Tag Archives: Europe

Angelique–God’s Messenger

She came among us.

A group of ex-pats, on assignment in Paris, we met each day at a sidewalk cafe near Montmartre to commiserate, and she came among us.

At first, we didn’t notice.

“I’ll have the foie gras,” my friend said. “I’ll have the croque-monsieur,” my other friend said.

“I’ll have the jambon-beurre,” I said. “I don’t have much time, today,” I said.

“Come on,” they said. “A French meal is a cultural experience.”.

We laughed. They said this every day. Three-hour lunches were not uncommon. I would often sit and watch the afternoon light soften into postcard Paris evenings.

“Alms,” she said, her voice soft, barely audible above the noise of traffic and street musicians.

My friends did not hear, or pretended not to hear. They continued their tales of exploits and conquests, stories not yet written, not yet published.

“Alms, she said again, closer.

I lost the train of conversation as I watched her slowly shuffle over the cobblestone, her cup held out, rattling the few coins she had collected, her cane tapping out of rhythm.

“Votre nourriture, les messieurs.” A waiter placed our food on the table and hurried away.

“Alms.”

“Allez-vous en,” my friend said, “Go away.”

“Je ne parle pas français,” my other friend said, as if not speaking french would relieve us of guilt.

The woman looked up. She looked at me.  She was old and bent, crippled, and dirty.

“Homeless,” my friend said.

“Smelly,” my other friend said.

Our eyes met. Suddenly, I could not tell how old she was.

“What is your name?” I asked, not sure why.

“Angelique,” she said. Her eyes sparkled. “It means…God’s messenger.” Her voice was light, airy, tinged with a french accent, but with no hint of age.

“Do you have a  message for me?”

“Oui,” she said.

“What is it?” I asked, feeling this moment held deep meaning.

She kept my gaze, then her eyes traveled down over my Columbia shirt and pants and she looked at the cobblestones. It was as if the full moon had set. I could no longer see her eyes.

“Alms,” she said softly. “L’aumône pour les pauvres.”

The moment was gone.

I’m not sure what I was expecting, maybe some great insight from deity, delivered through Angelique, God’s messenger. Perhaps an answer to the perplexing question of what I should really do with my life. I don’t know. I did not receive the grand message I was hoping for.

Gypsy beggar.
Amidst the plenty of Paris, an old woman begs for alms.

The old woman held out her cup, expectantly.

I took a coin from my pocket and dropped it in. It clinked against  the other coins. She looked up again.

“Merci beaucoup,” she said. “Dieu vous protège.” Once again, her eyes were bright, blue. I nodded and she ambled away, clinking and tapping.

“I think Paris should do a better job with the homeless population,” my friend said.

“I agree,” my other friend said.

“Alms,” I heard her softly say. “L’aumône pour les pauvres.”

The Eiffel Tower
A vintage rainy day in Paris.

Paris & Children

Sao Paulo Grouping.
Work can be hard to come by in Sao Paulo. Sometimes it is easier to just hang out on the steps of the Grand Theater.

I believe we are brothers and sisters, all of us, sons and daughters of a loving Father in Heaven.  I have not yet been to every country, but, I have been to every continent. I have found that kindness, love and compassion unite us regardless of political or religious belief. We are, all of us, one family.

Arc de Triomphe
At the tip of the Champs-Élysées, Napoléon’s arch is still the grand entrance to Paris.

So, when events transpire like that which took place in Paris last week, the ground beneath our feet quakes with the shaking of our collective faith. Anger burns, like bile, in the back of our throats and we want to do something, anything to stop the violence.

I acknowledge the existence of evil. There are those who would take without giving, lie without conscience, hurt without reason, compel without care and kill without remorse. Their numbers are growing.

The events of Paris are repeated regularly in places of less visibility, and we do not notice, except when these events touch the outskirts of our neighborhoods or reach the screens of our mobile devices.

Evil thrives when our faith in God and each other is diminished. Mistrust increases when our differences, rather than our similarities are emphasized. Fear takes root when acts of violence claim the lives of our friends and our children.

Fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters give away their rights to make a difference as leaders of small and large countries tell us tales we should not believe. We do not build a better world when we ignore an approaching tsunami of self-interest.

September 11 should remind us of lessons taught, though not yet learned. The same God who made us all will not take from us the agency to choose our own paths. Our condemnation will grow from our reluctance to use this agency to bless the lives of our brothers and sisters. Evil grows in the cracks and crags of our own cowardice when we do not rise up to condemn and combat its growing influence.

Bande Village, DR Congo
The men and children of Bande Village in DR Congo.

And they suffer most who are not able to comprehend a world of cruel intent–the children. Yet, it is in the eyes of the children that I see hope. It is in the hearts of the children that I find love, and compassion, and the courage to be good.

