Sunday, February 26, 2006

Tennessee hills

 Posted by Picasa

Scenes from "The sound of silence"

This is my farmer's view of his day's work. Minus our van of course. Can't you just imagine chickens running all over this yard? Posted by Picasa

Can't you just imagine...?

...Christmas past? Stockings hung by the chimney? A cedar tree with strings of popcorn, cranberries, dried apples and paper chains? Children running through the house giggling with excitement?

This is the cabin where I heard the "ghosts". Posted by Picasa


If silence was a picture, this would be it. This is the spot where I heard the sound of silence. It really is beautiful. A picture just doesn't do it justice. Posted by Picasa

A bend in the road

It's the bends in the road that make the journey interesting.
Joy Meade Posted by Picasa

The path

When journeying toward the unknown, fear can be like craggy roots that make our path hard to travel.
Joy Meade Posted by Picasa

Thursday, February 23, 2006

epiphanies and new beginnings.

Epiphany is defined as:
  1. A sudden manifestation of the essence or meaning of something.
  2. A comprehension or perception of reality by means of a sudden intuitive realization
If this is true, wouldn't it make sense that a new beginning was to follow such an occurance? I believe that the true meaning of the word should indicate something of that nature. I don't believe it is possible to experience an epiphany without changing SOMEthing about the way we live or approach life. Even if it is merely a new perception of reality, doesn't it make sense that we would begin to see things differently?

I feel that turning forty was an epiphany moment for me. I looked and saw half my life gone and half of it yet to do something. So for my New Year's resolutions, I didn't decide to lose weight or make any habit changes, but rather decided that this is the year to DO something.

Seems like all my life I have had these big dreams. I had all these things I could do, but no formal training and no idea what to do with them. For instance: I have been interested in photography all my life. My husband got me my first "real" camera in '98. By real, I mean, not just a point and shoot, but an I-can-really-change-the-lenses-and- shoot-in-manual-settings camera. I could take great pictures with it. I got some beautiful pictures of my kids and started really thinking I had an eye for it...but with automatic settings. Those other dials and buttons were just whistles and bells to me that I didn't have a clue how to use. So I have an eye for it. So what? It does nothing for me if I can't set up the shot in manual mode and have a pretty good idea how to re-create the shot later on with the right settings.

The local community college quit offering a just a basic beginning photography course. The nearest college that offered it was 45 minutes away and I couldn't really afford it. It was really part of a degree program anyway. I tried reading books about it, but I am a "show me" kind of gal. It made no sense to me without seeing it done. Well, I turned forty last year. I had dabbled enough with my camera to get a little better, but still couldn't carry on a conversation about what I was doing with someone who really knows photography. "Hello, Joy! You are running out of time! Make it happen!"

First thing I did was buy a digital camera. I "invested" a couple of thousand dollars that I didn't really have into this thing with the idea that it was low enough on the equipment totem pole that I wasn't being completely foolish, but high enough that it could take me into professional as I learned and gained confidence. I felt kinda stupid about doing it at first, but now I see it was a GREAT move. I have learned SO much just being able to see the results as I go that I am thinking I should have done this years ago. Now, I have sunk a few more hundred into a correspondence course. NYIP to be exact. I worried that a correspondence course may not seem credible and the jury is still out on that one, but my reasoning is that I have books to read with the course, DVD's to SHOW ME, I can work at my own pace AND it costs a whole lot less than getting a degree in it. Granted a degree might have more "pull" in the business, but I will have a certificate at the end and I don't have to drive 45 minutes each way to get it. But the real decided factor was that, hey, I am forty. ANYTHING is better than nothing.

I am tired of having dreams and not doing something with them. I am forty and I have not lived. I want to live. I want to live my dreams, even if I am seeing those dreams come true in my kids. I don't want to force my dreams on them, but if it comes down to me wanting to do something and them wanting to do the same thing...they get dibs. I will let go of all of mine to see them get to do it. As far as I am concerned, that's as good as doing it myself and they are still young enough to enjoy it. However, so far, they haven't shared any of my interests. I am not going to wait around to see if they do. I am going to DO something. I want to stop letting fear steal my dreams. I am tired of being too timid to share myself with people because I am afraid that I only "think" I am good at something. How will I ever know if I don't DO something? If I never show anyone my pictures, how will I know if I am really good, or just THINK I am. If I never write, how will I ever know if anyone really likes my writing?

My epiphany: Life is not going to wait for me.
My goal: To stop letting fear keep me from doing what I love and sharing it with others.
My resolution: To stop wanting to be something, and become what I want to be.
My plan: Learn photography with a goal of becoming a photographer by Oct. 2006. Work toward getting my writing published with the goal of being a writer.

I submitted my first story last week.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Meade's on our way to Cades Cove, TN. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

In search of nothing.

