Wild Weekly Photo Challenge – My Wilderness ESCAPE

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Whenever I hear the word Escape, the first thing that pops in my mind is a song by Rupert Holmes with that same name (when it’s not being referred to as ‘The Pina Colada Song, of course).

“If you like pina coladas and getting caught in the rain…

then write to me and escape.”

Those lines instantly evoke a sense of joyfulness and of being carefree –

a feeling we all desire.

(Or maybe they evoke in you a desire to write about your own planned escape – if so, I’d love to hear about it.)

Just like in this song, we may get to various points in our lives when we feel as if we need to plan an escape from “reality.” (Just like just then, when I wrote we because, in reality, I needed some backup and didn’t want to admit that it translated to I in that sentence.) Well, I am still betting you can relate to our escape plan.

Some days, admittedly and incredibly, I find escape in my work, simply running from one form of reality to seeking solace in another. Other days, I find my escape as I get caught up in reading a fantastically fictional story where I wish I could play the protagonist’s part. Ironically, I find that my most pleasurable times of escape, though, aren’t really when I’m trying to get away from life; but when I’m working on a life adventure of my own, either through engagement with nature and others, or engagement among my characters or the words in my mind as I write.

Throw in a little pina colada and some dancing in the rain, and I guess I’m in business.

Sometimes, our life escapades come out differently than how we’ve anticipated.

(At least mine do.)

Truthfully, without sounding dramatic or even getting into the details, I can honestly say I’ve escaped death a time or two in my life – but those instances were direct consequences of poor decisions either I made or someone else made on my behalf (or, in one instance, didn’t make in time).

That thought brings me around to my response for the Let’s Be Wild Weekly Challenge on Escape.

When I was in the Holy Land, out wandering a little myself down the Wadi Qelt in the Judean wilderness,

I had some time to think about a couple of the famous escapes associated with this place.

When the Hebrews escaped their bondage from Egypt under the leadership of their prophet, Moses, they wandered through the wilderness for 40 years, according to the Torah. As Moses stood on Mount Nebo (aka Pisgah), he looked down into the Promised Land, the area we distantly view here that includes Jericho. As I stood there, in that same place (or close to it, anyway) thinking on this, I came to the conclusion that

Sometimes we have to be patient and persistent for our escape to come to fruition.

Other times, our escape may be very different than anything we’ve planned for ourselves,

as it was with Moses.

Deuteronomy 34:1-5
Then Moses climbed Mount Nebo from the plains of Moab to the top of Pisgah, across from Jericho….
Then the LORD said to him, “This is the land I promised….I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it.” And Moses the servant of the LORD died there in Moab…but to this day no one knows where his grave is.

Another thought as I looked upon a Bedouin herd, finding grass where I might have said there was none to be had:

When it comes to making an escape, perhaps one person’s deserted path is another’s prime pasture.

I was also reminded on this pathway that I traveled, along the Wadi al Qelt was where the Story of the Good Samaritan took place in scripture. Don’t let my high elevation shot fool you here. When walking the Wadi Qelt, it becomes easy to see how readily bandits can hide in the surrounding area and surprise someone along the path unexpectedly.

Luke 10:25-37
“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers…” (vs. 30).

That man was left for dead by the robbers and by two others that couldn’t be bothered to help him. But because of the least likely person that would’ve been expected to help him along the way (the Samaritan), the robbed and beaten man was cared for and escaped death.

Sometimes the people we would least expect might be the ones to assist us in making our escape.

Sometimes, like the dry places in my life, the Wadi Qelt looks a lot like death, void of much of anything living, until a little spring of life sneaks in and obscurely announces itself. That was the case with this area of green growth, boldly announcing where Herod’s aqueduct came through, supplying water for life along its path.

At other times in life, I might be moving along on high ground and can’t even fathom what surprises might await me in the deep recesses if I’ll just take time to escape to them and explore around there.

