The Perfect Time

Autumn is the perfect time
to take account of what we’ve done,
what we didn’t do,
and what we’d like to do next year.

This weekend, I received three stunning autumn-themed swaps from Diane W. (Midteacher on swap-bot). Each was sent for a swap in the A Thousand Words group. The handmade postcard above was sent for the “Autumn Postcard or Notecard” swap.

The gathering of leaves met Diane at her back stairs and she couldn’t resist taking the shot. She provided details of her creative process on the back of the card. Don’t you love all the layers and textures?

I am always inspired to do more with my own photos when I see her work. One day, I will…

Who Can Separate Belief from Occupations?

On this final day of NaBloPoMo, I’m sharing an excerpt from Kahlil Gibran’s “On Religion” from The Prophet, which is one of my forever favorites.

Today, I’m thinking about work, my students, and all the grading ahead of me. I’m also thinking about separate conversations I’ve had this week with a long-ago student and a current student. They were both “extolling my virtues” as a professor and talking about the profound impact I made on them and their peers, not just professionally but personally. Their words were encouraging–because it is always at the end of the semester that I worry over whether my courses did what they were supposed to do and whether I’ve helped my students on their own road to becoming–more than “just” academically.

Although my primary goal is to facilitate students’ development as writers, thinkers, and scholars, I see my role as something greater; therefore, I attempt to do more than teach writing, thinking, and literature. I work to push my students toward agency, authenticity, and wholeness so that they can ably meet the challenges beyond the college experience.

Like other areas of my life, what happens in the classroom is service, ministry, and an act of worship. It is seeing my work in this way that keeps me motivated and committed to students–no matter how they [and some of the other aspects of professor life] drive me crazy at times.

Gibran’s poem “On Religion” blurs the lines and shows us that every facet of our lives must be imbued with religion. Religion is not played out once a week in the company of likeminded others. It is in our every movement, action, and interaction. It is part of our essence, who we are, not a performance or garb we take on and off.

I am saturating my soul with prayer and Gibran’s words as I head into the weekend–a period of rest from students and madness. When Monday comes I’ll be equipped for the challenges the final grading period always brings and will handle them with grace.

Who can separate his faith from his actions, or his belief from his occupations?
Who can spread his hours before him, saying, “This for God and this for myself;
This for my soul, and this other for my body?”

Your daily life is your temple and your religion.
Whenever you enter into it take with you your all.
Take the plough and the forge and the mallet and the lute,
The things you have fashioned in necessity or for delight.
For in revery you cannot rise above your achievements nor fall lower than your
failures.
And take with you all men:
For in adoration you cannot fly higher than their hopes nor humble yourself lower
than their despair. –Kahlil Gibran, “On Religion,” The Prophet

Wishing you a weekend filled with contemplation and rest.


Thanks for reading along for NaBloPoMo18. I didn’t think I was going to make it this time. In fact, I declared I was quitting two weeks ago because my plate was spilling over, but my precious Tyhara encouraged me to keep going, reminding me that I needed to do this for myself–to balance out all the head-stuff. Thanks, Ty!

Linking up with Dawn of The Day After in the final Festival of Leaves photo challenge post for 2018.

#ThursdayTreeLove | Giving Thanks with Trees

I’m thanking you, GOD, from a full heart, I’m writing the book on your wonders. I’m whistling, laughing, and jumping for joy; I’m singing your song, High God.
Psalm‬ ‭9:1-2‬ ‭MSG‬‬

Trees are beautiful gifts from God, so it’s fitting that #ThursdayTreeLove falls on Thanksgiving. The Bible verses above perfectly speak my feelings when I’m in the presence of trees. They fill my heart, leaving me light and joyful, singing songs for the Most High.

For today’s tree love I’m sharing photos of the other campus tree I stalk during autumn. I captured these images on a rainy day two weeks ago and could hardly wait to share them. The tree gets much brighter than this, but unfortunately, the cold rainy days kept me away from shooting more. By now, I’m sure, the tree is bare–and that’s another kind of beauty I look forward to sharing.

Enjoy the few images below. [Click an image for a closer look]

 

Last Friday’s post, “Wait and Hope,” featured a preview of the tree. I learned from Sharon of Ink Flarewho commented about her love for gingko leaves, that this is a gingko tree. Thanks, Sharon!

