April 9, 2016 § Leave a comment
Beginning the morning of April 4, and throughout the day, we received six inches of snow: the first of our ‘winter season’ that just passed. But it was not ordinary snow; it was sumptuous, fluffy storybook snow — the kind in which, for those who remember, one made snow angels. As I settled in at my desk for a writing session on my book, I gazed out my window and observed these delicate, soft flakes: each one different, and definitely part of God’s sense of humor. There were flocks of birds too flying in a frenzy sans any choreographic sense. And like Joseph’s Coat, they were of many colors: yellow and red; others black as night; and only one Blue Jay I named Rufus. I fell in love with this beauty, for the snow on his head and under his beak made him a rather whimsical creature-of-the-air.
I began what I thought would be serious writing for the morning. It never happened. I was too distracted by the birds continuing their flamboyant, if not flirtatious, dance among the white crystalline flakes, descending aimlessly, gracefully, and with great intensity. Grabbing my camera, I hoped to capture the loveliness that was unfolding.
Female cardinals are muted in color compared to the male’s blazing red. But this girl made a subtle statement in her own kind of beauty, sitting on snow-covered branches in-between flying escapades.
Another female appeared later and was surrounded by a haze of misty flakes, creating a sense that she was unreal. But she was.
The snow stopped late afternoon. I heard a raucous cry and wondered if it was the eagle nesting in a giant conifer, also just outside my window. With expectancy, I reached for the camera again, and saw not an eagle, but a great black crow. His wingspan was at least twenty-four inches. He sat with his back to me. I took this image for as the light faded there emerged a haunting contrast of his sleek, black wings and feathers against the monochromatic surroundings. He was at rest, perched so very still, yet maintained his authoritative countenance.
Though I did none of what I planned, it was a satisfying morning and afternoon in that I got to do my favorite things: take pictures and begin writing this April Covenant Journal. I’m aware of the adage that ‘we plan and God laughs.’ I believe He smiles with compassion given we are so resolute and eager to execute “our” plans when, in fact, He usually has something much better in mind.
I want to share about the many e-mails and letters asking questions — all good, respectful, and curious — since I penned a statement within these pages three months ago. I wrote I uncovered inner peace and joy I never felt in my seventy-two years of living from the moment I began my walk with Jesus Christ.
Based on these letters and queries, there are issues that require absolute truth be told:
- Being Christian is a commitment to living a world-view that is in the minority today.
- It isn’t ‘cool’ to be Christian, especially if you are a believer, born again, evangelist, apologist.
- We believe the Bible is Sacred and the literal Word of God.
- We do not bow at the altar of the humanist movement, reverencing sovereignty of intellect and self.
- Some ask how can an intelligent person believe in God, the Bible, the Triune Godhead on any level?
That said, if any, or all, of the above resonate with your thinking, I recommend you read, peruse, or research C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity, J.R.R. Tolkein, Thomas Merton, A.W. Tozer‘s Pursuit of God, and R.C. Sproul‘s renowned scholarly work: writing, teachings, and the foundation of Ligonier Ministries. These are few among other intellectual Christians too numerous to name both past and present. These highly educated, inquiring minds doubted, questioned, and struggled with the truth of the Bible, even wrestled with the Lord, yet finally embraced Christianity. Why? If you’re curious then you’ll investigate the matter. If not, to quote C.S. Lewis, Don’t fuss. Just forget about it.
Truthful Answers to Assumptions: 1) I do not belong to the Tea Party, nor do any of the people with whom I worship, 2) I do not own a holster and gun, and 3) I do not hate or judge anyone for their sexual inclinations. While I do have conflicts about abortion, these relate to personal matters going back to my own birth, and the sanctity of life. It is an issue with which I struggle. I seek not to impose my inner conflicts on anyone, though I am inclined to embrace life over death.
Jesus taught, in His humble, gentle way the superficiality of self-righteousness; to not ever judge others; that acceptable sins such as hatred, arrogance, violence, slander, gossip, and pride are, indeed, serious transgressions against others — as well as our own souls.
I was disappointed that not one person seemed remotely concerned about God being erased out of the Founding Father’s fundamental documents that govern our great nation. I’ve excerpted the last third of Lincoln’s 2nd Inaugural address as a reminder to myself how important God was to our Framers and former leaders who believed in The Moral Law. Most of our current and potential leaders (President, Congress et al. as well as those of other nations), appear rather clownish in the shadow of Mr. Lincoln.
