Friday, March 24, 2017

Sara P. Duke Gardens in Durham, North Carolina

This morning, we visited the Sara. P. Duke Botanical Gardens in Durham, North Carolina. 

Even though I've been to Duke University a few times, I have never been to the gardens. They are LOVELY and combined with the morning birdsong, dew, sunbeams, and quiet, it was a real treat. Here are a few photos :-)

"The Big Easy" - sculpture by Patrick Dougherty

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A Sweet Bluebell Kitty

Bluebell loves to play, but here she is pretending to be asleep... Soon, her curiosity gets the better of her and she looks up at me with one eye, still not 100% sure that she wants to commit to being awake...
THEN.... SHE SEES THE STRING!!! HAHAHAHA! She looooooooooooves to play with string or ribbons etc. I am s grateful to have her here with me at seminary. It's tough sometimes, knowing most of your friends are far away. Sure, there is a vast array of ways to keep in touch, but it's not the same as seeing folks and hanging out in person. I am very happy here, but I'm still glad to have this soft, silly, ball of fur with me. Bluebell will also accompany me to Brooklyn this summer where my C.P.E. (Clinical Pastoral Education) assignment is located. There are already two cats in the apartment where I'll be staying, but we hope that this will all work out. 

Check our her cute and furry paws, awwwwww!

A Hymn to the Morning Sun

The glorious sun has driven far
The mystic shades of night;
So in our souls the morning star
Hath shed His wondrous light.
#Episcopal #prayer #morning #praise #hymns
~D. Warner ( )

Sagrada familia light (by C. Carson, 2013)

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Update for St. Paul's from Caroline :-)

Chapel of the Apostles (COTA)
Hi St. Paul's! :-) I hope this update finds you well and happy. I miss being with you: your welcoming smiles and laughs we share, seeing all the kids growing up, our wonderful services, Fr. Rob and Bishop Duncan and Fr. Ed, all my fellow staff members, the choir !!of course!!, and our beautiful church, but I am doing well here at seminary and truly loving it. Winter on this Holy Mountain has been beautiful and spring promises to be gorgeous. We even had a little now last weekend (LINK).

After I left you in December, I was able to participate in a choral tour of Israel and then use miles and hotel points to have an adventurous break in Egypt. Then, I drove to South Carolina where I visited my mother before returning to Sewanee.
Here are some links to the performance tour in case you'd like to know more about it!
1. Annelies, by James Whitbourn (tour) in Israel -
2. Acre, Israel - LINK
Bull from Acre, Israel. Canaanite period
This spring I'm taking the second semesters of Old Testament (Dr. Rebecca Wright), New Testament (Dr. William Brosend), and Church History (Dr. Benjamin King). Our Junior class is also taking World Religions (Dr. Donna Mote). being exempt from the music course, I decided to take Environmental Ethics (Dr. Andrew Thompson). ALL of my professors are extremely BRILLIANT and I love them all!
Fun announcing Lent Madness (above) and New Testament class below)

Fr. Rob came to visit during during the Come & See recruitment program and I am eternally grateful to him for his time, listening ear, advice, care, humor, and so much more. It was so fun to introduce him to my professors and some friends here. It was also really wonderful to hear about St. Paul's and how you all are doing!
I've been practicing a bit of nature photography while here
Things are going very well and today is our first day of spring break (March 16 to 26). I have a TON of papers from now until the end of the semester so I will be working on some of them next week. I'm going to Atlanta with our World Religions class and professor this weekend for an immersion of various kinds of faiths and to attend some services. Next Monday through Wednesday, I'll be on my own schedule, do some hiking around the Sewanee domain, and work on some papers. Then, I'll drive to Raleigh-Durham where my brother and his family now live. I didn't get to see my precious neice Suki and nephew Jasper over Christmas so I'll see them next week and I can't wait!!!
Looking ahead, I'll be leaving on April 28th, the weekend before exams to travel to The Philippines! I received a grant from the Episcopal Seminary Consultation on Mission (SCOM) for a project in The Philippines this May. Don't worry, I made sure with deans and professors that it was ok to ask about leaving early AND to take exams and turn papers in early! Following that, my Clinical Pastoral Education assignment will be at Lutheran Medical Services of NY in Brooklyn. C.P.E. is a program that all seminarians must complete and it is usually about 400 hours in a clinical setting or another setting which lends opportunities for pastoral care and more. Our Junior class has assignments all over the country. My particular program runs from May 22 to August 8 so I won't be home in New Orleans until after August 8. WOW! It's also two days after I return from The Philippines, but I am quite used to cutting things closely :-) Lucky for me, my cute little Bluebell kitty cat will be able to come with me to New York this summer!
scenes from Taize at Sewanee     
I would love to hear from you! You can email me at or or you can drop me a postcard sometime and let me know how you are doing!
My mailing address is:
335 Tennessee Avenue
School of Theology
Sewanee, TN, 37383

If you have time, please remember me in your prayers and send me positive energy!
All good things to you and stay tuned for future updates!

