Weekly Photo Challenge: Serenity

Many of us search for islands of calm in a world where violence and chaos swirl around us.  Sometimes we also feel besieged by the demands of work and try to carve out “free time” despite the intrusions of email and text messages from co-workers and bosses who interrupt our evenings and weekends.

Achieving serenity–even for short periods of time–can be an elusive and tantalizing dream.  The harder we search for it and the more we need it, the harder it is to find.  Some of us find release from the everyday pressures of life through yoga, running, or even hang gliding.  Others escape by traveling to a restful spot in the country or at the beach.  Still others find tranquility in prayer or meditation.

For this week’s photo challenge, I’ll share some places and activities that have brought me serenity.

Art Prize 2014 Entry, Grand Rapids, MI

“Quiet Mind,” Scarlett Kanistanaux, 3D, Clay.  Art Prize 2014 Entry, Grand Rapids, MI

Reading and Writing like Thoreau at Walden Pond

The sole art that suits me is that which, rising from unrest, tends toward serenity.–Andre Gide

Thoreau’s cabin on Walden Pond is a gorgeous spot to find serenity.  Standing next to his desk in his re-constructed cabin, I could easily imagine Thoreau reflecting on his time in the woods, reading inspiring books, and writing his famous works.  Reading and writing bring me serenity as well.  I often sit down at my desk feeling restless and irritated.  But the act of writing releases me from my everyday concerns and helps me enter a calmer place.

Thoreau with Poster Effect

Hiking, Exploring and Photography in Sedona, Arizona, Savannah, Georgia, and Portofino, Italy

I think that the ideal space must contain elements of magic, serenity, sorcery and mystery.–Luis Barragan
Sedona is an enchanted spot, filled with magic and mystery.  Hikers, hippies, artists, yogis, boomers, and tourists from all over the U.S.A.mingle here amidst the spectacular beauty of the surrounding red-rock canyons.  Some people believe Sedona is surrounded by vortexes–sites of concentrated sacred energy, which vibrate in the earth and red rock formations that rim the canyons.  Several years ago, we spent a week in Sedona, exploring the trails in the state parks and taking hundreds of photos.  After several days of glorious weather, we had a rare day of stormy weather.  I took this shot at sunset after a rainstorm.  It highlights the other-worldly mood and beauty of this place.
Stormy Sunset, Sedona, Arizona

Stormy Sunset, Sedona, Arizona

Savannah, Georgia is another spot in the United States that is imbued with mystery.   It’s also filled with beautiful antebellum architecture, friendly people, great restaurants, and lots of Southern charm.  Locals talk matter-of- factly about ghosts and haunted places.  One Sunday evening, we wanted to pick up a prescription at a local CVS, but it was closed at 6:00.  A day or two later, when my son returned to the store, he asked a clerk why they closed so early.  The clerk replied, “Oh, that’s because the store is haunted.  Nobody wants to stay here after dark.”  Savannah’s charm and quirkiness makes it a favorite place to relax.

Graveyard in Spring, Savannah, Georgia

Graveyard in Spring, Savannah, Georgia

Portofino is one of the many serene towns we have visited in Italy.  Built around the curving rim of the sea, the town rises sharply and rings the surrounding hillsides.  On our last visit, we wandered through town and spotted a woman in black who was hurrying up a winding street, clutching a handkerchief and some carnations.  Later, we spotted her again in the local cemetery, standing in front of a row of burial niches carved out of the side of the mountain.  Head bowed, tears running down her cheeks, her grief was almost palpable.  This little moment became the inspiration for a scene from my book, when one of the main characters, Lucia, visits the grave of her child, who was killed in a hit-and-run accident.  She burns a sprig of rosemary to help protect her child from evil spirits, even in death.  Another time in Portofino we saw a bride and several guests in their finest wedding clothes pausing in the middle of the celebration to devour pizza in the piazza.

Portofino, Italy

Portofino, Italy

Where Friends and Family Gather

Some of us find tranquility amidst the people we love.  For me, there’s no greater joy than being surrounded by people who know me very well and still accept me as I am!  I am also fortunate to find joy as a wife and mother.  My husband and son are two remarkable men who inspire me with their curiosity, intelligence, sense of humor, and love of travel and adventure.  When I am with them, serenity settles around me like a comforting blanket.

Serenity, from the Permanent Collection, Grand Rapids Art Museum

Serenity, from the Permanent Collection, Grand Rapids Art Museum

 What places and activities fill you with serenity?  If you are in search of serenity right now, where do you want to go?
 Have a great week everyone!
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21 replies »

      • Oh I love Scotland and Ireland where I go often and have relatives but it seems whatever place I do go seems to be my favourite including Italy where I have another cousin!! I haven’t been there in awhile but must return. I would love to go to Iceland and Nepal! Then my partner is from Greece and I lived there for awhile and that was my favourite too!! Vancouver Island is so beautiful!! You know I think Earth is a great destination!!! 🙂

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    • Thanks, beeblu! Yes, they are strangely peaceful. Savannah has quite a few of them. The grave of Johnny Mercer, the composer, has a grand piano and a bench for visitors. Quite amazing!–Patti

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  1. Sedona and Savannah! Quite a contrast 🙂 And both very lovely in their different ways from all I hear. I’d love to experience either. My serene place is usually the Eastern Algarve.

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    • Hi Jo. I’ve never been to the Algarve, but it’s on my list of places to see. Loved reading about it, though! I hope you get the chance to go to Sedona or Savannah. They are unique places and totally different. Savannah is full of lush vegetation, and is funky and fun. Sedona is artsy and a bit austere (in terms of the drama of the canyons and the desert feel), but it is probably one of the most beautiful places on earth! Yes, quite a contrast!–Patti

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