In this case, I did, and was welcomed in by priests serving lemonade and cookies. This monastery was built around an expanse of caves, one in which Elijah resided while hiding out from King Ahab and the ill-tempered Queen Jezebel. The bible story says ravens came and fed Elijah, and I’d never dispute that birds could very well have done just that. However, it’s also rumored that the cave-dwellers who lived along the sides of those ridges were called a named that translates to sound very similar to ‘raven.’

To tell you the truth, I enjoy escaping into the possibility of either of those story versions.

Here’s a modern-day look on the inside of Elijah’s cave, if you’re interested in seeing the place of his escape:

The final escape story with which I was faced during my own wilderness experience was when I stood upon the Mount of Olives, looking over the Garden of Gethsemane. This was the place where Jesus went to pray, just before he was arrested and later crucified. A portion of his prayer was, if there was any other way for salvation of the people to take place, for that cup to be taken from him. After that, he ended his prayer obediently, saying, ‘Not my will, but yours be done, Father.’

I wonder how often I’ve worked to escape from uttering those words in my life when the price wasn’t nearly so high for me?

It wasn’t until I stood above that very spot, overlooking that garden, when I came to realize the physical choice Jesus had made there. If this had been a modern-day movie, for instance, things would’ve looked very despondent for the hero; then, just before the worst possible outcome, he would have turned the other way – and escaped. By our standards, that would’ve made for the perfect ending. And let me assure you, he could’ve done just that – escape would’ve come all too easily. On one side of this garden lay Jerusalem (which you can see, now in modern-day, in the background of this photo).

But when you’re standing up on that mount, if you turn and look out to the other side, you’ll find there is an entire wilderness into which Jesus could’ve chosen to escape – the same wilderness into which Elijah escaped quite easily from King Ahad and Queen Jezebel.

Instead, Jesus chose to do his Father’s will and stay right where he was in that garden, awaiting his capture. He chose to accept the sentence for those deeds that really belong on my head. Standing there, as a Christian, I had to acknowledge in my belief and in that place that He had chosen to stay there and take a punishment to allow me to be the one to escape it.

He became my emergency escape hatch.

What better escape could I ever ask for or plan than that?

In this realization, more than anywhere on my walk,

My wilderness experience surely taught me to always look for the unexpected Escape Hatches & Doors to explore, regardless of where I am in life.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t take time to wish this same joyful and carefree escape route for you, my friends.

***

Just for kicks,

I’m participating in the LetsBeWild.com Wild Weekly Photo Challenge

This week’s Challenge is: Escape

Make Your Own Escape to see the winning entries here!

***

What, Where, How (or maybe Who) is your Favorite Escape?

I’d love to hear about it, if you dare to share…

Weekly Photo Challenge: Foreign

This week’s photo challenge is Foreign.

I chose to highlight the Dead Sea from my visit to the West Bank as a foreigner and (most importantly)

how I viewed The Dead Sea versus how people of that region are more likely to view it.

On my travel to hike the snake trail up to Masada, here was my view of the Dead Sea:

Beautiful, huh?

This was purported to be one of Cleopatra‘s favorite vacation spots, and she’s been credited (whether rightly so or not) with the idea of creating beauty spa treatment areas along its banks. Many have purchased mineral baths or minerals to slather on their faces and bodies from the Dead Sea (which, like the Sea of Galilee, north of it, is not a sea at all, but rather a lake).

There are several interesting facts about the Dead Sea, but here are a couple to help explain its name:

  • Many tributaries empty into the Dead Sea, but none go out of it.

  • Because of its high mineral content (over 30%), there is no marine life found within it.

Originating in the Jordan Rift Valley, the Dead Sea is listed as the lowest point on Earth, so if you’re wondering how low someone can actually go, well, here’s your answer. (I’m not sure about the PR associated with telling people it’s the probable region of the biblical cities Sodom and Gomorrah, though.)

Before exploring the lowest point on the face of the Earth, I took a hike and explored the surrounding territory on foot, in order to get a higher surrounding view.

Here was my on-foot view of the Dead Sea on the way up, just to give you a slightly different perspective:

By the time I made my way back down, I decided it was time to check off one of the items on my bucket list – to float in the Dead Sea. After all, it has been under consideration as a Natural Wonder of the World.

