What Would Jesus Do?

That’s what Sister Helen asked.

Susan and I were watching a documentary called “Sister.”

SISTER is a one-hour documentary highlighting the work of death penalty abolitionist Sister Helen Prejean. The film examines the life and influences of Sister Helen and delves into the evolving role of Catholic nuns in America. This poignant piece follows Sister Helen (best selling author of Dead Man Walking) as she counsels and fights for the stay of execution of Oklahoma death row inmate Richard Glossip.

Sister Helen Prejean grew up in the Jim Crow South, joined the Sisters of St. Joseph at the age of 17, and emerged to become the leading voice against the death penalty in the USA.

Sister Helen’s awareness of social justice came even later, when she attended a talk by an activist nun who noted that Jesus’ message about the poor is that they be poor no longer. That their fate was not God’s will, and that just praying for people was not enough. Social justice, the nun said, meant being involved in political processes, because doing nothing was tacit support for the status quo.

What stung the most, Sister Helen said, “was the realization of how passive I had been.” A year later, she moved into Hope House, a Catholic service ministry in a New Orleans housing project. She was 42 years old. And a year after that, she would begin writing to a death row inmate.

“There’s this thing of how you discern God’s will in your life,” Sister Helen said.

Sister Helen’s latest memoir “River Of Fire” came out in paperback in 2019.

When you accompany someone to the execution, as I have done three times as a spiritual advisor, everything becomes very crystallized, distilled, and stripped to the essentials. You are in this building in the middle of the night, and all these people are organized to kill this man. And the gospel comes to you as it never has before: Are you for compassion, or are you for violence? Are you for mercy, or are you for vengeance? Are you for love, or are you for hate? Are you for life, or are you for death?

All of this got me thinking about purpose–my life’s purpose.

I do believe I am making the world a better place with beautiful photography.

But after watching this documentary I wondered what else am I doing to be more like Jesus?

There is my volunteer work with 3rd and 4th graders. Unfortunately this came to and end with the beginning of the quarantine one year ago. Note the date on the above school photo. March 4. One year ago today. You can read about the impact Susan and I had on these children here: https://brucebarone.com/2017/09/26/what-a-wonderful-world/

We pray we can continue with this work again someday soon.

Beauty. Children. Community. Working to make the world a better place.

welcome to march

Listen To The Lion.

Are you familiar with this song?

Listen:

Reading from Wikipedia:

“Listen to the Lion” has been said to rank amongst Morrison’s greatest work. “During the 11-minute voyage, he sings, shouts, improvises lines, delays and omits them, until he symbolically re-creates the sound of an unleashed lion within himself. It remains a considerable achievement.” (Johnny Rogan)[5]

“Listen to the Lion” was one of the 1001 Songs written about in the 2006 book by critic Toby Creswell who says in part: “Listen to the Lion has almost no words, just the phrase ‘Listen to the Lion inside of me’…He sings the phrases like an incantation, sometimes desperate and longing for love and at other times boasting of the power of his passion; and then at other times he sings in despair that these emotions have brought him nothing but ruin. He doesn’t need to speak, there’s nothing more to be said…”[6]

A sequel to this 1972 song was included on Morrison’s 2005 album, Magic Time that was entitled, “The Lion This Time”.[7]

During the November 2008 concert performances at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, California, Morrison used this song as an encore after the live Astral Weeks song performances. It has been listed under a new extended title of “Listen to the Lion – The Lion Speaks” on the track listing of the live album Astral Weeks Live at the Hollywood Bowl. In a January 2009 interview, Morrison said: “I wanted to end the Astral Weeks set with ‘Madame George’. I wanted to tell people at the end these songs are a ‘train of thought’ and leave it at that. I think ‘Lion’ is a song that is all me, as well, so I ended with that…It’s a song I guess about me—probably the only one about me.”[8] Also showing the magnitude of this work to the composer is the announcement that Morrison’s new record label will be entitled Listen to the Lion Records.[9

Andy Whitman, a Paste reviewer called this song, “the quintessential Van Morrison moment, the most thrilling and thrillingly strange soul music—in all senses of the term—ever recorded. It’s the sound of a man casting off all earthly bounds and battering down the gates of heaven.”[10]

Jay Cocks commented on the song: “You can hear Morrison courting this muse in the Pentecostal growls and incantations of Listen to the Lion on his 1972 album Saint Dominic’s Preview…”[11]

