Tuesday, May 17, 2016

5 1/2 Reasons Why I've Lived on "The Border of the Quarter"

Tons of people ask me about my apartment. Mostly, they want to know why I live in (almost) the French Quarter and why I put up with no parking and no washer/dryer and the lack of w/d connections. So, I've been thinking about that lately as I prepare to move to Tennessee and attend the Sewanee School of Theology for my MDiv (as a postulant for priesthood in the Episcopal Church!!!!!) When I moved from Milledgeville, GA to take the position of Director of Choral Activities at The University of New Orleans, I was looking for an apartment during the immediate recovery from the aftermath of hurricane Katrina
At least 80% of the housing in the whole area had been destroyed completely or enough to where it was not fit to live in. I remember it took me three different trips down here to explore housing options and check out apartment possibilities. On the third trek, my friend Kate came with me and we both called every number we saw outside of houses offering space and investigated every ad in the paper and online. It was extremely DIFFICULT to find something (AND that accepted pets). The apartment I finally took was in Metairie, tiny, and VERY expensive ($750 per month - compared to what I was paying in Georgia). My job was a one-year visiting position so I figured that after a fun year of FINALLY finishing my doctorate, I'd probably be leaving for another job somewhere. As it turned out, I "woke up" in the spring, a freshly-minted doctorate holder, and realized "Whoa, I live in New Orleans!!!". By then, the university offered me another year and so I found myself wanting to really live in New Orleans proper. I found a terrific apartment on Esplanade Avenue, the border of the Quarter, technically The Marigny neighborhood, and lived there for five years. Then, I moved again, but stayed in the same basic neighborhood. 
There are tons of reasons why I love living in this area, but here are the five that stick out the most to me!

1. Close, but not too close...

Photo by Caroline Carson. 
According to the Myers-Briggs, I'm a borderline introvert/extrovert and as many times as I've taken it, that's been the case. I love to be on my terms when it comes to entering the action or not. I'm there, but I'm not there (just like the woman above, she is outside the scene behind her, yet she IS part of the scene.) I like hearing the nightly brass bands down the street. I live on Frenchmen Street so that's just about every night. Drum circles at 3:00 AM, I don't love that so much. Hearing parades begin to pass by....well, I can choose whether or not to run outside and watch it on our front porch or to simply know it's happening and continue reading my book. Usually, I choose to run out and wave and watch until everything passes by! People, I love them, but it's nice to be able to choose how much of your dosage of tourists to administer :-)  If I feel like walking to where the action is, it's super easy. New Orleans makes it easy and the French Quarter especially. One block can be crazy active and loud while the next block can be quiet and serene.

2. The Art

Photo by Caroline Carson
I love art and have always been surrounded by it. My walls in home and offices are covered with artwork. My father was an excellent painter and a graphic artist as well as a superb photographer. My brother is a fantastic artist as well and I have some of both their pieces on my walls! I LOVE photography and even though I don't know very much about it, I know I have a decent eye. I feel closer to my father when traveling and taking pictures. On the scale of fantasticness, the palette that the French Quarter provides is beyond description. Everywhere you go, you see visual art and artists: performance art, the architecture, sketches, painters, crafts, scuptures, etc. 

3. The Music

iPhone photo by Caroline Carson
I'm a musician so this one for me is obvious. I don't go out to jazz clubs often, but I truly appreciate living here when I want to do that - or to take visiting friends out. I've been known to show up at Irvin Mayfield's Jazz Playhouse, Snug Harbor, or The Spotted Cat. 
St. Louis Cathedral also hosts plenty of classical concerts as do some of the smaller churches every now and then. Festivals are all over my area all the time. I like hearing live music wherever I am in the Quarter. Being on the edge of the Quarter, one can also hear all sorts of morning birds. I get to hear the steam calliope on the Steamboat Natchez play when the wind is just right, church bells from several places on Sunday mornings, and fog horns from large ships in the middle of a Fall night. I do enjoy a good thunderstorm too - and all areas of New Orleans are great for that. ALL of it is the music of life.

