Palm Sunday: Future-Tense [photo sermon]


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Continuing WordPress’ uncanny timing of photo challenges with the Christian Church calendar, this week’s theme is “Future-Tense“. In essence, they’re wanting pictures that anticipate something to come; something that’s being waited for; some future thing who’s presence is felt in the picture, even in its absence.

This is most appropriate today, as it’s Palm Sunday of 2013.

It takes some real significance for an event from the Bible to find itself as a major Church Holiday. Considering that, it can be odd that Palm Sunday is one of these: there’s nothing really unprecedented or special about it in and of itself.

There are other places in the gospels where Jesus is proclaimed king, proclaimed Messiah, prophecies are fulfilled, large groups believe in him, and even several times he enters Jerusalem. So what’s so special about this moment?

The future.
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Love well for Easter: liberti Easter outreach


jlwo-Blood-WaterLent has historically been a time where we look at things that we don’t like to look at, and dwell on things that are broken and painful. And when we do, we see that this darkness is to be found both in our hearts and in the wider world around us.

It’s not hard to see pain and injustice woven into the very fabric of our neighborhoods and the nations around the world.

What is hard, though, is figuring out how to respond to this pain and injustice in ways that are proper and truly loving.

Truly Loving

I believe that the most transformative efforts to address pain and injustice have several things in common: Continue reading

Marveling in the Cross: Lost in the Details [photo sermon]


pma-cross-skull-pma

For several months now I’ve been doing the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge. Honestly, I’ve gotten a little tired of that, so I’m going to start mixing it up with some weekly “photo sermons”, taking the weekly theme, picking an appropriate photo, and writing up a short meditation on the theme. We’ll see how it goes. This week’s theme is “Lost in the Details“.

One of my best (and oldest) friends is named David Schrott. He’s an incredible photographer, and an even more incredible man of God. He’s currently been spending an extended period of time back in his hometown of Lancaster, PA, recovering from surgery.

In this time of recovery, he’s only grown in his intimacy with God, his love as a friend, and the depth of his experience of spirituality. Recently, when I asked how he’s seemingly unlocked this door to the depths of the spirit and, as he puts it “longing for the resurrection in ways I never have”, he simply said this:

“Suffering! Without it, it is hard to long for anything but immediate pleasure.”

I love that guy.

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Today, I’m leaving my job. Monday, a new one begins.


paul-city-bwWhen this is post goes live, I will probably be sitting in my near-empty cubicle at work, furiously trying to finish up the last bits of paperwork that has so consumed the past year and half of my conscious thoughts. Today is my last day of this job.

Back in 2011, I wrote about me getting this new job as a case manager (a.k.a. “social worker”–in Pennsylvania, you can’t call yourself a social worker unless you have a degree in it). It’s been an amazing experience, with some of the most knowledgeable and supportive supervisors and co-workers I’ve ever had the privilege of being around.
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The Surprise of Advent: WordPress Weekend Photo Challenge


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This week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge theme is “Surprise“. With Advent having been on my mind (and blog), I thought of this picture. Or rather, to be more specific, the juxtaposition of these two pictures:

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On one of my trips to the Philadelphia Art Museum to fight my inner Atheist, after spending some time with that beautiful Jesus statue above (a favorite of mine), I actually walked through the other side of the Medieval Art section to enter the Asian Art section.

I’m sorry, and forgive me if you can’t relate, but Asian Art has never done it for me. I don’t know why. I can see the craftsmanship aspect to it (I guess), but the beauty part feels lost on me. And so, when I go into Asian Art sections, my “art critic” side sort of quiets down and lets other parts of me take hold.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Thankful (humor edition) [casual fri]


Earlier this week I posted a response to this week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge, which is on the theme of “Thankful“. I wrote what I hope was a beautiful expression of thankfulness that I ran across in my job; I wrote about a client of mine and the slow process of healing that brings us healing in the smallest things.

With that encouragement in mind, I’d like to offer you one of the things I’m most thankful for. What is it? I’m very, very thankful I no longer have the hair pictured below, circa 2006 (for comparison, here’s a current one):

See my past Weekly Photo Challenges here.

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Weekend Photo Challenge: Healing Thankfulness


This week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge theme is “Thankful“. As soon I read the prompt, I thought of this picture.

