With The Eyes of a Tourist…

“Having eyes, see ye not?” – Mark 8: 18

***

It feels like there’s something reawakening inside of me –  something that had been  asleep for a long time.  I find myself looking at the world around me in the same way I did as a child – like everything I see is new to me, and the world is full of new things to explore and discover.  I like it.

Several years ago I made a new friend through the internet – how I met her and how we became friends is a whole book in itself – and maybe someday I’ll write it.  But what I want to talk about today is how that new friendship affected the way I see things.

My friend, Kathi, lives on the other side of the continent in Nova Scotia.  For reasons I don’t need to explain here, early in our friendship I realized that Kathi would probably never be able to visit me in my part of the world, and I had an overwhelming desire to share the beauty of what I see here with her somehow.  And because Kathi is an artist, I felt a special desire to present her with images an artist would be able to appreciate.

Ever since childhood I’d enjoyed taking photos, but, in my late twenties, I married a gifted professional photographer, and, humbled by his talent, I began limiting my own photography to mostly snapshots of family and friends – capturing birthday parties and anniversaries and family outings for the family photo album.

Now, because of my friendship with Kathi, I started taking a different kind of photo.  I wanted to show off the scenes – the flora and fauna, the mountains and beaches – of the Pacific Northwest to her.  And I wanted to try to present her with photos of images in the way she might see them herself if she were here – as an artist would see them, and as a tourist from Nova Scotia would see them.

This opened up a whole new world for me, and I think this is when my “reawakening” began.  I began noticing line, patterns, textures, small details, colors – all the magic in the world around me – in a way I hadn’t for years.

***

Yesterday was an amazing day. I stepped outside my house for an afternoon “photo walk” and entered an awe-inspiring world. Trumpeter swans flew in the sky to the south of me, and a pair of bald eagles swooped around in the sky to the north of me, and I was just blown away by the magnificence of it.  Totally oblivious to everything but those eagles and those trumpeters, I stood in the middle of the street, mouth open in wonder, focused on capturing what I was seeing in my camera.

I didn’t realize that a car had stopped for me, and the driver was watching me in sort of amused fascination, until I finally took my eyes off the sky. Kind of embarrassed, but still full of the wonder of my world, I laughed and apologized for making him stop. The driver grinned back at me. He said I looked like I was really concentrating. Waving my arm towards the heavens, I said, “We live in a beautiful part of the world! – eagles and swans filling the sky!”

He smiled and kind of shrugged and said, “Nothing new.”

I smiled back at him and said, “It’s all new! I’m looking at the world with new eyes. I’m a tourist here.”

He chuckled. I think he thought I was a little daft. And perhaps I am. But I’m sure enjoying it.

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humoristianity

I’m pretty sure the photo of the laughing Mongolian girl was taken as the little girl and her camel-friend watched me try to get on the back of another camel. Where to sit? In front of the hump or on top of it?…Nah, just kidding…I have never ridden on a camel in my entire life.

This little girl expresses pure joy, doesn’t she? She has it, right now. Note that there isn’t a Porsche or BMW in the background, that the horizon isn’t filled with five-star restaurants, supermarkets, department stores, or mansions. We see a little girl and a camel – both of ’em laughing – and that simple scene has the power to make us smile.

Viva la laughter!

Karen

(Couldn’t find the name of the photographer who took this picture – but God bless him or her – he/she caaptured a wonderful moment, for sure!)

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The Treasures Under Our Feet…

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2011471/Pictures-sand-Close-photographs-reveal-incredible-beauty.html

If you go to the URL above, you’ll see pictures of grains of sand magnified to 250 times their actual size. And I’m pretty sure these pictures will bring a smile of delight to your face, as they did to mine.

I am a rock aficionado. I can’t pinpoint when, exactly, I became a rockaholic – maybe I was born this way (my dad is, after all, a geologist); or maybe it began when my fourth grade teacher loaded us all up on a bus and took us on a field trip to a place where we could dig up agates the size of duck eggs; or maybe it was my beloved Aunt Junie who lived on the Oregon coast and trained me how to spot agates on the beach from 15 feet away – but from as far back as I can remember, rocks have held a special attraction for me.

When I became a teacher, it became a Christmas tradition for me to call my students up one by one and let them choose a rock from a bowl of rocks I’d found on the Oregon coast. They’d stand in front of their classmates, holding their chosen rock, while I told them all the things I loved about them. Then I’d let them know that the rocks they were holding were “magic rocks” – and that every time they looked at their rocks the rocks would remind them of how much I loved them.  Today, when I run into former students, often the first thing they’ll tell me is that they still have their “magic rocks.”  That always puts a grin on my face.