4. The Crazy

Photo by Caroline Carson
Hmmm....this sort of goes without explanation, but where else can you ride home and see a skeleton on a bike with a cat and a boombox in its basket? Perhaps a mime and a statue man having tea on a streetcorner? What about dogs dressed up in costumes for the Mystic Krewe of Barkus parade? People with amazing and in-your-face personality who could care less what you think of it! Folks of similar reputation as Ruthie the Duck Lady. Almost daily on my street, I see a man dressed in tux and tails with top hat and glasses with 3-d crazy eyes. He doesn't ever speak, but he'll nod sometimes. In April I saw a man wearing a bumblebee outfit riding a bike and singing at the top of his lungs. I would have taken a photo, but I was driving and he vanished around the corner. It didn't really faze me. I just assumed it for was for some New Orleans Allergy Festival. Hey, that COULD ACTUALLY BE A THING HERE! Just think of the Benadryl-flavored snoballs, the pollen-fried chicken... I digress.
Bumblebee Man was completely and happily in his own world.
Every. day.
Really though, the people that live here are just people. Also, they'll speak to you. Just about everyone says hello, smiles, or nods in greeting. They also dance....a lot. :-)

5. Feels sort of like Europe and reminds me of my beloved Charleston 

So, this one is a big one. The French Quarter is not the pure essence of New Orleans, but in my opinion, it sure does capture a huge percentage of that.
Cobbled or old brick walkways, small and colorful cottages, the market, the history, the restaurants, the pedestrian nature of the whole area - these things not only remind me of my beloved Charleston, SC., but they remind me of walking in Europe. I am mostly pedestrian when I visit other places and especially when I travel overseas. There is a very European feel to the French Quarter, and not just French and Spanish quality. One can hear any number of languages walking into the Quarter, tourists are everywhere, music is calling you from a seemingly infinite number of places, as are the street performers. There's always food or art being sold all around the area and there's a general air of excited energy. 
I love, love, LOVE the riverfront and watching boats and ships pass along. Sometimes, I've gone to pick up some cafe & beignets on a weekend morning or a daquiri on a weekday evening and just sat on a bench at the river. In addition to my little picnic days or walks in City Park (which I ADORE!), I will also occasionally sit in Woldenburg Park and eat a half sandwich and read a bit.

5 1/2. THE FOG

Photo by Caroline Carson. Christmas morning fog on Esplanade Avenue, 2007.
HA! I'm halfway kidding.....the fog is everywhere in the city, but I have enjoyed photographing it in my neighborhood.

Fog in Washington Square Park. Photo by Caroline Carson
Frenchmen Street Fog at Washington Square Park. Photo by Caroline Carson
So, I'll miss my border-of-the-Quarter residence when I'm gone, but I hope to return many times and maybe even live nearby again!