Happy Thanksgiving!


Pardon the one-post interruption of “Sunflower Week,” but #ThursdayTreeLove comes only twice a month, and I cannot resist sharing the trees. No worries. I’ll be back with sunflowers tomorrow and the next day.

I am joining Parul Thakur for #ThursdayTreeLove every second and fourth Thursday of the month. If you would like to play along, post a picture of a tree on your blog and link it back to her latest #treelove post.

Also, linking up with Dawn of The Day After in the Festival of Leaves photo challenge.

The View From My Window

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The View from My Office Window

My favorite journey is looking out the window. –Edward Gorey

Today was one of those days. Icky. Gloomy. Wet. It rained the entire drive into work, so by the time I arrived [a little earlier than usual], I just wanted to sit at the window till the end of the day and watch autumn happen. The view of campus from my office is always delightful, but autumn brings a whole new level of stunning that tempts me to neglect the long to do list.

No giving in to temptation today though. With only five days of instruction left, grading and classes demanded time and attention.

Some days, it seems there’s no time to think as I rush from one task, event, or meeting to another, so a stolen moment here and there to look out windows can make a world of difference in my attitude and level of productivity. While I’m gazing, I’m thinking thoughts, mulling over, working things out, or allowing my mind to roam, but I’m also listening for direction, confirmation, presence. The moments are sanity-saving, a way to push away all the other stuff, tune inward and repair–when necessary–without totally checking out.

What do you do when time and tasks work against your desire to just be?


Linking up with Dawn of The Day After in the Festival of Leaves photo challenge.

#ThursdayTreeLove | Enjoy the Autumn View

There are many amazing trees on campus, and every autumn I look forward to the full expression of the season right outside my office window. However, there are a few trees I literally stalk for fear of missing their fleeting beauty. They boast the best of our expectations for the season.

I posted photos of one of the trees last night and Saturday night as previews for this week’s #ThursdayTreeLove. Today, I’m simply going to leave you with a little more than a dozen photos of the two trees that live just outside the University church on campus. Like last night’s photos, I shot the photos [below] Tuesday. They do little justice. You have to stand in this space with the trees to fully experience their magnificence. But since you’re not here, take a moment to bask as much as you can in this autumn glory. [Click an image for a closer look].

This has been a productive tree week. I’ve been capturing autumn bliss every day–even in the rain–so there are lots more to share. I’ll do my best to save photos of the third tree I stalk for the next #ThursdayTreeLove [no promises] and share the others when the mood hits.


I am joining Parul Thakur for #ThursdayTreeLove every second and fourth Thursday of the month. If you would like to play along, post a picture of a tree on your blog and link it back to her latest #treelove post.

Also, linking up with Dawn of The Day After in the Festival of Leaves photo challenge.

Learning to Make Mistakes: Another Mini Lesson in Creative Photography

There is no such thing as a failed experiment, only experiments with unexpected outcomes.   –R. Buckminster Fuller

I have this book called Mess, by Keri Smith, creator of Wreck This Journal. The book encourages making a mess and serendipitously arriving at something beautiful. I look at the prompts regularly, but the book has remained untouched for the five months I’ve had it. Why? Because I’m afraid of making mistakes.

Eye roll.

Bear with me. I’m making progress. I now take the book to work with me and I am inching toward making a mess in the book. Until then, I’m learning to take risks and accept mistakes with my photography.

To that end, on our way to shoot a couple of brilliant trees yesterday, my friend Amanda gave me another mini lesson in creative photography–this one on creating sunbursts. After suggesting settings, she said, “You’ll have to play around with it till you get what you want.”

I know photographers don’t always hit the perfect shot the first time, and of course I rarely do, particularly with an 18-200 mm lens that is becoming frustrating (time for a new one!), but there was something in the phrase “play around” that gave me permission to make mistakes and not feel bad about the shots that fell flat.

I zoomed out for some shots. I pulled the lens all the way in for others. Shooting at 18 mm produced the best bursts, but of course, they were tiny. I knew to crop the image to make the sun appear closer, so here’s the lesson I learned intuitively: in art [and to some degree in life] our messes are often salvageable.

So I’ll keep working on it.

The funny thing is, the image I [initially] liked least has sun flare, an effect some photographers try to achieve, according to Amanda.

Serendipity.