The Almighty has His own purposes…
Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.
Thought provoking for sure. Interesting too is that Lincoln alluded, or directly used, Biblical verses throughout his Inaugural speech: Genesis 3:19; Matthew 7:1; Matthew 18:7; Psalm 19:9; Psalm 147:3; and James 1:27.
A BIRD NAMED ISAIAH
This final image was taken last spring when a large, robust cardinal perched on a single limb outside my writing desk window. Due to his hour long monologue, I named him Isaiah. (The Book of Isaiah is the longest of the Old Testament prophets.) The timing seemed right to use this image: we need some green and Isaiah is surrounded by lush foliage. Also, a wonderful lagniappe appeared in this image through the shadows of trees: a cross. I did not see it when I photographed Isaiah, but it is there. Enjoy and God bless!
May our Lord richly bless and keep each of you in His strong, loving care ….
March 19, 2016 § Leave a comment
An eagle soars over wind-tossed tree tops. A slow, steady rain drips from my studio gutter onto an empty cedar bench. Birdsong prevails as they circle dry places. A lone silver fox stops on its trek to somewhere and stares at me. We lock gazes. He moves on. I stay. The cedar bench remains empty, yet my eyes are full for they have been walked upon.
This poem was written while in my studio after completing the final work on the first images for my new venture launched in 2010: Lee Anne’s Photo Journal Chronicles. My vision of merging two things I love doing, photography and writing, was realized through God’s grace in the form of these photo journals. In so doing, I was, and am, able to present to you continuing photo journal chronicles that strive to be inspirational and thought provoking with a modest attempt to help us all ‘renew our minds.’
As of this writing, I have changed the title of these pages to The Covenant Chronicles – Inspirational Images And Words To Consider. I made a silent covenant with the Lord six years ago when the silver fox gazed directly into my eyes. The covenant consisted of my personal commitment to the Lord: utilize His gifts to me to create the ‘painterly’ images that now fill these many pages; to write truth from my heart; and produce this work with humility (at which I have failed many times!) … and that it all be for His glory. This was our agreement; our covenant. God’s commitment to me was already made: He provided me with an eye to ‘reveal a truth’ in the photographed subjects through the lens of my camera, and the sheer rapture of penning words into sentences. What joy! Thank You!
As to the silver fox? I knew I would not lay eyes upon him again: His job was done.
The following image was taken with a film camera many years ago. I waited all morning for the rebirth of this chive in my garden. It heralded the time of renewal that spring brings: a genuine resurrection, emerging from dormant, seemingly lifeless, winter soil into the day’s dazzling light. The chive flower was tightly enclosed into its protective bud for many days. Finally, on this particular early morning, I saw the first hint of pink color at the very tip of its long, slender green stem. I knew if I waited it would open that day. In late afternoon, it was born again! With my old Nikon F-100 (oh how I miss the sound of its shutter release!), I began shooting the chive from several angles in rapid succession. Since this was a film camera, I had no preview of the image, yet I knew the Great Author guided my eye. I quietly said, Thank you Lord. I felt I had just caressed one of His glories-of-nature.
John 3: 5-8 (English Standard Version)
Jesus answered, “Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God. That which is born of flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
May our Lord richly bless and keep each of you in His strong, loving care ….
February 12, 2016 § 1 Comment
A small, plain-looking nun arrived on the streets of Calcutta in 1948 with a few rupees in her pockets. She wrote in her diary that she had no income, no place in which to live, and resorted to begging for food and supplies. During her first year in Calcutta, she experienced doubt, loneliness, and the temptation to return to the comfort of her prior convent life. Yet, she fervently followed what she believed was a true calling from God: To live in the slums of Calcutta, devastated by disease, filth, and misery to bring comfort, compassion, and boundless love to the sick and dying. A short excerpt from her diary tells us about an unshakeable spirit, an unwavering faith, and an endless compassion and love for all.
Our Lord wants me to be a free nun covered with the poverty of the cross. Today, I learned a good lesson. The poverty of the poor must be so hard for them. While looking for a home I walked and walked till my arms and legs ached. I thought how much they must ache in body and soul, looking for a home, food, and health. But, of free choice, my God, and out of love for You, I desire to remain and do whatever be Your Holy Will in my regard.