The dreaded office move out

Alright y'all! I did it! I finished going through stuff at UNO and packing up my office. I did end up leaving a lot of books, CDs, lots of scores, and a TON of sheet music. I tried to keep what was extra meaningful and/or useful to me. Still, I ended up keeping a ton of stuff. I can't imagine myself leaving it all behind. Things such as scores signed by Robert Shaw, works I have sung at various points in my life that have made an impact on me, music my professors wrote, pieces that are my favorites, and music from Bulgarian conductors and workshops. As for the books I'm leaving behind, most of them are ones I have not used and don't feel I'll ever use, even if they hold some sentimental value. I tried, I REALLY tried to leave more behind, but for now this was all I could do. 
I got half of the boxes into my apartment yesterday, but I stopped because my parking spot was a block away and the rest of the boxes are HEAVY! 
The smiley balloon is an old one, but wow, it lasted 10 yrs! One of my dearest friends in the world, Sara, sent it to me when I moved to New Orleans. We had worked together at USC and she was proud of me for getting the job. It's been smiling at me every morning :-) One side is extremely faded from the sun, but the side facing this way is still somewhat yellow.
The snowball below was my reward for finishing my office, LOL :-) The flavor is red velvet!
So, how do I feel now that I've cleaned out most of my office? 
I feel FANTASTIC! It feels lighter and is one step closer to my new life as a seminarian. I am slightly worried about whether or not I should take ALL of the books with me, but I have a couple of months to figure that out...
One thing that cleaning out the office did for me is make me think examine my books and want to to-re-read a few. Maybe I'll have some opportunities coming up when I am in recovery from surgery in mid-June so that will be nice!
Something else that occurred to me at UNO when cleaning out the office was the excitement that I felt when I first moved there ten years ago and the fresh, fun feelings that come with decorating a new space. I feel that way about my new tiny apartment. It's also a new chance to be clutter free and I'm hoping to abide by that - at least when it's not exam and paper-writing time and when stuff will NEED to be all over the place!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Pentecost, 2016

What exactly is that? Why do we wear red? Why do we read the Gospel in different languages? What's this about "the birthday of the church"? I put together some easy and short info. to help answer these questions ~ Caroline
What is Pentecost?
June 8th marks "the Fiftieth day" of Easter and is a prominent feast in the calendar of ancient Israel celebrating the giving of the Law on Sinai, and also later in the Christian liturgical year commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the twelve Apostles of Christ. In the Eastern churches, Pentecost can also refer to the fifty days between Easter and Pentecost, hence the book containing the liturgical texts for Paschaltide is called the Pentecostarion. The feast is also called Whit Sunday, Whitsun, or Whit, especially in England, where the following Monday was traditionally a holiday. Pentecost is celebrated seven weeks (50 days) after Easter Sunday, hence its name.  Pentecost falls on the tenth day after Ascension Thursday.

What happened that day?
Ten days after Jesus ascended into heaven, the twelve apostles, Jesus’ mother and family, and many other of His disciples gathered together in Jerusalem for the Jewish harvest festival that was celebrated on the fiftieth day after Passover.  While they were indoors praying, a sound like that of a rushing wind filled the house and tongues of fire descended and rested over each of their heads.  This was the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on human flesh promised by God through the prophet Joel (Joel 2:28-29).  The disciples were suddenly empowered to proclaim the gospel of the risen Christ.  They went out into the streets of Jerusalem and began preaching to the crowds gathered for the festival.  Not only did the disciples preach with boldness and vigor, but by a miracle of the Holy Spirit they spoke in the native languages of the people present, many who had come from all corners of the Roman Empire.  This created a sensation.  The apostle Peter seized the moment and addressed the crowd, preaching to them about Jesus’ death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins.  The result was that about three thousand converts were baptized that day. (

Among Christians, Pentecost commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Twelve apostles and other followers of Jesus as described in the Acts of the Apostles.  For this reason, Pentecost is sometimes described as the "Birthday of the Church." 
(by Rev. Jay Sidebotham) 

The Pentecostal movement of Christianity also derives its name from the New Testament event.

We wear red because it is the color of fire and blood. Red is liturgically used for Palm Sunday and Pentecost and reminds us of the tongues of fire as the Holy Spirit descended.
(The picture above is an icon of the Christian Pentecost, in the Greek Orthodox tradition. This is the Icon of the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles. At the bottom is an allegorical figure, called Kosmos, which symbolizes the world.)

We read in different languages because the idea is: Many languages, one prayer! It is because of this passage from Acts 2:1-4 "When the day of Pentecost had come, the disciples were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability." Some congregations choose to read The Lord's Prayer in many languages and some read the Gospel. If you ever have the opportunity while traveling to say The Lord's Prayer simultaneously with others speaking several languages, it is very striking and can be quite an emotional experience!

Various symbols of Pentecost include flames, wind, doves, and the breath of God and the Holy Spirit.

