“Peace on Earth! Good Will Toward Men”

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Christmas Bells

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said:
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!”

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men”—(Luke 2:14).

May you and yours experience God’s peace and His good will (towards you) not only for the holiday season but always…

Merry Christmas!

Tree Therapy (Autumn Leaves)

Thanks to life and all the madness it’s tossed my way, I’ve been needing quite a bit of tree therapy lately. Thanks to all the amazing tree photographs shared on Flickr and Google+, my sanity is no longer threatened.

That reminds me…About a month ago, in a Monte Sano blog post, I promised a follow-up post that focused on the autumn leaves of Monte Sano. As I was looking through my photos I discovered a lot of other beautiful leaves that I captured over the last several weeks, and what better way to say “Happy Winter” than to take a look back at autumn. (No shame here. I am partial to autumn).

This beauty greeted a whole congregation of church folk as we exited service one November afternoon.

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I wasn’t the only one struck by this magnificence. Many paused to capture photos of the two trees. Take a closer look:

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This one (above) was shot while looking up and standing between the two trees. Just take a deep breath and enjoy those brilliant colors mingling.

Here’s an even closer look at the leaves of the tree on the left:

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I want to live in those leaves!

Here are some tree/leaf shots taken while sitting on a “float” with my son’s saddle club while riding through a Veteran’s Day parade. I’m loving the lens flare on the first image. [Click an image for a closer look].

And here are the leaves of Monte Sano–still green, yellowing, golden, bright orange, deep red, and bronze…

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May the gorgeous colors of autumn carry you through the browns, grays, and snowy whites of winter!

Love, (Typo)Graphic Violence, and Dancing Bears

I participated in a “graffiti style postcard” swap about a month ago.  Participants had to create a postcard using graffiti style letters (“blocks, bubbles, angles”).  Mine featured the title of a song written by John Lennon, “All you need is love”–the word “love” in shades of pink and a spray of hearts, set against a blackish, grunge background.  I’m sure this description sounds lovely.  Not so in reality.  Remember? I can’t draw! When I was younger I could draw block, angle or bubble letters very well, but, for some reason, the curves and angles no longer work in my favor.  Don’t believe me?  Take a look:

Graffiti Postcard? by Me!

Graffiti Postcard? by Me!

As you can tell, this was designed digitally.  I used the Art Studio iPad app to draw and color the word “love” and create the .png file and three other apps for the grunge look, the “all you need is…” font, and hearts (Snapseed, PicsArt, and the resident iPad photo editor, I think).

Once I created the .png file, I had fun playing around with different colors.  Here’s “love” in shades of purple, my favorite color.

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And green, my guys’ favorite color:

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The benefit of drawing in Art Studio is once the drawing is complete, one can play around with the colors.

This was the first one I did.

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Didn’t like it at all because the first two letters look like the number 20. And the color scheme?  What was I thinking?  I hope I was just “playing around.”

I think my postcard/mail addiction makes me momentarily delusional, so I sign up for challenges I can’t meet.  To make up for my lack of talent in this area, I sent my partner two postcards–the other real graffiti art from NYC. She was kind and gave me a “heart,” which means she thinks I went above and beyond. Based on my skill set, I did.  😉

My receive-from partner sent me a wonderful postcard which was a lot more complex in thought and execution.  Not making a comparison–just noting the obvious.

“Deesides” is a graphic designer from Finland.  She loves the way graffiti style twists letters, in “often quite unreadable forms.”  She theorizes that graffiti is, in a way, typographic violence:

"Typographic Violence," by Deesides on swap-bot"

“Typographic Violence,” by Deesides on swap-bot”

Deesides says she doesn’t have as much experience in graffiti art, so her work here is a lot more legible than what we typically see from graffiti artists.  I really like it!

The bonus: cute postage stamp on the back of the postcard:


The dancing bears clash with the idea of “typographic violence,” but don’t you just love them anyway?



Consider the Trees

Lately, I’ve been wound up too tightly with deadlines and decisions and the general cares of life. With the names and faces of Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin swarming in my head. With trying to sift through all the protests and media noise for what is meaningful and relevant and for what (if anything) pushes us toward change and acceptance. Worrying about the vilification of good-guy police officers like my brother whose ethics sometimes make him a little unpopular with some others.  Grieving with the mothers who lost their children and who are left to wonder why their children did not matter. Grappling with what all of this means for my beautiful brown child.

Walking with this level of angst is maddening and crippling. Makes it difficult to see the good and the beautiful.

A few days ago, a good friend-colleague and I talked some of this over during a brief lunch before heading to another event on campus. As we talked and walked, I studied our environment, particularly the trees. I remarked that I am practicing developing my eye, looking for the shot but resisting the urge to take it. When “lo and behold” this gorgeous image struck me!

"Be Still," Photo by Me!

“Be Still,” Photo by Me!

“How can people pass this way,” I asked, “and not stop and consider the message of the trees?” In response to my query, we made up a lighthearted poem about trees swaying in the breeze. But inside, I was contemplating the wisdom they impart–all stillness and calm, unshaken by storms. Made healthier and  more beautiful by pruning. Firmly rooted in the knowledge that their Creator manages all things well.

The tree held no answers and did little to lessen the anxiety, but it showed me how to be during this turbulent period. Firmly rooted. Still. Calm. Unshaken.