12 Days of Christmas Postcards | Day 10

Christmas magic is silent.
You don’t hear it–
You feel it.
You know it.
You believe it.

Today’s postcard was not handmade, but it so thrilled me that I have to share it. It was sent with warm holiday greetings and love by my Love Notes friend, Eileen V.

I love the seeming simplicity of the art and the subtle nod to the magic of Christmas.

The watercolor reindeer is the work of Claudia Brandt, an artist I have fallen in love with. You can see more of her art on her website, A Painting a Day or Two or Longer, or on her Facebook page.

The postcard arrived in pristine condition because Eileen placed it in a bright red envelope and stamped it with a breathtaking Chagall image.

[Enlarged for detail]

I think she was trying to send me over the moon for the holiday season!

The stamp features a small part of one of the nine stained glass windows Marc Chagall (1887-1985) completed for St. Stephan Church in Mainz, Germany. The image depicts Mary cradling Baby Jesus with an angel hovering above them.

Chagall worked on the windows from 1978-1985, completing them shortly before his death. They feature themes common to Christians and Jews and serve as Chagall’s contribution to reconciliation between the two groups.

Here’s an image featuring the full panel: Chagall Window by Tomosang.

For a visual feast of Chagall’s stained glass windows:

For more information about St. Stephan’s windows:

Hang in there with me! We have just two more days of Christmas postcards to go!

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.

One Little Boy and “Four Little Girls”

A Bible sits on the pulpit from the Bethel Baptist Church in Collegeville. The pulpit was in use when Fred Shuttlesworth pastored the congregation from 1953-61. The Bible is appropriately opened to Psalms 54-58.

A Bible sits on the pulpit from the Bethel Baptist Church in Collegeville. The pulpit was in use when Fred Shuttlesworth pastored the congregation from 1953-61. The Bible is appropriately opened to Psalms 54-58. Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.

One of the disturbing things about living in the American South is the painful history that is constantly in our faces–monuments to “confederate” leaders, former slave quarters, plantation homes, street names, buildings and spaces where “significant” events took place.  Although I am convinced that it is important that we keep the past before us to avoid making those same mistakes, sometimes “American history” can be “too much.” It is surely overwhelming navigating that terrain while nurturing the development of a child.

No explanation necessary.

Klan Robe. On Display at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.

My hubby and I, along with many other parents, served as chaperones for a field trip to the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham, Alabama. The Sixteenth Street church is the site of the September 15, 1963 bombing that took the lives of four girls who were preparing to participate in Sunday worship services: Carole Robertson (age 14), Carol Denise McNair (age 11), Cynthia Wesley (age 14), and Addie Mae Colllins (age 14).  Sarah Collins (age 12), the sister of Addie Mae, survived but suffered life-altering injuries as a result of the hate crime, a consequence of mounting racial tensions around desegregation.

My little one knows a lot about American history, but I was worried about this field trip. I didn’t want his being in the physical presence of that place to change him–to make him angry or fearful, or worse, to feel the limitations of his own agency.  I recalled his strong sense of injustice at the pronouncement of a “Not Guilty” verdict for George Zimmerman.  His concern, then, was not black and white, but child and adult.  He wondered aloud how rational adults could allow another adult to “get away with” killing a child. I did not know whether he would be outraged or miserably grieved by hearing the finer details of the deaths of the “little girls”.

Sketch of the Four Little Girls by Cameron Shepperd

“Tragic End for a New Beginning.” Sketch of the Four Little Girls–Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley, Addie Mae Collins, and Denise McNair–by Cameron Shepperd. It hangs in the basement of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church.

As we toured, I cautiously waited.  Held my breath.

Being in the church where the girls chatted and worshipped was far more intense than reading about it and knowing about it.  There were no words for the mixture of grief, anger, horror, powerlessness, “what ifs,” and “whys” that stormed my brain.  As I was trying to process my own emotions and keep them “in check” at the same time, I was watching my son. Making sure he was [still] okay.