Mother Teresa did not cry for herself, or complain, in those early months of her ministry. Within two years she founded The Missionaries of Charity, dragging the dying, sick, leprous people, and even small fetuses from the streets of Calcutta to her ‘safe harbor’ where they were loved into living, or loved on to death. Regardless of the outcome, most assuredly they were loved.
Mother Teresa said, the hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread. Yes, love is the greatest gift.
I took this image with a film camera many years ago in a church ruin on top of a mountain in Switzerland. Among the rubble in this forsaken church, I found this remnant of a painted, chipped shattered statue. I resurrected this image, for I believe it reflects Mother Teresa’s heart for unlimited compassion and limitless love.
1 Corinthians 4-7, 13 (New Living Translation)
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures every circumstance.
Three things will last forever — faith, hope, and love — and the greatest of these is love.
With blessings for each of you, in Jesus’s name I pray~
PRINTS AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST
January 23, 2016 § 1 Comment
While January is the dawn of a New Year, my ‘new year’ began last May when I reached a crucial fork in the road: I chose a path upon which I never intended to walk. Yet, I did.
Since then, my life has changed remarkably: there is an inner peace I have never known; a greater love of, and commitment to, all God’s creation and His Word — concepts I flirted with, yet wavered back and forth on for sixty years. There are the humbling experiences of being renewed from the inside to the outer person people see, as the Lord sands and refines my heart and mind — processes that will continue to my last exhale. Oh yes, I have been ‘born again’: my heart is full of love and a joy for which there are no words.
Most assuredly there are trials: hills to climb; valleys I unwittingly fall into; and the so-very-human battle of whether I permit my emotions, ego, arrogance determine the state and peace of my soul…or look to Him for liberation from these attitudes, behaviors — enslavements all. I choose the latter. In so doing, my service to the Lord is to love Him first and foremost above all others: to love my neighbors—all peoples, as myself, and to continue deepening a compassion that thrives in my heart and spirit for all beings. This is who Jesus was And Is. Love, patience, and compassion are what He taught.
This image was taken on a warm January afternoon; even parts of the River and shoreline were opaque. There was beauty to behold, though, and a time to pause for anyone who stopped long enough to ponder and see the wonders of His Work.
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Proverbs 3: 13, 18-20
13 You’re blessed when you meet Lady Wisdom, when you make friends with Madame Insight.
18 She’s the very Tree of Life to those who embrace her. Hold her tight — and be blessed!
19 With Lady Wisdom, God formed Earth; with Madame Insight, he raised Heaven.
20 They knew when to signal rivers and springs to the surface, and dew to descend from the night skies.
~Eugene H. Peterson, The Message
I send abundant prayers and blessings to each of you.
In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen!
November 21, 2015 § 1 Comment
Most people would agree that autumn is a resplendent time of year. Pumpkins and apples abound. Thoughts of freshly baked pies, turkey, stuffing, cranberry fixings, and something delectable from sweet potatoes made with brown sugar and butter tantalize our taste buds. There is anticipation, too, of the first scent of wood smoke in the air.
This year, nestled in our Catskill Mountains, our eyes were danced upon. An intense profusion of colors burst upon our landscape. Daytime temperatures remained in the sixties into early November! The sun shone every day with few exceptions. Even when it rained, the colors continued to dazzle. It was one of God’s finest displays of glory: a wide spectrum of hues on every tree and in every leaf from deep russet and burnt orange to bright gold, sunshine yellow, and crimson red.
The autumnal sky brought its own canvas of color: bright blues to various shades of lavenders melting into soft grays. We witnessed sunrises and sunsets that staggered us with in-the-moment changes from deep orange to pink, and then, fire red. Everything, all of nature, shouted praises. The landscape, even today, remains alive with rustling leaves falling from towering trees to a final rest where they will be absorbed into our bountiful earth.
This morning, shortly before I published this Journal, I tried to capture the austere grandeur of the day’s sunrise through the now leafless woodlands that reside outside my windows. It thrills me to watch these morning miracles for each is different, containing its own spirit with both subtle and dramatic hues, shadows, and drama. Each of our days calls for a resounding hallelujah! to the Great Author and His spectacular theater.
I walked with my cameras hanging from my shoulders, a backpack with my lenses, and more ‘tools’ stuffed into my pockets. I did not seek the obvious in photographing the vast landscapes, farmlands, and soft shouldered Catskill Mountains. Rather, I sought out scenes and subjects that are overlooked; quiet in their beauty; or merely too common to be worthy of anything more than a glance.
