Set Free by Roni Delmonico

Remembering...

And you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.
— John 8:32
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Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.
— Oscar Wilde

He stood at the door to her cell quietly, willing her to look at him.  It was cold in the room and she was shivering, the blanket beside her still folded neatly on the bed, untouched.  The thin mattress was covered in plastic and it rustled slightly as she shifted her weight.  His heart went out to her but he hadn't been invited in, so he remained outside.

She looked up at the small square window above her head and he could see the tracks of her tears glistening in the single ray of sunlight illuminating her face.  Her hands were clasped in her lap and her lips moved in silent prayer.  Her shame was palpable.  But to him... she was beautiful and precious beyond measure.  He would stay as long as he needed to. Until she was free.

He sat down against the far wall, his back against the cold concrete and remembered the day she was born.  All the plans he had for her, the gifts he had bestowed upon her, the times he had whispered to her in the dark and held her when she was afraid came back to him, each one a part of who she was, who he was.  She would grow up and forget... but he... he would always remember.  That's what love does.  It remembers the song long after the song is forgotten.

Days turned to weeks, and then weeks into years.  Seasons changed from winter to spring and then started all over again. He visited her every single day, often leaving a gift behind, some small token of his affection for her.  She eventually found her rhythm and she did the work expected of her; no more, no less.  Once in awhile, she would stare up at the stars through the window in her room and wonder if she'd ever be free.

As she drifted off to sleep, the lights on the cell block winked off one by one and he knelt beside her bed, praying for her. It was midnight and she opened her eyes.  Sitting up, she saw the door to her cell was open and in confusion, she stood in the space and peered down the corridor. Every one of the doors on the block was open, as far down the hallway as she could see.  He was standing in the light at the end, holding his hand out to her, a genuine smile on his face.  

She ran to him then, shouting for joy.  It had been so long!  Her cries woke many others, who found that their doors were open as well.  When she reached him, she threw herself into his arms and said, "Where were you?  Why didn't you come when I called?"

He gathered her close and said softly to all of them, "You are free to go.  All you ever needed to do... was believe it and walk out."  

Several called him crazy and said they'd only be caught and returned to the prison.  They turned away from him sadly and went back to their cells, closing the door behind them, and listening as the locks clicked shut.  But she held tight to his hand, and made the choice to follow him out.  

The next evening she returned and stood outside her old prison cell.  It was occupied even though the door to the cell was still open.  She sat down against the far wall, her back against the cold concrete and remembered the day he was born.  All the plans she had for him, the gifts she had bestowed upon him, the times she had whispered to him in the dark and held him when he was afraid came back to her, each one a part of who he was, who she was.  He would grow up and forget... but she... she would always remember.  That's what love does.  It remembers the song long after the song is forgotten. 

She would stay as long as she needed to.  Until he was free.

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When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”
Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”
“Tell me, teacher,” he said.
“Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”
Jesus said to the woman, Your faith has saved you; go in peace.
— Luke 7:36-50

Exhaling by Roni Delmonico

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The Biblical story of the creation of humanity has the Creator making man from clay and then breathing His own life into him, and it's said of man that we were made in the image of the Creator.  I find that symbolism striking and relevant.  If our work is to be human, it's our task as its creator to breath life into it.  Inspiration (literally "to inhale") is everything we do to draw our deepest breath from the world around us - all that we love and admire, all that we care about and want to protect: everything that lights our fire.  But it's the act of exhaling into our work that makes it ours, that gives life and spark to what we make.  Your authentic and best work will be made in your image.  It will reflect you to both the world and yourself.   -- David duChemin 

The Tenderness of Eyes That Hear and Ears That See by Roni Delmonico

Both my ears and my eyes prefer a quiet and tender melody.  Training the eyes to "hear" and the ears to "see" is one of the best gifts my camera and music have given to me.  These lyrics... 

Grandeur earth has quaked before
Moved by the sound of His voice
Seas that are shaken and stirred
Can be calmed and broken for my regard
So let it go my soul and trust in Him
The waves and wind still know His name. 
— It is well.

I remain grateful.

Always.

A Little Bird Told Me by Roni Delmonico

I have heard it said, that if you want to take great pictures, then you should stand in front of great things. I certainly feel like I do a good amount of that. But for some reason... my own heart always returns to the little, ordinary moments of my life again and again and as a result, so does my camera. I have seen some extraordinary things; the magic of skyscrapers, the swell of an ocean, the magnificence of a pride of lions, the spray of a whale and her baby, the vast expanse of a desert, the stimulating nightlife of Las Vegas, the grandest of canyons, the birth of babies and the mind numbing beauty of a Hawaiian sunset.

But do you know what still moves me the most? The feather details of a small bird, the swirls of a single flower about to give up its last breath, the way dew looks like a rainbow of diamonds first thing in the morning, the shadows cast by something standing in the light, the way wet rocks shine, the way a robin somehow instinctively knows that if it shoves its beak into some healthy wet grass, it will inevitably find some breakfast, without too much effort.

The truth is, I really don't think there is anything on earth that couldn't be classified as a "great and extraordinary thing." And these in between moments ... what I sometimes think of as "valley moments" are where I often find true greatness shines. That is a very good place to spend prepping for what I perceive as peaks. And I often wonder if we have it backward; if our valleys are really our peaks.