                                Making friends with goats during our Environmental Ethics class trek to the Sewanee farm!                                 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Sewanee SNOW 03/11/2017

This past weekend, we had a light SNOW in Sewanee!

I was soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo super excited - as I hardly EVER see snow, being from Charleston, SC and New Orleans, LA.! 
I watched the forecast every hour and was massively distracted by it all, but it was Saturday and fun to see snowflakes and flurries periodically!
Here is some video of the snowfall. I think that one of the most beautiful sounds on Earth is that of falling snow at night. Especially when it's falling on a full snow (which it wasn't here, but still gorgeous!)
I'm excited that tomorrow's forecast has a 60% chance of snow from 5 AM to 10 AM, YAY!!!

Dear Oreo Cake Ball

Dear Oreo Cakeball,
Thank you for making my Friday better! I don't care if you are full of calories...I welcome your sugary deliciousness.
The week has been full of nonstop activity, rushing around like crazy, late nights, writing papers, paying bills, etc. I hereby combat all that with your crunchy tastiness!

Monday, March 6, 2017

For Beauty and Wonder of God's Creation

“For the beauty and wonder of your creation, in earth and sky and sea. We thank you, Lord.”
(~The Angel Oak, Charleston (John's Island), SC)
#Episcopal #Anglican #prayer #AngelOak #morning

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Acre (Akko), Israel

Another travel post - this one about the glorious city of Acre. It was a tremendous highlight of an already wonderful choral performance tour to Israel (Haifa, Jerusalem, Jaffa, Nazareth, and Caesarea). I had been asked to join the choral performance tour because I helped premiere the work Annelies (by James Whitbourn) in its first Prague appearance a year and a half ago. This tour was a brief trip in which we gave four concerts and sang with two other choirs in educational settings. On January 1st, 2017, my host family from the Efroni choir in Kadimah, Israel, took me to the Bronze Age city of Acre, also known as Akko. It's also written as Aak (Egyptian), Akka, and Adco (Canaanite: Interestingly, Acre is one of the places that did NOT drive out the Canaanites.) (Below: Ancient bread stamp with menorah, Below Left:Templar hallway, Right: Catapult balls)
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Much of what I learned was from old signs in the tourist areas and from my host family, the father of which was an engineer interested in Biblical history. Cleopatra liked Acre so much that she arranged for her daughter to be married there. St. Francis of Assisi passed through Acre on his way to the Holy Land. Herod the Great built a gymnasium here and Paul the Apostle with Luke were supposed to have stayed a day here before going on to Caesarea. This site gives interesting accounts of Biblical Acre. Here's a quick video about Acre (UNESCO link). Here is a link to an aerial map of Acre that I liked.
(Left: Outside the Al-Jazzer Mosque, Right: underground Templar complex). 
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Akko is fascinating! If you have the chance, definitely DO visit this gorgeous Mediterranean city and stay in the old village. It's a coastal beauty, on the bay of Haifa, boasting a natural harbor and has been continuously residential since the Bronze Age, between 4,000 and 5,000 years ago. (BEFORE the iron age, wow!) Ancient Israel acted as a bridge between political centers in Egypt and Mesopotamia. Akko is a UNESCO World Heritage site and has been under excavation since the 1990's. There is history above AND below the current street level, mainly a Templar church, refectory, and fortress below. (Here is more about the Siege of Acre). While I was there, I heard and read the term Levantine archaeology. Very interesting. I can see where the term "land where the sun rises" comes into play in Akko. The seafront is stunning. Along it lies the earliest tell (archaeological mound) of the city which is the ruins of its old fortress.
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Tel Akko or Tell el-Fukhar in Arabic

The Crusaders conquered the city, followed by the Mamluks (Medieval Egyptian and Levantine). The city also had Greek (Ptolmey II from Egypt renamed Akko to Ptolemais, and it became a major Greek city), Roman, Persian, and Arabian conquests, along with others. It was a refuge for the Persians, Egyptians, and For this reason, it is one of THE most diverse places in Israel. It reminded me quite a bit of the ancient stone city of Uplistsikhe in Georgia  (not sure what blogspot did to my photos in that post, but I'll update soon) - mainly because both places consisted of such prime real estate that they seem to have been conquered by virtually everyone. (Left: Acre harbor, Right: Acre clock tower).
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In Akko, there are a ton of site to see: The Inn of the Columns (an Ottoman palatial inn), ALL of the city walls and the market, Turkish baths (still operating), the seafront Crusader fortress, the Crusader hall, church, and refectory, the Al-Jazzar Mosque, and Genovese Square where you can find St. George's church. The Order of the Knights Hospitaller, of St. John of Jerusalem, used this complex. (Below: Left - Crusader latrines Right - The Great Hall).
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You'll see a mix of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and the Baha'i faith in people and buildings. The people are friendly and used to tourists. If you somehow missed eating kanafe while in Israel or Palestine, try some here! This is a Syro-Palestinian dessert and one of the most delicious experiences. (Left: real Turkish delight, Right: kanafe).
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I LOVED every moment in Akko. It is captivating to look out at the sea and feel the impact of so many ages of conquests and life. The busyness of life in the touristy market area, showcases a mixed, vibrant, and complicated past that is full of the branches of history. Places like this hold multi-faceted gems that sparkle across ages of reflected lights. 
I wish I could have stayed more than one day! I suppose this means I shall have to return :-) Here is my Israel choir tour photo album. In it, you'll find some of these photos from Akko and can look forward and back to find the others.
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Ancient bull calf figurine, Canaanite period.

