A couple of weeks ago we went with our niece, Sarah, to the Georgia Renaissance Festival. We try to make it out there at least once a year, and had some fun playing with light this time. There are still a few weeks left to go out to the festival, which closes on June 7. Here are some of the highlights of our day:
Our second camping adventure took place in northeast Georgia at Tugaloo State Park, near the small town of Lavonia. Tugaloo
State Park is located on Lake Hartwell and within a short driving distance of several other state parks such as Richard B. Russell State Park, Victoria Bryant State Park, and Hart State Outdoor Recreation Area (two of which we visited). We enjoyed driving through the small towns dotting the area and taking pictures of the canola fields in bloom. We hopped over to Athens one day for lunch and stopped off at the outlet stores in Commerce on the way home, so there is plenty of variety in the area to explore. We didn’t see too many restaurants near the park, and everything seems to close up early, so be sure and pack your meals!
Our campsite was a decent size, very level, and covered in gravel. We were right on the water, near a small cove for boats, canoes, and jet skis. The view was beautiful and it was very peaceful to listen to the water as we relaxed in the shade. We both agreed it would have been more fun to be there with a boat or kayak, but the view was nice and we were able to walk along the beach, and the dogs had fun getting muddy. We didn’t fish or try the water or the pool—too cold—but it looked like all of the kids were having fun! We had a fire pit, concrete picnic table, water and electric hook-ups, and a nice, clean comfort facility just steps away. And we loved having a pull-though site!
The roads to the camp sites were more narrow and uneven than we had experienced before, and this campground was both larger and more crowded than our last experience, but we did arrive at the tail end of Spring Break. There were a lot of kids and families there, but it was a fun, friendly experience overall. My only complaint would be the ENORMOUS light our neighbors left on all night (the same neighbors who played the radio well after quiet hours). Some friends of ours camped there the same weekend and their grandson had a ball playing with the other kids, swimming, etc. We saw plenty of dogs, kids whizzing by on bikes, and boats making waves in the lake. It would not be the place I would recommend for peace and quiet, or nice long hikes, but it was a fun getaway and the landscape in the area is beautiful.
As we were driving up I-85 to our faculty retreat at Lake Hartwell, we kept seeing these beautiful yellow fields in the distance and instantly wanted to know what they were. We saw a couple up close and found out that my guess of canola was on target.
After discovering the Tibetan practice of the Sand Mandala through the Emory-Tibet partnership last Monday, I visited the display daily, with the exception of Tuesday, to view the progress. You can read about my experience of the opening ceremony and line drawing here and my experience of viewing the construction of the initial stages of the mandala here.
I choose the word “construction” intentionally, as I learned throughout my experience that the monks envision the mandala in three dimensions. It is a model of the cosmos and resembles the structure of a temple or shrine. At the heart of this particular mandala is the Buddha of Compassion, Arya Avalokiteshvara. According to the lecturer at the closing ceremony, Geshe Lobsang Tenzin Negi, the devotees contemplate the Buddha of Compassion in order to cultivate an attitude of compassion towards all sentient beings. They contemplate how compassion can manifest in holistic medicine and spiritual knowledge and also to inform ethical behavior and the resolution of political tensions.
During the closing ceremony and dismantling, the monks chant prayers of compassion. The dismantling conveys the impermanence of all things, and there is a mixture of emotions, particularly from the unfamiliar onlookers on the dismantling of the exquisite artwork. The monks distributed some of the sand to the spectators, but carried most of it in a sacred urn which they traditionally pour out into a flowing body of water that carries their compassionate prayers to the entire cosmos. After a procession around Emory University, they carried the urn to a creek behind the Michael C. Carlos Museum to complete the ritual.
If you ever want to view variations on the ritual, there are several videos of these monks performing the ceremonies online. These are also the same monks featured in episode 7 of season 3 of House of Cards. We, of course, had to binge watch the season in order to see the brilliant cinematography of the construction and closing rituals. I even used the images and my experiences in my “Creation Theology, Spirituality, and the Arts” course this morning to talk about analogous thoughts of impermanence in Ecclesiastes and temple construction in Ezekiel.
Here are my final images of the series.
©2015 Garber Geektography. These images are not for sale or for any type of commercial use in accordance with the wishes of the Drepung Loseling Monastery, Inc.
A funny thing happened on the way to a field trip. On Monday, I took my class on “Creation Theology, Spirituality, and the Arts” to the Michael C. Carlos Museum to see the various exhibits on creation motifs from Native American, African, African American, and ancient Near Eastern traditions. Little did I know that we would be going on the opening day of Tibet Week at Emory University. Much to my pleasant surprise, the opening ceremony of the Mandala Sand Painting was taking place after the end of our tour. While most of my students needed to return to our campus for other classes, I took the opportunity to stick around, observe, and photograph the event.
The presentation began with words of introduction followed by some chanting by the monks of Drepung Loseling Monastery, Inc. Following the chanting, the monks proceeded to lay out the line drawing for the Mandala Sand Painting. The monks are completing the sand painting over the course of several days and the process is open for viewing from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. the remainder of the week. I plan to go back later in the week to view the progress, and hopefully, the completed result. In the meantime, here are a few of my photos from the opening ceremony. During the process, I thought often of my mother, who is a retired geometry teacher who still practices her love of geometry through quilting. I thought also of my sister, an engineer and all-around crafty genius who loves nothing more than getting out her rulers, protractors, and compasses to create cool things. I have been contemplating the creation of art as a spiritual practice by the monks, my family members, and others all week.
All images ©2015 Garber Geektography
The following is a crocodile that my family encountered on our River Wallace boat tour in Belize. I used this croc to play a bit more with the forthcoming texture pack by Karen Hutton and Tanya Wallis. I found a texture that contained a cool/warm tone split that conveniently ran along the same line as the fallen tree. I was going for a crocodile in Dagobah feel with this one.