I started this blog to converse with different, yet in many ways the same, audiences. Many who know me, know that I love to share my spirituality. Others know of my love for photography. Many know of my love for all things Hawaiian which influences my thoughts of caring for the earth. I hope this blog brings everything together.
So, for those who want to share thoughts – welcome. For those who want to share photography – welcome. If you would like to blend both – you’re at the right place.
This last year has been an exciting one for me. I have experienced many new things that have influenced my life. Before we start looking at photography and philosophy, here’s a look back at my year.
Let’s begin on a high note. I have had a tremendous fear of heights. A few years ago I joined my grandson, Ben, in a climb to the top of a water-slide tower. I was scared stiff. Once I hit the slide, I loved the thrill of the ride. That cured me of my fear of heights. If I wanted the thrill again, I would have to forget the fear.
Well, here’s what the loss of that fear allowed me to do. I went on a zip-line with my cousins Kande and Maile Lopes. I loved every minute of every ride. With only a cable holding me above the valley floor, I zipped through the air with the greatest of ease. Now I have some insight into how a bird feels as it soars over the tree tops. This was something I thought I’d never do.
Every now and then someone comes into your life who enriches it beyond the bounds of being a mere acquaintance or friend. I had the joy of meeting such a person last summer. Dr. Paul Brennan is an anthropologist, linguist communication and information specialist and an ordained minister. That’s a mouth full to describe a person who is a walking story-teller of history, culture and spirituality. Paul worked with the indigenous peoples of Papua New Guinea before moving to Kailua approximately 30 years ago. Since moving to Kailua, he has immersed himself into the cultural, historical and spiritual aspects of the ancients who first settled our area and of our elders who followed the original Hawaiians.
I look forward to spending time with Paul to learn more and to share in the history and sacredness of the Kailua ahupua’a (district).
A fun part of my life has been the discovery of bicycling. Dave and Liz, our neighbors, are avid riders and they introduced me to the bike saddle. Since then, I have been a biking fool. My neighbor, Bob, and I ride whenever the weather is good. We live in the country and can just hop on the local roads and go 15 or so miles without much effort. During the good weather, we put in between 30 and 70 miles a week.
We’re blessed in the Spokane area with many beautiful trails as a result of the Rails to Trails program. The closest to our house is the Fish Lake Trail which can take you from Spokane to Cheney. We hop on the trail from the roads near our house and ride about 10 miles to Cheney for a hamburger.
A favorite trail is the Coeur d’Alene Trail in Idaho. The trail follows the Coeur d’Alene River and Lake Coeur d”Alene for about 72 miles. I have been on most of the trail at different times. This Easter, my sister-in-law, Virginia, and I rode the trail for about 26 miles. The scenery is gorgeous and it is very easy to be held in the hands of the Sacred.
The trail of trails, though, has to be the Hiawatha. This is part of the abandoned route of the old Hiawatha train line that went from Chicago to Seattle. The ride begins in the mountains in Montana where you enter a 1.7 mile tunnel. Once you get inside, everything is pitch black. You guide yourself with the lights on your bike. While traversing the tunnel, you cross the Montana-Idaho state line where a mark on the tunnel wall lets you know of your accomplishment.
When you emerge into Idaho, you are greeted with a spectacular view of the Bitterroot Mountains. The trail follows the old rail line down the mountains, along cliffs, through more tunnels and over high trestles. It’s a 15 mile trip to the lower trail head. Once you get to the bottom, you
can hop a bus to ride back to the Idaho side of the
long tunnel, or, you can ride your bike back up. Riding back up is our favorite. This may sound forbidding, but, this is an old railroad grade. The slope is about 1.7 degrees. You hardly notice the incline.
Look for images taken along the trails as we go forward.
The First Book of the Hebrew Scriptures, Bereshit, (The book of Genesis in Christian Scripture) says that on the second day, God created the firmament and called it heaven. The Hebrew word for firmament is “raqia”. This word has its root in “raqa” which means to beat or spread out. It describes a craftsman hammering a lump of metal into a dish or perhaps a helmet. The ancients of Sumeria believed that the sky was a
solid dome above the Earth and was made of tin. The writers of Bereshit would have known of this and other Mesopotamian myths and incorporated the language into their account of creation.
I mention this to begin my last section in bringing you up to date. I have been most fortunate in finding myself as a helper for Sr. Paula Turnbull, SNJM. She is a renowned Northwest artist and sculptor. She works primarily in metal – copper and brass. Her work also includes sculptures in other metals as well as those in clay and wood. Her work is on display in public places and private collections in the US and beyond. One of her celebrated works in Spokane is the garbage eating goat in Riverfront Park.
Each time I work with her and she or I hammer out a piece of copper or brass, I am reminded of the passage from Genesis. In her work, she mirrors what the ancient writer saw as the creative, artistic nature of God.
I have helped her make horses, cats, dogs, people and dragons out of metal that has been pounded, shaped and welded. It is amazing to see a copper tube transformed into clothing, a piece of brass become a hand and old copper decorative plates shaped into the side of a cat.
I have learned much by sitting at the feet of this master. She has taught me about shape, texture and creating beauty from what is in your hand, your mind and your heart. She has taught me about the sacred, creative spirit that can be found within each of us – if we but look.
This month Sr. Paula will be 91 years young. Happy Birthday to a very special person.
Thank you Paula, my friend, for showing me how the hand of God created and still creates through us.
Well. That’s my life for the last year. This has been a year that has helped shape the rest of my life. I have seen the sacred in all things around me. I have had teachers, especially in Paul and Paula, who have taught me to see more and to be more.
My next blogs will begin sharing thoughts and images.
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