Even though it was January, because the Dead Sea’s banks mark the lowest elevation on earth – it’s generally sunny, warm and dry there.

So here I am with some other members of our ‘foreign’ crew, floating away in the Dead Sea without any effort (other than what it took to get across the sharp mineral deposits at the bank without cutting our feet too badly. I would suggest planning ahead & bringing water shoes – or reading the rest of this post):

The high mineral content, with its high specific gravity, provides your body with natural buoyancy there. How fun is that?

Of course, there’s always a catch and here’s the part where I support my original thesis of why locals view this “fun” differently than do foreigners when visiting this area.

There’s a specific reason beyond gravity that the Dead Sea may lose its consideration as a natural wonder. As with many other issues in that region, another crops up in consideration of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. To quote The Global Post (2010), “In the holy basin, the environment these days is just as unwholesome as the sewage flowing down into the Dead Sea.”

I thought this would be news worth sharing with you on the front end, since our guide waited until we were in the water to explain why he wasn’t joining us there!!! <grin>

Well, the good news is that there are shower facilities at the touristy “beach” areas if you do decide to climb in.

More Dead Sea Facts:

  1. Dead Sea salt is very bitter and wouldn’t be used for table salt (even without that sewage issue).

  2. The mineral content includes calcium, iodine, potassium, saline, and bromide, minerals that all naturally occur in our bodies (as do those sewage components, in fairness).

  3. Egyptians used Dead Sea mud in the mummification process. (Think about that one, too, while you’re slathering mineral salts from there on your face!)

  4. The Dead Sea has also historically been named the Stinky Sea. (Maybe these sewage problems aren’t new, after all.)

  5. The Greeks called it “Lake Asphaltites” due to a strange phenomenon in which asphalt would rise within it.

  6. The Dead Sea is estimated to be 3 million years old.

Further Important Facts about this Post:

  1. I would appreciate not being referred to as “That Stinky Foreign Girl” after you’ve read this post.

  2. For the record, I’ve had many showers since then.

  3. If you’d like to read other posts from the Foreign Weekly Photo Challenge that might not make you respond with an, “Ewww!”, follow this link.

Daily Post Prompt: Much Ado About NOTHING

Today’s Daily Post prompt was:  to take a complicated subject I know more about than most people, and explain it to a friend who knows NOTHING about it at all.

Gosh, that’s easy.

I know a lot…about NOTHING.

That being the case, I thought I’d share my expertise about NOTHING with you.

Genesis tells us that, “in the beginning…” (that’s how things usually start – at the beginning, so it makes sense that Genesis 1:1 would begin that way – you know, like Step 1.1 in an instruction manual).

Anyway, in the beginning, “…the earth was void” (Gen. 1:2). Webster defines ‘void’ as a completely empty space. In my personal expertise opinion on NOTHING, I’m going with a meaning of NOTHINGNESS on that one.

So, you see, my amateur mentees, in my complicated expert opinion, EVERYTHING (of any importance to your existence anyway) clearly begins with NOTHING.

If EVERYTHING, then, comes from NOTHING, this would aptly explain why so many people want to make much ado over it (‘it’ referring to absolutely NOTHING).

NOTHINGNESS, you see, has a certain amount of vision to it. Sergeant Schultz from Hogan’s Heroes was adept at seeing NOTHING.  (You can see him seeing nothing here.)

NOTHING cannot be ignored, as it will show up in many aspects of your life. Sometimes, NOTHING can serve a dual purpose. For instance, NOTHING is so proficient that it can be portrayed mathematically and in song at the same time. NOTHING might even be responsible for making your toes tap to Billy Preston belting out:

“NOTHING from NOTHING leaves NOTHING…”

(You can try that out here, if you’d like – or just keep doing what you do best – NOTHING at all.)

Here are some other important aspects of your life about which you should be aware that NOTHING is responsible:

GENERAL BOREDOM:

  • What’s there to watch on television tonight?

    NOTHING!

  • What did you do all summer on your break?

    NOTHING!

