It’s been a couple of weeks since we got back, but Jerusalem is the sort of place that seeps under your skin and doesn’t leave. We had dinner with our friend Jeff the other night, a man who has traveled far and wide, and all of us held a kind of reverie for the holy land.
Being a Christian, and on a pilgrimage, we spent the bulk of our time in churches and at places remembered as where Jesus walked or talked or prayed or scolded us for not clinging to our mother the way we ought to. And, believe me, those places were incredible. So moving that putting it to words feels, well, cheap. But one place that is not Christian – though claims a shared heritage in Mount Moriah – gutted me. The Dome of the Rock.
I remember in Art History class in the 12th grade, studying those elegant loops and vibrant blues and wishing I could see this mosque, knowing I probably never would. So to walk the Temple Mount was a privilege. A real privilege.
The first time I saw the Dome was from a distance on the Mount of Olives. It was Friday, so the haunting call to prayer was echoing over the valley filled with tombs, and I was standing where Jesus likened himself to a mother hen. I wrote to my Dad:
I know you remember me reading the writings of Rachel Corrie (you often refer to her as “the one who got bulldozed”). And there was so much I related to in her back in 2011 – her gumption, her heart, her seeking answers. But being here makes me understand more the pain and complexity in the conflict. It is so bad. And so deep. This land is just so sacred to so many people. I keep thinking about how in Christianity, we call each other “brothers and sisters.” (Or, if you’re at your progressive Baptist church, probably something deliciously gender-inclusive like “siblings in our Creator.”) And the thing is, Islam traces its roots back to Ishamel, the brother of Isaac, and also the son of Abraham. The Dome of the Rock (that big gold-topped building that dominates the Jerusalem skyline) is built over the rock where Jews and Christians believe Abraham went to sacrifice Isaac, and Muslims believe he went to sacrifice Ishamel. And we’re all tracing our roots back to two brothers who couldn’t get along because the father couldn’t decide who was the actual promised one. Families. I keep thinking about that, and the conflict, and how it is always the ones we love the most who can hurt so bad – whether by their doing or their leaving.
Blessed Feast of Saint Gertrude (patron saint of cats, and the nutters who love them!) and Happy Saint Patrick’s Day to you all! Since Ireland and cats happen to be two of my most favorite things in the world, here are a few favorite snaps of both!
I definitely cried when Jen texted me asking if I’d take their pregnancy announcement photos. I’ve known these ladies as teachers, and then as friends, and in every stage of our friendship I have been genuinely moved by their love for each other.
These are two of the kindest, warmest, most courageous humans I know, and I am so excited they are going to be parents!! Here are a few snaps from our session in their front yard.
(They called the babe their “little dragon”!!)
They used a sign from their wedding for the announcing – because their last name is pronounced “cook” it sounds out like “cooking for two” – except now it will be three! And featured in these photos are their darling dogs, who are about to be big siblings.
Graduation is just a few weeks away for these handsome fellas! I met all these guys around the time I started in Divinity School – Garrett in my spiritual formation group, Ross in a Spirituality Class where we’d become fast queer theology buds, and Brian first at my husband’s field education placement. I am so excited to see what ministry they will be doing – especially because all of them have such clear, compassionate ways of caring for their friends.
We were so thankful to the Church of the Advocate in Chapel Hill for allowing us to take a few headshots for these guys before they have their own parishes to run!
Best part of the shoot? The church cat stopping by to say hello!
Y’all remember Ashley and Josh’s sweet elopement in Duke Gardens? Well meet the rest of the family! Ashley asked if I’d be around Easter weekend (I was) because her whole family would be in town. Her mom’s dream, she said, was to take some portraits bearing t-shirts from their favorite restaurant.
Little did I know it would be the Salty Dog from Hilton Head, SC! (You may remember my mom is from Bluffton, SC, just over the bridge.) What a beautiful, interconnected world.
It was so tender to see four generations together!
To this beautiful family: thanks for letting me witness your love for each other and be a part of your family weekend!
I’ve known these two beauties for a long time – like, since the middle school blue-eyeshadow-to-my-eyebrows-phase long time. Thankfully, they’ve stuck around! We all met through a combination of school and youth group, and our lives have been these beautiful intersecting collisions ever since, not least of which was Sarah and I being classmates in seminary together.
Over the weekend, central North Carolina had our semi-annual snowpocalypse; despite it being a balmy 60 degrees on Christmas, temperatures plummeted into the teens and below, and the roads were slick with ice. Our road still hasn’t melted.
Four inches is hardly enough to compare with my first winter in Massachusetts; I remember the first significant snow fall being something close to four or five feet. And admittedly, it’s taken three winters away from New England for me to love the stuff again. But this time around, I couldn’t wait to strap on the dusty ski pants and venture out. Bonus: Sarah and Gabe wanted to do the same!
Thanks for playing in the snow with me, y’all! And for sticking around for so long.
I don’t know about you, but my social media has been clogged with people lamenting how horrible 2016 has been. And, I feel those feelings too; there has been a lot of global-wide fear and harm done. Celebrating the good does not diminish the impact of the wrong, but I want to take a moment and choose to look back at some of my cherished memories from this year. My most favorite moments were largely not photographed by me, or photographed at all. But for the ones I have, I cherish.
So, 2016, in closure:
Wishing you all a safe and rejuvenating New Year’s, and let’s get ready to spread more love in 2017!
Christmas morning J & I woke up lazy and late, as we’d both been in the midnight service the eve prior. All our animal babies were snug about us … until I unwrapped my favorite present, that is! A practice chanter! For learning the bagpipes!
J’s Christmas gift trend to me is slowly but surely becoming this: buying me the artistic thing I need to reach the dream I’ve always had. These pictures were taken on last year’s gift, my beloved Canon Rebel. And here we are.
We made our way East for an afternoon with my in-laws, who happily posed for some family portraits in the mild December sun. (It’s a rare white Christmas down south, y’all).
Despite the fact that J and his little sister slid so easily back into the days when he would push her around in the swing, Grayson is growing up. She’s bound for college in the fall! So we took a few senior portraits.
A few more pictures later, it was time for a scrumptious dinner and then on to the next Christmas festivities with my mother and brothers and, of course, more cats.
I hope whatever holiday(s) you are cherishing that they are warm and full of light. Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Blessed Kwanzaa, and Happy Solstice from Photos by Lizzie!