Life is Like Daisies

This year on my self-taught photographic journey, summer flowers beg portraiture. In photographing them, I am learning that flowers are not like high school seniors or brides coming for a formal setting. Brides and seniors wash up first and remember to apply some mascara. Not flowers. They come just as they are. With the naked eye, they look fine. Under the macro lens, not so pristine. Often the photographer must do a little dusting and gardening to get the perfect shot. Take a field of daisies for instance. From a distance they are a blur of white, lovely, pure, and embracing.

 

Group daisy hug 1

 

Everything looks perfect. What a supportive community to join! What a handsome fellow to fall in love with! With a great church! The honeymoon is on and the whole scene glistens like the sun breaking through after a soggy week in Seattle.

 

Group daisy hug 2

 

Oh sure, there’s a little pollen on the white petals, but not to worry. I’m sure this is a marriage made in heaven. This roommate situation is just perfect. I’ll try this church hopeful it won’t disappoint me like the last half dozen. The vows are exchanged; the roommate moves in; the church pledge has been sealed and then the scene changes.

 

Group daisy hug 3

 

What? I didn’t realize things could get this messy. He’s getting his pollen all over me! There are notches in her perfect petals where bugs have chewed. I didn’t know the politics in this organization could be so ugly! Doing life in community is like a daisy hug–not what it seems from afar, but worth the effort. Remember that together a clump of daisies makes quite an impact. You just have to get the right perspective.

 

Group daisy hug 4

Marlee Huber ~ For YOUR FLOURISHING LIFE!

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Color Master

Last night the love of my life brought home yellow roses. The first roses he ever sent were yellow. I was in heaven. We exchanged vows amidst the bicentennial hoopla of 1976!

Today I do the math and check the calendar. On the 17th I will have completed 38 rich years with this gentleman who still remembers to bring roses, carry my tripod, and traipse after me on whatever scheme I am currently pursuing. I have said for years that I put the color into his life while he hangs onto my balloon strings lest I float away.

He is my rock! I adore him! Thank you, sweet Clark, for bringing your steadiness into my world. You walk a straight line while I wander. You eat the same things every morning for breakfast while I am always on a new kick. You balance the checkbook and all that other math-y stuff while I repurpose rooms in brand new ways. You surprise me still. You comment on the world with such surprising twists, I never cease to laugh. You bring sparkle! You fill my reservoir with wonder! You are a color master in your own engineeringly way. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love you!

Thank you for coloring my world with SUNSHINE! XOXOanniversary roses

Marlee Huber ~ For YOUR FLOURISHING LIFE!

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No Camera Required

You really ought to get out of the city and spend an Independence Day in a tiny hamlet somewhere on the backside of America. The fireworks still pop, sizzle, bang and blow in such a provincial setting while the crowds are much less of a hassle. In fact, we drove right into the heart of Glacier, Washington and parked our truck. With a clear view of the pyrotechnic launch site, our guests remained in the backseat of the truck enjoying front-row seats.

The engineer and I wandered up much closer, so close in fact that I set up my tripod on the back porch of the container that serves as an office outpost for a luxury vacation getaway design company. Only two or three children ever got much closer to the yellow danger tape that separated the clusters of locals and their guests from the launch site. With my wide-angle lens, I directed the camera straight up recording image after image. No long lens required.

I posted many images to my social media site, but missed posting this one–a real favorite.

green fireworks

When I went to post it, I started thinking about my encounter with the tipsy young man with the untrimmed beard who apprehended me near our truck. Hollow eyes peered from beneath a dark hood-y. His beard looked gray, tired and scruffy like that of an old time-y mountain man. I studied his fine aristocratic nose outlined in the glow of the distant streetlight. I wanted to reach for my camera and make a portrait of him right there. I knew the eye of the viewer would be riveted to this visage. Somewhere behind those empty eyes a story festered. Instead he carved the image into my memory. Drunk he was, but something in his manner begged an interview. I know Holy Spirit timed this encounter.

He told me that he lives in a tent not a quarter of a mile from where we stood in the heart of Glacier. He’d been there all winter. He came to snowboard. Let me define that–he lives to snowboard. The previous winter he spent in Tahoe. Why was he here? “It’s the best place,” he told me.

Donning my life coach hat, I queried him with questions. Did he know who he was? Did he know God had a unique destiny for him? Did he know God made him for a unique contribution to mankind?

He starred at me blankly answering once, “If God has a destiny for me, why doesn’t he tell me?” and “I thought my mom and dad made me.”

When I asked, “Where are you from?” he answered, “Cape Cod. Do you know where that is?” I responded that I did and asked if he knew the Kennedy’s. He said he liked Teddy Kennedy. I got the idea he didn’t live far from the Kennedy compound and probably rubbed shoulders with Kennedy’s at the local ice creamery. Most definitely, he is some little rich kid misplaced in the country-club shuffle of the comfortably rich or upwardly mobile.

