No words today… just photo’s from around the yard this morning as I roamed to find peace and solace.
I am one who “needs” to be around others. Alone time for me has always been difficult. The first time I lived alone I was a mess. Growing up in a large family, there were always people around. For the past 28 years I’ve been in a profession where I am around 200+ people every day. Being alone has never been easy.
Going out in public alone used to terrify me. I was older than I’d like to admit when I finally went to the mall alone. I’ve only eaten in a restaurant alone a few times and it was fast food. Never would I go to a sit-down place alone. I have never been to a movie alone. That is on my bucket list!
Today I found myself home alone unexpectedly. Normally I’d lose myself in a book or movie… or maybe be productive and do some household chore. The weather today is absolutely gorgeous and I knew I had to get outside. Yard work did not appeal to me… although it would have been a good choice!
I decided to hop in my car and head to a local winery to scope out a photo shoot location for tomorrow. I headed to Arbor Crest with my camera in hand. It is very strange to be at a place and not know or talk to anyone. It was an hour of solitude and beauty. I wandered and shot and wandered and shot. I did run into my niece and her fiancé, but our visit was short and sweet. I continued on my way, relishing the quiet beauty and sunshine. There were several other people their alone with a glass of wine and a book. Hmmm… I might have to try that! That is very out of my comfort zone, but worth a try!
I’m learning that I need to be okay being alone. God has me in a season and I’m not sure what he is preparing me for, but I’m open to try new things and find another side of myself that I’ve not met yet. I felt great peace and solitude wandering in a beautiful place with my camera in my hand. Photography is becoming quite theraputic for me and I’m grateful for the opportunities I am afforded.
Here is a glimpse of what I saw from behind my camera lens…
We are teased with the spring sunshine and warmth. Then the rains come. Spring rains… it’s necessary for the earth to open up and grow and flourish. Without it life would not bloom and blossom. Life would wither and die.
I longed for the sunshine this morning as I awoke after a restless night. Those first morning rays glimmering through the newly budding maple trees are stunning and life-giving. They bring a feeling of hope to the day. I can see God’s handiwork and loving touch as I look out into my yard. Not today… it was raining.
At times, the spring rains can close in on us and feel like a dark shroud… if we let it. I determined myself this morning to see the rain as a gift. A gift to our earth. A gift to my soul.
Rains wash away the dirt and grime, providing a fresh sheen on everything. They clear out the sky so when the sun does shine, it’s extra blue an clear! It’s worth the wait. The same way it refreshes our earth, it also refreshes my soul. It’s a pause in my heart to let Jesus clear out the dirt and grime that have built up. I’m a bit more hopeful as I await the blue sky that will peak through eventually.
In the meantime, I’ll hunker down and take this pause to rest and refresh as I listen to the drops hit the metal patio cover. Hopeful for what is to come…
“God’s thunder sets the oak trees dancing a wild dance, whirling; the pelting rain strips their branches. We fall to our knees – we call out, “Glory!” (Psalm 29:9)
God’s Got This One…
I am a creature of habit. Everyday I take the same route to and from school. With several routes available, I stick to the same one.
I do not notice detail. I can pass by the same object or place day in and day out and not notice some obvious detail.
One late afternoon back in November while driving home from school on my all-too-familiar route, I was crying out to God with a burden laying heavy on my heart. I begged Him to show me that He was in this with me.
“God, I need to know you’ve got this one.”
As I turned off of Division onto Mission, there it was! High up in the sky were two crosses atop a church all lit up. It was as if I’d seen them for the first time ever. For a split second I thought they’d erected a new building. Then I realized that I was looking at the two crosses atop St. Aloysius Church on the GU campus. They were lit up for what I thought must have been just for the Christmas season. Come to find out, they are lit up year round.
At that moment, I was not only surprised with a sight that I’d never noticed or paid attention to, but also by the almost audible message…
“I’ve got this one.”
As suddenly as I had turned the corner, I felt His peace. A sign. A confirmation. High in the sky.
From that afternoon on, I don’t pass through that neighborhood without searching out my two crosses of hope.
Since then, I’ve been drawn to that campus to look at it more closely and take photographs. I’ve tried to get there at different times of the day in different light. I’m not one to do things alone, but this place draws me in.
One day as I walked around and took pictures, I stopped to notice the statue of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga that stands in front of the church.
Saint Aloysius Gonzaga was a Patron Saint of Youth. He died at the age of 23 assisting the sick during a plague. A short life well-lived.
My visits to this beautiful spot have drawn me into some reflection around my own life.
