Prose by Photography: A Stir in the Shrine

I stood on the gravel, staring at the textured bark of one of the tall, lean trees in the middle of the Hokkaido Jingu Shrine – like wrinkles of the wise, and as if possessing a knowledge that the rest of us were still lost in seeking to discover. Just a moment before that, I’d been standing on the steps of the main building, quietly and respectfully watching from the side as the locals went up to what looked like wooden kneelers and knelt, looking straight ahead at the altar through the glass, bowing piously.

Suddenly- there was movement to the right side of the shrine. A door opened, and a man dressed in pine-green-coloured robes wearing a black headpiece tied with a skinny white rope around his face and under his chin stepped out, holding a small bell. Ring, ring, ring.

Two ladies stepped out with him, hair neatly and tightly pulled back into a ponytail around which a cream-coloured cloth was wrapped and bound with red ribbon, both clad in long white blouses with slits and big boxy sleeves, under which they wore full-length bright red skirts. Ring, ring, ring.

They promptly bowed low to each other, and one of the ladies spun on her heel and departed briskly, as if on a mission, her feet shuffling quickly in matching red geta slippers and I watched as she navigated the peripheral pathways of the shrine, rounded a bend and vanished, her red skirt previously trailing with movement, going with her.

June 2014, Hokkaidō Shrine (Hokkaido-Jingu Shrine), Maruyama Park, Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Rule of Thirds.”

Prose by Photography: The Key to the Golden Gate

I stood at the entrance, staring up the structure towering over me, floral motifs written into its white face. It beamed down at me; a mere smallish figure, wearing the hood of a borrowed black abaya, dwarfed in comparison.

From here, I could not yet see clearly what lay beyond, for the view was obstructed by a second archway; a seeming reflection of the first. The gate in itself was huge, but the line of sight- narrow.

And- as if reading my mind, it said I can show you a glimpse, but you would need to journey farther to see it. And before my eyes unveiled dome on dome, in perfect symmetry- echoes of balance and harmony.

With a gentle crinkle of a smile, it gave a gentle nod- and whispered, Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth onto life, and few there be that find it.

March 2014, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi, UAE

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Symmetry.”

Personal: How deep is his love?

The perfect example for the word “depth” finally dawned upon me last Sunday, summed up beautifully in a Christian song by Stuart Townend.

How deep the Father’s love for us, how vast beyond all measure, that He should give His only Son, to make a wretch His treasure.

How great the pain of searing loss – the Father turns His gaze away, as wounds which mar the Chosen One bring many Sons to glory.

It was my sin that held Him there, until it was accomplished; His dying breath has brought me life – I know that it is finished.

Why should I gain from His reward? I cannot give an answer; But this I know with all my heart – His wounds have paid my ransom.

September 2012, Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri, Rome, Italy

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Depth.”

Poetry by Photography: The Ninth Army

Love, the Giver of life

Joy, the Bearer of light

Peace, the Prince of nobility

Patience, the Protector of faith

Kindness, the Deliverer of humanity

Goodness, the Messenger of gold

Faithfulness, the Knight of salvation

Gentleness, the Healer of old

Self-control, the Defender of the soul

March 2014, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi, UAE

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Express Yourself.”