As a mom, I couldn’t help wondering if his parents know where his whereabouts. I tried to ask, but some chatty girl came along and invited him to go to Chair 9, the local bar and pizza establishment. He wandered away. The last thing he needs is more alcohol.

Pressed like glacier into my memory, his image stands its ground before my eyes even now. I find myself whispering a prayer for him. Next time I am in town, I’ll inquire about him. I wonder if I will encounter him again? Will I have another chance to pull purpose from his heart? I breathe another prayer as the hollow eyes again appeal for hope.

I wonder if through this post and six levels of separation someone will identify her son and utter a sigh of relief laced with hope? I wonder…

Marlee Huber ~ For Your Flourishing Life!

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Flying to Paradise, I Stopped at the Goodwill

For the last couple days I have been thinking about making another visit to the Goodwill Outlet, commonly called The Bins.

If you unfamiliar with the bins–these are the last stop outlet stores operated by Goodwill–where old stuff is fought over, believe it or not! You should see the races at the bins! And the referees!!! And hear the instructions over the PA system.

But that is not what I am writing about today. It’s the serendipitous finds that entice me to The Bins. 

Why? Some of my best-loved soul sisters and brothers have been discovered through the Goodwill.

For example, just before a trip to Hawaii in 2011, I dropped by The Bins in search of a couple books I could read and toss. I waited until the adrenaline rush of grabbing hands ceased and reflectively stepped up to the big blue bins filled to the brim with a cacophony of cast off volumes. Surprise! Surprise! I was not disappointed.

Flying to paradise, I immersed myself in Traveling Light:  A Photographer’s Journey, by Deborah DeWit Marchant. Her photos changed everything about how I see through the lens of my camera. I came home from Hawaii and found an online photography course. I moved my DSLR off auto. I learned to comprehend f/stops. I still  get lost in Marchant’s ethereal photographs. She changed my vision! She helped me see whispering light rather than shouting scenes.

whispering trees

 

Another time, I discovered Creating with Paper:  Basic Forms and Variations, by Pauline Johnson. Tucked within the pages of this book is a pattern I had been seeking since fourth grade when we had folded red construction paper into many-sided polyhedrons to decorate our classroom Christmas tree. I guess that dates me! This Christmas at our cabin, we sat around the table leisurely making many-sided polyhedrons and hanging them from the beams.

polyhedron

Sometimes I take it up a notch and go to the real Goodwill where I shop the shelves. I discovered The Celtic Way of Prayer: The Recovery of the Religious Imagination, by Esther de Waal. This journey back in time impacted how I viewed our bicycle trip across America in 2012. Read about that at summersabbath.wordpress.com

Sometimes a Goodwill find leads me to more intentional discoveries beyond the resale store. Esther de Waal introduced me to Thomas Merton when she mentioned that he saw the world through “rinsed eyes.” For A Seven Day Journey with Thomas Merton, By Esther de Waal, I had to shop Amazon. Interestingly, the copy that arrived bore a Goodwill Books sticker as well as a Powell’s Bookstore Sticker. My next Merton book required me to move up the economic ladder and purchase a fresh Kindle copy! Merton has prompted meditative walks with cell phone camera in hand as my “instrument of contemplation” and it all started one day at the Goodwill. Or did it? From where I stand today on my artistic journey, I’m inclined to believe these finds were waiting for me to guide my steps into the way of solitude. More about that later. Actually that is where this is going in future posts.

PUDDLE

One of my most recent finds pulled from The Bins is The Voice, the 2011 translation of the NT. I am mesmerized by its artistic and very contemporary screen play format. John 1 caught my attention right off.

“Before time itself was measured, the Voice was speaking.

The Voice was and is God. This celestial Word remained ever present with the Creator; His speech shaped the entire cosmos. Immersed in the practice of creating, all things that exist were birthed in Him…”

Why do I share these finds? God is speaking all the time and often He speaks to me from my finds at the local Goodwill Stores. I sense I am on an artistic and contemplative journey.

Books like these help slow me down. I can learn from others who lived in times when solitude was more readily available. Today I know we must intentionally seek the quiet and invite authors from quieter times to speak into our lives the truth that brings transformation.

Marchant has. de Waal has. Merton has. St. John has. I am a better person for being mentored by these thoughtful and contemplative individuals.

Who are the authors who have impacted your life? Consider a trip through your local Goodwill. You may find gold on those shelves or in those bins. You may count these books as some of your dearest confidantes. Listen! God is speaking! Sometimes it doesn’t come in your quiet time, but through your ramble through a bin of discarded books.

Marlee Huber ~ For Your Flourishing Life!