Other traditions included scattering rose petals from the ceiling of the churches (Italy), blow trumpets to represent the mighty wind (France), and Morris Dancing & cheese rolling (England). ( In at least 22 nations, Pentecost Monday is a public holiday. 
Here are a few more memes. This one, I put together last year :-) I used to sing these words while processing down the aisle to "Hail Thee, Festival Day" and my friend Paul sent me a picture of his fancy vegetables last year along with the quote which I've told EVERY choir I've had since I began directing, HA!

and this one below that I also like :-)

"We didn't start the fire.
It was always burning
Since the world's been turning"

Saturday, May 14, 2016

A Cup of Sewanee

This isn't just ANY ole cup of coffee.... it's a cup of I'M GOING TO SEWANEE COFFEE!! 

Honestly, I can't believe it! I am SO EXCITED and HAPPY! It's almost is indeed a dream and lately, I have been catching myself occasionally stopping mid-thought and finding myself grinning and pondering my new journey of postulancy with rapid heartbeats and wonder. No joke that this is a dream of mine. I fell in love with Sewanee: The University of the South in 1988 when I was a senior in Porter-Gaud High School (Charleston, SC) and when I visited, it was my first choice. I had been planning to major in music and something else, not sure what. I was even thinking about keyboard at the time, having had a tiny bit of piano training. I remember I wrote my application essay on mentorship and role models and used Angela Lansbury as my example of success complemented with living. I had been a fan of her roles in fun mysteries and also in Sweeney Todd.
Well, it was not to be yet. I received a scholarship, but it was basically book money. My parents made too much to qualify for most types of loans, yet not enough to afford expensive places such a Sewanee or Emory at the time. My brother was also still at home for a few more years and finances had always been tough. Anyway, I ended up having to go to "the dreaded state school" which, at the time, was a peer-pressured shame at the prep school I was attending. Now, I think anything goes and of COURSE I understood - even at the time - that where you attend college often doesn't matter as much as what you make of it when you're there. So, I wasn't about to go to Clemson (nope!) because I was already a USC Gamecock fan like my Dad so I chose USC. At first, I was rather disillusioned at having my dream swiped from underneath my feet and I didn't know what major to choose or how to like this school. My parents thought I should choose something where I'd be able to make a living so I liked Biology and chose that, thinking I'd become a virologist and maybe could cure the common cold. (Now, actually THAT would be insanely awesome, had it happened, but I like people WAAAAAAY more than petri dishes). After a year, I was hooked on USC and I am a HUGE Gamecock fan!  A bio-pre-med major, it took me almost three years to find my way to music and I was only able to convince myself I could do a music major because....wait for it.....

There was no required recital in the music education track.

What a cop out. Well, not really...I had so much more stage fright then than I do now - even though now I still have a TON. To think that I went from that to eventually getting a doctorate in conducting is a pretty amazing transformation. (I joyfully returned to USC after an MM at Emory!)
So, after a brief time as a French major and a Psychology major (like a month or two each), I came into music and was hooked. I still am. In fact, one of the things that "sold it" in my period of Episcopal discernment was in October 2013, I suddenly realized that I didn't have to give up being a musician. What?! YAY!
I identify with being a conductor and singer now and probably always will to some degree. 

That REALLY opened up my heart!

Now, I felt free and able to hear God's call more clearly and I am SO HAPPY now because I feel MUCH freer to move forward to where I'm being called. My vision of ministry has increased like the outward circles from something dropping in a pond, getting richer and more amazing with each layer and all the while strengthening that innermost layer. I cannot wait to take courses and learn from the faculty and my fellow classmates. 
Formation - I need it! 
Knowledge - I need it!
The beautiful mountain - I need it!
Ohhhhh and there's this: the exciting fact that I received my Sewanee housing assignment yesterday!

