Sunday Post Challenge: HOPE

“Hope” is the thing with feathers

“Hope” is the thing with feathers—
That perches in the soul—
And sings the tune without the words—
And never stops—at all—

And sweetest—in the Gale—is heard—
And sore must be the storm—
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm—

I’ve heard it in the chillest land—
And on the strangest Sea—
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb—of Me.

~Emily Dickinson

Yesterday, while taking pictures at the picnic, I learned that hope comes from enjoying life, spending time with other people, giving time, sharing laughs and struggles.

Thank you to jakesprinter for another inspiring challenge. If you haven’t visited his blog, step on over; I think you’ll enjoy it.

water-dragon-poster1-1

Travel Theme: Walls

How could I pass this one up? I was fortunate to walk on THE WALL two years ago on my solo trek to Beijing.

The Great Wall at Mutianyu was rebuilt during the Ming Dynasty in the 16th century upon the foundations of the wall built during the Northern Qi Dynasty (AD 550-77).

The Great Wall at Mutianyu was rebuilt during the Ming Dynasty in the 16th century upon the foundations of the wall built during the Northern Qi Dynasty (AD 550-77).

Before my once-in-a-lifetime visit to this testament to the determination of man, I did a lot of research and saw images of breath-taking vistas and panoramas of the wall snaking across the mountain ridges. However, that was not my wall. My wall was shrouded in mist…a mist that turned into the most awesome thunder and lightning storm I’ve ever experienced. At 3 PM, the black sky was punctuated with flashes of brilliant light that revealed torrents of rain.

An hour before the skies opened and Zeus let loose with his thunderbolts, I was lost on top of the wall. YES! I was alone and lost, standing at a Y in the wall, not recognizing a single brick or stone. To my relief, I was saved by young tourists from Northern Europe who pointed the way to the tram. Oddly enough, I was not afraid, only bemused, thinking, well, if I die, at least I’ve had this incredible adventure. I did not, however, welcome the idea of spending the night alone, huddled against the cold on the top of the wall.

Click on any image for a better view and description. 

As I am putting together this post, Billy Joel’s song toys with my memory. Why not? Here, for your enjoyment, is one of my favorite artists:

We could have gone all the way to the Great Wall of China if you’d only had a little more faith in me

Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflections

_DSC4852

I require my students to reflect on their learning, to take their written pieces and describe their strengths and, more important, what they will do to produce better writing the next time. They also must reflect on the text they read, answering the question, “So what?” They need to determine, “What does this novel mean to me? What can I learn about life or the human condition by reading it? How can I make my life, and the lives of those around me, better as a result of reading this book (or article, or poem)?”

The great philosopher Socrates urged his pupils to reflect on their lives:

 The unexamined life is not worth living.

When I sit down with my journal, I reflect on my day, my week, my life, holding up a mirror, so to speak, to my words and actions, examining what went right and what didn’t. Then I make promises to myself and to God that I will do better. However, that is akin to my students writing, “I will work harder” in their reflections about writing. I try to figure out what I can do to make tomorrow better, much the same as when I ask the students to get specific (“I will use parallel structure.”).

Reflection

Now, don’t these two scenes just invite you to sit on a blanket at the edge of this mountain pond and quietly reflect?

Do yourself a favor, and check out more reflections and responses to this week’s photo challenge.

New to The Daily Post? Whether you’re a beginner or a professional, you’re invited to get involved in our Weekly Photo Challenge to help you meet your blogging goals and give you another way to take part in Post a Day / Post a Week. Everyone is welcome to participate, even if your blog isn’t about photography.

Strength in Fragile Beauty

Geranium Blossom: 1/6400 sec at f/5.0, 105 mm, ISO 200

Geranium Blossom: 1/6400 sec at f/5.0, 105 mm, ISO 200

I was dog-tired (Where did that expression come from? My little Sophie sleeps all day. How on earth could she possibly be tired?) … I digress … I was beat, dragging myself in the door a few hours ago; I vowed to eat a small bite, walk Sophie, and go to bed early … I mean before 8 PM and get up at 4 AM to grade the pile of papers in my bag.

I set the timer, allowing myself 20 minutes to respond to and comment on my favorite blogs. That was 1 1/2 hours ago. Just as when I reach for “just one more and that’s all” piece of the scrumptious Ferrero Rocher chocolates or “just one more and I’m hiding the box” of the incredible chocolate covered delights in the big red tin from Costco, I have read “just one more” blog — at least 20 of them because they are so inviting, and I’ve edited and uploaded “just one more” image — quite of few of them.

And now, just one post and that’s all:

As I indulged in coffee and quiet time on my patio this past weekend, I noticed the morning sun streaming through a fallen geranium blossom. The image speaks of isolation, but not loneliness. Although a fragile, whisper-thin bloom about to die, it is beautiful and strong in the sunlight.

We can be like this. Isolated, but not completely alone. (See the small impression of another blossom in the foreground?) We can be fragile, yet strong, because we gain strength through the gentle light of our God, through the quiet of prayer and meditation, through the warmth of our friends (those we see and speak to face-to-face or those we speak to through the Internet), and possibly through our work, whether it is a job, a career, or a passion.