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Some of my favorite books have called to me from the noisy din of The Goodwill Store. The Celtic Way of Prayer: the Recovery of the Religious Imagination by Esther de Waal is one of those gems read and reread, underlined and thoroughly marked up, and never too far from reach.

It seems fitting on St. Paddy’s Day to pull a prayer from this volume which is a modern translation of “The Deer’s Cry” said to be written in the 8th century but attributed to St. Patrick. Called to face the high-king, St. Patrick set out on his journey chanting prayers for protection. When the high-king laid ambush all he found was a group of deer with a fawn following them, hence the colloquial name.

deer_

There is another name for this prayer, St. Patrick’s Breastplate, or lorica, which is an ancient form of prayer for protection. Not a bad thing to pray in our crazy, mixed-up, world of 2014 where an airplane full of innocent travelers has just disappeared off the planet and a country has voted to reunite in a forced election where troupes stand poised to violate their borders.

For my shield this day 
The Holy Trinity!
Affirming threeness, Confessing oneness,
In the making of all 
Through love…

For my shield this day I call:
Christ’s power in this coming
and in his baptizing,
Christ’s power in his dying
On the cross, his arising
from the tomb, his ascending;
Christ’s power in his coming
for judgment and ending.

For my shield this day I call:
strong power of the seraphim,
with angels obeying,
and archangels attending,
in the glorious company
of the holy and risen ones,
in the prayers of the fathers,
in visions prophetic
and commands apostolic,
in annals of witness,
in virginal innocence,
to the deeds of steadfast men.

For my shield this day I call”
Heaven’s might,
Moon’s whiteness,
Fire’s glory,
Lightning’s swiftness,

Wind’s wildnes,s
Ocean’s depth,
Earth’s solidity,

Rock’s immobility.

This day I call to me;
God’s strength to direct me,
God’s power to sustain me.
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s vision to light me,
God’s ear to my hearing,
God’s word to my speaking,
God’s hand to uphold me,
God’s pathway before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s legions to save me:
from snares of the demons,
from evil enticements,
from failings of nature,
from one man or many
that seek to destroy me,
anear or afar.

Be Christ this day my strong protector:
against poison and burning
against drowning and wounding,
though reward wide and plenty . . .
Christ beside me, Christ before me;
Christ behind me, Christ within me;
Christ beneath me, Christ above me;
Christ to right of me, Christ to left of me;
Christ in my lying, my siting, my rising;
Christ in heart of all who know me,
Christ on tongue of all who meet me,
Christ in eye of all who see me,
Christ in ear of all who hear me.

For my shield this day I call:
a mighty power;
the Holy Trinity!
affirming threeness,
confessing oneness
in the making of all–through love . . .

For to the Lord belongs salvation,
and to the Lord belongs salvation
and to Christ belongs salvation.

May your salvation, Lord, be
with us always. . .

May you walk shielded in the breastplate of righteousness today.

Marlee Huber ~ For Your Flourishing Life!

This translation is by Neil Dermott O’Donoghue, “St. Patrick’s Breastplate,” in James P. Mackey (ed.), An Introduction to Celtic Christianity (T & T Clark, 1989), pp. 45-64.

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Bright Morning Star, Release Beauty…

God acts within every moment

And creates the world with each breath.

He speaks from the center of the universe,

In the silence beyond all thought.

Mightier than the crash of a thunderstorm,

Mightier than the roar of the sea,

Is God’s voice silently speaking

In the depths of the listening heart.” Adapted front the Hebrew by Stephen Mitchell, Psalm 93.

Judy's sunset view

Nature calls me, and as Richard Foster writes, she is one of two required reading books in Christian theology. As a nature lover for decades, I have stood on high vistas and taken snapshots with the intention of shoving everything into one over-sized stuff-bag to minimize printing costs. In this new era, it costs nothing to simplify and isolate, to remove the other stuff, and focus on a single heart-beckoning feature.

An old reed and the Alder cones

A year ago, my DSLR was set to auto. At the insistence of an online instructor, I took the plunge and twisted the dial to manual. I was determined to step around the mental block called f/stops and take new territory. In the process, I learned to look around the edges of the frame and eliminate body parts and other protruding stuff. I didn’t realize how my spiritual eyes would open as I slowed the pace and focused with my natural eyes. I found myself eliminating distractions from my everyday life as well as from my art.

Let me back up. Just after I jumped into a 24 lesson series by National Geographic Photographer, Joel Sartore, I began a study on contemplative prayer. Here I discovered how to write breath prayers that spoke to my soul’s deep desire. Having just discovered the philosophical definition of beauty—beauty is truth packaged with love, joy, and peace, I longed to push my photography to the next level where beauty would reveal the nature of God.

Leaning alder

My soul begged to release beauty.  If I could intentionally make a photographic frame that exposed beauty, perhaps it would whisper truth to aching souls. I know Jesus is truth and I also know much of contemporary culture is done with Bible banging. They must hear from the other required reading source.

