it’s always there

IT’S ONE OF THOSE TIMES that makes you realize you never really know the joy life will bring, one moment to the next.

First there was the fact we had a slew friends staying with us in the mountains for the weekend. Then others were to arrive late Saturday afternoon, our plan some happy time out on the deck, followed by a big, casual, family-style dinner.

Then Jessie called.

“You can say no,” she said, “and I will totally understand.” She totally meant it, too.

But I said yes, and that’s how it came to be on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon in October I was standing, camera in hand, just up the way in a lovely mountain meadow photographing the prettiest wedding I’ve ever seen.

I am not a real photographer, let me be clear about that. Plus there were three or four guests intentionally snapping away–each of us aware the professional had cancelled at the last minute and that surely–surely between all of us there would be enough good shots for a proper album.

Still. It was a wedding.

None of this is even the point of this post. I merely want you to understand how it was I found myself in a meadow on a mountain on a picture-perfect afternoon in October, a witness to the sweet, sweet wedding of a couple I’d never ever met. And I want you to feel the surprise that experience–unexpected as it was– brought to me. Turns out it was one of the most love-filled, light-filled, joy-filled afternoons of my life.

 

FIRST MY FRIEND and soul brother, Jay Coles, was visiting and offered to give me a ride up to the wedding. He knew I was anxious (!!!) and graciously agreed to hang around, bringing his camera as a backup. The two of us fussing around getting our “gear” ready so tickled our crowd that someone demanded a photo.

Thank heavens I am not sporting a camera in this shot!

 

Then Jay and I arrived and went to work, doing our best to capture each thoughtful detail.

 

IT’S AN ODD THING to attend the wedding of a couple you don’t know, even more so when it is an intimate gathering of family and dearest friends. I felt removed but also all up in it, every unknown face coming to me through my camera’s zoom lens. It gave me the opportunity to look and see and experience the color and shape of every emotion in a heightened and powerful way.

There was so much love.

Sister and sister.

Mama and daughter.

Father and bride.

Brother and brother. And brother.

Bride. And groom.

Oh, this bride and groom.

Their joy overflowed in a way made manifest, I swear, by the wide open setting, the colors of autumn, the October sky. They blushed; they laughed; they cried. As did the Justice doing their marrying (who I think may have been the groom’s brother). As did everyone else in attendance (but for those ADORABLE children).

As did I.

I stood there, my lens trained on the love-filled faces of these strangers, and tears rolled down my cheeks.

 

LOVE IS ALL AROUND is the point I’m trying to make, love is present and moving in a hundred trillion ways you never see or even know. Love is flowing, good and strong and remarkable, all across the globe, in every country, three states away, just a little ways up Ogle Mountain.

Even when we forget it. Even when forces divert our attention elsewhere, and we’re unaware.

Love is all around.

 

XXOO

 

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Relief.

photo: David LaFuria

 

Full-on summer is here with the South Carolina temperature soaring to nearly 100 degrees most every afternoon. It’s the kind of heat you can literally see in the air: your eyes hurt, your lungs burn, your spirit feels the proverbial finish line is way over there on the other side of a giant vat of syrup.

No wonder I keep thinking about this photograph. Dear friends had come to spend the July 4th weekend with us high in the (much cooler) North Carolina mountains and Sunday morning headed to the North Toe River for sweet bit of fly fishing. David snapped this shot on their outing and was gracious enough to share it with me.

Relief. Oh, yes.

Here’s hoping the folks who landed there found just that. (Although it does feel like a long shot from the look of things.) And here’s hoping you find some, whatever it is you feel bearing down on you in this oppressive summer heat!

XXOO

 

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When the morning comes.

 

Most nights we are in the mountains I awaken two or three times just to check for light at the foot of the bed. It’s something we didn’t realize when we bought the place, the fact our bedroom faces east. Which means we can leave the shade open at night, and when it’s time to rise God nudges us up and out with the most gentle, spectacular show.

 

 

I mean.

 

 

My first words each day are: Is it get up time yet?

 

 

Tim always says yes. Which is perfect because every day is different–and we don’t want to miss a thing. 

 

 

XXOO

 

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the snow moon

 

The Snow Moon comes tonight.

Still I can’t help posting these photos from last night.

 

 

Because for the first time in many, many years, I happened to be where snow fell all day long.

 

 

 

 

Then as day began its slip to night, 

 

 

temperatures dropped to the low 20s

  

 

and a big ol’ moon rose bright over the tree tops.

 

 

I love February.

