november 29, 2016

posted in: photography | 4

“There will be haters, there will be doubters, there will be non-believers,
and then there will be you proving them all wrong.” ~ Unknown

 

a symbol of faith
a symbol of faith

 

Last week a co-worker’s old high school classmate passed unexpectedly. He was about my age. I mentioned that I’d lost two or three classmates this year. It’s definitely three with today’s passing of Welma Trimble. It started with Leona Lewis in January, then Charlie Osborne in April, and now Welma. I loved these people. They were my age, too, and frankly, we’re too young to be checking out just yet. Fires are scorching the Great Smokey Mountains. People are extremely upset over the presidential election. Wars are raging all over the world. Loved ones near and far have, or are, experiencing life altering events this year. Did David Bowie really hold the Universe together? It sure seems like he did since it’s all gone weird since he died at the beginning of 2016. With the news of Welma’s passing I went in search of comfort. Naturally, I turned to my photos, and what should first appear but this cross atop the Victory Avenue Church. Then came a conversation with the woman responsible for the outhouse; Mary Carroll-Hackett. She, too, is having her own bizarre brand of 2016. I’m telling you: virtually every person I know is having a profound year. As usual, Mary’s words strike a chord: “Death is not final. It’s hard as shit, but it’s not final.” Remember that. Be thankful for every day you have with the people you love, the people you work with, the strangers you meet along the way, your pets, and every breath you draw into your body. These are gifts to be celebrated. Now, go celebrate and let’s turn this crazy train around. 

october 27, 2016

posted in: photography | 0

“Sometimes what you’re looking for comes when you’re not looking at all.” ~ Unknown

 

cross
cross

 

I ran into Jeff Suchanek today. He’d seen yesterday’s post about the Sunken City, and told me he didn’t see the cross when we were there. I don’t know if the cross is symbolic of lost lives (maybe someone died during the disaster, I don’t know), or maybe someone just thought it was cool. After all, graffiti artists have made good use of the broken concrete slabs and leaning palm trees, so why not a cross, too? But you know me, I love a good well placed cross. This certainly qualifies. I really don’t know if someone lost their life here, but I sure hope not. I’d rather believe the cross is here as a symbol of hope. We all need a little reminder of hope now and again.

 

to the west
to the west

october 26, 2016

posted in: photography | 1

“All things considered, I am a most fortunate person, and I know it.” ~ Marcella Christensen

 

sunken city
sunken city

 

As we were making our way up the coast to Wayfarer’s Chapel we stopped in San Pedro near Point Fermin. The road came to a dead end at this bluff. There was a skate park to the left, and to the right, behind a tall steel-bar fence, was this cross. I looked at the disjointed rolls of land and finally realized it used to be a road. No doubt it had houses joined to it one side at least.

 

detail
detail

 

We couldn’t get to the rubble from where we were – the incline too dangerous – but clearly others could. Some time later I looked at the area with Google’s satellite view and it’s obvious where the street and its houses slipped into the Pacific. I did some digging and found that locals call this “Sunken City.” The land started sliding in 1929, as much as 11″ a day at times, until the road, streetcar tracks, and two houses slid into the ocean (they actually managed to relocate most of the houses before the collapse). Even parts of Point Fermin Park slid down the cliff. It seems there’s been no small amount of controversy providing pubic access to the area, but by all accounts when we were there, the public has access.

 

Google view
Google view

 

Homes on the other side of the skate park are poised to drop off the cliff with the next strong storm, earthquake, or the soil begins to shift like it did in 1929. I can’t imagine what it must be like to live in such a situation. Talk about being grateful for every day! I mean, sure, anything can happen to any one of us at any moment no matter where we are, but imagine living in a house that’s on shifting soil, where your neighbors already sank a hundred feet, and your back deck juts out over land enough to give shade to a small family of mountain goats. It is at once amazing, beautiful, glorious, and terrifying. My hat is off to those folks, and I hope they never find themselves slipping over the edge. Meanwhile, I’m eternally grateful to be on solid ground (well, as solid as it can be, all things considered).

 

hanging on
hanging on

september 20, 2016

posted in: photography | 0

“Flawsome (adj): An individual who embraces their ‘flaws’ and knows they’re awesome regardless.”
~ Unknown

 

from the balcony
from the balcony

 

There is something moving about the cross, chalice, and communion table at Cane Ridge, especially when there is a communion about to take place. I never fully understood communion until I began to attend First Presbyterian. In the Pentecostal church where I grew up, I only remember communion being served once a year, reserved for either elders or members or both. It wasn’t for me, or at least it didn’t feel like it was. I’ve since come to understand communion as a shared experience with others who believe that Jesus was a cool dude: enlightened would be the perfect word. He said, “Love one another as I have loved you.” He did so without judgement. We humans are judgmental beasts. I apologized to Tammy Jo for weeds growing in my flower bed. She softly replied, “No judgement. Things are the way they need to be.” In that instant I heard Jesus, God, Yahweh, the Universe, the Creator, Buddha: “No judgement. Things are the way they need to be.” Each time I sit down to a meal with a friend or my family, I share in communion with them whether they realize it or not, working to do so without judgement. I’m a work in progress.