For my breath prayer, I chose the name for God, Bright Morning Star, acknowledging that photography is painting with light just as the stars paint trails across the midnight canvas.

For several weeks I whispered this gentle prayer.

Bright morning star, release beauty through me.

I continued to post photos to Facebook. Soon, the word beautiful popped up in comment boxes for both my photos and for me!

I began this journey with bold landscapes, but as winter drew the shades, I settled into drawing beauty from the commonplace and the frequently ignored. In walks around our cabin, I let my camera and my heart find overlooked beauty.

suspended leaf

I recalled how last summer, during an afternoon on my hammock, I preserved this idyllic scene like a box of cling peaches put up for winter meals.

hammock

Yesterday, I snowshoed near the sturdy tree that holds my summer-time hide-away and observed how this conifer mother hovered over a tiny little seedling. I found Thomas Merton’s words, “It is essential to experience all the times and moods of one good place.” I recalled how this Trappist monk viewed his camera as an “instrument of contemplation.”

Little seedling

Now when I step out on another photographic jaunt, my camera swings around my neck while my soul is set on contemplation. I find a worshipful attitude reveals God’s nature more succinctly.

What began as a desire to conquer f/stops has become a ministry that is now entering the marketplace. Friends are requesting copies of photos so I jumped into www.pixingo.com/marlee/bigpicture so I could have my own self-publishing platform from which to spread the beauty.

Recently a mother on Facebook, whose son was disappearing within the grave clothes of the soul, requested friends pray “Lazarus, come forth”!  I searched through my archives for a frame that whispered peace to me. Instead of simply leaving it to disappear into the Facebook digital attic, I offered to mail her a greeting card containing the picture. I titled it Lazarus, come forth. Surprisingly, I now see in the frozen piles of snow the grave clothes concealing a human form. I encouraged her that the sun/Son will melt the snow. I will not soon forget her response that came the same day she posted that her son was shifting toward the light.

Sun Peaks Day 2-5

“I am touched beyond words by your photograph and the words you wrote within…on my writing desk and will remain there throughout this season.”

I should not be surprised. Once again I pray, Bright Morning Star, Release beauty…and love and joy and peace… through me.” 

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Seahawks Win Proves Accuracy of Holy Scriptures

The last couple weeks in Seattle and across the state of Washington have been absolutely amazing. In fact, they have been nothing less than powerful evidence that the Bible is true.

“Hey—what does the Bible have to do with the Seahawks win?”

Everything.

Have you read Psalm 133 lately? It tells you why the Seahawks tromped the Broncos yesterday. It explains why the likes of Rush Limbaugh called it a horrible game because one team simply didn’t show up.

The Bible?

Yes, this psalm of David is a marvelous word picture of what happens when unity connects people. And let me tell you, the state has been unified about this win. Yes, the team worked diligently and showed up at every game. But they didn’t show up alone! The 12th man showed up!

Actually, I have not seen this kind of unity since 9-11. Yes! Really. Our country came together around a shared grief in 2001 and rightfully so. This time our state came together around a shared belief that a Seattle team could and would win the world championship. Trust me, if you live in Washington State you know it takes a lot of faith to believe a Seattle team will win a world championship!

Okay. Let’s back up. Let’s talk about the 12th man.

12—it has been all over this season in Seattle. The last couple weeks it is everywhere!

Seahawks AirplaneEven on an airplane!

Seahawks Airplane-3

So what is so important about 12? Symbolically, the number 12 stands for authority and heavenly government. It stands for things coming into right order. It reminds us of the 12 men who changed the world forever because of one in whom they believed.

12! What does it represent? The people. The 12th man.

So take a look at Psalm 133 and you will see biblical truth with demonstrated proof at the Super Bowl yesterday with all of Washington State cheering on! Now that is really good news!

Psalm 133 says in verse 1: “How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity.”

UNITY!

Unity has reigned in Seattle and across the state this month! Trust me, I’m a life-long resident of Washington State, born and raised east of the mountains. I’ve spent my adult years on the westside–or the coast as people on the other side say.  Rarely do we come together about anything! Anything! We did with this team!

Pop down to the last verse, verse 3—you really don’t need a lot of verses to explain the benefits of unity.

“For there the Lord bestows his blessing…”

Seattle was a shoe-in to win! Denver had no chance.

God commands a blessing when bros live together in unity. The opposition caves when unity triumphs. Unity is a non-stoppable force! Selah!

The “12” brothers (and the sisters) have been living in a lot of unity in Seattle and across the state lately!

Touch Down! Seahawks! Touch Down! Holy Bible!

Seahawks Airplane-6

Marlee Huber ~ For Your Flourishing Life!

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