Monday, November 30, 2015

#AdventWord #PROCLAIM

"Proclaim his glory among the nations and his wonders to all peoples!"
AdventWord was created by SSJE (The Society of St. John the Evangelist) and is the Anglican Communion's Global Advent Calendar. I'm using it as a daily meditation, prayer, and a way to connect in spirit to millions during this season of light and hope.
Click HERE for their website and for their daily AdventWords.

#AdventWord #WakeUp

Good morning and happy first day of ‪#‎Advent‬ (Sunday, November 29th, 2015) Today's ‪#‎AdventWord‬ word is ‪#‎Wakeup‬! I am going to be posting post the daily AdventWord, started by the SSJE (Society of St. John the Evangelist). It's an Anglican Communion Global Advent Calendar. I'll be posting these via myself and the St. Paul's Episcopal Church in New Orleans' page (as well as Twitter & Instagram & this blog if I remember!) and I'll be using my own photographs. I hope you like them and maybe some of you will participate with your own AdventWord creations! 
Love, peace, and blessings to you all this season of hope and light! 
[Photo: Carson, "Frenchmen St. Sunrise"] ‪#‎Episcopal‬ ‪#‎Anglican‬ ‪#‎EDOLA‬
Photo by Caroline Carson

Thursday, November 26, 2015

A Prayer of Thanksgiving

A Prayer of Thanksgiving
(as found in the Book of Common Prayer, The Episcopal Church)

Accept, O Lord, our thanks and praise
for all that you have done for us.
We thank you for the splendor of the whole creation,
for the beauty of this world,
for the wonder of life,
and for the mystery of love.
We thank you for the blessing of family and friends,
and for the loving care which surrounds us on every side.
We thank you for setting us at tasks
which demand our best efforts,
and for leading u to accomplishments which satisfy and delight us.
Above all, we thank you for your Son Jesus Christ;
for the truth of his Word and the example of his life;
for his steadfast obedience,
by which he overcame temptation;
for his dying,
through which he overcame death;
and for his rising to life again,
in which we are raised to the life of your kingdom.
Grant us the gift of your Spirit,
that we may know your Spirit and make your Spirit known;
and through your Spirit, at all times and in all places,
may give thanks to you in all things. Amen.

Zion Canyon, 2012 by C. Carson

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Favorite Thanksgiving Jokes & Cartoons

Here are some Thanksgiving jokes and cartoons, collected via the "internets".          
- Why can't you take a turkey to church? They use FOWL language. 

- Why was the Thanksgiving soup so expensive? It had 24 carrots. 

- Why did the turkey cross the road? It was Thanksgiving and he wanted people to think that he was a chicken...

- What's a turkey's favorite dessert? Peach gobbler!

- Why did the cranberries turn red? They saw the turkey dressing!
- What happened when the turkey got into a fight? He got the stuffing knocked out of him! 

- What do you get when you cross a turkey with a banjo? A turkey that can pluck itself! 

- What did baby corn say to mama corn? Where's popcorn? 

- If the Pilgrims were alive today, what would they be most famous for? Their AGE!

- What did the mother turkey say to her disobedient children? "If your father could see you now, he'd turn over in his gravy!" 

- Which side of the turkey has the most feathers? The outside.

- What did the turkey say to the computer? Google, Google, Google...

- What's the difference between a pirate and a cranberry farmer? A pirate buries his treasure and a farmer treasures his berries.
- Why did the police arrest the turkey? They suspected it of fowl play What's the key to a great Thanksgiving dinner? The turKEY 

- Why did the turkey cross the road? It was the chicken's day off!

- What do you call the age of a pilgrim? Pilgrimage. 

- What always comes at the end of Thanksgiving? A 'g'.

- Where do you find a turkey with no legs? Exactly where you left it.
- What kind of tan did pilgrims get at the beach? Puritan.

- What kind of face does a pilgrim make when he's in pain? Pil-grimace. 

- What did the leftover turkey say when it was wrapped up and refrigerated? Foiled again.

- What sound does a space turkey make? Hubble, Hubble, Hubble...  
- What would you get if you crossed a turkey with an evil spirit? A poultrygeist! 

- What do you wear to Thanksgiving dinner? A Har- VEST. 

- What did Hippies put on their Thanksgiving mashed potatoes? Groovy.

- How much did the Mayflower weigh? A Puri-ton.

- What's the sleepiest thing on the Thanksgiving dinner table? NAP-kins.    

- What do you get if you divide the circumference of a pumpkin by its diameter? Pumpkin pi.

- What is a pumpkin's favorite sport? Squash.

- What does a golfer like to eat with his.her turkey on Thanksgiving? PAT-tatoes.

- Why did the Thanksgiving basket get into trouble at school? He was cornu-copying.


