Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Way of Beauty

I know I promised Fatima...but it will have to be the one after this!

I just spent the most beautiful week at the Malvern Retreat house in Philadelphia studying the Way of Beauty with the Institute of Theology of the Body.  The course was 30 hours of lecture cushioned by Mass, the Rosary, Holy Hour, and private time to pray and walk around these beautiful gardens:

I met the most interesting people: authors, artists, musicians, art teachers, priests, sisters, and consecrated.

The instructor used the writings of Pope Benedict, Saint John Paul 2, GK Chesterton, CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien and combined it with Moana, Van Morrison and Bono to illustrate how beauty lifts our hearts to God.  

We also looked at the great works of art, from cavemen drawings 42000 years old to modern art (including one amazing painting -shown below- made by a fellow classmate during the session).  I came away with a sense of wonder at the beauty God puts all around us and also how clear it is that beauty unites with truth and goodness to bring us closer to Him.

The following poem struck me after watching Evan Koons read and explain it...not only by the beauty of the poem itself, but also by its meaning.  How easy it is to go around "selving" and missing the beauty that is around us...raising us up to our own self-absorption!

As Kingfishers Catch Fire

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As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame; 
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells 
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell's 
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name; 
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: 
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; 
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells, 
Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came. 

I say móre: the just man justices; 
Keeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces; 
Acts in God's eye what in God's eye he is — 
Chríst — for Christ plays in ten thousand places, 
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his 
To the Father through the features of men's faces. 

The biggest thing I took away from the course was the immensity of God's love, love for us!  We see it in each snowflake, dewdrop, and blade of grass.  We see it in our friends, family, and the kindness of strangers.  We see it in music, movies, works of art, and architecture.  Because, we see it in beauty.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Copenhagen and Stockholm: Land of fairytales and Vikings

Kings and queens and fairytales...Copenhagen was beautiful!  



Gardens with spring blooms


Tovoli, second oldest amusement park in the world 

and Walt Disney's inspiration for Disneyworld

Home of Hans Christian Andersen

The Little Mermaid

Palace of the Rosenborgs

Coffee and Michelin Stars and Royalty...Stockholm was Beautiful!

Sunset in Stockholm

Gamla Stan (Old City)

Docked Ship Bars

Sunset over Stockholm

Famous Vasa ship: sailed for one day and then spent the next 330 years underwater

Fika time: Taking a coffee with a friend!

Potato and Anchovy Pie

Along the way: biking

Stockholm Palace Guard

From the top

Danishes in Denmark!

Royal ship of the King and Queen

Climbing towers

Pretty little church

On every corner

Our gastropub experience: 2-star Michelin chef...can't imagine what more stars is like!

LOVED DENMARK AND SWEDEN!  Beautiful and friendly.  Scandinavia is such a unique, small pocket of the world.  Six days was not enough time.  And now Norway and Finland call me!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Places I would live: Spain

top of church in Tibidaba

 I really, really love going to Spain...and after learning Spanish this past year...I love it even more!  The coffee, the people, the coffee, the history, the coffee, the culture, the coffee, the churches...sigh...I just really love it!

overlooking Barcelona

Roman Aqueducts of Segovia

that church we went to that I can't remember the name in the mountains

church in Tibidaba

inside Montserrat

This time I met up with a group of friends in Barcelona.  The five of us spent two days sightseeing before heading to Zaragoza for a quick visit and then off to Madrid to meet up with the 25 other pilgrims we were traveling with.  After a beautiful Easter in Avila with St. Teresa, we started our Camino: five days hiking over hills, dales, and dusty trails.  We arrived in Santiago, a little worse for wear, on the fifth day and then promptly took off for Fatima to celebrate the 100 years.

the way of St. James

rooftops of Barcelona

We also managed to squeeze in side trips to Segovia, Toledo and Coimbra.  I spent the day everyone was in Toledo hugging a toilet so that's one city I'll have to come back for.  Sorry St. John!  I still can't believe how sick I got in Spain when I never once had that problem living in Central America...I'm sure this will stay a mystery forever.

that same place I can't remember the name


Our Lady of the Pilar, Zaragoza


Sagrada Familia

Our Lady of the Pilar, Zaragoza

Wall surrounding Avila

along the way


company while hiking

I'm heading to Denmark and Sweden tonight.  I'll be back next weekend.  Yes, I know.  Don't say it.  As said before (by someone else!), I don't travel to escape life, I travel for life not to escape me...each opportunity is a gift! So grateful to see more!

beautiful tradition in Santiago de Compostela!

Have a lovely Sunday afternoon!  I'll write about Fatima in my next blog!