The other day I started taking photos as I was running errands. Apart from a story, these are just random photos of random places in a random city. But to me, these are the places where I live. These are the places that capture my attention for several reasons…
My kids attend a private school housed in an old public school building. Every day I walk into this place and sense a peace coming over me. Many people have commented on the “feel” of this place, and some of them just can’t put their finger on what it is. I think it is the presence of God in this place and in the people who walk its halls. Even on a gloomy day, as this one started out, there is a sort of light that shines from the inside of this building.
After I dropped my boys at the door, I started a day filled with errands. First stop: grocery. Not my favorite errand to run but necessary with a house full of growing boys.
I survived shopping for the week, and when I walked out of the grocery store, I was caught off guard by the sky. It had turned a brilliant blue, which made the church across the street demand attention. It is one of the grand old churches of this city. I mourn the loss of the great architecture that we seldom see in building these days. I love the crosses at the top and the reminder that even in the mundane, there is something greater going on at any given moment.
As I headed out of the parking lot and drove north to head home, I pointed my camera straight ahead of me. To the average Joe, this scene may seem to say nothing. To me, who may still be considered the average “Jo,” I noticed the beautiful Murat Temple jutting out behind the renovated condos in the foreground. Another reminder that this city has a rich history. The Shriners built the Murat in the early 1900s to resemble the Islamic temples of the Middle-east and Egypt, hence the name the “Egyptian Room” for one of its concert halls.
Personally, I have seen many a concert, attended many musicals and have even taken part in Christian worship services at this venue (below).
In December my family will spend an evening mesmerized by the cast of “The Lion King” at the Murat, the first musical of many I hope to share with my children. In the distance, you can see the banner advertising the show.
I will admit that the prices are a bit steeper and I am “shopping around” for my favorite grocery that best suits our needs. But as for urban groceries, the local Marsh, which isn’t really so local any longer, is a good bet. It is different than suburbia, but that’s okay with me.
As I drove home I shot a little iphone photo here and there. I captured this on a drive-by of the President Harrison home and museum. I’ve lived here nearly all my life and never stepped foot into this museum, but as life has a way of unfolding, I received a notice from school that one of my boys would be going to the Harrison Home in December and chaperones are needed. Here’s my chance to see a little more of my city’s history.
Along with this gorgeous home, another building half a block north boasts Italianate architecture with a different appeal. The Villa Inn Restaurant and Spa is truly one of my favorite spots in town. The restaurant is situated in two quaint rooms, while the Inn has beautiful guest rooms perfect for a romantic getaway, not to mention the spa treatments in the lower level. What a way to spend the weekend. Just because it’s around the corner from our new abode, doesn’t mean we can’t indulge in a little overnight retreat anymore. Next time the occasion calls for a little R and R, I’m there.
And across from the Villa is one of the main attractions in our new urban life. The Harrison Center for the Arts is situated adjacent (and connected to) Redeemer Presbyterian Church. This is where our family goes to explore the artists’ studios on open studio nights and sees various exhibitions and musical groups from artists around the city. The shows are usually family friendly while still being hip and relevant.
I was just about home and I snapped a couple more of the street where I live. (below). It doesn’t look very exciting or beautiful as far as photography is concerned. Actually none of these photos are even very good. But it’s the story I was after. So the pictures of our street represented more than a location shot. What I wanted to capture were the urban homes, unassuming homes, where people gather together to share life and eat and breathe and do whatever they do in their homes.
But more than that, this is a street where the city bus stops to pick up or drop off people going to and from their homes, work or maybe a doctor’s appointment. Or maybe they’re like the man who stopped me while getting out of my car the other day. He said he was going to check into rehab but he needed bus fare. Little did he know that I had just witnessed him getting off of the bus. Maybe he was telling the truth. Maybe he needed more bus fare to get to his rehab. I do not know. I only know that he was a man – walking down the street where I live – looking for something. Like all of us really.
Again, I didn’t take these pictures to enter into a contest. Nor do they really say much when they stand alone. But within a context they have meaning. If only for me. The bigger picture, excuse the pun, is that these shots do not merely represent buildings or streets but perhaps they tell a bit about the history of a city and a story of its people. People who work in these buildings, reside in these homes and walk along these streets.
How thankful I am for the random idea to shoot these photos as I went about my errands that day. What a compelling way to face my corner of the world where great beauty is juxtaposed with great brokenness. Where I can see a brilliant blue sky framing a breathtaking church within minutes of seeing a toothless man stumbling up to my car – along this street where I live, ever reminding me that I need not look far to find the fingerprints of God.