Israel Choral Performance Tour December 2016

On December 26, 2016, I flew from New Orleans through Rome to Jerusalem to join Dr. Larry Wyatt (my choral mentor) and friends in his professional ensemble Colla Voce, for a choral performance tour of Israel. It was a VERY lucky trip I was able to join and I used airline miles and hotel points to tack on a vacation after the performance portion of the trip.
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I'd been asked to join the tour because I helped premiere the composition Annelies, a striking, poignant, and beautiful work by the amazing James Whitbourn in Prague the year before and I knew the music! The work is on the life of Anne Frank, in her own words.
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I waited four hours or so at the Tel-Aviv Yafo airport and met up with one of the incoming groups. We then took a train to Haifa where we were staying. 
The next day was in Haifa and was full of rehearsals from 9 AM until the early evening at which point we were about to go crazy with exhaustion and restlessness. We had a good dinner and rested. The next day held some sight-seeing and a concert at the University of Haifa. 
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From here, we had another concert and were set up with host families. It's been a very LONG time since I've been on a choir tour and in host houses, but it was wonderful! One of my favorite experiences was going to the weekly Shabbat dinner at my family's grandmother's house and observing the final day of Channukah. They gathered around a table where there were several menorahs and lit them while singing several traditional songs. It was such a sweet and joyful time being with them and sure enough, all stereotypes about Jewish grandmothers making you eat - eat- EAT are TRUE!
Here are a few of my FB posts to give you some flavor of the trip:

- YAY! Macchiato because we're between rehearsals! THREE rehearsals for today! Whew! 🎶 It's so nice to sing with this group: a combination of the Colla Voce professional ensemble, six former DMA conducting students, and a few MMs too.

- HAPPY NEW YEAR from the future (from Israel), while watching Russian TV (hence, the Russian below!)

- A few words about 2016: While I know it had its horrific moments, losses, and issues, it was also a year for which I'm especially grateful. I am alive, well, and still in awe and excitement that I'm a postulant for priesthood in The Episcopal Church and am able to pursue this calling with the support of so many! It blows my mind that I'm attending a dream school, Sewanee! I give thanks for the sixcouples I know who married the loves of their lives this year. I'm happy for all the new babies (human or furry or feathered.) Look at all the cool space exploration that happened this year, too. I made new friends in Israel, Pakistan, Qatar, and in school. I finally had a major surgery I desperately needed and while I gained some pounds from doing nothing but binge watching Game of Thrones, I had the extravagant opportunity to do so. I got to hang out with my friends and spend valuable time with those who fill my life with joy. I enjoyed freedom, education, good health and plenty of bad puns

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So much good happened this year for me. I'm extremely fortunate and blessed. I hope and pray that 2017 will be filled with hope and increase in blessings for all that haven't been so fortunate and especially for those who suffered loss, war, and strife. I continue to hope for things like world peace and discovering more life out there in our universe. Like these candles, may your flame burn brightly and even be challenged, yet stand the windy night with graceful beauty.I wish everyone a very HAPPY NEW YEAR!
(It's 4:46 here and soon we will leave for tonight's concert!) More later

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We explored Nazareth, Caesarea maritima, Jaffa, Haifa, Jerusalem, and my host family took me to the city of Acre (Akko, will expound in a separate post). In six days, we gave four concerts and sang with three of Tommer Hessig's choirs. He is doing a FABULOUS job promoting the choral art in his area of Israel. Tommer is involving lots of artistic organizations, training young singers, educating communities, composing, and making beautiful music! It was super nice to catch up with (and meet some) fellow DMA students from USC, hang out with my first mentor, and sing. Ariana Wyatt was out soloist for Annelies, as she was in Prague, and she is extraordinary. Not only a beautifull and demonstrative singer, she is kind, friendly, and brilliant as well as having a good sense of humor.
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Caesarea Maritima
Here is the link to my entire photo album for this trip (in case you want to see a few more!)
One of the things I've always admired about choir trips is that they represent a microcosm of the greater community in which you exist almost outside of time. It's almost a shock to me when a tour, even a short one, is over. You get to know people deeply. One of my favorite thinfs to do is to stay awake on the bus whilst everyone is napping or asleep from sheer exhaustion, and stare out the window watching the landscape go by. You learn so much about a country by passing and seeing the everyday occurrences, often overlooked by group sight-seeing treks or overshadowed by people-watching in a touristy area (which can also be amazing). You see the dogs, the trash-lined sidewalk, the beauty of sun setting on a corn field, children playing in yards, birds, diners, street vendors, erosion, construction, fences, and so much more. It's part of that difference between being a tourist and really getting to know a place.
* Acre and Egypt posts coming soon!
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Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem