The Good Heart

“There’s so many external beautiful art but internal the good heart is most important thing. I always say be a good person a warm-hearted person because that is important”

Just thinking of this quote by Tenzin Deshek, a Tibetan Buddhist monk who lives in Alabama and created this sand mandala in April at the Birmingham Museum of Art. We got to see him take the sands — tiny marble particles — and tap them along, making lines and filling in voids:

There was an article in the San Antonio paper this week about the mandala made there, and what happens once it’s completed:

After the ceremony, the monks cleared away the sand, placing it in hundreds of small plastic bags that were distributed to viewers. They then walked to the nearby San Antonio River, depositing the remaining sand in the water, where it flowed downstream and disappeared.

It made me think of tashlich (a symbolic act of tossing away past bad acts and gaining a fresh slate), which was done this year with a congregation at the beach. This year, my boys saw some jellyfish floating around, and seagulls always swoop in once they see bits of bread floating about too. The crumbs eventually flow away with the waves and disappear. It’s a time to reflect and think about improvement.

“There’s so many external beautiful art but internal the good heart is most important thing.”

Trail Of Scriptures

After visiting the grave shelter at Ballinger Cemetery in Morgan County, Alabama, I stopped when I saw the First Christian Church of Valhermoso Springs and its Trail of Scriptures as I love to document religious displays.

Valhermoso Springs First Christian Church And Trail Of Scriptures, Valhermoso Springs AL
Valhermoso Springs First Christian Church And Trail Of Scriptures, Valhermoso Springs AL

Set up as a place at which people can simply get out and walk the trail, it is peppered with Christian verses and symbolism
Valhermoso Springs First Christian Church And Trail Of Scriptures, Valhermoso Springs AL

Valhermoso Springs First Christian Church And Trail Of Scriptures, Valhermoso Springs AL

Valhermoso Springs First Christian Church And Trail Of Scriptures, Valhermoso Springs AL

I needed to be home early that evening, so I didn’t have time to walk the trail (it’s actually a very good size), but enjoyed that this congregation put so much loving-kindness into developing something for the community here.
Valhermoso Springs First Christian Church And Trail Of Scriptures, Valhermoso Springs AL

Memorial

Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Memorial Day) was a few days ago, and I was thinking this morning of the new glass sculptures at Beth Israel in Jackson, Mississippi at the Gus Waterman Herrman Holocaust Memorial Garden. The sculptures were made by Pearl River Glass and dedicated at a ceremony last November.

Gus Waterman Herrman Holocaust Memorial at Beth Israel in Jackson MS//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Gus Waterman Herrman Holocaust Memorial at Beth Israel in Jackson MS//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Gus Waterman Herrman Holocaust Memorial at Beth Israel in Jackson MS//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Gus Waterman Herrman Holocaust Memorial at Beth Israel in Jackson MS//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Gus Waterman Herrman Holocaust Memorial at Beth Israel in Jackson MS//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Gus Waterman Herrman Holocaust Memorial at Beth Israel in Jackson MS//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

What A Creationist Ark Encounter Is Like, And #SpoilerAlert: Dinosaurs

Our trip to Kentucky last year included a visit to the new Ark Encounter — we couldn’t pass up a chance to see something so monumental that’s been so widely reported on (including the NYT). And the most interesting thing to me: knowing that it was a project by a Creationist, how will that color the experience?

But first of all, just take.that.in. Massive. 510 feet long.
Ark Encounter, Williamstown KY//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Ark Encounter, Williamstown KY//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

There’s a line for tickets, which took us about 15 minutes, then a few minutes waiting on a bus to take us up to the ark, then we stood in queue over another hour for admittance to the ark:
Ark Encounter, Williamstown KY//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Everyone who enters is asked to stand in front of these green-screens so they can have the opportunity to purchase their picture later. We always, always pass at these and don’t even take the picture.
Ark Encounter, Williamstown KY//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

There are three floors at the ark, and the first shows much of the storage: how were things kept?
Ark Encounter, Williamstown KY//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Ark Encounter, Williamstown KY//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Ark Encounter, Williamstown KY//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Other floors have exhibits and displays to explain the founders’ Creationism beliefs:
Ark Encounter, Williamstown KY//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Ark Encounter, Williamstown KY//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Ark Encounter, Williamstown KY//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Ark Encounter, Williamstown KY//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

I looked around to see if anyone else…nope. No one seemed to give the displays of dinosaurs any more consideration than those of any of the other animals on display. Did every other person fully expect to see displays of dinosaurs on the ark? Were they also Creationists? Were the other guests not Creationists, but simply accepted it as fact because it was displayed as such? I admit, I was surprised no one else seemed as…surprised as I was that they depicted dinosaurs here. 
Ark Encounter, Williamstown KY//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
Btw, there are things about my own religion that I find mystifying too, so there’s that.