In his article on Morrison in the 1976 edition of the Rolling Stone History of Rock and Roll, critic Greil Marcus wrote, “Across 11 minutes, he [Morrison] sings, chants, moans, cries, pleads, shouts, hollers, whispers, until finally he breaks away from language and speaks in Irish tongues, breaking away from ordinary meaning until he has loosed the lion inside himself. He begins to roar: he has that sound, that yarrrrragh, as he has never had it before. He is not singing it, it is singing him.” [12]

Robert Christgau‘s review of Saint Dominic’s Preview uses this song to point out that vocals are sometimes more important than words: “Listen to the lion,” he [Morrison] advises later, referring to that lovely frightening beast inside each of us, and midway through the eleven-minute cut he lets the lion out, moaning and roaring and growling and stuttering in a scat extension that would do Leon Thomas proud.”[13

It’s a classic. A favorite.

Welcome to March.

As they say, “In like a lion, out like a lamb.”

Go create. Love. Build community.

Summer Is Over

Tonight is the last night of summer. You can see autumn coming today in the color of the lace hydrangea leaves.

Where did summer go?

I have a record of sorts; a list of the everyday routines.

I wake up when Freddy jumps out of bed. This happens between 5:00 and 5:30. Sometimes, but rarely 6:00 or 4:30. I give him a snack and then we wait for a glimmer of sunlight to appear in the eastern sky so we can safely go for a walk. This morning it was cold. Thirty one degrees. It was still dark and I carried a flashlight.

I had intentions to write every day but my will to write has withered and all I am left with are these lists. However, I do find solace in what G.K. Chesterton said: “The greatest poem is an inventory.”

Thus, I have written the greatest poem. An inventory of my everyday routines.

Here from a few days ago:

September 16
Up at 6:00
A walk with Freddy
Coffee with Susan
Bacon and Eggs for Breakfast
Vacuuming house
Food Shopping at Big Y
Susan working on shutters in garage
Susan picking up things in living room
Susan cleaning the bathroom
Ham Salad Sandwich for me, Salmon salad for Susan
Susan cutting my hair
Hummingbird at zinnias
Wine outside with Susan before dinner
Grilled Petite Sirloin and Broccoli Ramen Salad for Dinner
A walk with Freddy
Seeing a Pileated Woodpecker
Early to bed

These lists of my everyday life are, in fact, my gratitude journal, my 1000 gifts. I am grateful. I am very grateful. I have a smart and loving wife in Susan. Two smart and happy children. Two happy grandchildren. A beautiful home. My gifts, from photography to cooking to finding and sharing beauty.

Susan and I have seen our grandchildren once since early March when we celebrated my birthday. The quarantine has kept us all apart (and I have gained The Quarantine Fifteen. If not, 20!). But we did see them to drop off a present for Matthew’s birthday a few weeks ago, keeping somewhat socially distant and no hugging.

Susan and I have always spent a lot of time together and more so now than ever. We miss our volunteer work at a local elementary school  and going out for dinner every so often. But I believe, if it is even possible, we grow even closer every day. God has certainly blessed us.

Now we are working together to paint our kitchen and re-wallpaper two walls.

(to be continued)

 

 

I believe I am making the world a better place with beautiful photography. If you are looking for beautiful portrait, nature, or documentary photography, or someone you know is looking for photography that helps to create a more artful and beautiful life, please contact me.

 

 

 

In Memory of My Father, Alfred Dernier Barone

Yesterday was my father’s birthday. He passed away in April 2006  and not a day goes by when I do not think of him.

This photo says so much about him. Out in the cold, smiling, helping me shovel snow one Christmas night.

When my father passed away my two children said to me, “He loved us so much.”

Love. This is our greatest gift.

When I spoke at my dad’s memorial service, I said:

“My sister Michelle spoke of The Perfect Child. I think in my father’s heart, in his soul and spirit, Michelle, Darlene, Dennis and I are all The Perfect Child as you, too, his family and friends are The Perfect People. Darlene spoke of The Lucky Ones. Yes, we four are lucky to have been blessed with a father filled with such unconditional love, a man who never spoke an ill word of anyone, his heart always filled with love for his neighbor. And Dennis spoke of our Dad as The Greatest and certainly he was for who could say what I want to say to you now; who could say this of their Dad–how many children could say that when they made a new friend, when I made a new friend, I always said to this friend, I can’t wait for you to meet my Dad, you are going to love him, and invariably, she or he did love him, and my Dad loved them and he would then always inquire about them, their day, their joys, their sorrows, their dreams.”

