Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Snowy New Year's Eve

Chicago Snow with Yellow Cab and Red Snowplow

It has been snowing since mid-afternoon.  The flakes in this photo, though, I added using Photoshop brushes. 

Whether you are having a snowy welcome to the new year or a sunny, tropical one, may it be amply blessed.  And may we all be attentive to what God desires for us in the coming months.  May we welcome with open hearts the peace and love of the Prince of Peace.

I am about to do a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
(Isaiah 43:19)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

(Click picture to view full size.)

P.S. Christmas Day
I just discovered that Google automatically transforms a photo with Christmas lights into an animated, twinkling image.  So here's the same tree.  (Be sure to view it full sized.)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Fall Leaves

After today's rain, wind, and snow, many of the leaves have fallen, but here are two pictures, the first from here in Chicago before the snow, and the second from Gainesville, Florida.  Click on the photos to view them full sized.

Fall, Leaves, Fall

Emily Brontë 

Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;
Lengthen night and shorten day;
Every leaf speaks bliss to me
Fluttering from the autumn tree.
I shall smile when wreaths of snow
Blossom where the rose should grow;
I shall sing when night's decay
Ushers in a drearier day.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

White Clouds, Night Sky

White Clouds, Night Sky

Today's cold front has passed through, moving eastward.  It has left behind cooler, drier air in this normally warm, humid climate, and a band of white clouds in the eastern sky.

What in nature calls to mind the mystery of existence quite as well as the night sky?  The following is from Blaise Pascal's Pensées:
For after all what is a human being in nature? A nothingness with regard to the infinite, an all with regard to nothingness, a middle-point between nothing and all, infinitely far from understanding the extremes... equally incapable of seeing the nothing from which he was made, and the infinite in which he is swallowed up.
. . . . . . . . . .
All things have come out of nothingness and are carried onwards to the infinite...The Author of these wonders understands them. None other can do so.
- - - - -
Car enfin qu'est-ce que l'homme dans la nature? Un néant à l'égard de l'infini, un tout à l'égard du néant, un milieu entre rien et tout, infiniment éloigné de comprendre les extrêmes;... Également - incapable de voir le néant d'où il est tiré et l'infini où il est englouti.
. . . . . . . . . .
Toutes choses sont sorties du néant et portées jusqu'à l'infini. ...l'auteur de ces merveilles les comprend. Tout autre ne le peut faire.  (II, 72)

Friday, August 30, 2013

Great Horned Owl

Young Great Horned Owl on Lamp Post
(Click on photo to view full size.)

The parents of the two young Great Horned Owls (see "Great Horned Owlets") have made themselves scarce, but the young ones are around most evenings.  This one was sitting on a lamp post in the front yard.  He (or she?) was looking in the other direction when I arrived and looked startled at first to see me, but seemed content for us to watch each other. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Going Somewhere

Plane and Vapor Trails

Three planes, two higher than the third and whose contrails are catching the light of the late afternoon sun.
Guide us, O God, unerringly to you, 
our path and our destination.  
And grant us the grace to be more and more aware 
that our journey is already in you.  

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Owl Peering

Barred Owl Peering
(Click photo to view full-size.)

The big barred owl outside the window was watching me from behind a veil of yellow raintree leaves. Be sure to view the full size photo to see the shine in his eyes.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

What Is It?

Things are not always what they seem.  This forest of twisty trees is actually a highly edited picture of the pith from a clementine.  

Here it is just as it was extracted from the center of the clementine, and after I had eaten the sections:

Normally we discard such objects without much thought (and I did throw this one in the garbage after photographing it).  When we look closely, though, things – and people – have their own beauty that we may miss if we look away too quickly. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Super Moon Rising

(Click to view full size.)

While I was watching the moon from the upstairs porch, one of the Great Horned Owls who live on the property flew by and landed on the roof.  So for a while we were three: the moon, the owl, and myself.  It was lovely.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Dynamic Air

Dynamic Nighttime Air over the Cenacle Parking Lot

This is a photograph—much enhanced—of the Metairie Cenacle parking lot at night.  But whether the depiction is literal or not, doesn't the air sometimes seem alive with mystery?