He listened intently. He studied images. He read captions and discussed them with friends. He danced in the exhibit modeled like a 1950s/60’s jazz club for “coloreds only.” At the end of the day, on the way home, he asked questions. He processed. And I whispered a prayer of gratitude.  He knows more, but his sense of self and his place in the world is still intact. I exhaled.

For now.

I continue to wait.  For the dawning. For the intense sadness he now feels about the [continuing] assault on black skin and black bodies to transform into anger.

And I pray that it does not damage or debilitate him.

Original pew. Our tour guide pointed out that the pews are the same ones that have sat in the church since its building in

The pews have been in the church for more than 100 years.

When we were at the church, our tour guide reminded us that the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church is not simply a “tourist attraction” or a stop on the “Black History Tour,” but it is still a vibrant church that serves many of the same roles in the community that it’s served since its beginnings.  So while we mourn the four little girls and America’s defective past and turbulent racial present, we can celebrate the fact that we are still here–worshipping, dreaming, doing, and creating change in our own small areas of the world.

BHM10

The Sixteenth Street Baptist Church “Where Jesus is the Main Attraction,” Birmingham, Alabama

For more information about the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, click the image above.  For a succinct  historical overview of racial tensions in Birmingham, the bombing, and convictions in the murders, click here: The 16th Street Church Bombing.

 

Playing with Black and White (Part II): A Touch of Color

Yesterday, I shared Part I of “Playing with Black and White” (Flowers).  Today, as promised, I bring you Part II.

The second swap in the “A Thousand Words” group’s B&W photography series, “Black and White with a Touch of Color,” invited photographers to stretch their skill just a little further by keeping just one color in the photo.

Mahlermail sent three photos that did not stay in my possession long; my little one requested them for his nature album moments after I opened the envelope.

“Leaf” by Mahlermail, October 2014

She captured the leaf in North Carolina while driving/riding the Blue Ridge Parkway.  It’s my favorite–an autumn leaf! 🙂

“Owl Eyes,” by Mahlermail

The owl picture was taken two years ago at a state park in the Houston, Texas area.  Its eyes are so striking, I can’t imagine them “losing” their color.

“Backyard Baby Love,” by Mahlermail

Mahlermail was fortunate enough to catch this one in her own backyard. She describes the photo as “totally cute”–a spring baby bird being fed by its mama.

I sent my partner four or five photos. Here’s one of them:

Melissa's Roses, Original Photo Taken August 2014

Melissa’s Roses, Original Photo Taken August 2014

I captured Melissa the Magnificent’s (the Program Coordinator in Academic Administration) beautiful red birthday roses on my iPad. They’ve gone through several different post-processes. I haven’t figured out which one I love the most, so I’m always looking for opportunities to use them in swaps. I’m a little proud of this shot since it shows a bit of improvement in my rose photography.

The quote is borrowed from the opening lines of John Keats’ poem, “Endymion.”

Here’s another of the shots I sent my partner–

My New Orleans, Original Photo, 2011

My New Orleans, Original Photo Taken July 2011

This photo is part of a “My New Orleans” collection of photos that I’ve been building for the last few years. I captured it while my sister, son, niece, and I strolled through the French Quarter one summer afternoon. I cheated a little by keeping more than one color, so I sent this one an extra.  Don’t you just l-o-v-e this dress?

I also played around with fish, flowers, leaves, stained glass, street art, and bird berries.

Some of these were a “miss”–they lost something they needed when most of the color was removed. But I enjoyed playing around with them.  The fun thing about keeping a little color in B&W photos is deciding which color helps the photo make a statement.

I’ll post the third part–“Buildings in Black and White“–tomorrow, or the next day.

