Marion Owen Alaska

Love at First Light: A photo essay from White Sands National Monument

Alamogordo, New Mexico: Marty and I rose at 5:00 a.m. and after oatmeal and coffee, we drove to White Sands National Monument. We turned into the gate and chatted briefly with the ranger, a brusque fellow who could have benefitted from oatmeal and coffee.

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Winter hummingbird: My favorite photo of 2017

On Christmas morning, my sister sent me a photo from her iPhone. Not unusual, right? But when I tapped the screen, I froze and stared at my phone in wonder. In the center of the photo was the silhouette of a hummingbird,

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Is every snowflake perfect? What about us?

The glow from a small porch light defined my coordinates on the globe: A trampled patch of snow, the size of a manhole cover, located between a sliding glass door and an outhouse ‘privacy’ tent.

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Ansel and the Snowflake

It was 8 PM and I’d been trying to photograph snowflakes all day. But try as I might, the wind was howling and I could only “harvest” bits and pieces blown off the roof.

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Why take another photo?

I’ve been carrying a camera around since I was ten, recording events from my “magic carpet” as I tour this life. I started with a Brownie Instamatic camera, a gift from Mom and Dad, and now I use various digital Whats-its.
Sometimes I’d wonder, “Why do I take pictures?” I mean, aren’t there enough photos in the world already? Well yes, according to the New York Times article, Photos, Photos Everywhere, “The growth in the number of photos taken each year is exponential: It has nearly tripled since 2010 and is projected to grow to 1.3 trillion by 2017.” You can thank smartphones because “Seventy five percent of all photos are now taken with some kind of phone.”

Still, after 50 years (okay, do the math), I love making images. When everything comes together I want to shout, “Yes, that’s IT!” and I’m filled with a special connectedness and joy. 
This why-take-another-picture question held court on the back of my mind for years. Then I recently came across a passage by Paramahansa Yogananda which inspired me to mindfully reach beyond the physical activity of tripping the shutter.

Any time you become fascinated by some material creation, close your eyes, look within, and contemplate its Source.
—Paramahansa Yogananda

Brother LawrenceTo ‘look within and contemplate its Source’ is something we should do at all times. It’s called ‘practicing the presence.’ All true spiritual disciplines say that to improve our lot, we must think of Him (Her, Divine Friend, Spirit, Allah, whatever works for you). Such devotion does not take away from enjoying life, rather it enhances it. “There is no sweeter manner of living in the world than continuous communion with God,” said Brother Lawrence, a monk who lived in the 1600s.
I’m no saint. I struggle mightily with restlessness and distractions when I sit to meditate. But what continues to drive me onward is knowing that the only difference between me and a saint is that saints don’t give up.
My question for you is: What are you thinking about as you quilt, cook, run, paint, garden, golf, hike, program computers, walk your dog, dance, dine with a friend, backpack, study the stars…?
And does the world need another photograph?
Just askin’…

The time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer, and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I posses god in as great tranquilly as if I were upon my knees at the blessed sacrament. — Brother Lawrence

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Seven prayers for peace

Every year, the International Day of Peace falls on September 21. But why not celebrate peace every day? I’m not suggesting you run around with a billboard declaring, “World Peace or Bust!” That accomplishes little. To realize true peace, true happiness, you need to practice it as you go about your daily activities,

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Why sea otters put on a happy face

At one million hairs per square inch, sea otters have the densest fur on Earth.  That’s more hair than on a black lab dog. All that hair means

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"A Life at Sea": My little photo essay in Alaska Magazine

Whew. Life in Kodiak, Alaska ramps up every summer: My husband Marty and I run an oceanfront B&B and host about 120 tours on our boat in the form of wildlife viewing/photo trips and gourmet dinner cruises. As the chief cook and bottle washer, I have

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What’s to celebrate in July? Try freedom from plastic bags

Bag Free WorldEvery year I spend a glorious amount of time creating a

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