Tag Archives: Virginia

My Orchard Awaits …

a visit from me.

Or maybe it doesn’t.

It isn’t really my orchard, but my father’s, and his father’s before him.

Maybe it doesn’t need me nearly as much as I need it.

It is lying, quiet and serene beneath the mountain peak, on a little flat on top of a rise.  It is perfectly happy to be there, in the cold, soaking up the rain and snow that will make for succulent, sweet, juicy red apples in the summer.

The gnarled trees will stand, stalwart and solemn through the worst that Winter can bring without ever missing my presence or needing me among their barren branches.

They take no glory for the music the wind makes as it weaves and wanders through their wonderfully crooked branches.

They accept no praise for the beauty they exude as they stand firm against a gray, snow-laden sky.

They refuse thanks for the fragile seeds of  the fruits they protect through the bitterness of cold nights so that when the times comes, they can say come, eat of me, for I am sweeter than nectar.

They entice the bees and butterflies from their hiding places so that they, too, can partake of the bounty.

I imagine if God had a taste, He would taste like the sweet apples born from the mountain orchard that waited silently through the harsh winter.

They stand and they wait and they will live.

They have no idea how much I need them.

My orchard.

My solitude.

Laying on the brown grass of winter looking up through their branches and knowing that I, for this moment, am part of what grows beneath the earth.

No, it has no need for me or anything that I can offer, but part of my sanity, my strength, my well-being comes from what the orchard gets from God and passes on, without ever being aware, to me.

I suppose, because I love it so, it is my orchard, after all.

redbuds-49

I wish I could promise to lie in the night
And think of an orchard’s arboreal plight
When slowly (and nobody comes with a light)
Its heart sinks lower under the sod.
But something has to be left to God.
~ Robert Frost
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Through His creation …

He speaks to me.

Who, you say?

Why Jesus, of course.

How, you ask?

By showing me what He sees through the eyes He sees them with.

And by allowing me to capture on film that which He chooses to show me.

Being a photographer is one of His greatest gifts to me and I don’t take His beauty lightly.

I am, in the space of time that I walk through the beauty of creation, one with that creation.

I am part of that which lives, thrives and survives.

I am His.

He reminds me every day of His love for me by showing me the wonders of the earth He created, of His beauty and, for whatever reason, He allows me to see it through His perfect eyes.  I am often blinded by life, by moments, by disappointments and disillusionment, but He reminds me, every single day, that I am His.

Through the fragrant blooms of springtime that make their way even while winter tries to force his hand.  They are strong and resilient, those blooms.  Strong-willed and fearless as they burst forth with courage and strength.

The Creator's fragrant palette

The Creator’s fragrant palette

Through the fireflies of summer, which frolic beneath a summer moon and compete with the magnificence of the stars.  They blink and fade, wander and mesmerize, bringing magic and comfort and the promise of something wonderful.

Like a moth to a flame, so the fireflies are drawn to the moon of summer.

Like a moth to a flame, so the fireflies are drawn to the moon of summer.

Through the colorful leaves that adorn the trees that catch my eye, the smell of decay on the ground mixed with the subtle scent of of beauty that can only be felt in the heart.  The joyous chatter of the brilliance of fall as it rains down on forgotten paths and leaves the mind reeling with possibilities.

the beauty and mystery of fallen leaves

the beauty and mystery of fallen leaves

Through the winter, the cold air and frigid temperatures that can freeze a waterfall in her tracks, making her song one of unrivaled silence as her beauty emanates praise and thanksgiving.

The magnificent song of Winter silence

The magnificent song of Winter silence

Creation, frozen in time, for a time, for a season

Creation, frozen in time, for a time, for a season

A bubbling creek becomes suspended in something, motionless and full of such magic that only the heart can understand it.  Some things are  so rare, so precious, so full of beauty that nothing is left but to offer praise.

Rocks, suspended in silence, yet singing their winter song

Rocks, suspended in silence, yet singing their winter song

Winter speaks with a strong voice even when it is silent

Winter speaks with a strong voice even when it is silent

Seeing it, immersing myself in it, becoming a part of it reminds me that I, too am, a child of the creator.

