Calm water. Still duck.
Presence noted. Movement imminent.
Wings flap. Water disturbed.
Lift-off. Successful retreat.
To savor is to enjoy the moment, the event or season of life to the fullest extent possible. To savor can be something as simple as sharing a favorite cup of coffee with your closest friend, to experiencing the birth of a child or looking back at a year in which everything in life held the greatest significance and most contentment.
To savor a moment is like pausing time, stepping back a few paces, and observing in your mind what an incredible thing is taking place right then and there. You are cognizant of what is happening, but are savvy enough to not mess it up…it is just being. All else is pushed aside-at least for a focused episode of time- and nothing matters but what is occurring. Moments such as these are to be cherished.
As events go, you could be at a party, a prayer meeting, a family gathering, a football game, a concert or most anything which can transport your mind and emotions to a higher plain than everyday living. Events are for a relatively short period of time, as are moments. I don’t know if an event or a moment makes a greater impact than the other, but it doesn’t really matter as long as there is a positive outcome and a pleasant memory. Special events are like time-released capsules of pleasure.
Seasons of life-now those are another subject unto themselves. Whereas moments and events are for brief periods of time and are readily known, a blessed season of one’s life can last a summer or a decade, and the full impact unravels slowly until you are fully aware of how amazing such a time was. This is not to say that a moment can’t affect you for the rest of your life; far from that. I have had several moments where I still feel the fulfilling effect of that occurrence. However, seasons hold a special place in one’s life because of their longevity. As we are all aware, this life is relatively short. If we can benefit from a longer place of inner satisfaction then so much the better. How very blessed are those who are privileged to experience a savory season in life.As I gaze upon my furry companion, Carson, I see the contentment he is experiencing while resting. He has no fear and makes himself vulnerable. He knows no pain while he rests. I see peace and I see renewal…something most of us don’t experience nearly enough. Carson represents a sort of savor that is limited to those who slow down enough to be in the present without distractions. His savor seems too easy…too unfair. Cheryl and I sometimes state that it would be great to be Carson for a while (as long as we were his guardians!). Can you relate? The adage, “It’s a dog’s life”, was built around a beloved pet who has not a care in the world. This lacking for nothing while experiencing the utmost of most anything pleasant is similar to children who are born into fine families and raised in loving environments. No worries, at least not until they grow up.
So, how do we, as humans beings, become more at ease with ourselves, and more at peace with our world? How do we savor?
I realize clearly that this question applies to only a minority of our worlds’ population. There are well over two billion people who are living in extreme poverty and millions more who know no peace or good health or love. For these, the question about savoring a piece of life is a foreign concept. I wish this were not the case, but it is.
For those of us who have the ability to recognize the possibility of savoring something worthwhile, it is to you whom I speak. I challenge you, as I have myself, to slow down and savor many moments, events and seasons. Be present and consider just how fortunate you are to have experienced such a time. Gratitude comes to mind as I consider the many savored experiences I can recall. I am awaiting the next with positive anticipation. Perhaps helping someone else savor a slice of this life is a savoring experience in itself.
The following photographs are a vivid reminder of God’s elegant handiwork. All are found in our yard. Cheryl planted and nurtured the flowers (I help pull weeds on occasion). So many of you have volumes of beautiful flowers, shrubs and vines for which I offer no competition…just wanted to share the joy of some of nature’s beauty.
Star-gazer lily in the early morning light. Bowed in prayer. Inviting a closer look.Twin Star-gazers vying for position to be the first spoken to as the dew evaporates.Yellow lily of an unknown name to me. Awake for a while, and attentive to my presence.Black-eyed Susans stretching out after a good night’s rest. ‘All mixed up with no particular place to go…simply happy to be alive and well.Purple wildflower choosing to bloom alone, yet wanting to be noticed.Tulip tree flowers shouting aloud for everyone to see their uniqueness.Rose of Sharon blossoms bursting forth…just one clump of many vying for attention. Vinca pinwheel-shaped flower and lush green vines. Simple, yet astounding.
Wheat has been called the Staff of Life for millennium, and for good reason. It is a food source which can be grown in various climate conditions, is relatively inexpensive compared to other grain crops, has a high protein count and other nutrient benefits.
However, it has increasingly been under attack due to the seemingly larger percentage of people who have one of several forms of gluten intolerance which can cause all sorts of health issues. I know several folks who have such an allergic reaction to wheat and it’s by-products, and that it can be a nuisance which is better avoided. On the other hand, it is a life saving grain to the majority of the world who don’t have an intolerance or simply don’t know they do. Personally, I believe the proliferation of gluten intolerance comes from the many years of genetically altering what was once a pure food source. Too bad for there are so many tasty foods made from this grain.
The following photographs show a wheat field in late May in eastern Kansas. The grains are actually planted during the winter and harvested in mid-summer-depending on the geographic location. The later photographs reveal what a mature wheat field looks like and the harvest of wheat. Although not a vast swath of land, this field is close to home and I happened to catch the combining at just the right time. The weather was perfect and the sunset certainly helped warm the already golden wheat. I hope you enjoy these images as much as I liked taking them in late June.
