Posts Tagged ‘redemption’

Holy Water: A Christmas History

Wednesday, December 25th, 2013
Treasure

Treasure

 

Christmas began for me around  6 am on Dec 25th in 1955, when I was born.

My Mother had been on her way to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve in Milwaukee Wisconsin. She had stumbled on the steps leading up to the church and labor began. I like to think it was me who pushed her. That somehow, I knew Christmas and I, we would need to become acquainted.

“Let me out!” I can imagine the look on my Mom’s face as she realized she would not be in church that day, Catholicism being what it was at that time in History.

I was to be the first born of six children. My  Hawaiian Father was attending Marquette University on a GI Bill program, and had met my Yugoslavian Mother. The rest sorta makes me smile. (I know how Hawaiians are about women)

So… A lifetime of Christmas-Birthdays later, and it seriously is my favorite time of year. But not for reasons one might suspect.

My Mother always made a huge to do about Christmas. My parents were generous to a fault. It is all that I remember, the fantasy of it and the generosity.

But what really made Christmas special had nothing to do with gift wrapping, Christmas Trees or Santa, much as I relished it all and loved it. What made the day unique to me, occurred one Fall day, as I was walking to Parochial school. I believe I was in third grade.

I used to make the rather long walk solo, and recall a particular day well. I had made my way from our split level 1950′s house,  three blocks through the housing tract, then along the railroad tracks which stretched through a mile long vacant field. Beautiful bright blue Fall day.

Toodling along, and somewhat bored by the length of the walk, and really looking forward to my day at school, which would begin with First Friday Mass, I was suddenly conscious of not being alone. It was as if I was looking at the scene before me through a wavy piece of glass, and I then met someone in  a way that was unique and new to me. That person was a man who spoke with me and showed me my life ahead.

I can only describe the conversation as exemplifying the tenet described in scripture of knowing as we are known. It was like being wrapped up in the most complete understanding consciousness that ever was. It is difficult to put into words, really. But I knew who this was. He walked with me. It was a comfortable feeling. As a Father now, I know what this was. Paternal Love being bestowed on me.

I never spoke of this to anyone. In fact, this is the first time I have written of it. I have reasons for that.

So many times I have seen people stress about Religion or Godliness, even over Christmas. But that day, Jesus showed me what He meant, and why, as well as how I was to be as a man. I understood  in the moment: that God so loved the world that He sent his only Son, His living Word, to be with us. And my response was simple. I accepted what he had to say, and said thank you. Fifteen minutes later I was standing outside the church.

It was then that I understood what the Church really was. It was me. And you. And Christmas became  special that year in a new way.

A rule developed in my parent’s house regarding Birthdays. With six kids, the best and most affordable gift in a single income household, typical of that era, was to allow each sibling to do whatever they wanted, on their Birthday.

So I recall quite clearly when at the age of eleven, now living in Goleta Ca. my mother asking me what I wanted to do for my Birthday. My answer was short and to the point. “Surf, Mom. I want to be at the beach”

So for every Christmas from that day forward, the Ocean was a gift to me from my parents.

And guess what? That same voice was there always, moving across the waters.

This is what Christmas is to me.  Time with my Lord, and best friend. I find it wonderful that I get to share his pleasure through my life and work.

 

Harmony

Harmony

 

Here is a great story about Apollo 8 and Christmas Eve and Photography, sent along by Artist Dan Levin. This was the project my Father had been working on as I was a  child.

Here is a beautiful rendition of Leonard Cohen’s piece Hallelujah done by Cloverton.

The images in this blog were shot yesterday, Dec 24th, Christmas eve. If you are reading this Christmas morning, I am off celebrating a birthday in the water somewhere.

Merry Christmas indeed.

Aloha Oe.

 

 

Blue on Blue

Blue on Blue

 

Living Bali

Monday, October 24th, 2011

Contained within the concept of life,  if one examines the word itself, the thing (noun) is not really what one may assume. A look at the origins of the word, takes you back to a Germanic root, which actually means leave, or more to the point: to remain. Taken yet to a more finite point of purpose in definition, to live, is to OCCUPY, a space, time and place. In living, we fill a space with our heart, mind and spirit.

Here is the story of the Bali Nine.  A group of individuals cut off by country, and set adrift in a waking dream that was an interminable journey towards a new death.

Joanna

Joanna

Joanna Witt is a Canadian. Sort of. Married to a Balinese man for many years, she and her growing team of collaborators and artisans have become sort of the “it” suppliers of Silver artisanship in Ubud, Bali. She is one of Donna’s go to people, and watching the two of them creating together is very inspiring. Joanna and Ketut (her talented business partner and husband, with whom she was eying a marital separation) set a very high bar in the practice of the craft and art. They also run silver-smithing workshops for  tourists and other interested people.