A beautiful view of a snowy Clinch Mountain ... one that I call home

A beautiful view of a snowy Clinch Mountain … one that I call home

My cup runneth over.

His beauty unfolds before me in the misty rain of barren landscapes, foggy sunrises behind mountains and beneath a black sky glittering with stars.

without rain, there can be no rainbow

without rain, there can be no rainbow

From my front porch

From my front porch

I am blessed and, when I forget that, He reminds me with His magnificence.

From my driveway, I am reminded that i am worth His magnificence.

From my driveway, I am reminded that i am worth His magnificence.

I shall be telling this with a sigh, Somewhere ages and ages hence:  Two road diverged in a wood, and I — I took the ones less traveled by, And that has mad all the difference ~ Robert Frost

In the midst of the Polar Vortex …

my heat goes out, or at the very least makes it painfully obvious that it is planning, in the very near future, to take an extended vacation.

No phone, no lights, no motor car; not a single luxury.  (this is completely untrue, but it manifested itself, unbidden, in my head) .

Not good, I suppose, but not the worst thing that could happen.

Not the song in my head, (while the theme from Gilligan’s Island wasn’t my first choice, I suppose it beats Henry the Eighth), but the heat going out.

Keeping up with my brain is a full time job and sometimes, even I want to quit.

Yet, I digress.

I still have power, which means my heated mattress pad works.

I still have hot water so hot showers are there to eradicate the goosebumps.

I have many quilts that Granny (God rest her soul), lovingly made for me.  They are warm, too, hand sewn and have enough love in them to keep me warm even if they were only threads.

I don’t know what is wrong with it.

The heat, not the shower, the quilts or the mattress pad.

It started making a noise that sounded similar to the sound the brakes on my car makes when I stop suddenly.

I suppose I will have to call the man.

I could call my dad and have him call the man, but I am working diligently on being independent, self-sufficient, self-reliant.

Funnily enough, I waited until I was nearly fifty years old to come to this decision.

That is, in part, why I don’t know how to fix my own, among other things,  poorly functioning furnace.

When I learn to fix the furnace, change the oil in my car, replace my brakes and fix the broken tail light that has gotten me pulled over three times this month, I will have made it.

I’m not inept.  I can photograph nature  like nobody’s business.

I can string words together to articulate what I want to say when I want to say it.

I can write poetry that incites tears and sketch peoples’ faces that illicit sighs.

I have plenty of artistic ability, but it is fairly useless when things break.

Oh well, it is what it is and will be what it will be.  At some point, the man will come to fix my furnace and I will once again bask in heat; in the meantime, I’m sitting here with my heavy coat, gloves, ear-muffs and scarf on.

And for each of those things, I am grateful.

One moment, one hour, one day, one month, one event at a time.

That’s how I see life.  A little thing like a crippled furnace is no reason to change that.

It will get fixed when it gets fixed.

It isn’t, by a long shot, the worst thing that could happen.

Staying warm the old-fashioned way and finding it adventurous while I do so.  I am, after all, the adventurous sort.

I simply didn’t expect adventure  to exploit itself in my living room, but being a Sagittarius, I will take it as it comes and make the best of it.

That is what we Jesus loving, faith having, wishful thinking Sagittarius beings do.

A snowy day at the base of Clinch Mountain

A snowy day at the base of Clinch Mountain

A beautiful view of a snowy Clinch Mountain

A beautiful view of a snowy Clinch Mountain

Snow-covered cows as they indulge in hay.  They seem no worse for the wear.  Encouraging.;

Snow-covered cows as they indulge in hay. They seem no worse for the wear. Encouraging.;

Standing outside in the snow …

is one of the most freeing of experiences.

I liken it to standing in the midst of a summer rain while nature falls all around, touching, caressing, permeating my very being and making me one with its magnificence.

How wonderful it is to feel the snowflakes, each different and individual, falling on my skin, touching my lips, landing on my lashes?

The peace of the falling snow is, in itself, a wondrous thing, but to feel it on my skin takes me to a place where my dreams live.