Would these images be worthy? I need to hear music, and feel the soul of the subject; see movement too, even if it appears steadfast. When I do not hear, or feel that tug within, I know I am being told it has no song; it is lifeless. So, I delete the image never to be seen again.
While some of my expectations went astray as they usually do, there was always something more waiting for me to notice. Always. I am old enough now to say this with certainty: those surprises, the unexpected delight may not come in my time, but it does come in God’s time…if I’m patient.
Hundreds of photographs were taken. Fourteen, as of this morning!, remain and are presented here.
On one morning walk when the colors surged forth to their peak, I found myself in the throes of a forceful wind. There stood a tree half dead, half alive. I wanted to preserve the still-living section even with the wind’s refusal to calm. I finally surrendered to the wind and saw the tree differently. Always a dancer at heart, I imagined the tree limbs as balletic dancers in a soft, elegant flow, arrayed in various hues of red, orange, and gold against the bluest of blue skies with just a suggestion of deep lavender strokes deliberately placed there by The Great Artist.
On another morning, quite early, I walked to our historical cemetery. I find beauty in its stillness; mystery in the fog slowly rising; life in the russet and yet-still-green grasses; wonderment in the aged gravestones dating from the late 1700s to late 1800s. The cemetery transports me. It does not speak of decay, but, rather, life once lived, and the miracle of Creation and eternity.
Further along on this particular walk, I passed a garden with several lagniappes…flowers blooming in late-October and in astonishing color!
A few weeks rolled by and our warm weather and autumnal color seemed unending. I rose early enough to take this sunrise “happening.” There was a storm on its way and the sky seemed conflicted on whether the clouds would dominate, or the sun would prevail for a while. This image reminds me of the Hudson River School of painting and the use of light, capturing the dichotomy of ruggedness and sublimity of our Hudson Valley.
The sun did not prevail that day, so I drove to an old silo on 9W North. Hundreds of people pass this silo every day. It is ignored for the silo is weather-beaten, unused, and old. I, though, see beauty and music and grandeur in her, and I finally captured this image after waiting for the right moment in time: a cloudy, drizzly day in autumn.
Across from the silo, there was a field I barely noticed in the past. When I turned to get back into my car, this image was presented to me. I adore the bare architecture of nature and this too sung to me; perhaps an adagio movement of a quiet musical composition.
The sun made its entrance through morning clouds the following day as I strolled along the River walkway only to discover a scene of perfect serenity: a single boat in the calm of the River; the golden willow that is the first to bloom and the last to lose her color; two red benches, punctuating the peacefulness of all the eye could behold.
I found the experiences of this past autumn rapturous. God danced over our eyes and glorified Creation with a grace-filled beauty so grand yet fragile that it brought tears to my eyes. I am humbled and grateful to have been “guided” to these images and to write about my journeys these past weeks.
There is always gratitude we can offer, no matter what is happening in our lives. Each day is a new gift: for that alone, I am thankful. Each day offers blessings and miracles, large and small, if we quiet our lives long enough to see and listen. And, for these I am grateful.
The Book of Abbey
Abbey is another reason I give thanks daily. She sleeps most of her days and comes to life at night. But, it is a moment like this where she is fascinated with the rain and appears to be in deep meditation that I say ‘thank you.’ The wonderful, blessed fact is that she is happy, healthy, and my good girl and companion.
I hope you enjoyed walking with me during my footsteps through autumn. I wish you and yours bountiful blessings for this Thanksgiving and every day that follows.
“You are the Author of beauty.” ~ Wisdom 13:3
October 3, 2015 § Leave a comment
The title of this Journal post is part of a verse found in the Book of Isaiah 61:3. The full verse is: To all who mourn in Israel, He will give a crown of beauty for ashes/a joyous blessing instead of mourning/festive praise instead of despair.
When I began writing about ‘ashes’ and the ‘crown,’ there appeared a brilliant crimson cardinal singing an endless song, sitting alone on the closest branch of the closest tree outside the window where my writing desk resides. I was compelled to name him Isaiah.
The Ashes In The Message
In Isaiah’s time, ashes represented an old covenant of laws; enslavement to brutal and inhumane behaviors; cruelty upon cruelty; despair and bondage — all of which the Israelites mourned. When Pope Francis recently visited the United States to address a joint session of Congress, he raised issues of some overwhelming and disturbing ashes-of-today: homelessness and poverty, violence and abuse, conflicts throughout the world, brutal atrocities.
