Saturday, December 31, 2011

One Week Ago: Bare Trees, Clay Jars.

Saturday, Dec. 24. Christmas Eve.

My brothers were out kayaking, my parents out singing carols for a candlelight service. Presents wrapped and, refusing to stay in the house alone any longer, I got into my car and headed for the mountains.

The higher I climbed, the more mountains came into view. I could see them clearly through the bare branches of winter trees. Higher and higher.

I parked right on the NC/TN border, got out and hiked up to the top of my favorite bald. It was cold...breathtakingly cold. The sun was on its way to setting and the world just seemed to open up all possessed beauty before me. And trees - winter trees. Their branches bare...mere skeletons of what they once were. But beauty - so much sky and green and vast stretches of mountain that I could see through their bare branches.

And it hit me.

2 Cor. 4:7 is the biblical verse that compares us to clay jars. "But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us..." -- broken, cracked, fragile jars. Put a light inside of a jar. The greater the crack, the greater the light that is shone. The more broken, the more the treasure inside is exposed.

I had only heard this spoken of (in this specific way) only a few weeks before.
(Check that out here.)

And on this day, I could see it in the bareness of winter trees.

Fall is beautiful, but speaks of things dying. Passing away. The colors fade to brown and join the earth. All that is left are these bare branches, these colorless limbs. The attention is no longer on the shape of the leaves, the size of the fruit it bears, the fullness of its' leafy growth.

Now it is bare. But now it is free to reveal beauty greater than itself. Through its' branches, there are endless skies, the poetry of the sea, grandeur of the mountains.

And so we see - brokenness reveals beauty. Hallelujah.

New Years' Eve's Eve: Old Woolen Mill, Cleveland, TN.

I shot my first wedding yesterday inside of this building:

It's an old cotton mill built in 1890.

I don't know much about wedding photography, but I have a feeling this is what most of the photographers look like when they don't have a camera in their hands.

Whew, it's done. Yay for Ashlee and Brandon!! The loveliest of friends....

Friday, December 30, 2011

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Lessons in EP-making. But, of course...not just that.

I met up with a friend today to chat. He asked, as many other friends have asked, how my music making was coming along. I sighed that usual sigh that typically precedes my launch into an explanation of the many thoughts, doubts, fears, insecurities, highs and lows of my most recent musical endeavor.

I have studied music from the time I was five years of age, wrote my first song when I was ten, entered competitions, prepared for recitals, earned my degree and have taught music for several years now.

But I waited until I was nearly twenty-five to take on an actual recording project.

I could spend a long time discussing the forever hours of arranging strings, communicating ideas about instruments I know nothing of, the near impossibility of coordinating schedules. I could, but I will not. The deepest lesson I have and am continuing to learn about is the lesson of overcoming insecurities. The reason it has taken me this long to actually work publicly on my own songs has everything to do with fear. Fear of vulnerability. Fear of taking years of internal ache for the outpouring of creativity to finally begin its' molding, its' shape. The fear of birth.

Entering into what we feel, with every ounce of being, that we were created for is beautiful. Beautiful and terrifying. Out of the endless questions that invade my thoughts, this one continues to pull the most weight: What if it isn't perfect?

I can see the eye rolls now. Trust me, I know. Of course it's not "perfect." At least, in the sense that I'm seeking. But this is my fear: the lack of perfection.

The truth is, this endeavor has been mostly for the sake of experience. I pulled some songs written over the course of a few years and began to build around them. As lengthy and tiring as it could be at times, the process was the real beauty. The purity in creating. The "imperfections" becoming the whispers of something coming alive.

And so. Friends. Within the next couple of months, I will be working through this endeavor. It's coming in close and I am becoming less and less afraid of showing you the process that has very much so become the past year of my life.