I heard much sad news, was stuck indoors, and saw the constant clouds out the window today. So I looked for a moment of solace. To find one I went into "view my memories mode"...and found a bit of color to share. It helped me think of the glory of God, and crack at smile to end the day.
Back in June I was able to get up to the mountains of North Georgia. It was hot, but a good time to explore a little of more of the state. One opportunity I received was the gift of an early rising to meet the sun. Watching the earth go from black through its purples, reds, orange and full daylight was a simple pleasure. What a gift from God!!
Still working on some of my images from Helen, Georgia. We had a fantastic time there, and I would recommend it as a great place for a family trip. After living in Germany, and traveling through Bavaria, the facade was fun to experience. I often wondered what America would look like with some German architecture, well now I know the effect of mixing the two building codes. The most important three things about the town though were: the people were very nice, the recreation readily available, and the ladies loved our John Paul (and he loved them).
With this final point made...I can say it was fun and could be visited yet again!
As three of us (Carrie, John Paul and I) walked up the trail to Anna Ruby Falls I could not help but think of my son Kevin. Almost every time we are out in the woods he says,"God made nature, and I like it." Kevin, at the tender age of nine, recognizes God imprinted his law on us through natural law. He "gets it" better than most of us much older folks. I just wish the politicians would go back and read the Declaration of Independence, and learn the founders state all laws must conform to natural law (or nature's God) to be just.
Many people today, afraid to be labeled religious or tied to a group, call themselves "spiritual." They find their way on their own through the forrest of life. If they are attentive to natural law, and heed it, they have great potential to make good choices in their moral lives. The problem with just finding your "own way" though the forrest, is your experiences are very narrow. So the chance for misinterpreting a sign is higher than if you had advice on reading the signs as you approach a rattlesnake habitat. If you stumble and the snake strikes, no one will be there to hear your cry. There is also nothing supernatural to sustain your body and soul in this earthly journey if you go it alone.
In this photo I purposefully left the trail in the shot. I did this because as I thought of Kevin's statement, I was also thinking of the peace which comes from growing ever more into a Catholic life. The trail stood out in my viewfinder. With each glance I found a reminder of how God also gave us so much more than natural law. He gave us a path of safety through the dangerous forrest of life, and a means to walk it. All we need to do is use the path and his grace to avoid the greatest dangers of the forrest.
I revel in the knowledge I do not have to be Solomon, Thomas Aquinas, Teresa of Avila or John Paul II to survive in the forrest. I just have to turn to the collective wisdom imparted over almost 6,000 years through revelation and illumination of God's laws to my church and the world! Being the thinker I am, I fall more in love with the Catholic magisterium as each new lesson clicks into place like custom made Lego blocks in a slick design. I know this magisterium is stronger than the efforts of fallible men who may try to twist it to their own political designs.
Not only do we Catholics have the lessons, but we can receive supernatural graces pouring forth from sacraments. God cleanses in baptism, restores with mercy in confession, nourishes at communion, sanctifies matrimony and holy orders, and comforts in anointing of the sick. So not only do I get a path to follow, but a complete pit crew as well for my life journey using supernatural grace. This allows God to be with me in every place, in my body, and in my most important earthly relationships.
So God's path through the forrest is the one I chose. I pray after reflection, you may chose to investigate the strongest and safest path through the woods to heaven.
This weekend my wife and I had our first excursion weekend in four year...with only one child in tow. One topic which we discussed in our adult discussion time was how nothing new is really new. The reality is every "new" idea is really a permutation on an old idea. Most "new" ideas are actually as old as the pyramid. The difference is the new idea is written in English and using a computer instead of papyrus paper. This photo is just an example of the what I mean.
Photographer Scott Bourne loved to preach that no one did anything new in photography (See our discussion was not even new, it was just new to us). It was just someone found they liked a style they stumbled across and started claiming it was new for marketing. Meanwhile the photographer was ignorant of the technique of style's history in the photographic art world. For instance I could say of the photo above: "I really like the deep contrasty colors I put in this photo, it will be my new style for an album!" Someone like Scott or my friend Skip Cohen would then tell me..."Dude we called that style Velvia film and left it at that."