I suppose, to some, it will sound irrational to hear that someone purposely stands outside while the snow or rain falls, or while the wind whips through the air.

It shouldn’t.

It should, instead, be an invitation to feel nature in real time, to partake in her joy as she showers the earth with beauty and marvelous things.

Bask in the magnificence of nature … stand in the rain, stand in the snow, feel the wind on your face.

Find peace in the solitude and realize who you are at your core.

Who you are meant to be.

What you are meant to be.

Listen to the voice of the earth for it is the footstool of Jesus.

Find solace.

Find joy.

Find what you didn’t even realize you were looking for.

Simply be still and let all that creation has to offer overcome you.

It will, without doubt or reservation, change your world for the better.

Listen to the wind, feel the sunshine, bask in the light of the moon, hear the pounding of the surf …

Find sustenance and sublimity in the beauty that surrounds you.

I promise you won’t be sorry.

But don’t simply take my word for it … immerse yourself and find, for yourself, the wonder of nature.

The joy of snowfallSeriously?

A winter wonderlandsnowfall

Finding joy in every momentkisses blown from an angel

The thing about money …

is that it is only really important when you need it but don’t have it.

Most of us are working class people who know how to make a penny squirm.

I know I do, and yet, there are times when I don’t have a penny to bully.

That’s the way of it.

Of life.

There are times of plenty, on occasion, but for the most part, the times are lean and we find ourselves trying to make a dollar out of thirty seven cents.

It isn’t easy to cough up money we don’t have when it essential that we have it, when it seems impossible and unattainable, but that is the essence of faith.

Of believing and hoping when there isn’t anything else but belief and hope.

That is the epitome of life.

Ups.

Downs.

Blessings.

Joy.

Sorrow.

Triumph.

I live in my own little world most of the time.  I have a job and am happy for such, for but I long for travel and photography and writing.

I don’t want to work for a living, I want to live for a living.

But I digress.

My point, the main point in fact, is that I am not worried about money.

It always seems to be there when I need it.

Jesus promised many times to supply our needs and to  come to our rescue when we were in trouble.

He asks little, really.  Only that we believe in Him and have faith in Him that He will do what He says He will do.

I have what could be construed as an insurmountable thing, but I haven’t given it a second thought.

I gave it to Jesus to let Him sort it out according to His will.

I have faith that He will, as He said He would, take care of me.

It is difficult, I know, for some to live simply by the faith that someone will actually do what they say the will, but I live by it.

I depend on it.

I rely on it.

The promise from Jesus, that is.

I take His word for what He says He will do and leave it at that.

Do I have the money I need?

No.

Will I have it?

Most definitely.

I have no doubt that what I have need of will be provided to me.

It is really no different than the trail shoots that I go on with nothing but my strength, stamina, camera and tripod.

I could see the same things that everyone else who walks the path sees, but instead of looking through my own eyes, I rely on the eyes of Jesus to guide me and the results are beyond anything I could have imagined.

The same goes in my day to day.

Is it always pleasant?  No

Is it always what I hoped for?  No.

Do I find blessings in the unexpected?  Yes, more often than not.

I won’t say that every experience is a good one because that would be a lie, but for the most part, when I give myself over to Jesus and let Him lead, I learn something about myself, humanity, love, grace, or some other wonderful thing that reminds me that I am a child of God.

A blessing to Him.

A flower in His crown.

As hard as it is to believe sometimes that I could be an asset to anyone, I am, according to Him, His glory.

How magnificent is that?  To be glorious to someone?  To be important enough that someone would willingly die on my behalf?

I am breathless at the the mere thought of it.

But breathless or not, it is true.  He did.

Without reservation.

And therein lies trust and belief because I was important enough to die for.

We all were.

Some of the lessons are hard and leave me shattered and nearly broken.

The keyword here is “nearly”.

I have what I need when I need it.

That, in itself, is a beautiful thing.

I don’t have to worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will take care of itself.

I don’t worry about today because I have given it to Jesus.

My past is just that, a past that I, if I choose to, can regret, or if I use it wisely can learn from the successes and failures.