More anticipation!!! It's a tiny apartment on the edge of campus, but it has two windows, a nicer kitchen than I have now, and a couple of built-in drawers in the bedroom so perhaps I can sell my dresser, which would be GREAT! It is what I asked for! I can't wait to find out more about it and see exactly what it looks like but I am thrilled to know where I'll be and it makes it all the more real!

Cleaning out my UNO office is also making things super real. I have a TON of stuff, especially books and music. I'm pretty proud that I whittled down an entire 4-shelf bookshelf of choral sheet music to a 1/2 box. That's great for me, considering I have extreme sentimental value associated with 90% of everything. :-) 
I will have to ask at church if anyone has any room in a garage or attic to store some boxes of books for me, but I might be able to stack bookshelves and may be doing that in both the bedroom and the living room. Time will tell.
One thing I've learned that does make me sad is that my position of Director of Choral Activities at UNO is being adjuncted out and there is not any information as to whether or not the position itself is going away or if they will do a search (which I hope they do!), or if it will simply morph into a choral/music ed position once the new School of the Arts is on track and fully functioning with admins in place, financial development, and more faculty and staff. That could happen well and quickly....or it could drag out and maybe happen or maybe not. I must admit, it makes me sad and a little mad too. I worked HARD over the ten years I spent there to build the choirs, the job itself, the budget (I'm leaving the choral foundation account at almost $20,000 which would normally be awesome), and being active in the community so that the choirs were respected. I'm proud to say we combined with the choirs of Xavier, Loyola, Tulane, The Baptist Seminary, Dillard, the Jefferson Chorale, the NOCCA School (New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts), and more during my ten years! Still, I know that this is the way of much in academia and also with many music positions on many educational institution levels today. 
While I truly hope that the choral area will rise again and go much further, I recognize it is no longer "mine" and that is very freeing.I know I did my best and did a good job! :-)
Ten years at any place is also quite respectable!
So, all these things are on my mind this morning - mostly giddy excitement though, as I drink from my new cup of Sewanee!

Friday, May 13, 2016

The Fantastic Flaming Fabulosity of Our Sun

Dear Gigantic Flaming Ball of Hot Gas, 
Churning in space, around which our entire solar system exists, I'm glad you're here!
The Sun - Basic Facts and awesome photos -
The recent Mercury transit got me thinking of all of my favorite images of the Sun. I decided to put a few together and WOW! They are stunning!
I recently saw an incredibly detailed picture of a sunspot and I truly couldn't believe the clarity! This image below simply takes my breath away! It is from 2002 and was the APOD for Nov 14th that year.
APOD Nov 14, 2002 Credit: SST, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
I love the pictures that I get from Astronomers occasionally via twitter!! They use all sorts of filters. Below is a collage of two of my favorite solar prominence shots from @FogBoundTurtle (Claude D.), an amateur astronomer, photographer from Burnaby, BC. 
Images from Claude Desrosiers, Burnaby, BC
Here is a great one of the solar surface, also by @FogBoundTurtle

