Friday, March 25, 2016

A Good Friday Thought, 2016

Today we break all barriers that come as obstacles in the beauty of our creation. We cannot be "an Easter people" without reliving the depths of divine despair. 
Cross of St. Paul's Episcopal, NOLA by Caroline Carson

Thursday, March 24, 2016

An Episcopal Service of Tenebrae, 2016

I LOVE the service of Tenebrae and this is the third year we have held it at St. Paul's Episcopal in New Orleans! We used to be the only ones who did it in our area, but now there are more....YAY!! 
It is so lovely and is a highlight of Holy Week. The 40 pages of mostly plainsong includes wrenching passion from the psalms and poignant readings. It is also quite special to have a service of prayer and meditation under cover of darkness. It can be stunning. Last year, I wrote a post about Tenebrae itself. HERE, you can read that. For this post, I simply wanted to share some photos I took last night and say that if you can attend this service next year, DO IT! 
The Origins of Tenebrae
The liturgy offered this night is the full, ancient form of Tenebrae. Tenebrae is a Latin word signifying “darkness,” “shadows,” and “obscurity.” It is a word that pointedly calls our attention to the scriptural accounts of our Lord’s crucifixion: The name of this service is taken from the opening words of the fifth responsory: “Tenebrae factae sunt”—“darkness came over the whole land” (Mark 15:33; also, Matthew 27:45; Luke 23:44).

It is a moving descent into the darkest days of the church year as we descend into darkness and await the ascension into light at The Great Vigil of Easter. The Medieval offices of Matins and Lauds which were combined to create Tenebrae were the usual morning offices recited by the monastic communities ministering in the Roman basilicas and collegiate churches of Europe. At Matins the morning is greeted with prayer even before the sun rises and they developed out of the nocturnal times of prayer and watchfulness (vigiliae) that were common in the early church. Matins traditionally included three distinct sections called Nocturns (meaning “divisions of the night”). The office of Lauds, which in Tenebrae follows the Third Nocturn of Matins, is the traditional morning prayer of the church in the western world. The word “laud” means “to sing or speak the praises of” and originally implied a formal act of worship.
The union of the two liturgies produced a ritual greater than the sum of its parts. Through their correlation with the systematic extinguishing of candles unique to Tenebrae, those who originated the ceremony gave a new and greater interpretive task to the psalms and canticles. As noted, in their new liturgical context these poignant scriptural laments serve as commentary upon the darkness that gradually enshrouds the church and ominously envelops Jesus’ life during Holy Week.

Tenebrae Moon, March 23, 2016

Gorgeous moon last night and tons of clouds. I managed to get a few photos, but couldn't see the conjunction with Jupiter. Still, pretty decent for a super bright moon and for a Canon powershot and no telescope! :-)

Monday, March 21, 2016

For Peace Among the Nations

Today, I offer some simple ponderings :-)
A butterfly and a caterpillar on plants in the breeze at The Audubon Zoo, NOLA
Life is good, isn't it... Life, this short time of existence in community on a fragile planet in a fortunately habitable zone. An infinitesimal fleck of matter and spark of momentary awareness in the vast cosmic realm. Life is SO SHORT for us. The only thing that makes this brevity bearable in our social, political, technological, and global adolescence is ourselves. We have each other. I dream of what is impossible in my lifetime: one open world with distinction rather than divisiveness. I dream of borderless equilibrium where strife, poverty, and fear of each other no longer exist, yet uniqueness remains and is celebrated. It would take one or two thousand years, but it could happen. 
NASA: Earth, east
I love to explore other cultures and learn from people different than myself. I find different ways of living and alternately functioning societal structures fascinating. Thus far in my life, I've been to 30 countries. Soon, I will take a very exciting trip! 
I am SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO EXCITED about this trip and a bit nervous as well. I will be teaching music, visiting choirs, working with youth to plan worship service presentations, sharing fun times and knowledge, and I will also be giving presentations as a NASA Solar System Ambassador in the school systems! What a FABULOUS opportunity! Still, I know that where I'm going, as an American, presents its own set of problems and I have been mentally preparing for them. I feel certain I will be safe, but there are always chances that something could happen which could change that.I would be remiss if I did not address that. It's not a place where single women, especially Americans, travel on their own very much, if at all. Folks are saying "Oh you're so brave"! I am pretty unafraid at times, but it can indeed be mixed. Still, I feel very strongly called to go there. I have ever since I met the leader of the community I'll visit. I want to show them that we are the same. People are people. I want to be a bridge and one of love. I've tried to do that in my own life between people, programs, and more. We can each do our part.
This June, I'll travel to Israel on my first pilgrimage to the Holy Land! I am so greatly blessed by God, people, by opportunities, and by my own energy and initiative to create more opportunities. II'm living and leading a great life. 
I write all of these thoughts today because I am simply pondering life and in particular, my life. I think it's healthy to do that periodically. We never know how long we have and seriously, EVERY DAY is a gift, every single one. If you are reading this, I wish you a big hug and I wish you peace, happiness, and hope!