Looking forward…

Church Bells Ringing…

While clearing and organizing my desk last night, I was pleased to find many things I’d forgotten I’d received.  One was a package of vintage church postcards swap-bot “digitalmaven” sent earlier this year. I’m sure, after thanking her for the wonderful collection, I returned the postcards to the envelope intending to study them later.  Later never came.  Then (after clearing my desk), I began gathering photos to send in a  photo “destash” swap and I ran across one of the photos of a rustic church I shot last year when visiting my in-laws.  I had no choice but share in a blog post the beautiful vintage church postcards.

Here, first, is the photo that’s probably heading out this week:

Chapel of Peace

Chapel of Peace, Ferguson, North Carolina

I posted photos from a trip to the Whippoorwill Academy and Village in a couple of earlier posts here and here.  The quaint “Chapel of Peace” is often used for small wedding ceremonies.  I added the verse from Emily Dickinson’s Poem 236 because it reminds us that while we are strengthened through meeting in fellowship with those who share our spiritual principles, it is also necessary to spend time alone with God, commune with Him in nature, and enjoy our bits of heaven on earth.

Digitalmaven sent seven vintage postcards:

The United Methodist Memorial Home, Chancel of the Applegate Chapel

Chancel of the Applegate Chapel. Le France Color Fotos, Westerville, OH.

The Chancel of the Applegate Chapel is part of the United Methodist Memorial Home in Warren, Indiana. The Chapel offers a place for residents to mediate and worship.

The Wayfarers Chapel

“The Wayfarers Chapel.” Photo by Union Pacific Railroad, Published and Distributed by Columbia.

The Wayfarer’s Chapel, often called “The Glass Church,” is located on the coast of the Palos Verdes Hills near Portuguese Bend, California.

Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral, Los Angeles, California

“The Bishop’s Throne,” Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral, Los Angeles, California. Lithochrome Press, Los Angeles.

From this seat, “The Bishop’s Throne,” situated always in the south chancel, the ranking prelate presides over services.  The throne is symbolic of episcopal authority by which the Greek Church is governed.  In the rear panel of the canopy is a representation of Christ the High Priest, and below it the ancient device of the Byzantine Empire, the two-headed eagle, suggestive of watchfulness.  The lions reference Revelation 5:5:

. . . The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has conquered so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.

Naval Air Station Chapel, Alameda, California

Naval Air Station Chapel, Alameda, California. Card by H.S. Crocker Co., Inc., San Francisco.

The Station Chapel, dedicated in 1943, actually consists of three chapels:  the Blessed Sacrament Chapel where daily Mass is celebrated for Roman Catholics; the Shannon Chapel which is used for small groups of non-Catholics; and the Main Chapel, seating approximately 400, which is shared by all faiths in the spirit of “Cooperation Without Compromise.”

C129-Pasadena, California

C129-Pasadena, California.  Kodachrome Reproduction by Mike Roberts Studios, Berkeley, CA.

Part of Southern California’s charm is due to its pleasing architecture. An example of beauty in buildings is the church above in the garden city of Pasadena.

Strawberry Chapel, a Chapel of Ease to Saint John's Biggin Church

Strawberry Chapel.  Photo by Stafford; Published by Berkeley County Bicentennial Commission.

Strawberry Chapel was constructed in 1725 by an Act of Assembly as a Chapel of Ease to Saint John’s Biggin Church.  It is one of the most famous historic sites in Berkeley County.

Sinclair Memorial Chapel on the Campus of Coe College, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Sinclair Memorial Chapel on the Campus of Coe College, Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Es-N-Len Photos, Aurora, IL.

A focal point of activities on the Coe College campus is Sinclair Memorial Chapel, also known as the Coe Auditorium.  Replacing an earlier chapel destroyed by fire, it is named in honor of the T. M. Sinclair meat-pakcing family.  The building also houses Arthur Poe Chapel, a small sanctuary for meditation, and two art galleries.

After visiting these postcards, I’m tempted to go through my postcard collections and pull out other postcards featuring church buildings.  I’ll have to put that on hold, though.  My to-do list is a little too long at the moment.  For now…

Enjoy!

[Note: all descriptions are from the backs of the postcards].