So in the midst of a pending large shift in her marriage,  while raising two children, opening new stores, and I am sure, trying to figure out what the future may look like, Joanna found herself drawn into the prison which housed the cast off souls of the Bali Nine.

She and Nyoman, one of Studio Perak’s lead artisans, took a good look around and decided to throw these people a life line. Maybe they might grab ahold…. They called the endeavor which features a unique collection of works fashioned by members of the Bali Nine,  the Hope Project. You can find the collection at Studio Perak locations on Bali.

I understand a bit about prison life. As a young Bible student, I got to go into one of the Federal Penitentiaries a few times with a man who had a prison ministry. It was a great lesson in serving. I would bring surfing and ocean video and tales, and hang with the inmates and talk about what may lie ahead and how to grab the lifeline. We would just be there, a break from the routine and a window to a free life.

As Donna and I sat in one of Joanna’s shops and recorded the story, her account communicated the utter despair she found. I understood exactly what that meant.

In the struggle of building and tutoring these people in silversmithing on a weekly basis, she did something very important. Joanna and Nyoman put souls back into motion.

The significance of that is something which makes my eyes tear up. It is kind, brave, and all manner of strong. It is living.

On Bali, life is Art. My friend, Joe Cardella has a saying: Art Saves Lives.

Yes indeed, it certainly does.

The gallery below is what life looks like here for Donna and I right now, as we steadily meet and engage as many people as possible. Much to do, and we only get to live here for a heartbeat. But we occupy, thanks to these people and the grace of this place, this community.

“Onward”  Joe Cardella

Beholden on a Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 25th, 2010
Gift

Gift

Ah kids. They enter our world, turn it upside down, and at some point we realize that we had it all upside down in the first place.

In my thirties, I had no immediate plans for having children. Managing a growing company, working a morphing athletic career, and looking at a rapidly changing world, inspired no confidence in myself to manage the additional responsibilities of a child. Let alone two.

My wife at the time, Ronnie, had other ideas. So in the course of three years, when what I had assumed were foolproof measures that we were taking to avoid conceiving children, mysteriously failed, we became the parents of two boys, Joshua and Jonathan.

That was a double shock. With a large number of employees, spread across a few companies that I was responsible for, watching my sons be born had about equal cachet to being hit in the head by a baseball bat, when in fact, I had thought I was already sliding across home plate.

I did several things at that point in my life. One of those involved a lot of struggle. Like a rabbit caught in a snare, I flailed against the new responsibility emotionally. I simply did not see it coming. But as I eventually settled in to the task of learning to be a Father, I knew that at some point, I would be leaving my wife over the issue of these two little gifts being conceived.

So as the years passed and I eyed the door in a resolute, yet furtive manner ( I never spoke of it to a soul), I discovered what it meant to be beholden. Where you owe a debt. As the daily struggles played out, I found that the entity I owed the most to was my children, and of course the wife who I felt had betrayed me.

In time as the divorce process played out, and my future ex life partner and best friend sat across from me with a very kind Santa Barbara attorney mediating, I was surprised when the man turned to our boys and asked them: “All right guys, of your parents, who do  you think that you would like to live with?” No matter how much a person thinks that they are ready for this, wants it, is prepared, there always is an element of ummm, instability at times like this.

I was shocked and in the next instant saddened, as I saw Josh and Jon point to me, and almost simultaneously the look in my soon to be ex’s eyes, of realization, regarding the things to come. We all went home, and in a relatively short time after that, Ronnie was alone in a Condo, and I was living in the home we had shared together, with Josh and Jon, and embarking on my newish career in Photography and Cinematography.

So on this Thanksgiving, and indeed every day of my life, I have no choice but to face that I am forever beholden to my ex wife. The catalyst for great work, was the gift she gave me of our two sons. Life is work by the way. What I am telling you is that my world today is the product of the bond and blessing that come from having Joshua and Jonathan in my life. That was a woman’s vision. Not mine. I can never repay that. I divorced her. Smiling I realize that maybe today, she feels that act was payment: being rid of me.

Bond

Bond

A friend and mentor of mine is Dr Ed Brenegar who I met through Seth Godin’s organization, Triiibes. Ed  is a Leadership coach, and in his long list of attributes, has a site called Say Thanks Every Day. He has hit on something incredibly transformational and creative with this concept. For in realizing that every moment of every day we are beholden for the gift that is our life, well, there is incredible creative power in that. I suggest that you get to know Ed and his work. We each need that kind of power. Here is HIS Thanksgiving message.

Someone sent me something very appropriate this week. I hope that it blesses you this Thanksgiving.

A mother asked this President… ‘Why did my son have to die in Kuwait ?’

Another mother asked this President… ‘Why did my son have to die in Vietnam ?’