I believe God loves us and that he has a plan for us. For some, this plan includes great deeds. For most of us, this plan includes simple acts of kindness. Wherever and whenever I travel, I see evidence of His plan in the eyes of our children.

 

Muslim in Rome

Cedar City Art Walk Image 6.

Muslim in Rome
It can be painful when a pilgrimage is not all it was supposed to be.

Tired, alone and far from home, the Eternal City, can be an unforgiving place. Religious tradition may favor the Catholics in Rome, yet Islam entertains apocryphal hope for ultimate victory in the struggle for religious domination. Global politics and religious ideology lose their import when you are sick and hungry. With no place left to go, a bridge over the Tiber River is as good a place as any to end a pilgrimage.

For more info on my show check out a June 11th article in The Spectrum.

http://www.thespectrum.com/story/entertainment/2015/06/09/suu-features-exhibition-stories-tell/28764023/

Cedar City Artwalk.
Summer art students visit the Cedar City Artwalk.

Summer art students stop by to visit my show. You can too 🙂

Cedar City Artwalk
Art students read the stories about the photos.

The Stories may be as good as the photos–maybe better 🙂 ArtWalkFlyer

Woman In Paris

Cedar City Art Walk Image 5.

Her eyes speak volumes.
A woman rests from her burdens.

It was raining in Paris that morning as I sought shelter beneath the balustrades and terraces of the Louvre Palace. My timing was off. The museum was closed. I was not alone in my disappointment as I watched a woman trudge beneath our columned shelter and sit, wearily, against stone. She was not present with the host of tourists surrounding this space. She looked beyond, focused on something my eyes could not see. Trouble, sadness, sorrow, suffering. I could not know. Yet, in her eyes I could see the reflection of ghosts in Paris. On this day, I would not see the Mona Lisa smile.

For more info on my show check out a June 11th article in The Spectrum.

http://www.thespectrum.com/story/entertainment/2015/06/09/suu-features-exhibition-stories-tell/28764023/

ArtWalkFlyer

Photos From Around the World

I thought, since it is New Years Eve, I would post a photo gallery of shots from some of the places I’ve been around the world. Sort of a “Best of” gallery from previous posts. I’ve been only blogging since August, so I have yet to post shots from everywhere I’ve been. And, I have yet to even start posting video from all of these places. That is what 2014 is for. Resolution 🙂

The world is a big, beautiful place, filled with interesting people, amazing sights, random coincidences and occasional tender mercies. I have been blessed to travel. I have been blessed to make friends on every continent. I hope to keep the friends I have made and make more as time goes by. However, my greatest blessings are found at home, with a warm fire, a good meal and my family, who love me.

I hope you enjoy the photographs. Happy New Year.

Only the Penitent Shall Pass

In Rome, the price of repentance is high. The stones are hard, the hours are long, and the wages are low.

The Price of Penitence
Kneeling in the attitude of penitent prayer, this woman remains still for hours, hoping her prayers will be answered with coins in her cup.

Places of Paris, Volume 2

So much to see, so little time. With so many sites, the challenge was to really see, to look for the commonplace and see the unique vibrance hidden beneath the rush. Judge for yourself. I was inadequate, overwhelmed, rushed. A feast before me, I had little time to decide of what to partake. Yet, I came away filled.

The Metro was our friend and we walked, and walked, and walked…and the sun went down.

Places of Paris, Volume 1

Paris is a vibrant city,rich in tradition, culture and history. As I spent time, not nearly enough, in the city, I felt the stories, written in the walls, stones and walkways. I couldn’t help looking through my lens to capture, not what I saw, but what I felt. High dynamic range photography seemed to be the only way I could bridge the gap between my dreams and my abilities. HDR images provided some relief from the need to capture the singular light of this marvelous city on canvas. I have no skill with the brush. I must rely on pixels to form the images I can only imagine amidst the landmarks which call to me in my sleep.

People of Paris, Volume 2

Paris is a city in motion. Cars, motorcycles, scooters, bicycles, the Metro and people. People everywhere, constantly moving. It was easy, shooting motion pictures. Not so easy to capture stills. And the stories–in every face–I want to know them all. I have my own stories, but I want to know theirs. They won’t tell–easily. All I can do is stare–at their faces–and wonder.  I will just have to imagine their stories.

People of Paris, Volume 1

One day in Paris is not enough, but that’s all I had. The city is beautiful and overwhelming.  French architecture stands as a witness to the genius minds of grand tradition meant to last through the ages. However, it was the people of Paris that fascinated me, fun, friendly, aggressive and rude. I could see stories in their eyes, in their faces. I took pictures of the places, but, the people in the places were just as interesting–perhaps more so. They all have stories. I tried to capture them, in the moment, as many as I could, as fast as I could. The places will last, the people in motion, their stories changing, these photographs holding them for just a moment.