A prayer for peace in our world (from the Church of England)
Make your ways known upon earth, Lord God,
your saving power among all peoples.
Renew your Church in holiness
and help us to serve you with joy.
Guide the leaders of all nations,
that justice may prevail throughout the world.
Let not the needy be forgotten,
nor the hope of the poor be taken away.
Make us instruments of your peace
and let your glory be over all the earth. Amen

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Festival Season

You know it's festival season when you're at work at 6:00 AM waiting on buses of bands, orchestras, and choirs it arrive! I actually like hosting festivals and I've done it for ten years now at UNO. It takes tons of organizational work, but is always worth it for recruiting and fellowship etc. The LMEA (Louisiana Music Educators Association) large group choral festival is held here annually. I have hosted a Performing Arts Consultants festival for the past seven or eight years. I especially love that one because the folks who come down to run it are terrific. Many springs, we've also hosted the World Strides / Heritage festivals. New Orleans is also in "Festival Season".
Mardi gras, French Quarter Fest, Jazzfest, Poboy fest, Freret Street fest, Strawberry festival, Crawfish festival, Bayou Bugaloo, etc. etc. etc. There are a TON. 

Friday, March 18, 2016


I love the early spring, when the world seems to be in bloom and there's a good thunderstorm every now and then! I totally love big storms too, especially if I don't have to drive in them and no person or property gets hurt. One thing I used to do a lot of, and need to do more of, is sit in the grass and breathe in the world. 

Sometimes when I'm driving during the spring or the Fall, I'll see beautiful patches of land or gorgeous scenes near City Park and I have the urge to pull over and enjoy chilling in the grass for a while. It's pretty rare that I can do that these days unless I actually plan for it. Here is a little of that joy, in a photo :-) YAY!

Dear Buttermilk Drop

Dear Buttermilk Drop,
THANK YOU for making my morning better! I don't care if you are full of calories. I welcome your sugary butteryness.

Today has been full of busy things, angry people, and stress. I hereby combat this with your tasty and crusty deliciousness.

An afternoon walk

Yesterday afternoon, I went for a walk around the University of New Orleans campus. It was SUCH a gorgeous day, albeit too warm (85 and felt like 89) for this time of year. I needed to clear my head a bit. I have a super giant trip coming up after Easter and while I'm very excited about it, I'm also a bit nervous. It's to a place where Americans aren't welcomed often and in this time of "Trump talk", volatile angers, and pent up frustrations from some Americans manifesting themselves in negative ways, it's even more nerve-wracking to know I'm going to stick out even more than usual. I've become extremely strong though so I should hopefully be fine. Life is SO SHORT. I wish humans were better to each other in general.
Between now and that trip, I have two festivals, three more days of classes, and a whole joyful mess of solemn Holy Week services. I LOVE Holy Week, but having classes makes it so much harder. I miss the times when we had spring break at the university so I could devote my whole self to the services and to a different sense of being. Even more, I cannot wait until I devote myself fully to liturgical endeavors. I need to prep for my trip too, get some lectures down, put together some music to take with me to give away, and ponder life in general.
Anyway, in spite of the hellish pollen that's coating every particle of every particle, it was a nice calming walk and beautiful too. I need to schedule more time to do that. I would also like to get out to the lakefront more often and to my favorite haunts in City Park!!!
The UNO campus was virtually destroyed in hurricane Katrina and hadn't really been too lush before that, but it's grown in the ten years I've been here into a very pretty space with pockets of flowery beauty, trees, and even some of those lush areas! Currently, they are re-doing the lily pond and I'm hoping the ducks will like the finished product and stick around!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Open my lips, O Lord, and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.

Open my lips, O Lord, *
and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, *
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence *
and take not your holy Spirit from me.
Give me the joy of your saving help again *
and sustain me with your bountiful Spirit.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: *
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen. 

