Tuesday, April 20, 2010


After my two most recent postings, "Memento Mori" and "Waiting in Hallways," I might be well advised to lighten up a bit, lest the reader think that poor George has been reading too many Stephen King novels lately.  A minor shift feels right at this point because I want this journal to weave unexpectedly, rather than proceed in a straight line.  Think of it  like the cliffside roads that skirt Italy's Amalfi coast; they rise, they dip, and they turn quickly and sharply, with each turn opening up a new vista.

That said, my posting today is a small potpourri of images, comments, and quotes, all of which have something to do with revelations of light -- physical light, spiritual light, or both.  I have chosen three photographs that speak to me of solitude, simplicity, and quiet beauty.  I am also posting a quote by the novelist and spiritual writer Frederick Buechner, who has found just fifty-six words to sum up what he has been saying for a lifetime.  But first the photographs --

Farmhouse in Provence  

I took this photograph in the countryside of Provence a few years ago.  The image remains imprinted upon my psyche because it is a study in contrasts with philosophical meaning  -- the aging patina of a house being brought back to life by the willful placement of three simple pots of geraniums in the window.

Sunrise at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

This image was taken at a wildlife refuge not far from where I live.  I sometimes arise before dawn and go there to experience the solitude and stillness of the fading darkness just before the sun raises its baton, bringing up the music of the birdlife waiting to greet the day. 

Door and Window, Monastery, Pisa, Italy

I discovered this quiet place while walking through Pisa, Italy a few years ago.  Aside from the wonderful contrast of colors, I am touched by the asymmetrical balance of the door and window, two unique designs existing in perfect harmony.  Somehow, I find a lesson in that.

Frederick Buechner

Frederick Buechner is a novelist, spiritual writer, and former preacher who has wonderful gifts of insight, as well as the ability to share those insights with soft delight.  I hope to devote a complete posting to Buechner in the near future.  For today, however, I will close with a brief quote that contains an inspiring 56-word summary of what Buechner has learned through his long and productive life:

"If I were called upon to state in a few words the essence of everything I was trying to say both as a novelist and as a preacher, it would be something like this:  Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is.  In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness; touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace."
                                        From Listening to Your Life


  1. Exquisite. Riveted by both the images and the commentary. Thank you, too, for the Buechner quote. Would that, at some point, we could all say that.

  2. When 15 I was taken on a cycle tour of the west coast of Scotland. I was totally enthralled by the stretch of road north of Ullapool to Scourie, despite the rain. I sometimes wonder if I return will I be able to recapture that feeling...Tramp

  3. Terrific quote - I've copied it down. I didn't know it - though I read all Buechner's plays when younger, and admire him enormously. Woyzeck, in particular, struck me forcibly - its fragmented nature seems so modern. It could have been written yesterday.

  4. Reading your piece again, I see that I have my Buechner's mixed up. Mine is Georg, yours is Frederick - don't know him at all! Will look him up...

  5. I feel these same feelings, thoughts and beliefs, but never could have stated it so perfectly. I try to be grateful for my moments, to be positive, to really see, to be silent and listen (which is on my side bar)!

    Your photos are wonderful reflections of what life can be. They and the quote are moving to me.

  6. To Solitary Walker

    Glad you liked the Frederick Buechner quote and I appreciate the referral to the other Buechner, Georg Buechner, whose work I have not read, but will pursue.

  7. This is a beautiful post - both words and pictures. The photograph of the sunrise at the Blackwater Wildlife Refuge is spectacular, there is something very special about both sunrise and sunset that has always affected me very deeply. Buechner is so right when he says that all moments are key moments.

  8. George, I came here to read that quote of Frederick Buechner you told me about but first I read the two previous postings, "Memento Mori" and "Waiting in Hallways", to get the context. I haven't found them dark at all, on the contrary, they fill me with hope and peace. I think that Buechner's quote is a follow-up to them when saying "in the last analysis all moments are key moments", even those spent in the hell of the hallway. I do love the quote and it's a nice belated gift to my birthday. :-)
    PS You are welcome to follow my blog and I am looking forward to follow yours as I find it really inspiring. Best regards, Petra