The Pope’s message focused on the marginalized among us, especially children. In today’s world, we have powerful corporate and global economies as well as generously-funded foundations and ministries who can, and do help, yet 1 billion children live in poverty (1 in 2 children worldwide); 640 million live without adequate shelter; 400 million have no access to safe water; 270 million have no access to health services.
There is Syria with millions of beleaguered, displaced people, half of whom are children.
When we half listen to, or read about, these issues and don’t take the time to look into our hearts, we remove ourselves from actuality; it is easier to ignore. By doing so, though, we shield our hearts from truth.
These are ashes that need not, should not, exist.
The rousing, standing ovation from both sides of the aisle when Pope Francis invoked the Golden Rule, Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you, was inspiring, hopeful, yet disquieting too. I wondered if it was a one-off moment for the two houses of Congress, or, if some hearts in our government as well as those millions who watched and listened had turned to tender, merciful flesh rather than remain crusted in stone.
I am not a politician, activist, or devoted to a specific religion. I am a woman of faith who tries her best to follow the teachings of Jesus. I witnessed firsthand, though, a humble, gentle man truly walk in His footsteps as his face and eyes lit up like a celestial display of Roman candles when he mingled and said prayers with the homeless at St. Patrick’s in Washington, D.C.
The Pope was gentle in his speech, but when I re-read the transcripts I imagined him evangelizing the words of J. Philip Newell and saw him as a young Jesuit raising his voice in a stirring hosanna that would carry over any great assembly: Thanks be to You for the men and women whose passion for the poor is undying/whose prayer for the oppressed is tender/whose defense for the wronged is fierce. Grant me the strength to cry for justice, to be patient for peace, to be angry for love.
The Beauty In the Crown
Whether you agree with what I’ve said, or not, we can acknowledge that there are ashes and our beloved country and the world are broken. But what is this ‘crown of beauty’? Isaiah, one of the great prophets in the Hebrew Bible, prophesied the coming of the Messiah, Jesus, and the New Covenant: leaving the old laws behind; obtaining salvation and the forgiveness of sins; the wiping away of tears; living a new life in joy, peace, and love.
For me, the beauty of the crown embodies loving-kindness, forgiveness, mercy, grace, compassion, wisdom, peace…and, most of all, love. Inspiration and faith are in the crown of beauty. Caring and doing, in whatever ways we can, especially small daily acts of comfort and kindness, are in the crown of beauty. Treating one another as we wish to be treated no matter our faith, sex, race, weakness, disability, neediness, is most assuredly in the beauty of the crown.
Using Ourselves Up
I write and take pictures for a living. I have often wondered if it is enough. But, these gifts are what were given to me. They are as much a part of me as breathing. This is what I know how to do best that honors the God I love and it would grieve my soul not to use up every gift given. I hope and pray that in some small way my writing and images contribute to the crown of beauty if only one soul is soothed and one mind is quieted; that joyous blessing and festive praise are present — not to forget the ashes in our splintered world, but to reveal the abundance of beauty, hope, and grace that are available to each of us so that we may be renewed to tend to what is needed most: the love of one another, and for me, a devoted love for the God who loves us all.
What Happened After “My” Isaiah
I wake before dawn most mornings. After I consume a bracing mug of hot tea and milk, I write ideas for my book and this Journal, and then read. Isaiah departed and I continued pounding away on my computer keys. Once in a while I am taken by surprise and that is when I believe Spirit most guides my eye, hand, and camera. I heard munching of brush outside my apartment window, which is surrounded by woodlands. There was a buck with two spotted fawns. No doe was present. This was taken at first light — a gift of grace.
I often photograph from my window-to-the-world. But this particular morning, I took off on a brisk walk. My very first sight was an extravaganza of sunflowers in bloom. They were absolute aberrations in size; reminiscent of mythical giantesses! I realized, too, that their grand, happy presence was the last of summer, heralding the onset of autumn. What a happening this was!
These September hydrangeas were not shades of deep purple or pristine white. They appeared to have been dipped in a sepia tint, washing their tips to a muted rose-brown. I could not resist them, for they were not only lush, but also otherworldly.
The balance of my day took on its tempo of doing things, talking to people, cooking, and more reading and writing. Later, as dusk began turning day into night, The Buck returned. It was the very same one from early morning, for the twin fawns were in the brush. He walked out from the woodland, stood solidly and resolutely still, and looked straight at me through the window. And, yes, I thanked the Lord once again for this image.