(From Psalm 51, as found in the Book of Common Prayer)
Rosedown Plantation, St. Francisville, Louisiana

Sunday, March 6, 2016

A Collect for Evening

Lord Jesus, stay with us, for evening is at hand and the day is
past; be our companion in the way, kindle our hearts, and
awaken hope, that we may know you as you are revealed in
Scripture and the breaking of bread. Grant this for the sake
of your love. Amen.
~ from the Book of Common Prayer
Evening light at the Sagrada familia, Barcelona. Photo by Caroline Carson

A Choral Director's Death Glare

Seriously, THIS is THE BEST meme I've seen to capture the sentiment all of us choral directors feel when you've been over a piece and maybe even the cutoffs (maybe even a few times)  and someone sings through a cutoff. LOOK UP! HAHA! I found this on FB and shared it and it was confirmed by a startlingly large, yet unsurprising number of my singers that this is indeed my look when this happens!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Friday, March 4, 2016

Live your life - NOW

Never allow waiting to become a habit. 
Live your life NOW. 
Take risks, dream and imagine, 
follow your heart!
Go and climb that mountain, 
Swim in that sea,
And be the life that you want!
My view from the train after crossing the Brenner Pass and heading back to Innsbruck, Austria

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Cool Artwork at St. Paul's Episcopal, NOLA

I forgot to post this last week, but check out some of the FABULOUS drawings by our St. Paul's Episcopal School children! 

I LOVE this bacon guy! He is not only thinking about bacon, but he is eating it, dancing about it, and wearing it, LOL!

The Flat Earth Society Actually Exists (??!!)

Yep, it's true. I JUST became aware that this society existed.....mainly because of this meme that was going around Facebook.

I did some searching and found The Flat Earth Society. Their mission is to "promote and initiate discussion of Flat Earth theory as well as archive Flat Earth literature. Our forums act as a venue to encourage free thinking and debate."  Apparently, there are TONS of members and folks who actually believe the Earth is flat. Somehow they come up with reasons for not believing we live on a sphere. In the early 1800's, the belief system was called Zetetic Astronomy. Samuel Rowbotham was the author of the book Zetetic Astronomy and founder of the first Flat Earth Society.
So, this AMAZES me that people really believe it. While I do not subscribe to this belief I needed some help in understanding why others do.....
Here are some interesting articles I found related to the subject:
1.  Are Flat-Earthers Being Serious?
4. For Some, the Earth Is Still Flat
5. Flat Earth Society Claims Round Earth A Conspiracy TheoryThis map is pretty cool actually...because I like maps and not because I believe in a 
flat Earth! (link HERE to article about this map)

Well, enough of this! The image below, from NASA, is indeed our planet, sorry flat-Earthers!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Bluebell Kitty is "Helping" Me Grade Tests...

Really? I love this cat :-) She is so silly and of course, wants my attention most of the time. This was her answer a while ago when I was grading.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

In Calm and Storm

"There are some things you learn best in calm and some in storm."
~ Willa Cather
View of the Rapti river in Chitwan, Nepal at the edge of the Tharu village

My Nature Photo Challenge, March 2016

My Nature Challenge Photos. A friend challenged me to share a nature photo every day for one week. It must be a photograph that I took. I did this on Facebook, but am posting here for my own memories and to share in this way. I hope you like them! :-) (Most are Canon powershot 10X photos copied into Facebook and then copied and pasted here so there is not a hugely high quality to the photos, but....whatever, they're still pretty! :-)

1. Here is a tree in the frozen sunset of Gyeongju, Korea on the grounds of the Bulguska temple. It was 6 degrees and the lake was partially frozen. Here is my blog post on that trip!

2. Daisy on the ground in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I was at the Interlude Conference for mid-career church musicians and leaders in 2013. It had just rained and the drops were so pretty on the petals.

3. A dragonfly resting on a twig. Taken in 2015 at the Northlake Nature Center in Mandeville, Louisiana. I like how you can see the two giant eyes and that the pattern in between the eyes looks like a third eye. Hmmm, maybe there's something to that... 
Here is my blog post about my visit to Northlake.

4. The hills of India near Bhoramdeo and Mandwa Mahal temples. I took this last summer (2015). Here's my blog post on my visit to the temples

5. Another photo from the Northlake Nature Center. I LOVE how this photo came out and how you can see his shell underneath the water!

6. The "Eighty-eight" Butterfly. I lucked out on this shot because I had been following various butterflies for about 30 minutes when I visited the Argentine side of the Foz do Iguacu. This little one decided to rest on part of the boardwalk railing, enabling me to snap a picture. Canon powershot 10X. More about the butterfly species 

7. A View toward Mt. Everest. From Nagarkot, Nepal, looking over the beginning of the Himalaya mountain range and Mt. Everest in the distance. It's obscured by cloud, OF COURSE, but I guarantee that it is there!