 

from the floor
from the floor

march 24, 2016

posted in: photography | 0

“My goal is not to be better than anyone else, but to be better than I used to be.” ~ Wayne Dyer

 

one faith
one faith

 

It’s Maundy Thursday, also known as Holy Thursday in Scotland as I came to learn this evening. I didn’t know what Maundy Thursday meant until I went to First Presbyterian Church. Maundy is Latin for ‘commandment’. During the Last Supper (Maundy Thursday) with his disciples, Jesus said, “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” (John 13:34) He also instituted the Eucharist (communion) and foot washing during the Last Supper. I vaguely remember Mamaw going to a foot washing service, but it seems like it was part of a New Years Eve service (I could be mistaken). I don’t ever remember communion being served. The church had an “In Remembrance of Me” communion table, so it must have been observed at some point, but certainly not with any regularity. In any case, I mention it because this evening I attended the Maundy Service at First Church wherein Rev. Mark Davis talked about Jesus washing the feet of the disciples. He also talked at length about what we do with our hands in the service of Christ. For instance, it was Jesus’ hands that broke the bread and poured the wine that have come to symbolize the body and blood of Christ during communion. I’ve come to appreciate and look forward to both Maundy Thursday and communion (even when it’s not Maundy Thursday). These rituals soothe me, and remind me of what is at the heart of the Christian faith: love. A commandment that seems to get lost in so many ways these days. I had the chance to hug a good number of people I love after tonight’s service, so that’s a bonus for me. I chalk this up to a grand day indeed.

december 30, 2015

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“Make it a habit to tell people thank you. To express your appreciation, sincerely and without the expectation of anything in return.” ~ Ralph Marston

 

in the sun
in the sun

 

We skipped the second church on the Cade’s Cove loop because there were too many people there. It was the Methodist Church, and judging from the windows outside, it was more ornate than the Primitive Baptist Church. However, we stopped at the third, and last, church on the loop, the Missionary Baptist Church. There was no one in the church when we arrived. No bard to serenade us and tell us its history.

 

cross
cross

 

Like the Primitive Baptist Church, it was a simple wooden box church with one exception. The pulpit was built as a bay which completely changed the sound of the room. This lead to my further understanding of why our bard from Marysville chose to play in the Old Primitive Baptist Church. And where there had once been a wood stove now lay bricks in the shape of a cross. I have never seen anything quite so out of place, and I’m not entirely convinced it was a relic of the congregation as much as a thoughtful prank. Perhaps it was used as an altar for the call to prayer. Apart from that, I really can’t guess its purpose. In any case, it was a lovely little church and I was pleased to visit it.

 

on the Hyatt hillside
on the Hyatt hillside

december 29, 2015

posted in: photography | 3

“Nothing is impossible; there are ways that lead to everything, and if we had sufficient will we should always have sufficient means. It is often merely for an excuse that we say things are impossible.”
~ Francois de La Rochefoucauld

 

the Psalterer of Cade's Cove
the Psalterer of Cade’s Cove

 

There are three churches in Cade’s Cove. The first you come to on the loop is the Old Primitive Baptist church. Naturally, I stopped. Inside the church was a man near the pulpit playing an instrument I had never seen. It is called a Psaltery Harp, or simply a Psaltery. It can be plucked or bowed. It can even be hammered like a dulcimer, though it is not in the dulcimer family I was told. This is an ancient instrument that is most often plucked, though our bard, a confessed self-taught amateur, was using a bow. Click here to hear a bowed Psaltery duet.

 

nearer my God to thee
nearer my God to thee

 

Our bard, whose name I neglected to ask, was from Marysville, Tennessee. He said that he likes to play at the Old Primitive Baptist church simply for the acoustics. I can understand that. The church was originally built in 1827. The building standing now was built in 1912. All of the wood came from the Cove, and for some reason, the builders chose pine for the ceiling. Its sap made it a sticky wood to work with, and the hand prints of the children who held the boards in place for the men to hammer can still be seen. Nevertheless, the simple wooden box provides a warmth that many modern churches just don’t have, and I enjoyed listening to this ancient instrument in such a place. It reverberated deep into my bones.

