Beauty in a broken world

A year ago today, I ran a 5K in Atlanta, what would turn out to be my last in-person race for a long time. I was there alone, my husband home sick with the flu. The day before, I stood outside in a fierce wind, watching as elite runners competed for their spot to represent the United States in the Olympic marathon. Both of those days, I was surrounded by strangers, all of us screaming for our favorite runners or pushing our own lungs and legs to their limits along the race course.

Today looks very different, although there’s again a fierce wind blowing, what with March coming in like a lion and all. Instead of being surrounded by strangers, my husband and dog are my constant companions. As the pandemic stretches on, along with the agonizing wait for my turn at the vaccine, I find myself looking for the beauty in this broken world.

So here’s my idea: Each day for the next 31, I’ll share an image that carries beauty into our broken world. The beauty may be manmade or Godmade, or it may just bring about a beautiful emotion without being inherently beautiful itself.

Today’s image inspired my plan:

Blue Nautilus by Gretchen Lotz

A nautilus here in the mountains grabbed my attention. What was a sea creature doing so far inland, rising out of the ground against the snow?

I haven’t gone back to visit this sculpture since the snow melted, but I suspect it stands out better against the snow than it would against a grassy field. As I stood admiring it and wondering at it, I resisted the urge to run my fingers along its surface. It was enough to admire it from a distance.

Join me for the hunt?
Where do you see beauty in a broken world? Want to join me for the next 31 days with your own images? If so, feel free to comment below with your Instagram handle, and tag your Insta posts with #beautyinabrokenworld.

Full confession: Instagram isn’t totally my thing even though I think it’s perfect for what I’m asking us to do. You can find me there @pixofhope. I look forward to the next 31 days with you as we share where we find beauty in a broken world.

A hard time of year to stay inside

Fall here is beautiful in its own way, not in a familiar North Carolina way, but in a way that catches my breath nonetheless.

The salmon are beginning their run, and happy fisher people (mostly fishermen) are daily swarming the river, giddy with the prospect of catching a big fish. A happy man popped up from the riverbank just this morning, a large, pink fish swinging from his side.


Why do you think they fish all together instead of spreading out?

Rain came back in a big way, too, over the weekend. More than two inches over four days. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Continue reading

O, Yosemite!

We are now in the mountains and they are in us, kindling enthusiasm, making every nerve quiver, filling every pore and cell of us. (John Muir, My First Summer in the Sierra)

Let the mountains bring peace to the people. – Psalm 72:3

Have you ever been somewhere and not wanted to leave? Somewhere that filled you with boundless energy and measureless peace at the same time? Yosemite is such a place for me.

My husband and I made a trip there last week, our second time ever visiting Yosemite and our first since moving here. Our goal is to visit Yosemite in all four seasons. The weather was kind to us, and we didn’t have to put chains on our tires. We spent time hiking and running and strolling. Sometimes, we stood still, awed by the splendor rising up to surround us.

If you long for nature’s grandeur, come to Yosemite. If you need a reminder of your smallness, come to Yosemite. If you need to be rejuvenated in body and mind, come to Yosemite.

You may not be able to drop everything right this minute and make your way there, and so I’m sharing some favorite photographs with you. Will you carve out a little space at the end of this busy day and sit with these views? I hope they fill you with peace and renewed energy in equal portion.


This bobcat was the very definition of nonchalance, paying us no mind as it went about its business. (Apologies for not being able to get a front-end picture)


On the way to Mirror Lake


Half Dome on an overcast morning


A thin winter coat of snow


Mirror Lake


Half Dome with the skies clearing


Words fail me: Yosemite falls with rainbow and snow


Fog through the trees


Another quiet moment


Ubiquitous (and well-versed in the music of a snack bag opening)


Saying goodbye in the valley


Sun and snow at play


Impossible not to stop and look back

Have you ever been to Yosemite? What was your favorite part of your visit? If you’ve never been, did any of the photographs inspire you to start planning a trip?

Delicious fall

Fall starts here in the States on Saturday, and I can’t wait! I had a brief conversation with a friend of a friend this past weekend, and he was bemoaning the end of summer. He’s a teacher, and so that might explain part of it, but he’s cold-natured, too, and so that’s another reason he prefers summer to fall. He couldn’t quite understand why I was so giddy about the upcoming season of crunching leaves, pumpkins, hot cider, sweater-and-jeans weather and the smell of evening fires.

Now I know not all of you reading this are heading into autumn (I’m thinking of my Aussie and Kiwi friends particularly who are bidding winter goodbye), but I expect there are beautiful changes in nature poised to happen wherever you live.

This week, the comic strip Mutts is paying tribute to the joys of autumn. I especially love the quote from yesterday’s strip: “Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” (Albert Camus)

Every leaf a flower

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The beauty all around

Those of you who have followed my blog for any length of time know that I’m an avid track and field fan, and so I’ve been pretty useless this week – an unusual couch potato-ness setting in thanks to the Olympics.

On Friday, in between the morning and afternoon sessions of track and field, I tore myself away from the TV and live Web streams to meet a friend at a nearby arboretum. The beauty that surrounded us as we walked and talked was breathtaking.

That beauty got me off the couch and out of the house yesterday – this time with camera in hand. So for today’s post, I’d like to share some images of the beauty I might have otherwise missed by spending too much time watching others run and throw and jump.

The grand promenade through the arboretum

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