RELATIONAL IMPASSES:

  • What (in the world /or/ the addition of some expletive you decide to insert) is wrong with you?!

    NOTHING!

  • What, exactly, is it that you want from me?!?!

    NOTHING!

  • What surprise did your husband plan for your anniversary?

    NOTHING!

  • What did your boyfriend say when you brought up the idea of marriage?

    NOTHING.

PARENTAL PANIC:

  • Johnny, what are you and your five siblings doing up there, where I can’t see you? <CRASH>

    Oh…NOTHING.

  • What did you and your new boyfriend do for the last 4 hours on your first car date ever?

    Oh…NOTHING.

DIETING DISASTERS:

  • Do you know what I’ve had to eat all day?!

    NOTHING! 
    (Note that you are slamming back a whole box of Twinkies & chasing them down with a 6-pack as you say it.)

CORRESPONDENCE SNAFUS:

  • So what did you hear back on that query letter you sent to the 1,037th book agent?       
    …………

Unfortunately, I can’t allow myself to disclose EVERYTHING to you that I know about NOTHING. Otherwise, I would no longer be the resident expert here on NOTHING – which would, then, grammatically mean that I would become an authority on SOMETHING – and that is not the case of my expertise.

So, you see, my uninformed friends, I know you are impressively asking yourself after this read, “What could she possibly not know about NOTHING?”

Your answer, of course, is a very obvious one, I should think:                                                    
(For your post-assessment, I’ll allow you to fill in this blank – I hope with…NOTHING!)

I would now encourage each of you to share your own vastly limited knowledge about NOTHING (as it surely cannot be as expansive as my own knowledge about NOTHING, though clearly your boundaries of NOTHINGNESS have surely spread after this reading. At the very least, you are no longer completely void on the matter.) Yet, I can only encourage you to do so as long as you remember who it is that is the utmost authority on this subject – and that absolutely NOTHING you say is going to change that — in my mind, anyway!

In Honor of October as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Waging War in Shearing Pink

She was a mother, she was a sister,

She was a cousin, she was a friend;

The woman who became the warrior.

Took up her armor, wielded her weapons,

Yelled out the battle cry – it had no end.

 

No time for training, no choice to fight,

Not for herself, but for her loved ones,

Dying – not an option to consider.

Too soon to leave, too late to quit,

Woman up – for both daughters and for sons.

 

Enemy raged, body grew tired,

By her choice, a part was given; she was lost.

Though twice the fighter she’d ever been,

The soldier felt reduced to half a woman –

Scarred, the only way to win. Her cost.

 

One, two, three – then five years came,

Combatant attitude, with her life, reconstructed.

Official duty served, clearance papers signed;

Yet, still she wages war, bearing her arms – –

For sisters’ battles, more lives refusing to be destructed.

© 2012 Jody Love

****

Author’s Note

****

Dedicated to those many ladies I’ve the had the privilege to know through the years who have valiantly gone to battle against their breast cancer. For many, the physical battle took its toll; for others, battle cries of victory have abounded. In both cases, the war is not lost, as each of these precious ladies will one day attest. 

In the midst of the war, however, eternal alliances have often been forged, as these women march one another on, run one another on, encourage one another on – on towards the imminent victory!

Feel free to use the comments section to PINK LIST any brave woman you know and love who has fought this battle.

Here’s a link to the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month site.

A Look at my Nooks ‘n Crooks

Fellow blogger, Cristian Mihai had this terrific idea awhile back – that it would be fun if we all shared a peek at one another’s writing spaces.

Let me say that Cristian’s space-frontier idea – as well as his shared workspace – terrified me for two reasons.

First of all, I get it. He’s a man. Mounds of electrical voltage scattered about a work place is very dangerous & manly – maybe even sexy on some level. However, with the amount of grace I have, I’d manage to get tangled in all those cords in his space. The best I could hope for is that, days later, someone would come along and find me (and hopefully free me) and then possibly congratulate me on the brilliance of my new diet plan (assuming I hadn’t electrocuted myself).