 

old
old

 

from the South
from the South

 

Though our bard was kind enough to tell us a few things, mostly about the inside of the church and his Psaltery, there was little detail about the church’s history or its surrounding graveyard (which very clearly holds many of the Valley’s first pioneers). But we didn’t need a lot told. Morgan County is littered with similar churches; the kind my great-grandfather Hamilton attended well into his 90’s. I never see a small wooden box church like this that I don’t think of him walking two miles, one way, down a pot-holed dirt road to his Union Church at Dingus, Kentucky. These places used to be part worship center, part community center for small populations with sometimes vast distances between them like those of Cade’s Cove. For me, these structures reflect the simpler times in which they thrived. I find that comforting, and I appreciate that they still exist. I’m hoping our bard will be there when I go back. I’ll be sure to catch his name and ask him to play for us again.

 

buried among the pioneers
buried among the pioneers

december 20, 2015

posted in: photography | 0

“There are no “do overs” on days after they pass….let’s make this one a great one!” ~ Bree Chapman

 

a candle for a loved one
a candle for a loved one

 

This evening, Stacy Yelton and I attended Nine Lessons and Carols at Good Shepherd alongside Lori-Lyn Hurley and her beautiful mom. The first thing I saw when I stepped into the chapel was this prayer station. I don’t recall seeing it last year, so I asked Lori-Lyn if I had missed it. I hadn’t missed it because it wasn’t there this time last year. It was just installed a few months ago.

 

prayer station
prayer station
 

This station is small and humble by comparison to a similar prayer station at the Basilica I visited in May of last year. There, too, I was instantly drawn to the candles. As Lori-Lyn and I discussed this evening, there’s something very important about lighting a candle as a prayer. People light candles as a prayer for an aging loved one, the grumbling world, an ailing neighbor, or for themselves to be better, to do better in this life. Whatever the reason(s) may be, lighting a candle in prayer is a contemplative act, and it creates a space of warmth, compassion, tenderness, understanding. Kudos to Good Shepherd for providing such a space for their parishioners. I am grateful once more to attend their Christmas offering of Nine Lessons and Carols.

 

"One for Peter, two for Paul | And three for Him that made us all" from Soul Cake by Sting
“One for Peter, two for Paul, And three for Him that made us all” from Soul Cake by Sting

december 6, 2015

posted in: photography | 0

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi

 

IMG_9192_day336_1_15_sm
chiaroscuro

 

For years I’ve been captivated by the cross at First Presbyterian Church. It stirs something in me. Its shadow against the ornate pipes of the organ is intriguing. The cross is especially noticeable at night when the lights are low and moody. Tonight I had the privilege of shooting the Bach Choir Christmas program, and it gave me the chance – thanks to Crystal Heis loaning me her long lens – to shoot the cross in the right conditions.

 

chiaroscuro
tight quarters

 

By the time we were ready for the group portrait, the altar steps were a mass of mic stands and enormous flower arrangements. The choir were willing to change locations, but I’m hoping we can manage another shoot without the accoutrements of performance for a better, more colorful grouping. They’re all such beautiful people that I want to see them in their glory. Plus, the church is just beautiful this time of year.

 

in full
in full

 

The choir was, of course, stellar. The music inspired. There were few empty seats, and I could hear people whispering words of praise for a job well done. I truly enjoyed the performance, and I was especially honored to snap a few shots through the night. I feel so fortunate to know these talented, beautiful people.

september 20, 2015

posted in: photography | 1

The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.
~ M. Scott Peck

 

from the unseen
from the unseen

 

I went to First Presbyterian Church in downtown Lexington this morning. After everyone had gone I popped off a few shots. I remember so well the first time I stepped foot into this church. It was probably ten years ago, give or take a year. I had never been in a Presbyterian church before, and I sure didn’t know what to expect from the sermon. It would prove a pivotal moment.

 

from outside
from outside

 

Then, as now, I thought it was the most inspiring church I’d ever stepped into, and that was before the renovation as you see here. It isn’t the most opulent, the most architecturally stunning, nor the most humble of churches I’ve ever attended. But there was something about the glow that I found attractive. There’s no other word for it: in my eyes it glowed, and that was before the sermon delivered by then pastor Rev. Lee Bowman. It was spell-binding, and it kept me coming back, changing the course of my spiritual journey along the way. Lee left and Rev. Mark Davis stepped in. I was slow to warm to his off-the-cuffness, but here lately his messages have hit their mark, giving me words I need to hear right when I need to hear them. I have grown to appreciate Rev. Davis a great deal, and it feels good to go back into this sanctuary, welcomed and at home.

 

from the balcony
from the balcony

 

Downstairs at First Church they have a lovely gallery space which is part of Lexington’s Gallery Hop event. There, I’ll be hanging twenty pieces from my Sacred Spaces series in two weeks. If they hadn’t offered the opportunity of an exhibit I may have never started the series to tell you the truth. I’d been mulling it over in my head for a decade without a single click.  Perhaps I should include one of these photos in the exhibit. It’s not too late.

 

up close
up close
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