 

 

 

XXOO

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the raging dark

WE STRETCHED OUR THANKSGIVING weekend in the mountains one more day, giving us time to prep for some work we’re having done in December. It’s a decision that resulted in us being there for one of the most unsettling nights I’ve ever experienced, a violent windstorm raging outside our walls and windows as we lay in the dark trying to sleep.

It’s a strange thing, this being at 5,000 feet on the top of a mountain. Every sense feels heightened. The glory is grand and majestic, of course. But the weather is unpredictable, and an emergency service–fire, EMT, etc.–is 40 minutes away, at best. It’s a place where you learn the reward of isolation might just be offered in equal measure to the risk.

They were the thoughts in my head as the storm raged around us all night. My greatest fear was of an ancient tree falling on the house (a reasonable concern when you are located in a forest). The wind shook the windows and rain pelted the glass with such force it sounded like ice, or gunshot, or both. I clung to Tim’s words as he slept fitfully beside me:  This house has stood here for 38 years. It will be fine.

(Right.)

All of this is to say I had several hours to think in the dark and not-so-quiet of that night. And in my attempt to push the worry away, I turned my mind toward Advent.

 

the-storm

 

A FEW YEARS AGO our Sunday School studied the book of Daniel with Beth Moore. I particularly remember a surprising revelation she offered about great dramas playing out above us in the heavenlies. Angels fight for us, she said, as we go about our mortal days unknowing. It’s an idea that’s stuck with me these many months since, this consideration of angels that are not gentle and ethereal but active and passionate and at work. As I listened to the wind and rain in the darkness, it’s the image that came to mind. Perhaps what I’m hearing is a great and fierce angel battle, I thought, one our tired world could surely use amid the darkness of late. 

 

THESE HAVE BEEN difficult days, particularly so for many people I love: a terrifying cancer diagnosis; heartbreaking loss for a treasured friend; the unfathomable news a precious child is in an induced coma, the doctors searching for answers that won’t seem to come. 

It goes on and on and on, the awful list, one after the other after the other.  I desperately pray for each one. My heart aches heavy and swollen, and in my plea I reach for the words of writer/minister Winn Collier and the promise of this holy season of Advent:

We watch for Light. We pay attention to rhythm and sound and cadence. Our hearts look for signals. Our hearts lean forward. Light is coming.

In that night, through that storm, in this darkness, it’s a promise I cling to more than ever.

 

 

25. Everyday Grace

Like so many folks, I am an Instagram lover. There’s something magical about simply clicking on the app to find photographs from all over the world sent just to me*. I’ve chosen the feeds I want to see–most are remarkable nature shots, some are people who make things or blog, a few are celebrities**, and many are people I know who make me laugh, smile, feel inspired, or simply give me a little peek into their daily lives.

(Instagram is one reason I love social media.)

I have posted to Instagram myself for several years and include in my feed a little of this and a little of that. Then it occurred to me some readers of The Daily Grace might enjoy a little grace daily! So I’ve created a new feed that offers one photograph I’ve taken each morning…a sweet moment of grace to start your day.

Here’s a sampling.

 

pink clouds

 

hummingbird

 

flower

 

women

 

cloud form

 

tree

If you are an Instagram user, I invite you to follow me there. And if you’re not, perhaps you will consider joining. (Even those who don’t participate in much social media find this app easy to love.) It is my hope you will find The Daily Grace on Instagram to be a sweet spot for calm, joy and gratitude amid the chaos of this hustle bustle (wonderful) world!

Find me here: The Daily Grace on instagram

*Not really, but it feels that way.

**highly curated

***If you already follow me on Instagram, you will see this is a new feed dedicated to The Daily Grace. My original, personal feed is still there: CathyRiggMonetti on Instagram.

 

30 Days of Fun

 

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let life sing

 

June Prompts

If you like the idea of a daily photo prompt, here’s the list I use via blogger FatMumSlim. You can learn more about posting and tagging here, which means you’ll be part of a fun, creative global community of folks who share their unique take on a word (and their world). So fun. And fascinating.

Here’s a look at May, in my photo a day!

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in the mountains

theview

 

We sat there on the deck not really talking, not doing much more than casting our eyes out across the long view, trying to take it all in. Such a vast look across so much nature is so big, so powerful–mountains that roll and climb and dip for miles in every direction, land meeting sky in a huge and gentle reckoning of the earth’s majestic glory.

And then without fanfare the fog rolled in, an unannounced guest at our high elevation gathering.

 

in-the-fog

 

And suddenly we were cocooned in light, the world no bigger than the field and trees before us.

 

XXOO

 

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