In my distress I called upon the Lord;
   to my God I cried for help.
From his temple he heard my voice,
   and my cry to him reached his ears.
He rode on a cherub, and flew;
   he came swiftly upon the wings of the wind.
He brought me out into a broad place;
   he delivered me, because he delighted in me. 

(Psalm 18: 6, 10, 19)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Waning Moon

Waning Moon and Clouds
May 27

I confess having to take two photos as the camera will not focus on both the moon and the clouds at the same time.  The finished photograph is composed of several layers.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Blossoming with Egrets

Our large Southern Magnolia trees (Magnolia grandiflora) have been having a good year, decorated all over with magnificent white blossoms a foot wide.  But they sometimes seem to bloom with something else as well — with egrets. 

Here is part of a cattle egret flock that settled high in one of the magnolias:

(Click to view full size.)

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Great Horned Owlets

This is one of the Great Horned Owlets that we have been watching grow up, ever since one of them fell out of the nest and we had a dramatic owl rescue.

We have learned that crows habitually harass owls, so one way of locating the owls is to listen for the crows.  Here is one of the young owls, older now and able to fly, high in a tree, staring at me and ignoring the crow.  We were told that it is very unusual for the owl and the crow to sit together companionably like this.

Please click on these photos to view them larger — and notice the owlet's big yellow eyes.  I have read that if Great Horned Owls were as large as human beings, their eyes would be the size of oranges.  (See the Nature Conservancy.)

The same young owl, this time with the full moon.

Owls mostly do not get good press in the Bible, but here is a passage from Isaiah portraying the owls as honoring God:

See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.
The wild animals honor me,
    the jackals and the owls,
because I provide water in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland,
to give drink to my people, my chosen,
    the people I formed for myself
    that they may proclaim my praise.
(Isaiah 43:19-21)

Sunday, March 31, 2013

All Creation Rejoices

Christ the Center of the Universe

This is a photo of the cross at the back door of the Gainesville Cenacle, with lily photos digitally added, and superimposed on NASA space images.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Nature's Freshness

Dove in Nest

I was excited to notice a pair of doves building a nest right outside my bedroom window.  Unfortunately they didn't share my excitement at being so close to me, as I was constantly opening the curtain to peer at them, positioning the camera to take pictures.  They have now moved to quieter lodgings.

"There lives the dearest freshness deep down things," writes Gerard Manley Hopkins in "God's Grandeur."  But sometimes this freshness requires being undisturbed.  How much longer will we be able to say, with Hopkins, that "nature is never spent"?
The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
    It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
    It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
    And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
    And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
    There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
    Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
    World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Faithful Witness

Moon Rising Behind Bare Branches

Psalm 68 calls the moon a "faithful witness in the sky."  Amid all the uncertainties of our world, she keeps rising and setting.  She waxes and wanes and waxes again.

(This photo, taken March 2, is of a waning moon.)

Far more faithful than even the moon is the love of God toward us.

Thy steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens,
    thy faithfulness to the clouds.
(Psalm 36:5) 

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Belonging to God

New video from the Cenacle Sisters:

The text is drawn from the writings of Saint Therese Couderc, the Cenacle foundress.

If the words go by too fast, pause the video for reflection the first time you view the video, then watch it straight through the second viewing.  (It's a very short video.)

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

New Year 2013

Last night close to midnight I went out on the second-floor porch to watch the fireworks.  Although fireworks here (the New Orleans area) are habitually shot from all over our neighborhood, last night's display surpassed any I had seen, including those celebrating the turning of the Millennium. We had been hearing them, and occasionally seeing them, since late afternoon.  But when the clock struck midnight they were nothing less than awe-inspiring.  

I didn't know where to look, because they came from everywhere except the lake--even blossoming almost over my head!  I could imagine the Second Coming or the end of the world being something like this, with Glory coming from all around.

May the year ahead live up to this display. 

(Needless to say, the photos do not do justice to the experience.)

(Click to view full size.)