Speaking of twitter (and Facebook), get to know Camilla Corona (Space Chicken), the mission mascot for NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, a super fun sciencey chicken that worked at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and is a STEM Ambassador at the Stanford Solar Center! @CamillaSpace is her Twitter handle!
I LOVE this next image from the Stanford Solar center! It has beautifully merged solar images into a quilted sun :-) It was their webpage cover! Clever!
Home page of the Stanford Solar Center
This next one is a solar prominence in X-Ray view from NASA
NASA X-ray images
AND from NASA's SDO - Solar Dynamics Observatory - At first light on April 21, 2010, the first photographs from the SDO were received. A WOW view of the high-definition sun was that of a dramatic prominence; an arc of solar plasma rising into the sun's corona. Here is a link to three year's worth of NASA SDO Images in video form with explanation!
NASA SDO images
Another fabulous APOD - from July 2013  This image below features sunspots crossing the sun. I still cannot believe the clarity and detail! Here is the explanation, directly from APOD
"Explanation: One of the largest sunspot regions in recent years is now crossing the Sun. This region of convoluted magnetic fields may well produce a solar flare that releases a cloud of energetic particles into the Solar System. Were a very powerful cloud to impact the Earth's magnetosphere, it could be dangerous to Earth-orbiting astronauts and satellites. Conversely, the impact of even a less energetic cloud might create picturesque auroraThis is the sunspot region as it appeared two days ago. The rightmost part of this region has been cataloged as AR 11785, while the left part as AR 11787. The darkest sunspot regions contain nearly vertical magnetic fields and are called umbras, while the surrounding bronze regions -- more clearly showing stringy magnetic flux tubes -- are called penumbras. Churning solar granules, many about 1000 km across, compose the yellow background region. No one knows what this sunspot region will do, but space weather researchers are monitoring it closely." ~ APOD
Image by Damian Peach -
The final one I'll post today is of the 2012 Venus transit. This image is by NASA SDO and shows the entire transit sequence! Here is the info on the image:

"About this Image
On June 5-6 2012, SDO collected images of one of the rarest predictable solar events: the transit of Venus across the face of the sun in this cool space wallpaper. This event happens in pairs eight years apart that are separated from each other by 105 or 121 years. The last transit was in 2004 and the next will not happen until 2117. This image was captured on June 5, 2012." ~ via
NASA SDO Venus transit, 2012
Lastly, the recent MERCURY TRANSIT! #MercuryTransit! It was amazing! I watched it via the Slooh Space Camera online and just left it open on my UNO desktop while I was cleaning my office. Here's the article and here is a link to more Mercurial fabulosity.

I'm sure I'll post more sunspot fabulosity at some point. Living with a mid-sized whitish decently-healthy star is awesome indeed!
Just for fun.....see below! HAHAHA! :-)

A Prayer for Quiet Confidence

A Prayer for Quiet Confidence

O God of peace, who has taught us that in returning and rest we will be saved, in quietness and confidence will be our strength: By the might of your Spirit lift us, we pray, to your presence, where we may be still and know that you are God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

~ Book of Common Prayer

Photo by Caroline Carson

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Consider Again that Pale Blue Dot...

Today, it strikes me that we would do well, as humans, to hear again Carl Sagan's message regarding the future of Humanity.
HERE is the a full video

"And our small planet at this moment, here we face a critical branch point in history, what we do with our world, right now, will propagate down through the centuries and powerfully affect the destiny of our descendants, it is well within our power to destroy our civilization and perhaps our species as well. If we capitulate to superstition or greed or stupidity we could plunge our world into a time of darkness deeper than the time between the collapse of classical civilization and the Italian Renaissance. But we are also capable of using our compassion and our intelligence, our technology and our wealth to make an abundant and meaningful life for every inhabitant of this planet."

"Think of all that you know of the past, present, and future: people, places, things, memories, experiences...."
Now look at this stunning image from the Cassini spacecraft near Saturn showing our Earth from 898 million miles away. 
"You’re an interesting species. An interesting mix. You’re capable of such beautiful dreams, and such horrible nightmares. You feel so lost, so cut off, so alone, only you’re not. See, in all our searching, the only thing we’ve found that makes the emptiness bearable, is each other."
This image was taken on July 19, 2013 and used the wide-angle camera on NASA's Cassini spacecraft. What a stunning view of Saturn's rings and Earth. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
"All I’m asking is for you to just have the tiniest bit of vision. You know, to just sit back
for one minute and look at the big picture."

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Lord, it is night. The Night is for Stillness...