I must confess when I first entered this cathedral in Quebec City, I was a bit overwhelmed by what I saw (what you are now viewing). I encourage you to enlarge the photograph and study it for it is remarkable in many aspects. Please note that this image has not been enhanced so if you visited the Notre Dame Cathedral, this is exactly what you would observe. Religion aside, let’s tour this grand stage.
The magnificence of the alter area is almost indescribable. The architecture alone is unusually brilliant in its symmetry and detail. Ornate is not too strong a word. The arches and spires draw your eyes ever upward, yet prompting you to look into the center where the hero awaits…the Savior. Surrounding his image are a multitude of figures in various costumes and poses. Gilded gold is found everywhere, and carved wood adorns the entire fascia. The platform area can seat a vast number of clergy.
I cannot begin to explain all of the symbolism represented here, but it is astonishing to view. There appear to be various biblical scenes being represented amongst the framed shrine openings. Experts must be consulted to learn the finer points of the symbolism represented here, as I can only conjecture. This basilica celebrated its 350th year anniversary in 2014, although what now stands has been rebuilt several times due to fires which occurred at different times over the centuries. Originally built in the Rococo style of the mid-seventeenth century, the interior and much of the exterior were rebuilt in the same architectural style in 1922.
The lighting is what captured me the most, in addition to the images being illuminated. To be sure, these were no amateurs who engineered this lighting extravaganza. Every spot light, every angle, every color and each shadow were carefully thought-out before the final design became reality. What I question in my mind is what the architect’s and engineer’s had in mind as they created this experience…for that is what this is. It is not simply a shrine to look at. No, it was created for a purpose-to worship and to partake of the sacraments. I wonder, though, are we to be inspired, to be in awe, to be brought to a point of reverence? Perhaps, all of the above?
Some may find this sanctuary gaudy and others may find it inspiring. Some see waste while others see beauty. Many will understand the deeper meaning of each statue and ornament and many will not. Samuel de Champlain, the French explorer who founded Quebec City and also discovered Mount Desert Island (refer to one of my last posts about Acadia National Park) is said to be buried in the tombs of this building, along with nobles and bishops. Regardless of one’s feelings about this church, you will never forget it. In fact, the original fortified Quebec City is quite unforgettable. Going there is like visiting France without leaving the North American continent !
Have you ever noticed how vividly light reflects off of tinted glass, and even clear-coat painted metallic surfaces? Like watching a movie, I gazed at the clouds which strolled by the side windows of my Jeep. They skirted by without even a whisper…only a moving reminder that they existed…for only a short while before fading out of sight. In between the clouds the sun shone in all her brilliance. It was she who illuminated the clouds in the first place. And, it was she who made the reflection possible. No light, no radiance, no reflection.
Remember the line in the fairy tale, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?”. As I recall, the answer wasn’t too favorable for the wicked queen so she cast a spell on Snow White who was considered the fairest.
The queen had a problem which is common among many. She was so self-absorbed that she radiated her disdain for others (in this case Snow White). Her reflection revealed a narcissistic image and the mirror couldn’t lie. How often do we see this dynamic played out in our everyday world? People pretending to be one thing, but eventually they reveal through words and actions what’s really inside them. Rather than radiating light, darkness fills the void. In today’s world of ‘make believe’ where most anything printed or filmed can be (and usually is) manipulated to what the creator wants the subject to look like, we are presented a poor reflection of the truth. Sorry to be sardonic with my opinion, but this is what I often see. This is also a generalization of our culture and not a condemnation of any particular person, although I can think of a few who may fit this description.
This got me to thinking about radiance and reflections in general. More specifically, I looked in the mirror and asked myself what I radiate, if anything. Do I have a light within me which radiates outwardly or is there too much darkness that obscures the light? Can others see what I don’t? Or, is there anything to be seen? Is my self-image based on reality or wanna be? As with my vehicle’s color; since it is blue, it better reflect blue or something is wrong.
I realize I have flaws, more than I want others to know about. And, I can hide things as well as anyone, except from the One who knows me better than I know myself. With this admission I can also state that it is my supreme desire to radiate light and reflect that which I know to be true. As I stumble in my daily attempts to live out this goal, I need all of the grace I can acquire. So, before you throw a rock at me for this post, I adjure you to look in the mirror, too. If you don’t like what you see, you can throw the rock at the glass or put it down and be honest with yourself. Then, extend yourself some grace before asking for help to change. The clouds will eventually part and the light will shine once again. There are plenty of souls who have cracked mirrors, and continue to radiate beautiful light. I want to be one of them.
Notes on Seeing, Reading & Writing, Living & Loving in The North
Words and Pictures from the Middle East & Balkans
An Occasional Diary of Everyday Life and Travel in the U.K. and sometimes elsewhere
"Io non dischiudo nè nascondo ma al contrario faccio vedere" (Eraclito)
"Literature is language charged with meaning." Ezra Pound
Steve's body of work spans conflicts, vanishing cultures, ancient traditions and contemporary culture alike - yet always retains the human element. www.stevemccurry.com
developing my photography in Moray & the Scottish Highlands
A topnotch WordPress.com site
Photography, family and friends (+ Oliver the dog!)
My life in a snapshot