Another mother asked this President… ‘Why did my son have to die in Korea ?’

Another mother asked this President… ‘Why did my son have to die on Iwo Jima ?’

Another mother asked a President… ‘Why did my son have to die on a battlefield in France ?’

Yet another mother asked a President… ‘Why did my son have to die at Gettysburg ?’

And yet another mother asked a President … ‘Why did my son have to die on a frozen field near Valley Forge ?’

Then long, long ago, a mother asked..

‘Heavenly Father .. why did my Son have to die on a cross outside of Jerusalem ?’

The answer is always the same… ‘So that others may live and dwell in peace, happiness, and freedom.’


Fighting On

Fighting On

We are all beholden for the gift of our families, communities, and this great Country we have inherited. I hope this Thanksgiving seeds a renewed sense of hope and fresh perspective for you. Even if all around you right now feels like the image below.

The Ride

The Ride

Here is an interesting tribute that someone compiled, to Johnny Cash and his wife June, based on the song “Hurt”, Cash’s last project. Funny thing about Johnny Cash. I can almost see his house from where I sit writing this Thanksgiving note.

You matter. It will all work out. Happy Thanksgiving.

Texture

Friday, November 6th, 2009

Textures and Light

Textures and Light

I like to listen to things. Sound is life. People think that because I am a photographer, I am all about light. But light and color are merely indicators of a signature flowing through creation that is sound. So I listen and try to decipher, to hear, comprehend, move forward.

Certain things that I hear create textures that eventually comprise threads which in turn weave the tapestry of life. You all get to see that, as I photograph those instants.

It is Fall here in Ventura California. The voices in my life burst forth in a timbre that in turn, becomes something remarkable. Here is a sampling of some  heard, these past few weeks. The view is rich but the sonnet, remarkably breath catching.

From film maker Gregory Schell.

“California Forever” Jean Baudrillard, (1986)

The sunsets of California are giant rainbows lasting for an hour. The seasons here make no sense: in the morning it is spring, at noon it is summer, and the desert nights are cold without it ever being winter. It is a kind of suspended eternity in which the year is renewed daily, with the guarantee that it will be like this each day, that every evening will be that rainbow of all the colors of the spectrum in which light, after having reigned all day long in its indivisible form, in the evening fragments into all the nuances of color that make it up, before it finally disappears. Nuances which are already those of the instant rainbow catching fire in the wind on the crest of the Pacific waves. This is the invulnerable grace of the climate, privilege of a nature that completes that insane richness that is man’s.”

From EMT and Photographer Charlie Witmer.

I’ll try to make this brief. I went on a call recently. An older

man about 89 years old had fallen out of bed at a supervised care

facility in his apartment and hit the call button around his

neck.The nurses all huddled around him said he hurt his legs. I

said to him “Hi my name is charlie, what’s yours?” The answer to

this brief introduction usually yields a clear picture of

orientation, slurred or clear speech,and affect of a patient. he

said, “My name is Ed” I noticed he was unclothed except for a

diaper he was wearing. I inquired as to whether or not he was

injured, lost consciousness, had any shortness of breath, chest

pain, and a few other annoying questions. He informed me that “I

just want to be put back to bed” I told him I had to perform a

hands on physical exam to rule out any injuries but that I first

had to move him away from the edge of the bed. I reached under his head

shoulders and chest while the other firefighter got under his pelvis and

legs and we moved him in unison out away from the bed. He

was putting his full trust in me. It was then that I looked up and saw the

photos of a much younger “Ed”. He had been a USN Commander and was in fact

the lead pilot of the Blue Angels at a point earlier in his life.

I asked him if that was his photo up there and he confirmed it. I

immediately told him how I admired the Blue Angels and In my mind they

“are the best of the best”. I felt so humbled and honored to be able to

help this unsung hero.I pondered in my mind what it must be like going

from having a rocket strapped to your ass, screaming through the wild blue

yonder at super sonic speed, only to land next to your bed over 50 years

later unable to get up on your own power

It also struck me like hammer that our glory days are so fleeting

and in time they become a faded memory. We really can’t take any of

it with us so we must make the most of what we have right now and

give what we can while we can.

I sent “Ed” off to the hospital having just been privileged to touch

some living history and honored to have met such a special man.

A poignant blog by photojournalist Logan Mock Bunting

From my friend and team leader, K38’s Shawn Alladio, an excerpt from a debriefing on the death of Cesare Visrara:

2 days ago, Cesare received his final send out in Italy. Rest In Peace. Life has been fair to all of us. We have a job to do and it is not finished. Learn better leadership skills,stay steady, stay strong, lead with integrity, lead without fault, use the standards, do not deviate. You must be physically fit! You have to be fit to do the job to the ending! Pay attention! You have to develop a stronger mindset. I do not want to work with idiots or mediocrity. Idiots and mediocrity kill people, destroy team ethics and has no place near K38, so get the fuck out of the way if you want to be weak. Strength is what you need, are you good enough? You better be, if not dig deep and make it happen. Find your weakness and change it. Don’t be afraid.