Lord it is night. The night is for stillness. Let us be still in the presence of God. It is night after a long day. What has been done has been done; what has not been done has not been done. Let it be. The night is dark. Let our fears of the darkness of the world and of our own lives rest in you. The night is quiet. Let the quietness of your peace enfold us, all dear to us, and all who have no peace. The night heralds the dawn. Let us look expectantly to a new day, new joys, new possibilities. In your name we pray. Amen.
(from the New Zealand Prayer Book)
Hubble: Globular cluster

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

A 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.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

A Prayer for Peace

The past year has been VERY full of exciting things and I'm happy to report that the horizon is filled with more adventures! In the midst of excitement and happiness has also been some stress. Currently, most of my stresses center around beginning to pack up my belongings and wondering about my seminary housing assignment, having a hysterectomy in mid-June, getting rid of this lingering cold, and seeing that last paycheck arrive in eight days and wondering about the lengthy dry spell to follow! While these are VERY minor compared to a world full of people with worse things to worry about, they are still worrisome to me.
Me in Central India (near Kwardha) in 2015
Heavenly Father, please grant me peace of mind and calm my troubled heart. My soul is like a turbulent sea. I can't seem to find my balance so I stumble and worry constantly. Give me the strength and clarity of mind to find my purpose and walk the path you've laid out for me. I trust your Love God, and know that you will heal this stress. Just as the sun rises each day against the dark of night. Please bring me clarity with the light of God.
In your name I pray, Amen.

(Found at

Friday, May 6, 2016


Oh my kitteh is so silly! Here she is watching a documentary about the sun, LOL!

Annnnd here she is being lazy and so super sweet! She's quite a loud purrer too!
Video of Blubell cuteness!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

A Prayer for the Human Family

                                                                 For the Human Family

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. 

Afternoon light at the Sagrada familia, 2013. Photo by Caroline Carson

Ascension Day Memes

A few of my favorite, fun Ascension Day memes! Enjoy! :-) 



Monday, May 2, 2016

The Episcopal Church Prays for Pakistan

I am so happy and grateful that The Episcopal Church included Pakistan in their Easter Season of Prayer this week!!! I hope they do this every year with a global focus. As you can read in my previous Pakistan blog post, everyone that I met asked for prayers and good wishes for peace. I'm also excited that they used my photo and included the prayer I wrote and my reflection! For me, this makes my year! I feel like I can be useful with my travels and what I have learned. I also actually want to work in global mission and I hope to study missiology and about global mission while in seminary at Sewanee
I am SO EXCITED about attending seminary!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I may even be able to have an international C.P.E. (Clinical Pastoral Education) assignment so we'll see! If that is possible, WOW, how amazing! I am particularly interested in the following locations, some due to my own travels, and some from watching global events unfold and my heart being drawn to some situations. I am sure everything will depend on accreditation, VISAs, and fine details, but the fact that Sewanee Contextual Education / CPE is willing to even consider an international placement, well, that is a true blessing and very exciting for them (and me!)
Card drawn by Junior Church of the Diocese of Raiwind to give to our students at St. Paul's Episcopal, New Orleans (Our kids drew some friendship cards for me to take to Pakistan after the bombing.)
Here is the link to the Season of Prayer Pakistan page

Here is my Prayer for Pakistan, approved by Bishop Samuel Azariah

For the magnificent and hospitable, yet besieged country of Pakistan, we pray to you Heavenly Father. For the cities steeped in the shadows of terror, for its peaceful people living in stress and fear, ever seeking stability and freedom - we ask for tranquility. Out of the depths of religious and civic turmoil, we cry to you for reconciliation, tolerance, and stability. For the victims and families of the bombed, we seek your comfort and healing. For those deceived from childhood and led into a life filled with the false glory of a paradise gained through self-destruction, we pray for new eyes to discover the truth and a safe way out of their current lifestyle. For those with terrorist connections, we pray they may act honestly and rightly. Grant an end to violence and a return to hope. Enable those who put loving first to be strengthened and to be confident enough to continue to live their faith out loud without fear and to continue to reach out to the suffering. For negative images of Pakistan held by others to be lifted and changed, we pray. We ask these things in the name of God - who is large enough to love us all and gave his son that we might live in him. Amen.