It’s a client of mine. As a social worker, I have to deal in lots of tough stories (as I’ve written about before). This particular client is an interesting one, though. She doesn’t have too much “traditional” major trauma in her life, but that which she has, mostly, is of her own doing–or the doing of her illness, rather.

You see, she has what we call a “Personality Disorder“, meaning that she’s not really psychotic, doesn’t suffer the highs of mania, nor the lows of depression, nor is she suicidal. Rather, what she struggles with the most is a psychological disease that affects her very personality. She has a child-like demeanor that can be annoying, off-putting, attention-seeking, soul-sucking, and always full of emotional drama.

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The Pain & Substance of Gratitude. Happy Thanksgiving. [REPOST]


Yesterday, the annual meal referenced in this post occurred at my work, so I thought I’d re-post this today on this Thanksgiving Eve.

Sorry that this isn’t your typical feel-good Thanksgiving post.

On Tuesday, my job had a large Thanksgiving lunch for all the staff and clients we serve. I got my food and sat down next to some of my coworkers and across from a client I had never seen before. She was very friendly. She didn’t ask me my name or anything; she just began asking me questions about what I was doing for the holiday, where I was going, if my parents were still alive/together, if I had any siblings, so on and so forth.

As she kept firing one question about my Thanksgiving week after another, I started to feel the awkward tension developing because I wasn’t returning any of these questions back at her. I wondered if my coworkers thought this was odd of me to do, but it was very intentional.

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[art credit: “Freedom From Want” by Norman Rockwell]

Weekly Photo Challenge: Renewal


This week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge theme is “Renewal“.  This here is a picture of one of my favorite rooms in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. It’s in the medieval art section (a section which, as I’ve written before, carries much significance to my soul).

I still remember the first time I turned the corner and saw this crucifix on the wall. It’s crude, yet so beautiful. It faces another, dimly-lit room in which there is a medieval-era altar on which there was taken countless pieces of Eucharist.

The last time I was at the museum, though, I noticed a bit of symbolism I’d never noticed (and I have no idea why). This crucifix is positioned above a 13th-century knight’s tomb effigy. After spending some time in reflection near the aforementioned altar, I looked back through the arch and for the first time noticed that the gaze of the dying Christ seemed to be settling not on the museum passer-bys, but on the effigy of the dead knight before him.

The Christ’s gaze of sadness and pity no longer seemed to be for his own sufferings, but for the death and suffering of this one that lay before him. This gaze seemed to carry with it not only sadness, but also a stoic confidence that through this act, he would bring an end to this knight’s sleep.

Through this act of loss and sadness, here is a picture now of rebirth and renewal, made all the more meaningful as I took this picture from the steps of that altar, bathed in darkness, on which was consecrated and served Christ’s body, broken for our renewal and light–then, and today.

See my past Weekly Photo Challenges here.

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Adventures of a social worker on election day


Today is one of my proudest days as a case manager, as I’ve been able to assist several of my clients in voting today. Sitting down with them, helping them find their local polling place, driving to the center, walking them through the ballot and the voting machines, and then watching them vote has been amazing. I wanted to share a conversation I had today with (as we’ll call him) “Chris”. He’s grown up well-within poverty his entire life in the roughest neighborhoods of Philadelphia. He’s been in the mental health system since he was very young, with a mind full of voices and confusion.
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Weekend Photo Challenge: Big


This week’s new WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge theme is “Big“. (The post I put up yesterday on the theme of “Happy”, was actually a response to last Friday’s theme, today I put up this week’s new theme).

This is a picture of one of the most most interesting and unique pieces of architecture I’ve ever seen: Philadelphia’a City Hall (you can see it’s uniqueness here and here). I love that building. It is (in as serious an non-ironic of a way) so majestic.

This picture is significant not only because of it’s subject’s centrality in a city I love. It’s also the first picture I took with the now-defunct site/app Picplz (it was an Instagram competitor on Android). It’s also the first picture (that I can think of) that I ever took in downtown Philadelphia. What all that means is that this is the picture that began my love affair with urban photography and photo editing; a love that eventually spawned my Philadelphia photoblog, The Daily Philly, as well as my desire to do this very WordPress Photo Challenge each week.

So, thanks for viewing, liking, retweeting, and commenting.

See my past Weekly Photo Challenges here.

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