There are a couple of things that anyone who listens to me for very long will come to see that I am fascinated with. Those are the passage of time, and nothingness. I am a scrapbooker, a photographer, and a journaler and through these venues, I try desparately to capture time. I expend a great amount of time and energy trying to stop time. Sounds silly, I know. It's not just stopping time that I am preoccupied with, but there very idea of time swirling past...well, sometimes it almost seems like I can see it passing by.

I once caught a scene in "Star Trek; Insurrection" that relates. Capt. Picard is with a woman named Anij and she asks, "...have you ever experienced a perfect
moment in time? ,,, When time seemed to stop and you could almost live in that moment..." She later shows him what she meant by slowing time down so that he could see each beat of a hummingbirds wings. I can't say how this pertains to what I am saying other than to say...I UNDERSTAND what she meant. Seems funny, but a defining moment in my life really was in a Star Trek movie. LOL

Another scene that defines this for me is from a book called "A Lantern in Her Hand" by Bess Streeter Aldrich. It's an old book, you'll probably never find it or hear of it. In fact my copy says the copywrite is from 1956 and it was in it's fourth printing in 1966. The main character, Abbie McKenzie Deal is followed through her life as she grew up in the late 1800's on the plains of the central US. She is often swept up into some drama that leaves her feeling that time is rushing past her and she wishes for it to stop. The first time is when the Civil war begins and the boys in the Iowa community she lives in all heed the call of the Union Army. "She had a queer sensation of wind blowing past her-of wind that she could not stop. She stood in front of the Seth Thomas clock on the shelf in her mother's cabin and watched the hands moving above the little brown church painted on the glass of the door. Oh, stop Time for a few minutes until we can do something about the war." Each time a momentus event in her life was about to take place she could feel that "queer sensation of being swept by a wind she could not stop, by time she could not stay." Once again...I UNDERSTAND this.

How else can I describe it. I just relate to those scenes and no amount of trying to define it will render it any clearer. It only becomes more muddled in my mind when I try to analyze it. There are just times when I feel myself seeing what I see as though I am watching myself watching it all. I am watching the action like it is a movie rather than something that is actually occuring. At times it seems like it is even in slow motion. Then I know that this is a moment I will remember forever.

Then there is the nothingness. Mom tells me I should paint what I envision in my head, but I say, who's gonna want to see a picture of vast, wide-open nothingness? If you have my blog on the Sound of Silence
, then you know what kind of obsession this carries for me. But it is more than just no sound that holds my fascination. NO PEOPLE is probably what intrigues me most. Of all the things I day dream or fantasize about, the setting is most often in a secluded, remote, even virgin, place.
I have envisioned myself standing in a wheat field with no road, wires, planes, trains, cars, people, even trees as far as the eye can see. Just the vastness of the prairie with the wind-blown grasses and the wide-open sky. Then there is the setting of being on a sandy motu, far away from it's main island. No trees, no people, just shallow, crystal, blue water with sand that peeks out here and there, and azure blue sky from horizon to horizon. Also I have imagined crossing the surface of a massive glacier with it's mirror surface reflecting the sky till I become dizzy from the illusion of being suspended in air.

(Of course, in my mind, I also have a cabin in a mountain meadow with the majestic snow-covered peaks reflecting on a glassy lake, surrounded by pristine forests of hemlock and pine.

We won't mention the Fabio-like "whatever" native that somehow makes it into these scenes every so often, lest the husband gets jealous.)

Seriously, I can imagine myself alone in each of these scenes with only the prescence of the Creator felt, and His voice gently carried on the breeze. Beside the fact that I have a vivid imagination, I have at times either dreamed of, or felt immersed in a vision of these places. I don't know if I read about such places or saw an image of something that spurred these imaginings. No I know there weren't pictures that spawned them becuase with each one I remember a time when I ran across a picture of a something that reminded me of my imaginings and felt an immediate obsession with finding out where it was because I had thought I had ONLY imagined it and that it couldn't possibly be real. Well, Nebraska, Tahiti, and Antartica (oh and Mt. Hood in Oregon) are all those places. Now that I have a name for them, I want to SEE them. Just like I wanted to go back to Cades Cove to hear silence again, I am driven to SEE these places. Although I have to concede that Antartica may be a stretch.
Oh, and in case you read the post on Sound of Silence, we did go to Cades Cove. It was a beautiful day. Sunny and just slightly cold. Unfortunately, that meant that there were more people out and more animals out. Silence was not to be found. I was disapointed. I think that disappointed is too mild a word. I am afraid that I may have lost my one chance to experience silence fully, by being too rushed. I will try again next year, and the year after...the desire to experience it again is undaunted in me.

Yep, maybe I really am obsessed with nothingness.