I want all of you to rest in peace as well. It is time to move forward and not stare at our past, but look forward to our future work and goals and becoming a better person from this experience.

As usual Seth Godin dropped this into my e mail just now. One of the voices.

There are many more things that I have heard this week. This blog could go on for way too many pages. But I recount those, to show and tell you this:

Things we hear, choose to listen to and embrace, pay great dividends. So discern and cherish those. Look at the texture it creates.  You feel it.  May you never hear those words: “You never listen to me.” What we hear becomes the light on the highway of life.

Listen to this while you look at these. The Earth whispers this to us non stop.

Did you hear that?

Zuma Post

Zuma Post

Cesare Vismara: Lifemarker K38

Cesare Vismara: Lifemarker K38

Pumpkin Patch Moonrise

Pumpkin Patch Moonrise

Sustainable Landscape Architect: Devin Slavin

Sustainable Landscape Architect: Devin Slavin

Community Activist, Camille Harris

Community Activist, Camille Harris

Photojournalist Helen Yonker

Photojournalist Helen Yonker

Ventura Voices

Ventura Voices

Trees as Men: Ventura Eucalyptus

Trees as Men: Ventura Eucalyptus

Mary, Dimples, Mary McGrath

Mary, Dimples, Mary McGrath

Lars Rathje

Lars Rathje

Ventura Harbor

Ventura Harbor

California St

California St

Dafoe's Vintage Bottle Shared

Dafoe's Vintage Bottle Shared

Ventura Pier Sunset

Ventura Pier Sunset

Two

Two

Two Tree Sentinels

Two Tree Sentinels

Highway One

Highway One

Is That Real? An Authentic View

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

Maldivian Blue

Maldivian Blue

I get asked this question a lot.  When I have finished answering in the affirmative, the second response which has been repeated with enough frequency that I no longer take offense comes: “Is that Photoshopped?”

The line of query says a lot about our over stimulated, content crammed, media saturated world, as it exists today. If one were to slip into the dusty cobweb strewn dark recesses of what passes for my mind, you would hear the little bitch echo of a voice I spend a lifetime trying to stifle, saying in a soft clear tone: “Um, get out much?” (Bad Dave, bad, down boy)

But instead of that, you get this blog. Some of you are laughing right now and some have left the room with a click of the red button on your browser. I understand both tacts. But here is the deal. My frame of reference is  unique and different than that of the person who poses these questions. My job as an artist and communicator is a simple one: I point to the source. Frequently the source is alien to that person.

So in this process I have found myself a cheerleader for real, first hand experiences. Go, breathe, run, swim, surf, ride,  jump, fall, sing, dance, love, taste, smell, feel, listen, struggle, lose, win, live. Turn off the computer, put down the I phone, kill your television, go be that experience today. Then come back and tell us about it in your own voice, not the media’s. Do something. A world could use that joy you find.

I just read a great book called “Ignore Everybody and 39 other Keys to Creativity” It is reviewed here on B&H’s site. It has keys that resonated with me and made me laugh, as I realized that the writer and I do exactly the same things. Thanks to Seth Godin for pointing it’s existence out to me. I needed the reminders in this book. You may also.

A quirky blog that really communicates the value of first hand experience is right here by Seth Godin

Being a virtuoso at anything requires authenticity and pureness of intent, but beyond that, a commitment to engage your passion and then to share the results.  Jake Shimabukuro demonstrates all of that here as he shares something amazing: his authenticity.

Authenticity. Yep, that photo is real, I know what it tastes, feels and sounds like as well as how it appears when I show up at the right moment with a camera. If you experience any incredulity at all, well then, I am doing my job.

Please click on the images in the gallery to read the back stories. The meat of this subject is in there if you would like a taste.

Dan Malloy, Red Dawn

Dan Malloy, Red Dawn

Spinner Fantasy

Spinner Fantasy

Cotton Candy Floor

Cotton Candy Floor

Solitude

Solitude

Ventura Pier

Ventura Pier

Two Trees Dawn

Two Trees Dawn

Definition

Definition

Westside Rainbow Bridge

Westside Rainbow Bridge

Orange Diaper

Orange Diaper

Oop

Oop

Rincon Sunset

Rincon Sunset

Green Dream

Green Dream

Vapor

Vapor

Tiare, Going

Tiare, Going

Consequences

Consequences

The Gallery: Backstories show when clicking on imagery below

© 2009 David Pu'u. All rights reserved.

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