Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Officially a Wordpress-er now!

I have recently successfully transferred my blog to Please see the following link from here forward... Thanks!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

{thoughts from the fourth}/{here's for you, syria}

I have thought about this before -- how something intrinsically neutral can speak of incredible beauty or elicit pure horror, simply depending on context.

I'll begin this way: one of my favorite photographs from the time I spent in South Africa is a close-up of a barbed-wire fence. The foreground of the image is sharp and crisp, and in it the dry, caked rust of the wire testifies to the endurance of many seasons. Sunlight brightens one half of the wire, bringing out warm earthy tones of brown and red, while clouds on the move above bathe the other half in deep shade. In the distance, the horizon is a blurred line, a brushy yellow grassland meeting a clear blue sky. There was barbed-wire fencing in several places on the farm where I stayed, weaving patterns across the earth and stories of generations of those who worked the land of South Africa. To me it represented a beautiful thing.

Back in the States I made the photo my desktop image, and one day it struck me that someone besides myself -- a Holocaust survivor, I particularly had in mind -- could experience my treasured image in a radically different way. Through that new set of eyes, barbed wire would not speak of a rich, enduring history, but perhaps of imprisonment, confinement; a twisted history.

That something intrinsically neutral could take on such strikingly polar connotations is perhaps both a cruel and beautiful irony; and we can't avoid it. It simply comes with the reality that all humanity calls this place home and shares the same resources.

So far this has nothing to do with the 4th of July -- or Syria. Promise I'm getting there, though. I see Independence Day as a bittersweet holiday; I'm profoundly grateful for the freedom and safety that I and so many others experience in the U.S., but it's difficult to celebrate wholeheartedly since so many of our neighbors around the world have yet to experience liberty and security themselves. This is not to suggest that America is somehow invincible, or inherently immune to danger or instability (certainly not), but it was poignant for me, this 4th of July, to ponder the fact that while Americans sat back to enjoy a good show the evening of the 4th, thousands of others around the world went through one more evening living in caution or fear, in war zones or under oppressive regimes. As I watched my neighborhood's holiday show, beholding bursts of shimmering mirages and hearing nearby POPs and distant BOOMs, I observed the younger children in the crowd, who, prompted by the fireworks above, burst into their own fits of giggles and glee, and raced across the lake's beach to follow the colors branching out above (or perhaps to put some distance between themselves and the launch site!). It was beautiful, all of it.

But bittersweet, too.

I thought of children the same age in Syria, for whom a similar sound -- the same explosive POP or BOOM that elicited laughter and delight from the children in front of me -- would send them running to take shelter or crouching in a corner. It could even have happened at precisely the same moment, and none of us would have known. Maybe it did, and still none of us know. The irony of it. Like barbed wire all over again.

So here's for you, Syria: a prayer that one day soon the neutral would prompt wonder and not terror, and that one day your quick steps would be a dance of joy and not fear. That freedom and security would be yours as well, and we can celebrate together.

But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream! 
{Amos 5:24}

Thursday, July 4, 2013

slow business

It's summertime in the south. After four years of college in the Northeast, I am still trying to re-acclimate myself to the excessive amounts of heat and humidity that the Carolinas generously offer. Admittedly, I've  become quite the New Englander, preferring its weather and climate, but as a lover of the outdoors I can't help but immerse myself in what is available to me in this particular place and time, humidity and all. 

I spent part of a recent afternoon picking wild blackberries along a relatively untraveled path in the woods. I was careful as could be, but inevitably finished the task with a few swelling bumps and minor scratches on my hands from the thorns on the blackberry vines. I am not complaining, though: as I surveyed each new patch of berry territory, I thought to myself, I am thankful that blackberry picking is slow business. In a day and age in which so many of us are able to whiz to the supermarket and fill our carts with almost any food product (never mind whether it's in season or grown anywhere near us at all!) at our mind's every beck and call, how refreshing it is to deliberately set aside time to free ourselves up to be slowed down. 

The concept of a sense of connection to one's food -- knowing the square of ground from which it sprang, taking part in the process of harvesting it -- is a concept as old as time, yet it can disappear stunningly (and unnervingly) quickly as societies plunge head-long into development and industry. It is not that these pursuits are inherently bad -- certainly not -- but as we witness our own culture continuing to embrace a whirlwind of instant gratification, convenience, and the exhilarating sense that everything is (or can be) at our fingertips, my challenge to all of us, myself included, is to think deeply about the richness afforded in activities that require us to move more slowly, to value effort and work, to appreciate the idea of scarcity of resources and luxuries. Picking blackberries is just one example; I look forward, this summer, to discovering new ways to go about 'slow business.' 


Well, here we are: I've decided to re-enter the world of blogging again! Originally, I created my blog as a way to share my experiences studying abroad in Israel in 2012 with friends and family in the States. At that time, I entitled it A Walk in the Holy Land. The title I've recently adopted (subject to change again? Time will tell) is Dreaming by Day, a thought inspired by Lawrence of Arabia's worthwhile quote,

... Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible... 

I don't intend for this line of thought to define my entire blog in a nutshell (it would be a shame if titles were that restrictive!). But, the idea of making something possible, bringing something to reality -- realizing, in the truest sense of the word -- is one that I am happy to host as an overarching idea. Realizing -- making real -- what? Anything from dreams to change the world to the simple recognition of everyday beauty, I suppose. And words -- the words of a blog are just one example -- are a powerful way to begin to craft (or simply share) reality.

Shortly I'll upload a post that appeared originally on a friend's blog as a guest post (thanks, Emily!) to kick things off. In step with the season, its own inspiration involved blackberries. What better way to step back into blogging adventures?! Coming soon...