The Book of Abbey
Abbey has asked me to pen some words for her. She is preoccupied with jumping from window to window as our autumnal weather arrives, for there is much scurrying about of furry and feathered creatures outside of her reach.
She would tell you that I’ve been absorbed in writing, reading, and the taking and making of images. I believe Abbey would have preferred I not take this picture, and allowed her the privacy, or reverie, she was in. But I could not resist. Abbey is almost incessantly sleeping next to the cross as well as on the open bible. A friend said, She knows this is important to you and is absorbing The Word for you. We’ll see.
The other spot Abbey has chosen to occupy is my desktop, computer keyboard…wires, papers, and all. I took this picture after I already moved her twice, and she knew she was busted! I decided to keep this image for it captured stillness and motion at one time!
A dear friend is away for three weeks and I have the privilege of caring for her cat, Guinness. I fall in love with most animals, but Sir Guinness, is noble, handsome, loving, and my Abbey would say, A real hunk. I love this gentle boy. His markings are those created by The Great Artist.
Abbey sends her love to all of her fans …
May I leave you with a blessing? It doesn’t matter to me how you believe, or what faith you follow, if any. I am soothed by the words of this Psalm and share it with a heart full of love.
O satisfy us in the morning with Your loving-kindness, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. ~ Psalm 90:14
In an earlier version of this writing, I spoke against Planned Parenthood, believing I had all the facts. A few months ago, when the ‘smoke and mirrors’ began with the videos, I did extensive research, listening to, and reading, all sides of the debate. However, at the time of publishing this weekend, I did not update that research. Had I done so, I would have expunged those paragraphs in this Journal post. I apologize to all my readers for this error.
May 22, 2015 § Leave a comment
Late April 2015
Some ‘thing’ cries out again and again. It is a haunting, almost terrifying, lament. Or, am I dreaming? Yet, the dream feels real and unending. The veil between the rational world of reality and the imaginative world of illusion is very thin. I wake and realize there is, indeed, a raw, painful wail coming from the woodlands outside my apartment. I sit and listen, trying to discern the nature of the sound. Is it an animal in great distress, a mating call, or a requiem for the dead? Whatever it is Abbey jumps on to the windowsill facing the source of the mournful cry. Placing my head close to hers, believing Abbey’s feline instincts located the mystery, I look out but see nothing; yet the sound is eerily close. I finally stop searching the forest floor for movement and look up through the still-bare trees where a full moon shines its glaring presence through leafless limbs. Without preamble on this calm, cold night, the wind suddenly whips up a fury, transforming slender tree limbs and branches into a balletic flow of night dancers. The wailing stops. The experience is mysterious as well as unearthly: a full moon with nightime wind dancers and an unknown being that cries out a requiem before dark becomes light.
This event woke me earlier than usual, so I fed Abbey while brewing my mug of Scottish breakfast tea. I sat listening for the sound of the criatura. None occurred other than my morning birds, already singing before dawn’s light makes her entrance. With the tea finished and Abbey settled into her morning nap, I gathered up my camera and a warm jacket to take my walk. Winter lingered and I wondered what I might discover in the barren landscape. What we see and do not see in winter and early spring, this interval of contraction and hibernation, is Nature’s framework for the living presences that will be reborn — in their rightful time.
I headed towards the Hudson River. We have a wonderful riverfront in our small village and it never disappoints. The shoreline across from my side looked bereft of life; I thought how some might find the absence of color rather bleak. I know this shoreline and its trees well, for we are old friends. In the moments while I set up my image, I recalled this shorline’s continuing cycles of death, rebirth, and life. I framed and steadied by hand-held camera for the shot. There was beauty in the tranquil, arresting scene: what needs to be here now in order for the soft hues of summer and the explosion of autumnal color to “become.” I was enamored with this unadorned, monochromatic landscape: Nature’s blueprint revealed its soul.
More images emerged as I observed and listened. The abundant birdsong from doves, robins, and crows among many other feathered species were in an uproar. I believe they sensed an impending storm for boundless, darkening cloud formations seemed to extend into infinity as the birds flew to their hidden, safe harbors. The River Walkway, with its iron railing and one of my most-loved weeping willow trees, presented a mere hint of spring about to bloom.