So history is good for something no matter what you do for a living. It will help you not be a fool in front of your elders, and prevent you from being pompous before your peers and youth.
Do not let fear of God make you tremble like a child who touched the cookie jar, or the Israelites at the foot of Mount Sinai. Such fear keeps you from internalizing a healthy Fear of God. We should dread disappointing both God and ourselves by not keeping his law close to our hearts, and expressing it in our every thought and deed.
This healthy Fear of God is what moves families by generation to generation to know and love the Lord. It is this Fear of God which builds Faith, gives Hope and binds us through Charity to other God Fearing people and families. Together we must build an earthly Body of Christ outsiders will recognize as a Catholic (I.e. universal) sign of God's glory visible in the world. We can do no less in our pursuit of the prize of heaven for ourselves and posterity.
Two nights ago I read a very short essay on photography. The author (Scott Bourne) exhorted readers to revisit a site time and time again. To shoot the scene from above, below, left, right, with new settings and depth....all because in photography we try to capture three dimensions in a two dimensional frame. When you also consider we artists may try to communicate a sense of the environment and emotion in those same two dimensions I think you can agree the task of making art communicate is actually harder than it looks.
So that is why I again visited a familiar subject. The cross in our sanctuary at St. Thomas Aquinas Church here in Alpharetta, Georgia. I've heard a few sermons about Christ's victory on the cross recently, and it made me think in new ways about those hours when he sacrificed himself for us. Then last week I read about using flash with grid to isolate a subject in broad daylight. Well I had no flash, but I could play with my exposure meter just enough to get me on my way to the same effect. So in the silence of the church I was able conceive in my mind a vision of a piece of art I wanted to share.
I wanted to convey the feeling the devil wanted Christ, and you and I, to feel when crucified or targeted by his dark friends. I wanted to convey the sense of darkness surrounding Christ on the cross. While I conveyed that, I also wanted to give us viewers a sense of hope. I did that by making sure the inner light of the word made flesh shone out above the darkness. I thought this might show how he gives hope to the world in our darkest moments.
See I could also see, in the back of my mind, the terrible atrocities being committed against Christians in the Middle East. Boys and girls my son' Kevin's s age are being tortured, and murdered, under the crucifixes of their churches because their hearts stand with God. As a father and shepherd, my heart and gut is wrenched thinking of what happened to them. I fear what could happen to my sweet children, if spiritual and martial defenses weaken in the slightest degree. The darkness is my fear revealed.
I can also see the light. Those young innocents and martyrs also demonstrate complete faith in Christ's word. They literally display the faith of a child in the face of men with weapons and fully developed strength. Those children are the light of Christ on the cross, hands outspread, using their final acts of faith to call me to greater unity with God in my daily lives.
I have so much more I need to learn and do to live the life God intended for me. It makes me wonder who and where my next lesson will arise from.
Spring is barreling its way into Roswell, Georgia. Those of us with hay fever are also remembering why Atlanta Metro is known as the friendliest city to trees in the entire Untied States. The pollen count went well over 2000 for trees this week. Lovely time of year, the weather is great...but your cars are yellow...and don't touch your eyes!
We had a crazy week around my house, and a zany week to come with all sorts of fun and Holy Week to wrap it all up!
This year I found myself able to take off the last three days of Holy Week. SoI grabbed it. It is my favorite time of the liturgical year. I love the opportunity to contemplate on the fact that Jesus, God Incarnate, dies for me and everyone so we may be free. It brings me hope and peace.
The photo today reflects that thought as well. The tree went to sleep in fall, shedding its outer layer of leaves to survive the winter. Now with the light and warmth of spring new flowers arise. In them we see a mere prelude to the glory and beauty that is the love of God in our lives.