My father, Alfred, also know as Fred, and sometimes Freddy, and who Susan and I named our Labradoodle after–in his honor; Freddy.

My father was known as the epitome of a gentleman and his biggest joy came in life from loving his family and his grandchildren.

Here he is with his grandchild, Nina, in the kitchen, a place where he loved to be–to cook, to talk and to enjoy a glass of wine.

And here with his grandchild, Sara, looking at photos in an album, probably saying something like, “That was such a beautiful day.”

Love. This is our greatest gift.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”

~Philippians 3:8 NIV

 

 

 

 

 

Portraits of Katherine Mary Kraver

Award-winning teacher and children’s book author, Katherine Mary Kraver, recently asked me to photograph her so she could update her website with new images. Here are some of my favorites:

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Do You Love Sunflowers?

I do. I have a garden of them planted along with zinnias. The first one bloomed this morning!

sunflower

If you are looking for beautiful portrait, nature, or documentary photography, or someone you know is looking for photography that helps to create a more artful and beautiful life, please contact me.  Photography and Prints meant to last a lifetime! For more details about having an amazing and fun photo experience, please contact me.

Matthew 7:7–8

ASK. SEEK. FIND.

Matthew 7:7--8

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

 

If you are looking for beautiful portrait, nature, or documentary photography, or someone you know is looking for photography that helps to create a more artful and beautiful life, please contact me.  Photography and Prints meant to last a lifetime! For more details about having an amazing and fun photo experience, please contact me.

My Wife, The Blogger

My wife, Susan, is a great story-teller. And she has recently started writing a Blog, STORIES ABOUT SUSAN.

Susan and Freddy

Stories about her family. Her faith. Her career. Her craft—soap-making.

Soap by Susan

She is, I believe, a spiritual force. The tagline for her Blog, Stories About Susan, is “stories that will touch your soul.”

I remember once driving home from MassMoCA. “May I read aloud to you?” she asked. Susan read to me a chapter, “Your Heart’s Desire,” from a book entitled “Power Through Constructive Thinking,” by Emmet Fox. The chapter begins: “An old adage says: ‘God has a plan for every (person), and He has one for you,’ and this is absolutely true.”

I can’t stop smiling. Who is this Susan? Not yet my wife, but madly in love with her. I knew the night we met we would spend the rest of our lives together. I loved her. Love her. Her gift of words. Of story-telling. Of love. Of faith. Her stories make me laugh. Her stories make me think. Her stories inspire me. Her stories make me love.

Her memory astounds me. How can you explain memory?

The legendary surrealist Spanish filmmaker Luis Buñuel on the existential importance of memory: “Life without memory is no life at all, just as an intelligence without the possibility of expression is not really an intelligence. Our memory is our coherence, our reason, our feeling, even our action. Without it, we are nothing.”

Susan once said to me:

Put your trust in God.
My mother was a saint.
To this day.
I hear the birds soaring.
Our purpose in life.
God has a master plan.
The leaves are ablaze.

Are you looking for inspiration?

If so, please visit my wife’s Blog, STORIES ABOUT SUSAN.

Susan

Susan inspired this:

She who taught me
To count gift and after gift. Today
Seven tomato plants growing
In the garden. Two jalapeno plants
And two rows of beets.
Three rows of lettuce.
Two eggplants. Twenty-five
Bright yellow marigold plants.
One large butterfly bush. Zinnias
Bordering on the garden
On three side. There is
Much to see. A pink clematis
Growing up the garden arbor.
A garden gate opening into
The slate path leading
To the ripening red tomatoes
And green jalapenos.
I keep looking.
I keep counting.
Three basil plants.
Cilantro. Tarragon. Oregano.
In the middle of the garden
The garden fountain spray and
Birdbath. Three purple
Finches drinking at it and
A monarch butterfly circling 
The garden. I keep looking.
What am I missing?
The six decorative croquet balls.
The cucumber vine I am 
Training to grow up the arbor.
A gargoyle on the fence.
The cosmos.
Fern-leaf dill. Parsley.
A bright red fuchsia plant
Potted in a painted yellow colander
Hangs from a garden hook in the corner
Of the garden. This is our garden.
The garden of Susan and Bruce.

Be inspired and visit STORIES ABOUT SUSAN.