Sunday, April 30, 2006

Morning Rays

A couple weeks ago, I was heading for my car just before 8:00 a.m. when I glanced at the eastern sky. I ran back into the house, grabbed my camera, and started shooting. The morning sun was hiding behind a solid bank of dark clouds and was shooting bright rays of light upward, creating distinct areas of light and dark in the clear sky above. I took about a dozen pictures, several of which have already sold as stock photos. And from those pictures I created--at last count--23 crosses.

So forgive me. I just couldn't decide which cross to post from that marvelous morning experience. Here are five; maybe sometime I'll share the other eighteen.

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Fitting for Sun-day, I hope.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Star of David

Obviously, this is not a cross. But on this sabbath day, I thought it appropriate to share a kaleidoscope Star of David that celebrates the essence of Judaism. "The LORD is One" is the foundational affirmation of Deuteronomy 6:4-9, the "Shema" (meaning "to hear"), which calls on God's people to love and follow God at all times.

Christianity has its roots in Judaism; both Christians and Jews affirm God's oneness--as do Muslims. Though divided by real and important issues as well as by mutual misunderstandings, these three great monotheistic faiths all critique and stand apart from the various forms of polytheism with which they have been surrounded.

It's significant that this image, based on multiples of 3, is formed from the same photo as "Old pickup" on my April 6 post, which, like all my crosses, is based on 4's. From the same photo comes a cross and a Star of David. The original old rusty Chevy pickup reminds us that God always works through imperfect people.

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Friday, April 28, 2006

Golden Aspens

Quite by accident, we discovered that the most glorious time to visit Colorado is the last week of September. We have gone back to the mountains that same week year after year to experience the crisp mountain air, the deep blue skies, the intense sunshine, and the vast carpets of golden aspens.

I found these aspens along the Million Dollar Highway between Ouray and Silverton. Every time I visit Colorado I wonder: Why does anybody live anywhere else?

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Thursday, April 27, 2006

Silver Lining

Here's proof that clouds can have a silver lining. And here's a hint that something lies "beyond"--something more than blue sky and empty space. It's an image of hope and confidence, a call to "fear not," no matter the threat.

Storm clouds gather (or are they parting?) in the late afternoon sky over Bottle Creek Retreat, Beatrice, Nebraska.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

French Quarter

The original settlers of New Orleans used logic: they built on the ground above sea level, a rather narrow strip of land that follows the Mississippi River. We call it the French Quarter, and it's the only part of New Orleans that didn't sustain major damage from Hurricane Katrina last year. With its wrought-iron railings and Old World flavor, the French Quarter still attracts people and is still in pain from being surrounded by a devastated city.

As yet another hurricane season approaches, say a prayer for the people of New Orleans--and for all those who make decisions about its future. And yes, there's a cross even in the middle of the "Big Easy"!

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Peony Petals

The peony has a long and worldwide history in both medicine and art as well as in horticulture. Chinese and Japanese art in particular have prominently featured this fascinating plant. Immigrants to this country have brought peony roots with them so that specific varieties will not be lost. If you have the time and want to learn more, check out this wonderful peony website:

This is a pinkish-white peony from my back yard. The cross image includes one extra step--the application of a "dry brush" effect. I like this cross, but in this case I like the original photo even better.

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Monday, April 24, 2006

Monday Cross

We expect crosses on Sunday. But are they relevant on Monday? Crosses are about self-sacrifice, putting the needs of the other first, radical love. Does that stuff work in the office on Monday, in the world of the bottom line and outdoing the competition?

I've heard politicians say (trying to reassure a religiously schizophrenic public), "I have a strong religious faith, but that won't affect how I carry out my public duties." Huh? A faith that's so weak and irrelevant that it can only be applied for a safe hour on Sunday morning inside a steepled building where nobody is watching?

On the other hand, the Monday cross isn't about trying to make the world Christian. The cross is not about domination. Quite the opposite: it's the ultimate symbol if giving up control. Would crosses be so popular if people understood that?

The glass, steel and concrete office buildings of downtown Charlotte, North Carolina, provide the shapes, colors and textures of this Monday cross.

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Sunday, April 23, 2006

Holy Family Shrine

"What is THAT?" is the question asked by legions of travelers as they cruise the 75 mph portion of I-80 between Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska. They point to a striking structure on the hill south of the highway just east of the Platte River. "Is it a corncrib? Is it some millionaire's house? Is it the ultimate observation post for forest rangers?"

It's worth your time to take Exit 432 and wind your way back to the Holy Family Shrine, a unique sanctuary from the speeding traffic far below.

Contemporary American Christianity is far too predictable--predictable houses of worship, predictable sermons, predictable daily lives. Both our architecture and our behavior should provoke people to say, "What's THAT?"

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Saturday, April 22, 2006

Fire and Water

Water extinguishes fire--unless the fire is protected. The "fire" here is contained within sealed electric lights, buried in the waters of a fountain in a park near downtown Charlotte, North Carolina.

There are times to be passionate and times to be cool--fire times and water times. A life that combines fire and water is both effective and beautiful.

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Friday, April 21, 2006

Liatris Love

Though I enjoy adding words and phrases and verses to my crosses, normally I publish them plain--without words. But this one just BEGS for the word "Love." I could also add your name and a special someone. Just ask!

