Silhouetted Saints

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While the world is focused on the conclave in the Vatican in anticipation of the next pope, I thought I would get as much mileage as I could out of my photos from Rome.    I have over 1500 photos…………… I can wait out the Cardinals.

This is a shot of the statues atop the colonnade surrounding the piazza in front of St. Peter’s Basilica, Piazza San Pietro.

There are ninety-six statues of saints and martyrs, designed by Bernini, that stand above the colonnade.   These statues are, left to right,  St. Leo the Great, St. Alexander of Alexandria, and St. Ignatius.   They have peered down on the parishioners and pilgrims for over five hundred years.

When my wife and I were in  the Vatican, it was late afternoon and the sun was behind the massive structure.    I could not get a good photo of the front of the church so I reverted to my old standby of silhouettes…making lemonade when you have lemons…putting on my big boy pants…sucking it up…walking it off…”stop crying Nancy”, sorry just remembering some comforting words from the past when things did not go as planned.

As I have mentioned in previous writings, my wife is of the Catholic faith and I am not.   This has led to some interesting conversation over the years, usually ending with me asking too many “why” questions and she questioning my motives and rolling her eyes and muttering under her breath as she leaves the room.

By and large, we have handled this difference in our faiths pretty well over twenty-seven years of marriage.    We mainly focus on what we have in common and that is a shared belief that Jesus is Lord and He died for the sins of all mankind and He rose again.   However it has led to some moments of entertainment for her before I learned the details of the Catholic Mass, such as the time I decided to take communion for the first time one Sunday morning at a Mass in Dallas.   I was unaware of the protocol during this beloved part of the Mass.   Evidently you are to respond, “Amen”, when the priest offers, “The body of Christ”.    My lovely wife left out this little nugget of information as we were waiting in line to receive communion.

When I approached the priest, he offered me the host and said, “The body of Christ”.    I stared at the host, then up at the priest, then back to the host, then back up to the priest wondering why this was taking so long.    As my wife turned and walked away, I felt my life-line slowly leaving my desperate clutches.    I was like that astronaut who, after deciding to skip the spacewalk class, found himself  adrift in space, wondering why he never asked a few more questions.

At this point, I realized that I was to respond.   Panic set in for I had NO IDEA what to say.    Before I could verbalize something that would make it even more obvious of the “NC” at the altar, (that is” non-catholic” for those of you who don’t have my extensive knowledge of the Catholic faith), the priest had mercy on a troubled soul and handed me the host, probably thinking he was being presented with one who was not in control of all of his faculties.

This led to a rather lengthy discussion between Mr. NC and Mrs. C on the ride home.

If you like this photo, you can see more of my pictures here.

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West Liberty, KY Tornado

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I swore to myself that I would not write about this photo.

I don’t know why I decided to write about it. Maybe, because it is the one year anniversary of the event that will forever be remembered. That is, remembered by those of us who live in West Liberty, KY and Morgan County.

Maybe, because it is still experiencing a grief of some sort that needs to be brought to the forefront every now and then to be dealt with, and by typing these words, it is akin to lying on the therapy couch. Maybe it is the expression of thanks to those many who came to our rescue and later our aid and service. Maybe it is an observance of the people of this community accepting their fate. With one breath followed by another, one step followed by another, one sunrise and sunset followed by another, they have persevered with dignity and grace…but each, to a person, saying how difficult it has been.

I wish I could say that I have handled it well, but that would be a great falsehood. I have not handled this past year very well at all. I have had this nagging underlying feeling in my consciousness, like mold in the damp basement of my soul.

For a whole year I have had a strange feeling of something that is not just right, aside from the obvious of changing routines and seeing the physical scars left on the face of our town as if we went through the windshield of Mother Nature’s pickup.

I think it is guilt, not the “doing something wrong” kind of guilt. It is the guilt of seeing people you love and care about going through a terrible experience and somehow you escaped the worst part of the ordeal. It is the guilt of wishing you were stronger. It is the guilt of wishing you did more to help others in their plight.

I am not asking for forgiveness.

I am merely pointing out the way I have felt for the year since I took this photo standing in my neighbor’s front yard. I really didn’t know I was taking a picture of a tornado, because I thought, like everyone else, that this can’t be a tornado in the hills of eastern Kentucky. It wasn’t until that night, sitting in the darkness, exhausted that I decided to look at the photos taken about one minute before this tornado ravaged downtown West Liberty. I then realized what I had seen through my lens.

There were many who suffered much and lost much.  There were many who were very heroic.   There were many who looked after others and took in others.   Most did so without wanting anything in return or expecting anything in return, true altruism.

I just want to say that I am sorry for the lives of those who were lost…they were very good people and will be greatly missed. I am sorry for those who lost homes and were displaced. I was fortunate to be able to stay in my home throughout the whole ordeal. I am sorry for those who lost businesses and their livelihood. I want to thank God for giving me comfort even though it was a hard year.

On this one-year anniversary, I am happy to say that West Liberty is being slowly rebuilt. We have had good leadership from our officials who were given a horrendous task to deal with and they have come through because they care about the people.

Maybe others have had the same feelings I have had. Just know that you are not alone and we will get through this together. Just look back and see how far we have come in one year.

If you like this photo, you can see more of my pictures here.