of stewardship.
 Taking responsibility for our part in everything- in outcomes where we've been present. From picking up a Nature Valley Granola Bar wrapper from the ground
 to comforting a wounded soul.
 From reassuring one of your own to conversing with a passerby.

We are called to leave our mark upon everything we do.  

The  Mark that says, 

"something she said, or something she did had an impact"

In some way we'll remember she was here.

So if I fold some clothes for you or share my joy somehow with  you
- the mark I leave is my stewardship for you.

 I am called to be a steward, and you are too. 
We are caretakers for God's creation
 and we've got work to do.

 It's  Craftsmanship and Pride
   but it's awe and  gratitude too.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

There's Always another Train

New trains  leave the station throughout the day, going various places. 
Some are direct and some take detours. 
Each day you step up to the ticket box to get your ticket. 
A  snap decision may wind you in the wrong neck of the woods.
 If you fall asleep in transit, you may miss your stop. 
But a new train leaves the station each day,
 indeed many times a day, 
and if you're lucky,
 you'll see many destinations.
Some you'll like , some you won't.
 Some you'll visit more than once.
You may miss your train if you stop
to catch a cup a'joe.
so you'll catch the next train-
and you'll meet people on that errant trip you may never have otherwise  met.
Next time you may grab your joe at home.
 But remember there's a new train leaving tomorrow morning

and Whether or not you've reserved your ticket, you're going somewhere- 
and your train may or may not arrive on time. 

There's  a seat on every train That could be yours.
It may be in the front it may be in the back.
It may be somewhere in the middle.
You may be the only one on the train! 
You may like that. You may not.

 It might be a rickety train that rattles and rolls. 
Or a high speed Accela that gets you there in half the time.
Some  passengers are deep in conversation. 
have their headphones on, 
 are reading the paper. 
Some are fast asleep.
They may miss that awesome sunrise casting a reflection on their cheek
with the rhythm of the steadily moving train .  
All are on their own individual journeys  aboard the same train.
Same train. Different destinations.

 Getting off at different stops.

Somewhere always gets you to the next somewhere.
 Just get up and catch your train.
It's leaving.

Monday, July 16, 2012

You are Enough

If the only thing you have 
is your heart
 and your words
 and your ears
 you have infinitely enough.

 Don't doubt that your gifts aren't enough.

 They ARE enough for your life.
 Your strand in the weave goes over and under other strands
- supporting and being supported-

 Make note of the value you bring, but don't quantify it. 

If the only thing you ever did was kiss a skinned knee
 it would be enough.
 If the only thing you ever did was hold the door for someone
 it would be enough.
 It would be enough if your first breath was your last breath.

You are enough.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Mother Nature and the Element of Surprise

Last year when Hurricane Irene was threatening to pillage the east coast, we battened down, packed up and left the family beach house following the hoards out of dodge. It was a surreal series of events, watching the vast storm system move up the coast while listening to the Governor of the State of New Jersey urge everyone to  leave the coastal areas as soon as possible. This hurricane did seem to be the big one. I had no problem leaving. I have no doubt that Mother Nature is in charge.

But this time we were spared.
This time,
she exercised her prerogative to change her mind. 

When we arrived back to the house, there were definite signs Irene had stopped by. Branches, leaves, lawn chairs were strewn about, trees were down and occasional power outages were reported, but we still had a house. A House unscathed. Irene had lifted one of our trees from our tree lawn, and split it in half, and we needed to cut it down.

The stump was a reminder that Irene had come and gone, because Mother Nature had exercised her prerogative to change her mind. 

When we returned in the Spring, Mother Nature had exercised her prerogative once again. From one of the roots, she had decided to re-grow the tree. She wasn't finished with it yet.

Although its branches and trunk had been injured and broken, and ultimately amputated, Its root system was strong. It shifted its gears, and decided to continue. 

“The death of a dream can in fact serve as the vehicle that endows it with new form, with reinvigorated substance, a fresh flow of ideas, and splendidly revitalized color. In short, the power of a certain kind of dream is such that death need not indicate finality at all but rather signify a metaphysical and metaphorical leap forward.” 
                                            ― Aberjhani, The River of Winged Dreams

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Cheetah The Spider and Me

The Cheetah The Spider and Me

Last night I dreamed
There was a Cheetah
In the tree
Right Outside My house

And then all of a sudden
She was coming inside

Right inside my house

Leaping through the open window
Knocking over My Bottled up Bliss

I wanted to be
A Big Cat Trainer as a Child
Back when I used to dream of Spiders
And awaken afraid

Someone told me
To strike them with a red hot poker
And they’d leave my dreams

But Now
There’s a Cheetah in my house
Right inside my house

Maybe it’s because
I watched so much Wild Kingdom as a child
Or because so many domestic cats
Followed me home


  What are the odds
You’ll get to train a Cheetah?
Or a Leopard or a Lion?