I am only concerned about now, this moment, this particular space in time.

The rest, well, it is out of my hands.

As it clearly points out in Hebrews 11:1 ~ Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

It pretty much says it all.

Faith.  Hope.  Evidence.

Right now is my priority, tomorrow is uncertain, yesterday is beyond me.

Now is what I have to work with.

Period.

I choose to have faith, believe, hope and know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that He meant what He said.

There is my comfort, my strength, my joy, my thanksgiving and my life.

Life is, whether in the valley or on the mountain or soaring above the mountains and valleys, good.

And I am blessed.

Amen.

Hope makes us more than we really are.

Hope makes us more than we really are.

The end of the beginning …

is here.

The end of the first day of the year, that is.

A day when many will implement their newly made resolutions only to give up on them in a few days.

What is it about midnight on the eve of the dawning of a new year that makes people promise things they don’t intend to do?

I’m as guilty as the rest of humanity.

But not this time.

Not this year.

I am making no resolutions of any kind.

I am going to take each day, each moment; each good, bad, unbelievable, mediocre, mind-blowing, life-altering, emotion shattering, ego-bursting, uplifting, encouraging, incredibly beautiful, intensely disheartening, inspirational, creative moment as it comes.

When it comes.

Living life.

In real time.

Jesus has my back and for me, that is enough.

I didn’t start this day on resolutions, instead, I started it outside, under a cold, blue sky.  The cold was painful, but the beauty of creation in the winter made me forget, for the most part anyway, that I was cold.

It was a good day to be alive.

Icicles hanging from the Gorge walls … Guest River Gorge trailicicle

Little Stoney, full from recent rainslittlestoney_jan14

Light at the end of the tunnel … Guest River Gorge trailguestgorgetunnel

The forks of Guest River … whitewater rafting in its primeguestriverfork

The Bridge over Guest Riverguestgorgebridge

Going to work tomorrow …

is a chore.

I wonder, sometimes, if I can be a nurse for next twenty years, until I can retire.  I have a  hard time envisioning it.  A hard time seeing myself there.

For twenty more years past the twenty-five that I’ve already given.

Seeing the harshness of humanity, the sickness, the sorrow, the depravity … the death.

It is difficult for me when all I dream of is traveling and taking photographs.

I want, first and foremost, to see my own country, and then Ireland and then all of Europe; Germany in the springtime.

I have dreams.

I have aspirations.

I am too soft-hearted to be a nurse … to see the suffering, to feel the suffering, to hold the suffering unto myself.

I bring it home with me.  I dream of it.  I cry for those who cry.

I sometimes think I don’t have the strength or the courage to do what I do and yet, I cannot turn my back on those who cry on my shoulder.

I feel overwhelmed, at times.  I feel inadequate at others.  I am only me, but still, I am called to be more than I feel I can be.

I pray with them.

I don’t know what else to do.

My life experiences, many of them troubled and harsh, give me an insight into the suffering that these people who lean on me need.

I hope I am enough.

I fear that I cannot measure up.

I want to encourage them and know, that somehow, through my own discouragement, I can help them.

I continue to pray that I can be a part of the answers they seek.

I see the fear, sorrow and uncertainty in their eyes.  I know their pain, I have been through the fire and I can relate.

But I’m not sure I can continue to face that every single day.

Not sure I have the strength to carry the burdens of those I seek to encourage.

No certain that I even want to.

And yet, I cannot abandon them for their tears touch me so deeply.  I succumb to their sorrows and find myself weeping in the wee hours of the morning for that which I cannot alter.

I have told myself many times that, in my heart I am photographer and while that is true, also,  in my heart, I am a nurse.

And I know now, that no matter where I go, or what I photograph, the love for humanity will always take precedence.

I will always, whether a recognized photographer or not, be a nurse.

It is the burden I bear.

And I bear it with confidence that I, in some small way, can bridge the chasm.

I want, whether through photography or nursing, to make a difference …

If I can’t, then I, on all sides, have failed.

I don’t want to be a failure.

A young praying mantis sits in the sun of early summer

A young praying mantis sits in the sun of early summer