Rocks as big as skyscrapers that provide me with perfect handholds and footholds on rock-climbing adventures; flat, smooth-surfaced rocks perfect for skipping; boulders with great textures and patterns; and agates for my “magic rock” bowl – I appreciate the beauty of them all.

But before I saw the magnified pictures of the sand grains, I’d never really appreciated the beauty of these tiniest of rocks.  My feet have probably tread over billions – maybe zillions! – of sand grains in my life – over-looking them as I looked for agates or skipping stones – never really seeing the smaller treasures that were right in front of my eyes.  It boggles the mind.

And it makes me wonder what other treasures I’ve missed that were right in front of my eyes.

***

To see a world in a grain of sand,

And a heaven in a wild flower,

Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,

And eternity in an hour.

— William Blake

(All photos below by Karen Molenaar Terrell.)

Snow Days: “Peace, Be Still…”

And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.” – I Kings 19: 11-12

And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.” – Mark 4: 39

***

I love Snow Days.  I love waking up to a world bedazzled in sparkling white. I love the laughter of rosy-cheeked children building snowmen, and the sound of the teapot whistling on the range. I relish the cozy contrast between the warmth of the dancing fire in our woodstove, and the cold of the snow falling softly outside our windows. I love school closures, and cancelled appointments, and the chance to slow down and take a break from the hurry and rush. I love the peace.

It’s really easy to get caught up in the “have tos” of life, isn’t it?  – the meetings and expectations, the driving, shopping, and human busy-ness.  Snow days shut the busy-ness down and give us time to reflect, and take stock in what we already have.

Today I looked around at what I already had, and, feeling like a pioneer woman living off the land, pulled from my freezer a bag of blackberries I’d picked last summer, got out the flour and butter, and created a mighty fine blackberry pie.  I give credit to the snow for this. If I hadn’t had to cancel two appointments, I wouldn’t have had time to make that pie.

Some people may think they see “the hand of God” in earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters, but I don’t believe my god, Love, has anything to do with that stuff. Nope. Give me a Snow Day, wrapped all up in sparkling white, and filled with peace, and I’ll show you an expression of my god.

Have I mentioned that I really love Snow Days?

Here’s a clip of the birdsong from our back deck:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eoECQd8ZGEY&feature=youtu.be

***

Dear Lord and Father of us all,

Forgive our foolish ways;

Reclothe us in our rightful mind;

In purer lives Thy service find,

In deeper reverence, praise.

 

 

Breathe through the pulses of desire

Thy coolness and Thy balm

Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;

Speak through the earthquake, wind and fire,

O still small voice of calm.

 

Drop Thy still dews of quietness,

Till all our strivings cease;

Take from us now the strain and stress,

And let our ordered lives confess

The beauty of Thy peace. – John Greenleaf Whittier

Our Right to Freedom

“Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent.” –Martin Luther King, Jr.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

***

I love Martin Luther King’s rousing thoughts about liberty and freedom. His words stir us to lift ourselves from a place of fear, limitation, and hate, emboldening us to go to a place of confidence, love, and freedom.

There’s no reason for us not to have success and freedom in life.

Freedom is our right.

As expressions, manifestations, and reflections of Life, Truth, and Love, we are never for a moment separated from Good. We bring it with us, wherever we go.  Joy, hope, confidence  –  fearless living  – are ours to claim. Right now. This moment.  Here.

So buck up, my friends! Take your stand right now against everything that would enslave you, bind you, and take away your freedom and liberty!

You are freeborn!

***

“The history of our country, like all history, illustrates the might of Mind, and shows human power to be proportionate to its embodiment of right thinking. A few immortal sentences, breathing the omnipotence of divine justice, have been enough to break despotic fetters and abolish the whipping-post and slave market; but oppression neither went down in blood, nor did the breath of freedom come from the cannon’s mouth. Love is the liberator. .. Discerning the rights of man, we cannot fail to foresee the doom of all oppression. Slavery is not the legitimate state of man. God made man free. Paul said, ‘I was free born.’ All men should be free. Citizens of the world, accept the ‘glorious liberty of the children of God,’ and be free! This is your divine right.”- Mary Baker Eddy

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Marianne Williamson