Wednesday, February 1, 2006

I love to tell the story...or NOT

"Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee."—Mark 5:19.

I am a firm believer that there is One Great Author and all of time and history is His one great story. I believe that each of our lives is a thread that the Author has woven into that story and that without each thread, the story, like a beautiful tapestry, would unravel. I know that sounds cliche', but if you think about history that way, it really does make it seem all connected, and, if you permit me, relatively short.

Each of us has a story. Each story is connected to another and another, both forward and backward in the "great story", all the way to the beginning of time. If you think about it, in Jewish tradition, 40 years is a generation. There are approximately 6000 years from the beginning of time (depending on which creationist chronology you look at). Do the math. That is only 150 traditional Jewish generations! Now that can't be completely accurate since physical generations don't hold to a consistent 40 years, but it does put things into a different perspective. Let's compare those generations to chapters in a story. Look at the Table of Contents and you see a relatively short book. Compare each person in each generation to words and you see that there are a LOT of words making up that story! There are alot of stories that make up the One. Each one is important. Even the simplest and shortest. A sentence just doesn't sound right if you leave one of the words out.

I think a good example of how interwoven our lives are is in the movie "It's a Wonderful Life" Everything we do sets in motion a ripple that affects the whole story. Every little decision we make will have some impact on another human being even if it is something so small that it changes where we will be at a certain time or who we may, or may not come in contact with. Of course, the Author is in control, but what an interesting task He must have orchestrating the whole thing.

I also believe that we were meant to tell our stories. Maybe not to the world, but certainly to our families. I think our stories are crucial in shaping who our children are and I think they become priceless treasures to them as they grow older. How many times have my children asked me to tell them about the time my Grandfather put a screech owl in his teachers pocket for it to latch onto her finger when she reached in for her gloves, or a mouse down beside the wall so it would scurry to the front of the classroom, making all the girls scream. I have retold the account of him whittling down the switch he was sent out to get for the teacher to spank him with, so that it would bend around him and hit the teacher. Priceless stories that I loved to hear him tell and now I am passing on to my children. I don't want them to be lost. I love to tell how my grandfather taught his dog to kneel with him beside a log to pray. I can't imagine my children not knowing about my grandfather's little sister who he adored, dying when she was 3 of diptheria she caught from a cat, and how my grandfather always hated cats after that. What if he had never talked about her. I never knew her name. As far as I know the family always heard him call her "Sissy". She came that close to never existing. What a thought. To have lived, and died, and no one to know you "were"...!

But there is another kind of story that each of us have. It is the story of our journey to finding our creator. Certainly many of us don't even acknowledge a "higher power", much less a creator or a god. Whether we acknowledge Him, or believe in Him, or simply have a faith in some other god, there is a point in ALL our lives when we must choose. We may not even realize that it is a choice. At times, not choosing IS the choice.

For those of us who believe, that story is called our testimony. It is the story of how God, reached out to us and freed us from whatever bound us. Some of us get free only to get tangled up in it again or something else altogether. God intends for us to share these testimonies in order for others to be encouraged, or to learn of His saving grace, maybe even to prevent others from falling into the same trap we did. ALL of us have a testimony of one kind or another. NO one is without sin. Even those to whom God has already extended grace to, by virtue of being human, are still sinners. We have just simply put on our "life preserver". These stories-our testimonies-are meant to be shared.

Now when it comes to speaking to a crowd, I am running and hiding. I carry a camera with me, making sure I am the "photographer" so I don't have to be "photographed". I break out in a sweat when someone new comes to church and sits near me cause I know I should go shake their hand a welcome them. It's not that I don't want to shake their hand and welcome them, it's that I'm AFRAID to. Once I know you, I will talk your ear off, but getting to that point scares me to death. But, and there is always a but, God in His infinite wisdom, allowed me to not only experience one pit of sin, but two. And guess what. He wants me to tell about it. I know this because everytime I turn around, there is some book, article, or message about "sharing your story" This along with an extreme empathy for people who are struggling with the same things tell me that at some point, probably very soon, I am going to not only have to drag out the sordid, embarrasing, shameful story, but I am going to have to SPEAK about it. I know THIS part because there has also been books, articles, and messages lately about stepping out of your comfort zone. Frightened as I am of speaking, I am also frightened to tell of my sordid past. There are just too many judgemental Christians out there. It's no wonder the homosexuals don't want anything to do with us. I don't know which I am terrified of more

"Oh God, please not the dreaded public speaking thing! You know microphones make me cry!"

His reply is simply "Step out of the boat, daughter," with a quiet mention to my heart of the meaning of His words so I don't have any doubt. To make matters worse, I try to console myself with "God won't give me what I can't bear" and as the kids and I are reading the book "The End of the Spear", He speaks to me through the story and says "Sometimes I require obedience unto death". I am doomed.