Time To Savor

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He had worked hard and long in life. Demanding days that led into long nights that sometimes claimed what he had in energy and spirit, so his family suffered. But he knew that all the minutes and the sweat and the energy he put into his work made his life and future better for his children. So he went on without complaint because thats what life expected of him in this country.

And now the reward came. His children were grown and intelligent and educated because of his efforts and they had their children. And so when they were off doing for their children what he had done for them, he got his due time with those small things. The little people that he had made all the sacrifice for.

So he played, and laughed and jumped and enjoyed! And some day his children would do the same with their grandchildren – and life would go on just like it always had.

Tianjin, China

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Commonality

 

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The line for the visas had been filled with white faces, dark faces, brown faces.  Languages from far and wide contributed to the confusion and madness that overran the consulate as people crowded and pushed in queues to be the first to acquire their stamp for the day.  It had been noticeable that some received better treatment than others, there were some windows that more money was laid on the counters and the passports were returned with lightning speed.  But then there were others in the room who quietly and patiently sat in the molded plastic chairs just watching the morning’s madness, expecting to expend a whole day just to visit or return to a closed land that was a short train ride away.

And now they were all finally here, all destined to the same place.  The gates were opening for the morning and the gate-keepers were motioning for all shoes to be removed and left outside the doors to this “holy” place.  The morning sun was beginning its hot incline and the piles of shoes grew until all had entered and were now walking in awe, gazing upwards at the elaborate gold spires that covered the sky in opulence.  So many different languages and tones.  Money being lavishly spent on trinkets and souvenirs by some while others carried small cloths concealing a meager meal they had brought in order to spend the whole day in the splendor here.  And somewhere amidst the madness, his gaze fell to the cold marble slabs that his feet rested on and he noticed – the shoeless feet of nations.  Young and old, local and foreign, rich and poor – look down and they were all reduced to the same with no exception for rank, title or position – they were all the same.

 

Shwe Dagon Pagoda- Yangon, Burma (Myanmar)

 

 

Peace

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Once a month they would meander through the city streets, up the hillside and into the place by the sea.  The place where her grandfather and father, mother and sisters, husband and brothers all lay peacefully sleeping.  Sometimes in shining sun and sometimes with gray fog, but always with the sound of the sea below them, lapping at the rocks and spraying fine mist back up at them.

These times were full of stillness, just the two of them walking together, sometimes talking, most of the time just contemplating and remembering.  But it was always a peaceful point in time where they enjoyed being in each others company and all the troubles from the day or the week faded into nothing.  The smell of the plantings in the spring, the shade from the heat in the summer, blankets of snow in the winter – all of the senses were involved and emotions sent into stillness no matter the season.

For years the family had been following this same ritual, wandering alone or together down by the sea.  Strolling towards the glinting waves and just being calm and enchanted by the beauty of the surroundings.  This place was where those who had departed lay, but it was a place of peace for those who still lived.  

 

Bonifaccio, Island of Corsica – France

JUMP!

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She had been standing at the top of this rock for what seemed to be an eternity. Through the noise in her head she could hear her friends calling to her from below, encouraging her, telling her she didn’t have to do this, telling her she’d be fine once it was over, saying they were there. It was meant to be supportive and loving, but it was now just a cacophony of noise between her ears, blinding her thoughts and making her indecisive.

Time had brought her through much. Raising children, sending them to college, starting businesses and leaving them – and then the worst – cancer. She could see the history of her past and the pain and pleasure, the bitterness and the overcoming joy. Those were all things in the past that she had grabbed and held and fought with and won over.

And now, it was a 30 foot rock that was claiming her fortuity. A rock that stood between her and the water below that beckoned her with temptingly blue tones and hid its depth and what lay beneath its surface. But the rock would not be her end-game – so she closed her eyes, threw her arms up in absolute surrender and joined the others below with a complete leap of faith!

Taken at The Baths in the British Virgin Islands during Soul Sail 2013. We all leapt that day, but none were as brave as our beloved Laurie!

Overlooked

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Forever. Thats how long it felt as if they had been there – poised and waiting for – something. Beckoning people to come, to stay, to worship and to meditate. Sometimes the people came and sometimes they just stood and admired and oftentimes they just passed by without even a nod or a note.

They were created to point to God, but now the only pointing that seemed to happen was that of cameras and tourists and artists who admired and then left. God had been forgotten. God had been passed by, just as they were. And now they looked sadly into eyes that are vacant and vapid – eyes that longed for something more and searched in places not to be found.

