On average, Death Valley gets two inches of rain a year. Two inches. There are two major mountain ranges—the Panamint Range, pictured here, and the Sierra Nevadas beyond them to the West that trap weather systems that would otherwise drop precipitation from the Pacific, making it one of the driest places on earth.
Yet it is fair to say that Death Valley, one of the driest places on earth, has been shaped by water.
Well, water and tectonics.
“I’m drawn to places,” writes Eric Weiner, “that beguile and inspire, sedate and stir, places where, for a few blissful moments I loosen my death grip on life, and can breathe again.”[i] He is speaking of what we’ve come to know as thin places.
Heaven and earth, the Celtic saying goes, are only three feet apart, but in thin places that distance is even shorter. The ancient Celts used the term to describe places like the wind-swept isle of Iona where Julie Kae will have an opportunity to spend some time this summer as a part of her sabbatical.
2 Kings 4:42-44 † Psalm 145:10-18 † Ephesians 3:14-21 † John 6:1-21
In the fall of 2014 IHNFA, the Honduran Childcare services were restructured by a Honduran government that was under pressure from UNICEF and in a season of reform. It had been an open secret for some time that the majority of the IHNFA budget was enriching administrators and bureaucrats rather than serving the vulnerable and abandoned children it was charged to protect.
Many services were cut, including the government-run children’s homes and some of its foster programs. This created its own challenges in a country of 8.5 million people in which 138,000 are already without a home and more than 1 million are housing insecure.
Ezekiel 17:22-24 † Psalm 92:1-4, 12-15 † 2 Corinthians 5:6-17 † Mark 4:26-34
The news program 60 Minutes recently aired a feature on the French photographer who calls himself JR.[i] You may not have heard of him, but I’ll bet you’ve seen his work.
Here’s a photograph that popped up in September on the US-Mexico border—a 64-foot tall picture of a Mexican child named Kikito who lives just on the other side of the fence.
Because of its location on the Mexican side, US border patrol agents can’t do anything about it. So Kakito can show off his beautiful smile and his playful curiosity, display his humanity for those who have ears to hear and eyes to see, calling into question how our choices impact others, how we see one another, how our policies bless or curse other families.
JR has borders in mind a lot in his art—and the crossing of them. His passion flows out of his sense that we are deeply connected, that we share much in common—our hungers and humor and hope.
Readings for the Sunday:
Isaiah 6:1-8 | Psalm 22: 29 | Romans 8:12-17 | John 3:1-17
There are two kinds of people in the world, I think—those who understand they are beautiful, and those who are beautiful but have not yet figured it out. I’m talking about real beauty here—not the beauty so often defined by our western culture that is apparently accessible only between the ages of 25 and 30, not the surface kind of beauty that is driven by insecurity and the kind of advertising that pedals scarcity and uncertainty. I’m talking real beauty. Deep beauty that knows it’s beautiful.
I’m talking about the beauty that I think Jesus is talking about when he tells Nicodemus you must be born again, born from above. I’m talking about the kind of sublime beauty that Isaiah captures in his vision of a Holy God that scares and even shames him, and yet he can’t not follow. He can’t but find strength and courage within himself. I’m talking about a beauty I hope I am beginning to understand, although I may be mistaken. For certain, I have a long way to go.
I think I started taking pictures a few years ago as a way of trying to get to this kind of beauty—a training regimen of sorts. There’s something about an image, and, I suspect even more, about training the eye to capture an image that speaks to the kind of beauty I’m trying to talk about and I think Trinity Sunday is trying to name in a way.
There’s a photographer called Jimmy Nelson who understands something of this, I think. You may not know the name, but you have probably seen some of his
St. Andrew Sermons