More importantly, Cristian’s space obviously carries a brilliance with it that mine might never possess, just like his blogs. (Let me add that I wrote these words several days ago, before I got my pics added for my post – meaning, he hadn’t even been Freshly Pressed yet for the week! Imagine the intimidation factor that’s gotten my fingers trembling as I dare to hit the Publish Post button now!!!) Anyway, Cristian does have some great ideas that he always seems happy to share – be sure to check them out. He’s even got a few published books, and the one I grabbed up recently to read – Jazz – was very compelling, so I’d suggest you check his stories out too!)

What I see (and cherish about) this Jazz author’s heart: The raw emotional experience of taking someone placed on a pedestal and allowing that person the grace of stepping down from it, rather than having it kicked out from beneath.

So anyway…at the time of the ‘workspace share’ suggestion, I wasted little to no time throwing out my excuse that, as much as I’d like to play, I didn’t have a decent camera (which any photographer out there would certainly vouch for me when looking over any of my pictures, as well as be happy to attest that I have no photographic skills to even accompanying a decent camera). This is why I so appreciate all my blog-photog-ing friends out there (for their skills; not their testimony on my lack of them).

Despite my camera deficiency, I decided that today was the perfect day to play the game – mainly because my house needed vacuumed and my porch and deck needed to be swept. What better reason to have to do these dreadful tasks than knowing I could reward myself by sharing my favorite reading nooks & crooks with you afterwards? So with my less-than-stellar-but-it’ll-do-in-a-pinch iPhone-4 camera, here’s what I’ve got for ya’.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

You’ll notice that my model gleefully followed me around, assuring he made his way into every nook-and-cranny shot. In truth, that makes them all authentic, as he’s usually sharing all my spaces with me.

That little front porch nook is my favorite reading space. It’s cool in the summertime, where I use the table to hold my fruit-sweetened tea (in true Southern style); but it’s also a great snuggle-under-the-blanket spot while it shields me from the wintry winds. (Okay, so those are normally about 30 degrees where I live, but we’ve had a windchill under 0 – once. Yes, that was Fahrenheit.) This little space is always the perfect welcoming post for passing out Halloween candy, too. Did I mention the chairs rock & twirl around? The best part though? Look at my recent morning view of the sunrise coming over the foothill from that very spot.

The back deck is my favorite lie-down-to-read-until-I-fall-asleep spot. My plants there are currently going through a mixed season identity crisis, with the summer geraniums, petunias, impatiens (and the banana tree) fading away; while the fall mums are coming into full bloom.

Over time, I’ve arranged my upstairs loft as my primary work space. The two tub chairs make for relaxing reading spots in the evening hours (with a Tiffany glass lamp-post to light the way); and I found a counter-height kitchen table set to serve as my editing and study desk. I’m all about functional but eclectic pieces of furniture, so even though I keep books tucked into various places around the house, one of my favorite go-to spots is the file cabinet/bookcase combo I came across online last year.

Then, finally, there’s my writing space – my traveling computer roll-top desk that’s moved the last four places with me, as has the little antique cherry chair that desperately needs to be recovered. (I can’t bring myself to do that, though, because the precious antiques dealer who restored it several years ago has passed, so every time I consider allowing someone else to recover it, I feel as if I’d be betraying him and the chair’s character).

Lastly, I’m sure you noticed the most cherished spot in the loft – the prime sunshiny-afternoon nap haven. All other times, Tiberius (a.k.a. the poser) prefers to be posted on his doggy bed, which overlooks the loft, while I’m at my official workstation. But when the sunshine is beaming in, he loves to soak up an indoor tan.

In either case, my floppy-eared editor-in-chief periodically comes over to check on my progress, never forgetting to get paid in plenty of rubs for doing this duty. Whatever my workspace lacks in brilliance, it tries to make up for in good lovin’. So I guess, in the end, these are Tiberius’ favorite Nooks & Crooks, the Places ‘n Spaces he travels each and every day.

So what are your favorite creative work spaces ‘n places?

Be a good sport and pass it forward with your own post…it could make a fun ping-back game for a community-building share exercise!