(Note: Upon my return two days later, the willow had morphed into an extravaganza of a bright new green seen only in spring. Her tender leaves were fully open; now cascading down her long, graceful branches. How glorious. How sacred too.)
There is a large, beautiful village home that overlooks The River, and it is a house of many gardens. While it is vacant most of the time, it is well cared for. Since it was currently unoccupied, I decided to look for flowers that may have begun to bloom. I was taken by surprise, though, by this stunning black and white feline. He walked up to me with considerable poise; then sat on the back porch steps. I discovered days later, that his name is Oberon … King of the Faeries, according to myth, and consort so Titania in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Oberon, with a discerning eye, looked at my camera, then me: Of course you will photograph me. That’s why I’m here. Use your camera woman! And so I did.
The house’s gardens revealed spring’s first official offerings in the scent of a grand magnolia tree and her lush, sensuous blossoms; a butter-yellow daffodil; one white daffodil with a hint of apricot at her center; and brazenly colored tulips. These new flowers and blossoms were absolute affirmations of the cycles of life, for just weeks before they lay dormant under brown earth and within barren tree limbs.
The walk was splendid and productive too. When I entered the apartment, Abbey was at the door to greet me. I opened the windows just enough so I could hear more of the birds that are as much my companions as is Abbey. I brewed another cup of tea, but with a furrowed brow: I was still disturbed by the requiem cry of the night. I finally sat with my tea while Abbey settled on my lap, lending me the warmth of her body, and her soothing, reassuring purr. Is there anything better than that?
The Book of Abbey — May 15, 2015
Mom was right about a requiem cry that absolutely, positively raised my hackles! I knew it was an animal because I’m an animal, a feline no less, and I’m supposed to know these things. Well, I won’t spend more time on it other than to confirm that I too heard the lament and, for reasons unknown to me, felt a deep sadness.
Mom wanted to write about death and rebirth — Nature and its cycles. I’m intrigued with these concepts, but she’s deceived herself and you too just a little in this Journal entry.
Here’s the scoop: My feline soul sister, Lily, was put down almost a year and a half ago. Her bones, now ashes, are contained in this small, bejeweled butterfly that sits at the feet of our family Buddha.
Mom performs a morning ritual, blessing our home, me, Lily, others, and now Charlie. Who is Charlie you might ask? Charlie was Mom’s dog for eleven years until darkness and illness entered her life. She could hardly take care of herself, and her sweet Charlie became ill and lonely due to Mom’s absence. It’s a long story and I’m not the one to tell it. BUT, two Angels came into Mom’s life and adopted Charlie. They became good friends and Mom promised Charlie and his new Angel-Moms that she wanted to be there when it was The Time for Charlie to leave this life.
Well, he took his time: the Angel-Moms filled his life with love and an abundance of companionship, not only from them but from their friends too. Charlie eventually became blind, deaf, and could hardly walk in his final years, but soldiered through until it truly was The Time. Oh my, the tears flowed as Mom told the story. She cried into my fur as I licked her hands and fingertips with my sandy tongue to comfort her. The two Angel-Moms, my Mom, and a compassionate vet held and stroked Charlie as his heart beat its last beat. He was seventeen years old, well loved, and cherished by so many. The Angel-Moms and Mom agreed that she would take his ashes, for she knows a beautiful place where she says even God comes to rest. I felt it only appropriate to say my prayer for Charlie, the Angel-Moms, and my Mom.
I have to be honest and tell you that I believe this Journal entry was influenced by Mom’s recent mourning for Charlie and her remembrances of a sweet kitty that had no chance of surviving. Even so, it changes nothing of what Mom has written, for it’s her truth and that comes from her heart.
Now, to sum up: I want to say life is grand. The windows are open, I have much to observe every single day, plenty of food, and my fur is fluffy and shiny. I am one happy kitty.
Until next time,
The mournful cry from the unknown criatura returned two more times until the moon began to wane. Each time I woke but no longer got out of bed to search for it. I have only Abbey, who sought it out the first night, to assure me that it was not an illusion. No one else in my building heard the cry; it remains a mystery.
I know this: A rare occurrence unfolded during a cold, late-April full moon outside my bedroom window. I believe that whatever the criatura was with its piercing cry, it was performing a requiem for the dead. And, where there is death there is rebirth at some point and some place — in its rightful time.
Thank you all who faithfully read and comment on my Photo-Journal Chronicles. I love hearing from you and wish you happiness and peace …