This lovely quartet of liatris blossoms is found at Dyck Arboretum of the Plains in Hesston, Kansas. The heart shapes just happened in the process of trying to make a cross out these lovely pink-purple spikes. Love is often a surprise!

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Thursday, April 20, 2006

Notre Dame window

The Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, France, has plenty of crosses, but this one is created from one of its stained glass windows. I like the combination of red and blue and black in this image.

Stained glass is beautiful only if you're in the dark and the light is outside, shining toward you. Every stained glass window is a reminder that we are not the creators of light, only the recipients.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Flowering quince

Though I marvel at the creations of artists and sculptors, my favorite Artist is the one who conceived the flowering quince. A hardy shrub with tough stems, it's among the first to blossom in the spring. The flower color isn't red, pink, orange, or coral. It's quince, I guess, and it glows with the promise of springtime.

Bottle Creek Retreat is full of flowering quince, and it was difficult to choose the best of my 15 (!) flowering quince crosses.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Baptistry doors

Across the street from the Duomo in Florence, Italy, is the baptistry. It's an octagonal building, completed in stages over the course of many centuries. The east entrance door is graced by Ghiberti's 15th century gilded bronze work often called the "Gates of Paradise." Most of the ten panels depict biblical scenes. Ghiberti worked on these doors from 1425-1452--that's 28 years. (He had previously worked from 1403-1424 on the north doors.) So significant is this work on these east doors, especially in their use of perspective, that they are sometimes labeled as the "dawn of the Renaissance."

Two sets of doors. Fifty years of work. Perhaps, if our work is to have any long-lasting significance, we should do less and go slower!

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Monday, April 17, 2006

Montbeliard flowers

In the 1700's and up to 1822, my "Schlunegger" Swiss Amish ancestors sojourned for a while in Montbeliard, France, before coming to northeast Ohio. I found their names in the old church record book there. The principality of Montbeliard in the Alsace-Lorraine area provided--for a time--safety from persecution and exemption from military service.

An April visit to the Montbeliard Mennonite meetinghouse included a stark contrast between the rather drab stone church and the stunning wall of yellow and purple spring flowers behind the building.

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Sunday, April 16, 2006

Kremmling dawn

Every morning is a miracle, but Easter dawn revealed the biggest miracle of all. Death becomes life, despair becomes hope, and darkness becomes light. It's the ultimate Good News.

The distinctive cliffs above Kremmling, Colorado, provide the backdrop for this golden morning.

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Saturday, April 15, 2006


Between endings and new beginnings is always a "time between." It is always a mysterious time, often a dark and difficult time, never a time subject to clocks and calendars. Between the old relationship and the new one, between the old job and the new one, between the old reason for getting up in the morning in the new one is this chasm of uncertainty, confusion and waiting. Between Good Friday and Easter is Holy Saturday, when Jesus lay in the darkness of the tomb. His journey is humanity's journey, and he experienced the ultimate "time between."

This cross is from Glenwood Caverns above (you have to take a cable car up the mountain) Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Combine limestone and calcite and iron oxides with lots of time and total darkness and a little water and you get stalactites, the striped "bacon" formation, and unique beauty that only happens underground.

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Friday, April 14, 2006

Crown of Thorns

On this Good Friday, sharp thorns communicate the themes of suffering, pain and death. It's tempting to try to make Christianity into a "follow these rules and you'll have health and wealth and the admiration of all" religion. This dark day is an annual reminder of the cost of following the path of Jesus.

An occasional thorn bush rises amidst the tall grass prairie at Homestead National Monument of America in Beatrice, Nebraska. It's a setting where beauty must be sought, where--for much of the year--the divine color palatte is restricted to shades of brown.

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Thursday, April 13, 2006

Holmesville grain bins

Some of my crosses work best as squares. Not to compare myself with Leonardo Da Vinci, but my perspective lines are just like the ones he used in his famous Last Supper painting. So perhaps this is an appropriate Maundy Thursday image.
Anyway, it's time the metropolis of Holmesville, Nebraska, got some publicity.

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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Taos pueblo

The multi-storied buildings of the Taos pueblo have been continuously inhabited for over 1,000 years. At the foot of New Mexico's highest peaks, these ancient dwellings of earth-brown adobe walls and turquoise doors and windows remind us that Christopher Columbus and the Europeans who followed him did not "discover America."

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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Icy Coneflower

Sometimes the seasons overlap. This brave purple coneflower continues to stand upright while bearing an icy load.
Burden and beauty often arrive together.

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Monday, April 10, 2006

Louvre entrance

No, there are NOT 666 panes of glass in the pyramid entrance to the Louvre. There are actually 673, but who could blame Dan Brown for subtracting a perfect 7 from 673 to get that Beastly number? Give the guy a break--he's writing FICTION, you know. The Da Vinci Code uses other sources, includes long-standing ideas and theories, adds some historical facts, then weaves them together with the author's fertile imagination. That's OK with me. If he doesn't have the right to do that, then the genre of fiction cannot exist.
Where some see a sign of the antichrist and others just see a big glass pyramid, I've discovered a cross. That's the theme of this photoblog: There is no place where God is not. You have to decide if that's fiction--or not.

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