There was more theology

Ark Encounter, Williamstown KY//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

including connections from the flood to Christianity
Ark Encounter, Williamstown KY//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Another display was this one, depicting the ‘deceptively cute’ ways that the ark story is communicated to children and how it’s ‘distorting the message’ — so while one is instructed to keep in mind how incredibly serious and sincere this all is, outside they haveExtreme Zip Lines: Soar down thousands of feet of zip lines, reach up to 50 mph and 17 stories in the air. Ten of these super-zip lines are 1,000 feet or longer!‘ and a zoo. That doesn’t seem to square.
Ark Encounter, Williamstown KY//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Ark Encounter, Williamstown KY//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Elsewhere, ideas of the living quarters are displayed
//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
Ark Encounter, Williamstown KY

Noah, the O G prepper.
Ark Encounter, Williamstown KY//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

and, yes, you exit through the gift shop.
Ark Encounter, Williamstown KY//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js


I enjoyed getting to visit this attraction for the sheer scale. And it helped me understand how Creationists view things, so I’m glad I had this opportunity. If one already subscribes to this way of viewing the world, it has to be *the* place to go. Otherwise, take it in like I tried to do for the architecture, the workmanship (it was put together in part by Amish from Lancaster County), for the opportunity to better understand others.

Here’s Ken Ham (the founder of the Ark Encounter) speaking with Bill Nye (science guy) while they tour.

And guess what? Looking just now at reviews from TripAdvisor, the Ark Encounter gets *great* reviews.

St Joseph Day Altar at St Cletus, Gretna LA

Here, last year’s St Joseph Day at St Cletus in Gretna:

I remember the first time we ever came here, we didn’t realize that as soon as you walk in the door, someone blesses you with holy water. Welcome!

Spaghetti lunch that the boys love

St Joseph Day Altar at St Cletus, Gretna LA//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

St Joseph Day Altar at St Cletus, Gretna LA//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

The altar at St Cletus is so different than that at St Joseph’s
St Joseph Day Altar at St Cletus, Gretna LA//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

St Joseph Day Altar at St Cletus, Gretna LA//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

St Joseph Day Altar at St Cletus, Gretna LA//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

St Joseph Day Altar at St Cletus, Gretna LA//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

St Joseph Day Altar at St Cletus, Gretna LA//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

St Joseph Day Altar at St Cletus, Gretna LA//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

St Joseph Day Altar at St Cletus, Gretna LA//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

St Joseph Day Altar at St Cletus, Gretna LA//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

St Joseph Day Altar at St Cletus, Gretna LA//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

St Joseph Day Altar at St Cletus, Gretna LA//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

St Joseph Day Altar at St Cletus, Gretna LA//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

St Joseph Day Altar at St Cletus, Gretna LA//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

St Joseph Day Altar at St Cletus, Gretna LA//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

St Joseph Day Altar at St Cletus, Gretna LA//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

St Joseph Day Altar at St Cletus, Gretna LA//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Saint Lucy!!
St Joseph Day Altar at St Cletus, Gretna LA//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

St Joseph Day Altar at St Cletus, Gretna LA//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

St Joseph Day Altar at St Cletus, Gretna LA//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

St Joseph Day Altar at St Cletus, Gretna LA//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

St Joseph Day Altar at St Cletus, Gretna LA//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

St Joseph Day Altar at St Cletus, Gretna LA//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

St Joseph Day Altar at St Cletus, Gretna LA//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

St Joseph Day Altar at St Cletus, Gretna LA//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

St Joseph Day Altar at St Cletus, Gretna LA//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

St Joseph Day Altar at St Cletus, Gretna LA//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

…and we leave with a little bag of cookies

St Joseph Day Altar at St Cletus, Gretna LA//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

St Joseph Day Altar at St Joseph Church and Shrine, Gretna LA

I grew up in a very Catholic town with several very good Catholic friends, but even still, St. Joseph Day wasn’t something I was familiar with until a few years ago. And I may be Jewish, but I have to say, this is my favorite somebody-else’s-holiday of all time (and yes, I do carry lucky beans in my purse). There are 50+ to visit this year in the area. Some history of the practice is here.

I love it when we are in New Orleans for the holiday because they do it *right* — and last year, our timing was perfect. These are all pics from the St Joseph Church and Shrine in Gretna.

St Joseph Altar at St Joseph Church and Shrine, Gretna LA//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

St Joseph Altar at St Joseph Church and Shrine, Gretna LA//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

St Joseph Altar at St Joseph Church and Shrine, Gretna LA//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Before the public is allowed to view everything, the ‘holy family’ — children dressed up as Jesus, Joseph, Mary, and angels, are fed first. And it’s very sweet…they are really catered to.
St Joseph Altar at St Joseph Church and Shrine, Gretna LA//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

St Joseph Altar at St Joseph Church and Shrine, Gretna LA//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

St Joseph Altar at St Joseph Church and Shrine, Gretna LA//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

St Joseph Altar at St Joseph Church and Shrine, Gretna LA//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

My fave: St Lucy eyes
St Joseph Altar at St Joseph Church and Shrine, Gretna LA//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

St Joseph Altar at St Joseph Church and Shrine, Gretna LA//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

St Joseph Altar at St Joseph Church and Shrine, Gretna LA//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Mudica — St Joseph’s sawdust
St Joseph Altar at St Joseph Church and Shrine, Gretna LA//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

St Joseph Altar at St Joseph Church and Shrine, Gretna LA//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

St Joseph Altar at St Joseph Church and Shrine, Gretna LA//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

St Joseph Altar at St Joseph Church and Shrine, Gretna LA//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

St Joseph Altar at St Joseph Church and Shrine, Gretna LA//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

St Joseph Altar at St Joseph Church and Shrine, Gretna LA//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

St Joseph Altar at St Joseph Church and Shrine, Gretna LA//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js