"Remember the little things, for one day you may wake up and find that they were the big things." - Robert Brault
 

A Wild and Quiet Place At World's End by Roni Delmonico

There are places of the heart, where I like to hide away. It is these places I turn to, when I want to be alone, re-charge, find my center, remember the things that are truly important to me. The sand in this image is the exact spot where I was sitting when I took the photographs of the monk seal family I sat with at sunset the last time I visited Molokai. (I shared the pup on my blog yesterday). It is the beach in front of a little forgotten resort on one of the most beautiful stretches of sand that I have ever laid eyes on. It changed hands several times through the years and was once a thriving Sheraton resort with a restaurant that had arguably some of the best views in all of Hawaii. It's also quite a beautiful surfing spot, a wild and quiet place. And it adjoins Pohaku Mauliuli Beach where portions of Pirates of the Caribbean, At World's End was filmed. Sometimes, it does feel that way. Haunting, and like it's literally at world's end.

Sadly, its history is one of fighting between those with money who wanted to change this side of the island without considering the feelings of the locals who disagreed with their methods and those who staunchly refused (and continue to refuse) to allow that to happen. Molokai has a rich and painful history... and it is one that Hawaiians who love her, protect fiercely. I love this island more than I can quantify in words.

Today, the hotel and resort is slowly being reclaimed by mother nature but there are a number of condo owners who continue to keep a small circle of them alive and running. Most of them feel a deep love and respect for the Hawaiian people and the storied history of the island.

For me... it has become an oasis.
Kepuhi Beach, Molokai (formerly the Kaluakoi Resort)

Our New Home by Roni Delmonico

Sometimes the world tries to knock it out of you. But I believe in music, the way some people believe in fairy tales. I like to imagine that what I hear comes from my mother and father. Maybe the notes I hear are the same ones they heard the night they met. Maybe that’s how they found each other. Maybe... that’s how they’ll find me.
— August Rush

Evermore by Roni Delmonico

Now I know she'll never leave me
Even as she runs away
She will still torment me
Calm me, hurt me
Move me, come what may
Wasting in my lonely tower
Waiting by an open door
I'll fool myself, she'll walk right in
And be with me for evermore
I rage against the trials of love
I curse the fading of the light
Though she's already flown so far beyond my reach
She's never out of sight
Now I know she'll never leave me
Even as she fades from view
She will still inspire me
Be a part of everything I do
Wasting in my lonely tower
Waiting by an open door
I'll fool myself, she'll walk right in
And as the long, long nights begin
I'll think of all that might have been
Waiting here for evermore...
 

On Roots and Wings by Roni Delmonico

He's my firstborn and he taught me all that I need to know about motherhood... 
- Everything will be alright if you just love me where I'm at. I promise.

- I will forgive you every mistake in the end because I know that you do, in the deepest part of me. You're my mom.

- I will stretch your patience, your knowledge, your ability to exist on little to no sleep... but your heart will be bigger for it.

- I will teach you to be unselfish most of the time, and to be sad when you choose selfishness.

- I will make you laugh when you want to cry and cry tears of joy.- I will show you how to let go, many times through the years but I'll do it as gently as I can.

- I will forget you sometimes and hurt your heart with words and you will do the same. So I will teach you to forgive, 70 x 7, always.

- I will show you how to step out of your protective shell of perfection and be the mom with the messy house and the messy hair once in awhile and be perfectly comfortable with that.

- I will bring you more kids to love and fill your home with people, just like you always wanted and I will do it again and again, because I see how happy it makes you.

- I will teach you, just as my grandfather has... the meaning of unconditional love and acceptance.- I will make you an even better mother to my brothers because of all we have learned together first.

- I will teach you that it's a good idea to quit forgetting where you put your phone.;-)

- I will help you step out of your own comfort zone.

and most of all...
- I will teach you how God feels about you... mom. Because that kind of love comes straight from His heart to yours.

Life On A Small Town River by Roni Delmonico

It's difficult to tell you in words what living on a small town river does for one's soul.  I'll think about it this weekend and come back and tell you when I figure out how.  For now, perhaps a picture is worth a thousand words... though I'll probably change my mind tomorrow.  I do love words, after all.  I'm gonna leave this gallery up for the next week or so on the blog so I can keep adding to it.  Eventually, I think I will give it, it's own space here.  And I think to myself... what a wonderful world. :) 

This Is My Home by Roni Delmonico

It's been a great week of shooting for me.  Watched eagles and osprey pluck fish right out of the water.  Enjoyed following them in flight, and anticipating what their next moves might be.  I'm very seriously thinking about joining some friends on an African Safari in the fall of 2018.  

I am always careful to remember the beauty of the ordinary birds that surround me too though.  I never want to miss the extra-ordinary that is right under my nose by chasing bigger things.  I heard a wonderful quote today, and liked it so much, I decided to make it the focus of my home page.  It was written by a minister and evangelist in the Bahamas who has since passed on.  I think it's wonderful that his words have been immortalized and there is such truth in them for me.

I think the greatest gift God ever gave man is not the gift of sight, but the gift of vision. Sight is a function of the eyes, but vision is a function of the heart.
— Myles Munroe

Mated For Life by Roni Delmonico

My sister said this image reminded her of the opening scene in our favorite movie, The Notebook.  Of all the movie characters I have ever watched, Noah and Allie are still my very favorite.  Sigh.

As A Page That Aches For A Word by Roni Delmonico

Be
As a page that aches for a word
Which speaks on a theme that is timeless
While the Sun God will make for your day
Sing!
As a song in search of a voice that is silent
And the one God will make for your way

And we dance
To a whispered voice
Overheard by the soul
Undertook by the heart
And you may know it
If you may know it

While the sand
Would become the stone
Which begat the spark
Turned to living bone
Holy, holy...

Neil Diamond, Be - Jonathan Livingston Seagull