Altar at The Cathedral of Praying Hands, Diocese of Raiwind
Here is my reflection. I am honored that they published it! Mainly, I am happy that people will know a little bit more about Pakistan, the Christians there, and relationships with the Muslim community. PEACE is what we need these days, world peace. It CAN happen. I truly believe that with all my heart. Hopefully, people will read this and maybe have something open in their minds and hearts. 
Street view Lahore, Pakistan, April 2016
Dr. Caroline Carson, Postulant from the Diocese of Louisiana, shares a reflection this week.

"One must keep living" Such simple, yet powerful words uttered from so many Christians I met in Pakistan the day after the Easter bombing in Gulshan-I-Iqbal Park in Lahore. The absence of freedom of speech, the realities of inequality, and the constant fear of violating Pakistan's "blasphemy laws” are everyday tensions. Many Christians have been killed and buildings set on fire from mob attacks because these laws are regularly misused. 20-foot walls, assault-weaponed security on every corner, and barbed wire everywhere - these all regular sights for schools, libraries, stores, hotels, etc. Then the suicide bombers are expected and bring a despair that does not cease. A new and rising trend is that children are being used as bombers: the innocent killing the innocent. Everyone, Muslim and Christian alike, must look over their shoulders and live in constant fear of Taliban attacks at any time or place. Another aspect of this terror is the profound sadness that attacks have become so commonplace. After a couple of days in the news, things tend to be forgotten. Everyone I met asked for us to pray for them and/or for the energy of peace.

While the Diocese of Peshawar is one of the most hostile anywhere, on the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan, and encompasses a region where there is barely any civil law, anyone who comes to them is a welcomed child of God. The Diocese of Raiwind in Lahore mimics this in a time where terror attacks are rising at an alarming rate. The Diocese of Raiwind provides education, health care in outlying parts of Lahore (including the malaria-endemic brick kilns areas where children as young as six and women work in the kilns to pay off family debts they know nothing about), rehabilitation programs for victims of sex trafficking, and pastoral care to thousands. The Diocese of Raiwind also continues to be extremely active in peace building and reaching out to fellow religious leaders in the city and region. They hold regular gatherings to try and determine what can concretely be done to stave off terror and oversee what can be done to help victims of bombings. They live life and faith "above ground" as Bishop Mano Rumalshah (bishop emeritus of Peshawar) says. Moderator Bishop Samuel Azariah is an amazing leader with a terrific and dedicated staff. The feeling from all of them when asked about putting their lives on the line for the diocese was that they would "rather die doing something good than to be sitting in the corner, frozen in fear."

It is of utmost importance to realize that religious leaders and practitioners of Islam are not inherently violent and all Muslims are not against Christians. They consider us brothers and sisters. There has long been an underlying current that each religion is set out to convert each other and this creates continuing suspicion. The Taliban know that if they attack Christians, the Western media will make it a huge event and they get what they want - fear and anxiety to win over stability and peace.

The links below provide information and opportunities to follow along with our brothers and sisters and to reach out and get connected and involved.

Please tell your elected officials to support peace building in South Asia and the Middle East. All world governments should stand with peacemaking, especially in areas afflicted by daily tensions and bombs.

Get Involved:

It is vital to tell your elected officials to stand for peace in Pakistan. If you live in the United States, this includes urging the President, Secretary of State, and the United States Congress to support peace building in Pakistan. If you do not live in the United States, your voice is just as important: all world governments must stand with peacemakers in Pakistan.

You can find contact information for the President, the Secretary of State, and your members of Congress below. We encourage you to call or write to express that as a person of faith, you support peace building.

The President:

The Secretary of State:

United States Senate:

Your Local Representative:

If you would like to stay up to date on advocacy and receive resources around international and domestic issues, you can join the Episcopal Public Policy Network.

Bishop Sammy Azariah, Caroline Carson, and Bishop Mano Rumalshah
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