Moving too quickly through life causes blindness to things around that God wants to use to bless and speak to me. While my life has gone on longer than St. Al’s, am I able to say that it has been well-lived? While I’m not a patron saint of anything, can He still use me? If there were a statue erected for me after my passing, what would the placard at the base say about me and my life? Would people be drawn in to read and reflect, as I’ve done? Would my life have left an imprint that caused people to stop and think about what story they will be leaving?
This 23 year old boy left such a legacy in his few short years, that a Jesuit university was named after him.
I’m not looking for a university to memorialize me, but it draws me in to think about what I’m leaving behind. How am I making a difference in this life I’ve been given? Am I on auto-pilot and not even able to notice where I can be of service and make a difference?
I’m looking up and around more these days. Yesterday morning, as I returned home from an early appointment, I made a stop at St. Al’s with my camera and then took an unfamiliar road along the river home. A road I’d never been on. For it may be on those roads that I find more of my purpose in life as I continue to build my legacy.
I have chosen words to describe the kind of year I want 2014 to be. One of those words is boldness. Boldness is defined as the trait of being willing to undertake things that involve risk or danger.
Application to my life would include risk more than danger. I tend to be one that does not take risks, especially when I am alone. I rarely do things alone. I’ve only eaten in a restaurant alone one time. It was a matter of eat alone or starve. I’ve never gone to a movie alone. I was well into my 30’s before I would go to the mall alone. To this day is it not my favorite thing to do. I’ve never gotten in my car and gone for a drive to explore… alone. I’m not known for being adventurous. At the age of 30 I was forced to live alone for the first time. That was a huge adjustment.
Bottom line… I’m not a very big risk taker. I think about things I’d like to do and then never end up doing them. This past year I figured out that thinking about doing something is not the same as actually doing it. I have a small list of regrets of things I did not do during my 20 years in CA. I thought about them, but never acted on them.
So this brings me to last Friday. For the past 8 weeks, I have wanted to head to Gonzaga University campus to photograph the amazingly beautiful St. Al’s Catholic Church. One Monday evening on my way home, I was crying out to God about some difficult things we were going through. I was praying for peace and answers and comfort. As I turned the corner onto Mission, there off to my right were these two crosses lit up and beautiful. They were atop steeples. I had never seen them… and this is a route I take to and from work. Immediately, I felt a peace fall over me. It’s as if God put them up there just for me… and just the right moment.
Several days later I was driving the same route just as the sun was going down. As I turned the same corner, the two crosses were gleaming in the setting sunlight. It was breath-taking. My first thought was that I needed to photograph those crosses atop the church. Unfortunately, I was heading to an appointment and was not able to stop. I promised myself that I’d take my good camera and photograph them at sunset.
I spent the next few weeks thinking about it as I passed them each day. I even made several attempts to get there in the afternoon setting sun, but something always came up. While I wanted to do this in the worst way, my lack of boldness to step out into an adventure on my own got in the way.
Last Friday I was heading home after an appointment and had a bit of extra time. As I was driving down Mission I suddenly had a very strong urge to just do it! I turned around, made my way to the campus and found a parking spot. Out into the chilly wind I went with my iPhone! No fancy camera, just my trusty phone. This whole adventure took about 5 minutes! There was only so much I could do with my iPhone.
The conditions were not exactly as I’d hoped. The sky was cloudy. It was 11:00 AM, not sunset. I did not have my good camera.
But alas, I’d followed through with something that I’d longed to do! While this was really just a baby step, it was huge! It was bold for me to venture out on my own. Like I said… baby steps. Now I know I can do this all by myself! Alright… stop laughing! Everyone has to start out small! It’s rather a challenge to myself now to do something a little more daring!
Too much of life is passing me by as I sit back in my safe world… not taking risks.
Since my little (and I emphasize little) outing on Friday, I’ve been thinking about other areas of my life that lack boldness.
It does not seem to be too much of an issue in my professional life. I step out and do things with nary a thought.
Lately, I’ve been asking God for more boldness in my faith. If I can step out and confidently share my professional knowledge with people, why can’t I share my heart for Jesus with people.
I’ve also boldly been asking God to change me… use me… break my heart for things that breaks His. Boldly. With a passion I’ve never had before. To speak boldly into lives of those around me.
I’m not sure where this sudden urge to walk and talk and live in a boldness like never before has come from. Perhaps He’s preparing me for something that is going to require me to be very bold… to act in boldness. Maybe something where my boldness is key to my survival. I really don’t know.
What I do know is that this boldness is new and empowering. I’m excited for the coming days, weeks and months. I’m looking forward to the places my new found boldness will take me.
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