October 2007

Gallery: St Petersburg, Russia

st. petersburg gallery

St. Petersburg is a complex city. There are hard surfaces and sharp edges everywhere. Beauty and sophistication. Warm pastels. Darkness. Closed faces.

We walked around the corner to the door of our apartment and a man was lying in the gutter, his head on the curb. It was the middle of the afternoon. He was dressed well and wearing good shoes. No one was paying any attention. Should we help? There was the feeling on the street of studied indifference, of some inscrutable narrative being played out. Why? What were we missing? I stepped carefully, holding my breath, half expecting a trapdoor to open under my feet or something to explode. We stood nearby for awhile, unsure, and then decided to go inside and lay our things down. Climbing to the 5th floor, we looked out the window and he was gone. Where did he go? Had I imagined him? Like dark water, the city seemed to have pulled him under, not a ripple left behind. He stayed in my mind all evening.

Here are a few of my pictures (another gallery from a previous trip can be viewed here.)


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Link: History of Religion in 90 Seconds

How has the geography of religion evolved over the centuries, and where has it sparked wars? Our map gives us a brief history of the world’s most well-known religions: Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Judaism.

Link via Boing Boing

other people's words

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On The Mountain

I woke up in the dark yesterday morning to the sound of rain on the roof. I am still temporally misaligned. My timezones, present and past, are sliding closer, but it will be another few days before things are right. By the time the sky had started to lighten, I had been awake for a couple hours, partly from the jetlag, partly from thinking too much. Since the dog needed some exercise and I had spent plenty of time already this week in fog, we made tracks for the hills.

The rain was stopping and the clouds had started to break by the time I was on the trail. Above me on the hill was the first light of sunshine. When I reached the viewpoint, I regretted not bringing a camera (the better to see things with?). The valley was still wrapped in fog and to the east everything was misty and beautiful. The kind of morning that makes you think of prayer as a rational activity.

Being in the state I was, the only thing I could think to pray was “help, help, help”, which I think is a pretty good prayer in general. Then I stood there with my arms out and the dog running in circles around me. And at that moment the fog decided to slide up the hill and gather all around me, so that the valley below and the mountain above became vague outlines and then disappeared altogether and I was left on a small point of land surrounded by air that glowed as if it were lit by angels. Things stayed like that for a few minutes, all ablaze with crazy, golden light, until the fog slid past and the sun climbed into the clouds above and things went back to normal.

I’ve read about something like this happening before, but those people wanted to build tents and stay there. I can’t do that because I have a job, and because there are rattlesnakes. But it did make me want to stop for awhile, especially when climbing down into the valley meant going back down into the grey. So I sat there and said “thank you” out loud a couple times. Then I went down the hill.


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Gallery: Courage

Courage gallery thumbnailI just returned from a trip that included some time in St. Petersburg, Russia. I don’t write very much about the work that I’m involved with on this blog, but I wanted to share these pictures. These are some of the kids that I spent time with last month. They let me intrude in their lives in a variety of ways, one of which was to take portraits of them. Maybe it’s just me, but I like these pictures and I think they’re alright just as photographs. But there’s more to it than that.

Each of the kids in these photos has a story to tell which includes more difficulty, pain, and struggle than most of us ever will face. Each of them have been abandoned (or worse) by parents, survived the Russian orphanage system, and are working to make something better of their lives. I felt privileged to work with them. The photos in this gallery are dedicated to them and to their courage.


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Antlers and Bon Jovi

panzio.jpgSpotty internet and a tight schedule have kept me from writing here, but this morning I am compelled to use a few moments while at breakfast…

We are in Hungary now, and have been for a week, with a short jaunt into Serbia. The town is called Zalaegerszeg, which is fun to say – “zalla egg er zeg”. I’m sitting drinking a mean cup of coffee in the dining room of our panzio, which is a cross between a motel and a bed and breakfast, or in this case a hunting lodge. We’ve got antlers on the wall, Bon Jovi “Living On A Prayer” playing on the radio, and wireless internet at the breakfast table. How great is that?


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