Creepy Kitten :-)

This picture of my kitten Bluebell made me laugh SO MUCH!
It reminded me of the second picture, below! :-)

                                     Hide and seek level creepy

A Prayer for the Human Family

A Prayer for the Human Family
(as found in the Book of Common Prayer, The Episcopal Church)

O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us
through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole
human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which
infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us;
unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and
confusion to accomplish your purposes on Earth; that, in
your good time, all nations and races may serve you in
harmony around your heavenly throne; 
through Jesus Christ
our Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Great Poetry Site and a Cool Poem "Oranges" by Lauren S. Cook

I love, love, LOVE this poem by Lauren S. Cook!!!! I also completely love and live for moments of the light she describes. I found it on a friend's Facebook page and it led me to Rattle, a GREAT site, to which I subscribed! Check out their goal: "To promote the practice of poetry" and " a community of poets" ! Awesome!

by Lauren S. Cook

Today I sliced navels
for my son’s soccer game.
I took care to cut them evenly,
to trim the pith. I know
this is unremarkable––
a soccer mom, a fruit poem.
I promise I’m a person
of average tragedy who
scours each happiness
for its flaw. I can’t
help that they looked
picturesque piled
in a bowl. I nearly called in
my partner to look––
but I know the smallness of this
joy: gauze-thin, vanishing.
I’m ashamed that I told you,
but I feel something
should be said for the oranges––
not an ode, but a note
that they were adequate,
in no way failing, nor I, nor
the chef’s knife, nor the sun,
which lit the room in the way
it does sometimes, illuminating
the dust in the air, the specks
gliding on the smallest of currents.

Monday, November 23, 2015

NOLA November Moon

Some of my photos of this evening's almost-full moon, November 23, 2015. Canon Powershot, 50X zoom. Not too shabby for an automatic!
Photo by Caroline Carson
Photo by Caroline Carson
Photo by Caroline Carson
Photo by Caroline Carson

A Monday Morning Prayer

Holy Spirit, 
Help me to embrace this new day with open arms and to share the good gifts you have given me with gladness, sincerity, and generosity. Help me to trust in you, always.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Choir of St. Paul's Episcopal, New Orleans Sings for St. Bernard Project Event: Nun's Build

My wonderful, sweet choir at St. Paul's Episcopal did SUCH A FANTASTIC JOB last night singing at a St. Bernard Project community event held at the Knights of Columbus Hall. The event was a thank you dinner for Nun's Build for their week of disaster recovery construction work in New Orleans. Nuns Build is comprised of dedicated sisters and non-Nun friends from across the US. I'm so proud of this wonderful, dedicated, and super-talented choir! GREAT WORK, ALL! Thanks to a former choir member, working for the St. Bernard Project, for inviting us!
We sang: I'm Gonna Rise by Paul Marsena, Away in a Manger (both the William Kirkpatrick and Norman traditional tunes), and Andrae Crouch's Soon and Very Soon - all some of our "lighter" repertoire :-)

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

This is Another Day, O Lord

This is another day, O Lord. I know not what it will bring forth, but make me ready, Lord, for whatever it may be. If I am to stand up, help me to stand bravely. If I am to sit still, help me to sit quietly. If I am to lie low, help me to do it patiently. And if I am to do nothing, let me do it gallantly. Make these words more than words, and give me the Spirit of Jesus. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Dear Fellow Citizens of the United States, Please don't forget where we came from. "Give me your huddled masses..."

Dear Fellow Citizens of the United States,
Please don't forget where we came from. 
That would be....pretty much everywhere. I realize for some it will mean swallowing a gigantic fear of the assumed - that our being a haven for Syrian (and other) refugees will bite us back in the end, BUT, I believe that welcoming them, well, it's the right thing to do.
Yes, possibly there are some people mixed in with the refugees that are out to get Americans, but I have noticed that there seems to be plenty of U.S. on U.S. crime and hate these days. 
I just read that 26 governors have stated that they do not want Syrian refugees and that they will refuse them. I don't know what will end up happening, but I ask you: 
"What if the tide were turned?" "What if it were you?" in the shoes of a refugee, seeking asylum? Putting matters of religion and culture aside for a moment, we are humans on one planet. None of us are better than our neighbor.....and that's exactly what we all are: NEIGHBORS.
I have this crazy idea that the world is better overall if we are accepting of each other, regardless of background and station. I also think that we have forgotten some of our own roots. There doesn't seem to be any perfect solution for finding the right balance of humanitarianism and security, but I wonder if pre-judgement and assumption, heck, even keeping religion out of it - whether or not things will be OK in the end.
                        Statue of Liberty 7.jpg
The New Colossus

~ Emma Lazarus (1883)

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name 
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand 
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command 
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. 

"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she 
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor, 
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, 
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. 
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, 
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Earth from the ISS by Astronaut Andre Kuipers

Monday, November 16, 2015

i thank You God for most this amazing day

Photo I took in 2013 at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens
                                          i thank You God for most this amazing
                                          day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
                                          and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
                                          which is natural which is infinite which is yes

                                          (i who have died am alive again today,
                                          and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
                                          day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
                                          great happening illimitably earth)

                                          how should tasting touching hearing seeing
                                          breathing any–lifted from the no
                                          of all nothing–human merely being
                                          doubt unimaginable You?

                                          (now the ears of my ears awake and
                                           now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

-- e.e. cummings (1894-1962)
#poetry #gratitude #thanks #Nature #nola #Episcopal

Poem found at:

And here is a GORGEOUS choral composition written by Eric Whitacre (b. 1970) sung by The Stanford Chamber Chorale and the Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge, under the direction of Stephen Layton. *

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Fascinating Wonders

God, grant as we discover the fascinating wonders and mysteries of the universe, we may come to know you more truly! 
The Tadpoles of IC 410 
Image Credit & CopyrightSteven Coates

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Poems of Perspective: New World and The Reflection Poem - by Shel Silverstein

                                                                New World

                                               Upside-down trees swingin' free,
                                               Busses float and buildings dangle:
                                               Now and then it’s nice to see
                                               The world– – from a different angle.

Reflection in puddle in Zion National Park, Utah. Photo by Caroline Carson
                                                       The Reflection Poem

                                              Each time I see the Upside-Down Man
                                              Standing in the water,
                                              I look at him and start to laugh,
                                              Although I shouldn't oughtter.
                                              For maybe in another world
                                              Another time
                                              Another town,
                                              Maybe HE is right side up
                                              And I am upside down.
~ by Shel Silverstein, (1930-1999) 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Svetitskhoveli Cathedral and Mtskheta, Georgia

Previous posts:
2. The Fortress and City of Gori, Georgia

Svetitskhoveli Cathedral and Mtskheta, Georgia

Svetitskhoveli Cathedral in Mtskheta, Georgia. Photo by Caroline Carson.
After visiting the city of Gori, our group headed back toward Tbilisi to Svetitskhoveli Cathedral of the Twelve Apostles. in the gorgeous ancient city of Mtskheta, Georgia. 
Mtskheta, Georgia: View from Jvari monastery, photo by Caroline Carson
Now, if there's anyone who loves visiting churches and cathedrals, it would be me! I happily observed that Georgia seems to have more churches than I've ever seen before so I was excited the whole time I was there! The stunning Mtskheta is one of the oldest cities in the country and also one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. It was even declared a "Holy City" in 2014 by the Georgian Orthodox Church as it was the birthplace of Christianity in Georgia. The city itself is a charming destination and seems to enjoy a reasonable amount of tourism. The citizens are very friendly, the food is fantastic, and there are plenty of things to do.
Mtskheta. Photo by Caroline Carson
The way through town to the cathedral is through quaint, narrow streets lined with grape leaves. Georgia has a vibrant wine making history; the fertile valleys of the Caucasus making it one of the world's oldest and largest producers of wine. The region holds the source of the world's first cultivated grapevines and Neolithic wine production, from over 8,000 years ago! Everything I tasted was excellent so I can vouch for quality of both the white and red wines - all research was scientific - of course ;-)
               Mtskheta streets                   
The Georgian Orthodox Church developed several important styles of religious art which are still around today: polyphonic church singing, cloisonne icons, and enameled mosaics, calligraphy, and the "cross-dome" style of architecture. I saw some of these in Svetitskhoveli Cathedral though I did not hear any Georgian choirs or orthodox choral music (very similar to Russian Orthodox choral music). I did hear chanting though and there's a video link later in this post. The cathedral was cross-dome shaped.
Built into the cathedral, on the south side, is a tiny square cupola chapel built between the end of the 13th and the beginning the 14th centuries. It is a replica of the Chapel of Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and was built at the site to mark Svetitskhoveli as the second most sacred place in the world.
Part of the old structure - a tiny Medieval
cupola chapel within a cathedral! Photo by Caroline Carson.
The name "Svetitskhoveli" means "Living Pillar". In the traditional Georgian style of churches, it has one dome atop a descending layer of structures. The cathedral is the second largest church building in the country, second only to Sameba (Holy Trinity Cathedral) in Tbilisi. Svetitskhoveli is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is rumored to be the place where Christ's mantle is kept. Of COURSE it was "downstairs being preserved" and safe underneath the crypt, so no one can see it. I found out later that there are several versions of where Christ's mantle is kept. (Link above and see below regarding Georgia's versions.)
According to the tradition of the Georgian Orthodox Church, the chiton was acquired by a Jewish Rabbi from Georgia named Elioz (Elias), who was present in Jerusalem at the time of the crucifixion and bought the robe from a soldier. He brought it with him when he returned to his native town of Mtskheta, Georgia, where it is preserved to this day beneath a crypt in the Patriarchal Svetitskhoveli Cathedral. The feast day in honor of the “Chiton of the Lord” is celebrated on October 1.
Prayer book with candle wax stains
Another, more dramatic version is here (again from wiki, sorry, BUT I had no guide to tell me anything while there and nothing was in English so.....)

According to Georgian hagiography, in the 1st century AD a Georgian Jew from Mtskheta named Elias was in Jerusalem when Jesus was crucified. Elias bought Jesus’ robe from a Roman soldier at Golgotha and brought it back to Georgia. Returning to his native city, he was met by his sister Sidonia who upon touching the robe immediately died from the emotions engendered by the sacred object. The robe could not be removed from her grasp, so she was buried with it.[2] The place where Sidonia is buried with Christ's robe is preserved in the Cathedral. Later, from her grave grew an enormous cedar tree. Ordering the cedar chopped down to build the church, St. Nino had seven columns made from it for the church’s foundation. The seventh column, however, had magical properties and rose by itself into the air. It returned to earth after St. Nino prayed the whole night. It was further said that from the magical seventh column a sacred liquid flowed that cured people of all diseases. In Georgiansveti means "pillar" and tskhoveli means "life-giving" or "living", hence the name of the cathedral.
Side of cathedral

Fascinating! I really wish I had known all of this history before I went. As it was, I hadn't even the foggiest idea! Svetitskhoveli Cathedral is ALSO the location of a relic of St. Andrew, the First-called's footstep. It looked like the top of a foot was under the glass case. Here, from the Georgian Brotherhood of the Holy Cross, is a bit more about St. Andrew in Georgia and takes us to the point at which St. Nino came to the country.

According to the will of God and the blessing of the Theotokos, St. Andrew the First-called set off for Georgia to preach the Christian Faith. He entered Georgia from the southwest, in the region of Atchara, and subsequently preached in every region of the nation. He established a hierarchy for the Georgian Church and then returned to Jerusalem for Pascha. When he visited Georgia for the second time, the Apostle Andrew was accompanied by the Apostles Matthias and Simon the Canaanite. Years passed and, under threat from Persian fire-worshippers and other pagan communities, the memory of Christ faded from the minds of the Georgian people. Then, at the beginning of the 4th century, according to God’s will and the blessing of the Most Holy Theotokos, the holy virgin Nino arrived in Kartli to preach the Christian Faith. She settled in the outskirts of Mtskheta, in the bramble bushes of the king’s garden. St. Nino inquired as to the whereabouts of our Lord’s Robe, but no one could remember where it had been preserved. In her quest for the Precious Robe, she became acquainted with Elioz’s descendants, the Jewish priest Abiatar and his daughter, Sidonia. St. Nino converted them to Christianity.
Georgian painting of St. Andrew entering the country
I tried taking several photographs discreetly, but everything was too dark. I found the relic when I heard chanting and wandered into a smaller side chapel to listen a bit. I saw this priest lighting candles, chanting, and kissing the icons and THEN......
I heard a female voice chanting in response! I stayed to bathe in the incense, the holy aura of slowly wafting light, and the chant in stillness I hadn't found in the other, busier and touristy parts of the cathedral. It was so beautiful and serene. A slice of a life in an orthodoxy I knew little about, carrying its daily routine to God with care and dedication.
After a while, my wits came to order and I managed to make a small video of the room and the chanting. By then a few other folks were coming in.
Above is the gorgeous main dome of the cathedral, bedecked with  Medieval painting. The cathedral is also the Medieval coronation and burial site of all of the kings of ancient Georgia. At least six tombs have been found, but more are assumed to be there below. Several found tombs are all set before this altar front area. (Sorry for the fuzzy image - soft lighting and lack of camera skills.)
The whole Svetitskhoveli cathedral and monastery complex contains the remnants of a palace and the gates of the king Melchizedek I who was the first Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia, from 1010 to 1033. He is held as a saint by the Georgian Orthodox Church.

Back inside the cathedral, amazing Medieval paintings were on many walls. My absolute favorite one is below. (I love ancient wheels!) I'm not sure of all that this one represents, but the wheel in the center features the Twelve Apostles in the inner circle and the outer rim of the wheel is of the Zodiac! SO COOL! First is a closeup (w/ flash) and then an overall shot. 

There are also other wheels - this Seraphim was to the right of the high altar area. This whole area was blocked off due to reconstruction and restoration efforts.
And this, below, was the best shot I could get of the entire altar painting without scaffolding:
Painted in the 19th Century by a Russian artist
There are several modern items to the Cathedral, including the giant painting above. These give it a timeless quality and accessibility to those of Orthodox faith that visit today. This holy is a highlight and testament to the centuries of Georgian Orthodoxy, Christianity, and history. If you are in Georgia, DO NOT MISS IT.