The odds are low if you’re afraid

There’s a Cheetah
In my house
Right inside my house

And I’m hiding behind a wall
Peeking around a corner
Right inside my house

She’s looking right at me
She’s holding my gaze
She’s moving her litheness toward me

But my Children
Are in this house
Right inside this house

With Lions to train

And I’m hiding behind a wall
And She’s looking right at me

If I don’t train her now
She’ll swallow me whole
She may swallow them whole
Right inside my house

But my alarm clock is ringing
It’s time to wake up
I muster the oomph
And I Rise

And I see that she’s wandered
That Cheetah-Cat’s wandered
Leaving all of her nerve and her guise

She’s leapt on the windowsill
Knocked off the cork
Of my bottled–up bliss
Now it’s free

It flows down the sill
And onto the counter
And over my laptop and me

And right in this house
In my very own house
She’s re-leased the Cheetah in me.

There’s a Spider on her shoulder
And we’re moving together
The Cheetah The Spider and Me.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

God Tryin' to get Your Attention

I was so excited when I captured this photo. I had borrowed my daughter's SLR camera and went out on a photo shoot with a friend from my photography class. We agreed that we should continue to meet after the class was over to continue supporting each other's progress. It was the first photography class I had ever taken. All of the students had varying degrees of skill and experience. Some used point and shoot cameras, some used professional looking cameras and long lenses. Most of my experience was on an Iphone camera. I had taken and stored over 4, 000 photos on it .But I had also been experimenting with my daughter's 35 mm Digital SLR Camera, so I brought that. At the time I was mostly using  automatic settings. I called the Teacher in advance to see what the class was all about.
 It was a three day class. It was called Italian Market Immersion Experience. 

First day: Meet at the Italian Market, each go our separate ways, Immerse ourselves in the Italian Market, and capture what appeals to us. Use whatever camera you brought. Capture any way you can. Have fun. O.K. I can do all that. When It came to capturing images, and angles, composition and framing: I felt confident. 
  I was also taking an art class at the time. My ninety three year old teacher had begun the class with this sentence, "Before you begin, 'Decide what it is you want to say' ." As an artist, there's always some underlying feeling or notion that strikes you in such a way that you want to capture and share it. You see an image juxtaposed against another, or an emotion displayed and it strikes you. 
It's like that Blues song by Keb Mo, called 
God trying to Get Your attention. 

"...Might look like a plan
Or a coalition
Or it might be God trying to get your attention
Well you might be deaf
Or you might be dumb
You'll get the answer
When the answer comes
It might be news 
On your television
Or it might be God trying to get your attention
It might be God trying to get your attention..."

And that's exactly how I feel when I have my camera in hand and want to capture something. 
It's the moment before I begin shooting. 
I've been struck with the message I want to convey.

 I've decided what it is that I want to say. 

 I'm never sure if the viewer will see it in the way I did.
 I'm never sure if it will strike them in the same way. 
But it doesn't matter.
It did what it needed to do, for ME.
 Maybe they will see what they need to see, in their own God-given way. 

Second Day of my first ever Photography Class. We were told to have chosen 6 photos and print them in 8x10's. Only 6. I had taken over 100. This task was daunting. Which ones do you choose when you are expected to present them and extrapolate? I chose these 6. 

We all presented and discussed our pictures. We all "oohed" and "ahhed" over each other's unique perspectives while still valuing our own. We helped each other choose 2 of the six for our 
Third and final day of class:
Meet at the frame shop to learn how to and mat and frame our work. We chose basic black metal frames and our work was then displayed back at the Night School Building for all to see. The two I chose were the Olives and the Knives. Choosing the six was hard. Am I looking for universal appeal? Am I looking for what might be considered classically a "good" picture? 
Or am I to choose the 6 that really show who I am as an Artist? How I see the World.

Who I am.

I think I struck it down the middle. 

But getting back to the first picture. The one that compelled me to write this post. 
  Butterfly hovering above the lavender. If you want to know why I am so thrilled with this picture, this is why. First of all, I captured a moving object by using the right shutter speed. And secondly, because of what happened-- what I noticed-- before I captured it. As I was fumbling with the lenses, and the shutter speeds--hoping in earnest to have the opportunity with this White Butterfly and these Lavender stems to  
say what I wanted to say
 - a gentle breeze came by. The butterfly, who had been fluttering about- from lavender stem to lavender stem had landed on one it found appealing, and despite the wind's most gallant attempt to remove him from the stem- 

It was determined to hold on. 
Perhaps for me to see,

or perhaps it's just what Butterflies do.

Or Maybe it's God Tryin' to Get my Attention.....