Thursday, November 9, 2017

Nova Scotia - A Time To Relax!

I’m still dreaming of the quaint, rustic fishing villages we visited from Lunenburg to Peggy’s Cove in Nova Scotia last month. It was so relaxing to sit on my balcony, gaze out over the small fleet of fishing boats and wander down to the wharf and watch the fishing boats head out in the early morning and return later in the day to unload catches of crab, lobster, scallops and many other types of seafood. 
These quaint towns and sleepy fishing villages are wonderfully weather worn to a varying degree. Even spanning hundreds of years and despite hordes of visitors, each town retains its own individual character. To the north, Tantallon, French Village and Fox Pointe are more populated, especially in the summer, with plenty of locally owned restaurantsbars and shops. And then to the south, on Mahone Bay to Blue Rocks, a bevy of quaint, neatly isolated towns sit nestled right along the ocean. In Nova Scotia one road leads to them all.

Thanks for looking.  

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Everyday Prayers

“Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays.”  – Søren Kierkegaard

I’ve come to learn that prayer involves a discipline of practiced attentiveness, but it's more than the concentration of thought, the knitting of ones brows. Contemplative prayer slows our mind, calms our spirit, and centers our heart. Prayers are occasions for grace, opportunities to chose a different path. They make forgiveness possible.  There may be moments throughout your day when you feel called to pray or meditate. The prayer space can become almost sacred as it offers peaceful respite from the rest of the day. That's what I come here for, a deeper practice of mindfulness and immediacy of presence.

The key element to all of this is a healthy dose of humility and an awareness that this all really IS a mystery . . . there are just some things that will never really be understood by our rational minds through words and explanations. But for now, this is just a little blog to share some of my thoughts. Please feel free to comment or ask questions. 

Photographed with permission of the Pueblo de San Ildefonso

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Hiking for the Soul

 I believe we're valuing wilderness more because we realize we may be losing it. Poet, essayist, farmer, and novelist Wendell Berry says there are only two kinds of places: sacred places and desecrated places, and we're finding more and more of the latter, so when my wife Karen and I got back from a vacation in Moab, Utah we sat down and compared notes on our journey. Here are some of our thoughts.

We armed ourselves with plenty of water and decided to hike to False Kiva in the Canyonlands. False Kiva is hidden under a vast alcove at the edge of Island of the Sky district and there are no maps to the spot. Our first stop was at Dead Horse Point and from there we proceeded to the trail head at Upheaval Dome. It's steep and rocky and a bit treacherous due to the loose stones underfoot. After a three hour hike a small sun-filled alcove appeared in the amphitheater walls. Criss-crossing the boulder-strewn base of the cliffs, we hiked steeply up to the alcove. Once there, the foundation of a round kiva overlooked the vast canyonlands and buttes beyond. Then the trail abruptly turned upwards and we finally clambered up another set of boulders and came upon the site. It is simply astounding that anyone ever found this in the first place – you literally cannot see False Kiva until you are about to enter the site from ten yards away. We stayed for over an hour, just taking in the surreal landscape.

 There are many analogies that could be drawn from our hike but to me the key takeaway is very basic. The trail teaches me a sense of “mindfulness”, as the Buddhists would call it and on this hike I found something sacred, something free and spent a long time with it. I hoped to bring something of that experience back to my life. Perhaps to allow just a little more perspective and a little more freedom in the world of solidity and structure. While we all derive great satisfaction from our work, what we do “for a living” everyday should not be an end in and of itself, rather it should be a means to an end. For me, the simplicity, history and grandeur of False Kiva gave me a sense that has more to do with being in an intimate relationship with the larger natural world and the Creator. There is also a joy to be found in experiencing the landscape with family and friends. To share a wonderful place with someone else. To hear the invitation, spoken with the assurance you will together see the same gift. "Look."

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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Mary Jane Colter, the Most Well-known Unknown Architect

Constructed in 1932 and designed by famed architect Mary Colter, Desert View Watchtower is a seven-story-tall stone tower 25 miles east of Grand Canyon Village. Intended to appear as a partially ruined Puebloan Indian watchtower, this sentinel over the eastern entrance to the park is one of the most innovative structures ever built in an American National Park.  During construction, Colter commissioned a number of American Indian artists to paint the tower’s walls with murals inspired by ancient dwellings of the tribes that identify themselves with the Grand Canyon.

The tower’s artwork tells stories of the significance of the surrounding canyon in the lives of the peoples that have lived within its walls for thousands of years.

The ceiling decoration is an adaptation of the ancient rock paintings found at the Abo Caves in central New Mexico, just west of the ruined city of Abo. 

Every available surface has been covered with pictures. The same pigments are still used by the Pueblo Indians.

From its panoramic windows you can witness God’s handiwork at it’s finest, from the turquoise water of the Colorado River to the hiking trails that take you deep into the canyon floor. There is a tranquility that touches your mind, your heart and your soul as you drink in the beauty. But is it the colors that mesmerize you. It seems to be ever changing as the light moves across its face. There are different shades of purples, blues, greens, reds, orange, browns, tans that like an artist's paintbrush caressing the canvas that comes alive before your eyes as the canyon moves throughout the light of the day and into the night.


To my mind of all Colter’s works, this is her masterpiece. Far below me was the mighty Colorado River. I sat for a long time away from the tourists, listening to the ravens and trying to take in all of the brilliant orange, red, and sandstone shades of the canyon.

Thanks for looking!

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