An Advent Journey

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Reflections: Scarritt Bennett, Nashville November, 2012

In 2012 I talked to a friend who suggested I keep, as a spiritual discipline, a Lenten journal using my camera to capture images that spoke to me of God’s presence. Her suggestion gave me a whole new way of connecting with God, combining my love of photography with my desire to spend more structured time in spiritual formation. Later that year my husband and I attended a workshop on photography as a spiritual practice led by photographer Susan Hay at Scarritt Bennett in Nashville, which led me to (eventually) start my blog.

This year for Advent, “Alive Now” magazine, a publication of Upper Room Ministries, invites us to participate in an Advent practice and pray with our cameras. Here is the way it’s explained on their website:

“Are you a visual psalmist? Do you pray with your camera in your hand? If so, please join us this Advent season for Alive Now’s Advent Photo a Day spiritual practice. Come to this page each day to find the word for the day. Then stop, watch, wait, see … for God’s presence in the word for the day. Tag your photo on social media (Facebook or Twitter) with #(today’s word), #AliveNowMag, #AdventPhoto.”

If you are interested in participating, check out “Alive Now” for the word of the day–begin Sunday, November 29!

You can learn more about Advent here.

Peace, joy and blessings during this season!

 

 

 

Thank you, John Pavlovitz, for your post for Freeing Christians From Americhristianity

1-FL000011

The Louvre in February 2003 by Laurel O’Connor Akin

This is my first time to re-blog another person’s post, but John Pavlovitz says so well what I’ve been feeling that I’m doing it today. The hate and fear-filled language coming from some politicians and some Christians during the past week is, in my opinion, contrary to the example Jesus’ life provides for his followers and also helps the terrorists achieve their goals. I took the photo above the only time I’ve visited Paris, but I would love to travel there again.

john pavlovitz

CF1_0460-X2Dear World,

I’m a Christian who feels something needs to be said about my faith tradition.

Despite the ways we who practice it might declare otherwise (especially in weeks like this), it is intended to beautiful and joy-filling and life-giving. It is made of compassion and mercy and forgiveness and sacrificial love—or at least it is supposed to be.

It is supposed to be the most brilliant of lights in the dark places we often spend our days.

It is supposed to drive us to the places of deepest despair and greatest need, and fully burdened to make our home there until the low are raised up and the hurting healed and the captives freed.

It is also supposed to make us fearless.

The most-repeated words from the mouth of God/Jesus throughout both the Old and New Testaments to the faithful, is to not fear. At the very center of our religion…

View original post 881 more words

October–A Season for Change

Changing colors on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville, North Carolina

Changing colors on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville, North Carolina


In my mind, October means change, beginning with the most basic change–my birthday on October 5. On that day 12 years ago I remarried–a change from over six years of being single, to sharing life and love with my husband, Bob, which led to immediate changes–resigning from my 20-year career and moving to a new city. These changes play a large part in several gradual, on-going changes–moving forward in my spiritual journey, growing in confidence, and pursuing my dreams.

The self-confidence I have to pursue my dreams is nurtured by the support, encouragement, and unconditional love Bob gives me. From the beginning of our relationship he has done everything he can to let me know how capable, intelligent, talented and attractive I am in his eyes. I’m not saying that he gives meaningless praise or compliments–I can always count on him to offer honest, constructive criticism! However, he has never discouraged me from undertaking a new project.

And so it is that at the end of October, 2015 I am preparing to pursue another goal–to complete my second novel for National Novel Writing Month! Participating and winning in 2008 helped me decide to fulfill my long-time dream of returning to the classroom and complete my undergraduate degree. Now I wonder what this second effort might lead to!

Wish me luck!

 

 

Living Life without Fear of Death Part One

Quote

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Finite Creatures.”

Today’s Blogging 101 assignment is to use a writing prompt as a starting point for a blog post. I chose this one from a few months ago, which asked “At what age did you realize you were not immortal? How did you react to that discovery?”

In reference to my physical body, I don’t believe I ever thought of it as immortal. My father died when when I was a toddler, just a few weeks after my younger brother’s birth, so death seemed as real as life–something that happens to everyone. I have a picture I drew in kindergarten of my family, and included with the stick figures labeled “Mommy” “Van” and “Laurie” is “Daddy,” the father I didn’t remember as a physical presence in my life. According to my aunt, when my mother saw the picture, she gently reminded me that I didn’t have a daddy, but I said, “Yes I do, my daddy is in heaven.” We visited his grave occasionally, and I grew up with a love of old cemeteries. They don’t seem morbid or scary to me, I suppose because I associate them with memories of my mother and the conversations we had about my father. She didn’t spend those visits crying, but instead shared stories so we would have some connection to him. To be continued….

I took this photo a few years ago in a cemetery in Fairhope, Alabama, just a few weeks after Mardi Gras. I call it “Laissez les bons temps rouler!”

The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time. Mark Twain

The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time. ~Mark Twain

Putting Faith into Action

IMG_1765

John Wesley lived his faith, not only by teaching and preaching, but he also worked tirelessly to serve the poor, which often put him at odds with the “established order” of the Church of England. By establishing health clinics, orphanages, schools and other programs to help people transform their lives, he let the love of God shine through his example. I took the photo above at the Epworth rectory where he grew up. The garden’s plants are ones he recommended in a book he wrote for healing, “Primitive Physic, Or, An Easy and Natural Method of Curing Most Diseases.”

Getting to know myself better!

Almost two years since I set up my account with WordPress and very few posts to show for it–in fact I just deleted my introductory post from the last time I signed up for Blogging 101 because I dropped out! I have realized some things about myself that create stumbling blocks:

  • I find some blogging terminology difficult to understand, so the technical aspects overwhelm me–but even at my advanced age I want to keep learning!
  • I have a hard time swallowing my pride and asking for help–makes me feel dumb, even though I realize nobody knows everything!
  • Sharing personal thoughts with the world at large makes me feel uncomfortable and vulnerable–not that I believe the world at large is interested in what I have to say.

Ironically, during the past two years my life overflowed with journeys ripe for blogging about–spiritual, intellectual, emotional and geographical! Over the course of Blogging 101 perhaps this material will prove useful.

I pray that God's love shines through me, flawed as I am, like the sun shines through the clouds.

I pray that God’s love shines through me, flawed as I am, like the sun shines through the clouds.