If only they could say to those who passed by – look where you were meant to look – follow who you were meant to follow. We may be overlooked, but God is not overlooked.

 

St Peter And Paul’s Church – Krakow, Poland

Reality?

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She had travelled far and life had been long and here she sat, tired.

The sound of the waves flowed into her ears, occupying her head, and her eyes glazed as the sun danced off the blue water.  This wasn’t life.  This was a dream that she had entered and she dared not move unless the colors and the sounds and the smells would just fade back into nothing and she would be left staring at the reality of what was her daily existence.  The cold, darkness of the everyday winter of her life that occurred every morning when she woke and disappeared every evening when she could escape into the creations that her mind would compose during sleep.

This wasn’t evening, though, and there was no sleep in her eyes.  This was true, blissful reality that occurred every once in a hundred years for a common person like her.  A beautifully, magical existence that made it so hard to go back to the actual truth that dominated the universe she daily inhabited.  But this picture would be in her mind until the end.  And she would smell the sea and feel the breeze and on frigid winter days, she would remember the sun on her skin – and she would occupy another minute because of this soon to be distant dream.

 

Halkidiki, Greece

The Bridge

Music transcended his spirit.  Ever since he was a boy, he could make music come from anything, and his senses were carried away.  He not only brought music, he moved people with his music and brought laughter and love and reminiscence of times past.

But things change and, even though your deepest heart’s love never changes, your circumstances and your life do – and then you’re left trying to piece together how your work and your dreams fit together.  For a musician, sometimes time moved you to an orchestra pit; sometimes, a small, intimate restaurant; occasionally, you spent your days passing your passion on to small children who were fed ice cream after an hour of attempting to squeeze a melody out of some acquired instrument.  And then there were times that the only place you could freely give your heart to others was to sit on a bridge with a group of your friends and introduce visitors to the melodies of your youth that silhouetted the history of your country.

And then, at the end of the day, you packed your most valuable possession into its portable home and walked the streets to a night’s rest that would lead you to another day on the bridge.  A day regulated by weather and crowds and coins tossed.  A bridge that led to a place that everyone pushed to go to; but once in a while , someone stopped to listen to a group of men sharing their souls.  But life with your passion and your friends – his heart was fully content to be on this bridge.

 

Prague, Czech Republic

On The Other Side

It was not even 6 a.m. but the heat of the sun was already scorching the skin and heating the pavement. They wrapped their shirts closer around their necks and shifted their bags from their shoulders to the ground.

The train was starting it’s warm up and women and children rushed to grab seats in the cars that were already beginning to fill. The men waited – it was best to board last so any breeze that might come would rush around them while the train moved towards their destination.

They stood outside a windowed car, gazing around at passengers coming and going.  They felt eyes on them but they looked the other way.  They knew the people who sat behind those windows.  People who didn’t understand who they were or know where they were going.  These people just sat in their cool, air-conditioned cars on their cushioned seats and white-sheeted sleeping bunks.

All their lives they had only known the heat of the summer and the stink of garbage and sweat of being crowded into places that cost little money.  Their hopes were never to be on the other side of the window.  They only hoped to survive where they were and to enjoy what they could along the way.

 

Delhi, India

Time To Rise

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You can only hold someone down for so long.  History would show that people who are persecuted will only comply for a time and then they will have had enough and will rise to the challenge.  Its only a matter of time.

Marching feet, guns firing, little food, darkness, no hope.  They were a part of life.

But one day, it was enough.  They needed sun, they needed options, they needed to be valuable in and of themselves.

And now its a memory – strong to some, a shadow to others.  The importance of looking back is remembering to rise up and move forward, away from the past and towards a future that doesn’t repeat itself.  But the trick is remembering the past as it was, not how you want to see it.

 

Statue Park outside of Budapest, Hungary

 

 

 

 

One Thought

Ice cream.

She had one single thought – ice cream.  She would follow her parents through castle and churches, over bridges and through tunnels if she only had a cone of some sweet, cold, sticky ice cream in her hand.  For that matter it could be anything cold and sweet and melting – gelato, sherbet, shaved ice, frozen yogurt – her mind went blank when her stomach was filled with a frozen treat.  They had bartered doctor’s appointments and shopping trips and she came away smiling and no memory of anything but the final stop at the little shop with the freezers.  She went blank when ice cream was involved.

The proof had been they had been in Italy for two weeks already and she couldn’t remember anything except all those brightly colored little plastic bowls and spoons that she had gone through.  She would never remember the canals in Venice or the tower in Pisa, but she would remember the chocolate gelato she had all along the way.

Memories….

 

Verona, Italy