B A R K

Bark.

Not the sound dogs nor people make, but the type of thing that protects the living part of trees and certain plants from harm.

There is rough bark, smooth bark, serrated bark, peeling bark, multi-colored bark, black bark, white bark, wavy bark, thick bark, thin bark, edible bark, tough-as-nails bark, prickly bark, paper bark, fire-resistant bark, and even twisted bark.

The beauty of bark is simply this-it protects. It can be quite enjoyable to view and to touch.

Bark reminds me of the way we humans try to protect ourselves. Some of us reveal a tough outer texture while others display a thin veneer. Doesn’t matter whether the bark becomes more brittle with age or is supple when younger. Bark is bark. Sometimes our bark is very pleasant to look at and enjoyable to spend time near. Some bark is simply painful to be around and is unattractive. Either way, bark is bark.

What lies beyond the bark is what matters most. Take a tree for example. Just beneath the visible outer bark is a layer called the phloem or inner bark. Beneath it is the cambium and behind it, the sapwood (live xylem), then the heartwood (dead xylem), and finally at the very center is the pith (medulla). Without writing a biological thesis about the genetic makeup of a tree, I simply wish to state that each layer performs a vital function in order for the tree to develop and thrive over time. Much like our bodies do.

As a tree naturally ages and begins to die, the various parts (layers) of the trunk and branches change. As I study a transverse slice of a tree trunk and look at the growth rings and various layers decribed above, I focus on the very center, the core. The once fibrous medulla becomes brittle as it ages, often changes color, and sometimes desinigrates completely over time. The tree rots if left on the ground. Upon death the human body starts the same process of decomposition. Eventually, even our bones turn to ashes. However, the similarity of trees and humans ends at this point. The tree morphs into soil from from whence it came.

The human soul lives on, but not in the earth. Depending on one’s spiritual perspective, our souls may journey to a place called Heaven, turn into angelic beings, reincarnate or be transformed into a variety of possibilities. My belief as a Christian is in the resurrection of the soul. As the Apostle Paul stated, “We know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens”. For me, and many others, death will be an instantaneous moment of eternal bliss, even though those left behind may suffer the loss of a loved one. Dear friends of ours recently lost their daughter to cancer. She left behind three children and a husband, sister and parents. For this family, they believe in the promise that one day they will be reunited again in a glorious reunion. I hold to the same promise. I hope you do, too.

Black & White

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Saw a Westie last night at a local Friday Night uptown event supported by the city,  retailers, restaurants and musicians-all converging together. Cheryl and I petted a West Highland Terrier who was passing by. He was of the same large build and cut as our Carson, except he was wire-haired whereas Carson was a silky haired canine.

Brought back a plethora of memories…all good at the time. It was fun to watch the owner and his beloved dog walk off together after a visit with both!

There are not too many things in this life that are black & white. After birth, death is the only For Sure thing I can think of. Yes, some say taxes, too, but there are far too many tax evaders to qualify this word as a viable “must” in the list of unavoidables (new word!). I could list a plethora of other items which could qualify as For Sure Things in life such as hardship, blessings, mishaps, injustices, joy, diseases, financial crisis’, etc., etc..

This photo represents my black shadow and Carson’s white body. Carson is gone from this earthly existence and I, too, will be gone someday. There seems to be a lot of gray in between and around us…this represents our lives which are a mix of good and bad, happy and sad, regret and contentment.

Regardless of skin color, ethnicity, locale, history, theology, tradition or a bunch of other vital things to consider, the most important thing is our eternal destiny. Recall, we all will die. This is not meant to be morbid. On the contrary, this is meant to be a wake-up call of sorts as to what we accomplish in this life…not a “to do” list, but an “I am” list.

You know my spiritual underpinnings if you read my profile. I am not going to preach. I simply would like for each reader of this post to seriously consider what is next after this life we now live. It seems to me it is rather Black & White.

Blessings to all !

Abstract

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My father-in-law for forty-two years died Wednesday after a seven year battle with Alzheimer’s; that dreaded disease of the brain which also kills the body. Ugly.

Cheryl and I remarked that we are now the oldest generation within our immediate families…all of our parents and grand parents are gone. Strange feeling.

So many memories and situations. Not all were terrific, but the majority were good. Charlie always treated me with respect and with generosity. I am grateful.

Life goes on, but I feel like this abstract painting I photographed-it is full of mystic and interpretation, but leaves one wondering. I wonder about so many things.

Rest in peace, Charlie. Rest in peace. This is your time of reunion.

 

Opportunist

5-10-14 001As a photographer, one has to be ready at a moment’s instance to capture something strikingly beautiful or unusual…or, in this case, something that is an everyday occurrence, but most never witness. In a nut shell, photographers are opportunists. With this in mind, I present a bird of prey that was an opportunist on Saturday morning. While at Loose Park, one of Kansas City’s jewels, Cheryl and I strolled through the rose garden. It is still a bit early for roses, but something else caught our eyes and lenses. A red-tailed hawk catching his breakfast! I must apologize for the blur in these photos due to being startled by what was taking place, but I wanted to share them anyway simply because nature is so awesome. It happened so fast that the entire episode lasted mere seconds. The eating of the prey took all of five minutes. All photos are unedited.5-10-14 002The prey was spotted and the predator took off….5-10-14 004Bringing back his reward…5-10-14 007And, preparing to dine on the same perch he catapulted from only a few seconds ago. Some call this dynamic the circle of life. Perhaps it is…life for some and death for others. It is the way of this world we live in. One day, there will be no more death. What a glorious time that will be!