BOOK COVER

Caspersen Beach, Venice Florida

Some nights are magical; this October evening was one. In honor of my birthday, Ernie and I arrived at Caspersen Beach in plenty of time for an enchanting walk along our favorite beach followed by a celebration of the setting sun. I took well over 50 photos that night. Given that water, especially beaches, bring me home to tranquility and joy, this photo felt right to be the cover of Sanctuary of PEACE.

Watching the setting sun took my breath away, rendering me serenely blissful. May it bring you into a space of peaceful joy as well…

TRANQUILITY

T. Mabry Carlton Jr. Reserve, Venice, Florida

March, 2020 – As this poem was coming into form its accompanying image filled my imagination. I knew what it was to be! Capturing it with a camera was not so straightforward. For all of 2019, every time I was near water, I surveyed the surroundings carefully. Could this be the spot? Sometimes when wading in or standing near water, I saw ripples, but not the ones! Would the image ever come into form?

Eventually, it did. My sweetheart Ernie and I were on the Deer Prairie Slough Bridge and we felt this could be the spot. Ernie tossed many stones in the Slough producing a variety of shapes and patterns in the water. He told me he tossed no more than 20 stones; my estimate was considerably higher, possibly because I was in awe of his patience, wondering how long it could last!

No matter the number of stones, may this photo and its poem bring you peace.

COMPASSION

Venice, Florida

Skies in Florida are often strikingly beautiful. This September evening scene touched my heart profoundly. I dashed inside, grabbed my camera, anxious to get the shot before this unique joining of form, color, and light, disappeared from the sky. Camera in hand, I ran around my backyard, trying to find the spot where I could capture what I felt flowing from this celestial combination. Nestled between bushes, standing on tiptoe, daring not to breathe, I pushed down the shutter again and again.

May the result offer you the peace of compassion.

ALL

Bhutan

Every step brought us closer to Tiger’s Nest, a legendary temple some 3,000 feet above the Paro valley of Bhutan. It was October 7, 2012 and the views were sometimes dizzying and constantly breathtaking… Our breathing was also impacted by altitude. Strikingly different from the sea level hikes we knew at home in Florida; this hike at 10,000 feet called for slow, steady pacing up and down the mountainside.

Our plodding pace afforded time to marvel at the omnipresent prayer flags, prayer wheels, and waterfalls. Stopping to take a photo of the valley below, these rocks caught my eye. They were miniscule compared to the grandeur of the temple, the view, the mountain. Someone had taken the time to create this simple statue of stones.

Their creation reminds me that peace is ours in every moment when it truly is all we want…

OPEN MINDS

Alaska–Kachemak Bay

Weather, time of day, every detail felt comfortable on board our boat, Discovery. British ex-pat Captain Victoria was assisted by an energetic, friendly all-female crew. Pulling away from shore, we were soon in sea otter territory and according to one very young enthusiastic little soul, “There are billions of sea otters!” It certainly felt that way and they entirely captivated our attention. I could not take photos fast enough, during the trip from Homer to Seldovia. One magnificent scene was followed by another. My heart was open with joy and gratitude at the vast, expansive natural beauty. I was reminded that peace is always available when we are open, when we allow it space

YEARS PASS

Naples Botanical Garden – Naples, FL

There are perks to being a nature lover: I know people who work in amazing places and eagerly share them with me. In October of 2018, I experienced the pure joy of meandering this 170-acre garden with friend and guide, Karen. Together, we ambled through remarkable sights of plant majesty mingled with related cultural artifacts.

Our tour ended in the area which showcases native plants of South Florida. One minute I was part of a conversation and the next fixated on this magnificent Pine tree towering above the landscape. Immersed in its spell, I clicked my camera’s shutter constantly. Each new angle revealed more of the tree’s grandeur while the noon time sun shone through here and there. Finally, the shot was captured and my new tree/friend revealed as a source of lucidity and compassion.

May we find such clarity in ourselves and come forth bearing only love.

YOURSELF

Everglades City, Florida

Going to Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park means staying in one of the cute little waterfront villas in Everglades City. My sweetheart Ernie and I have tried other spots, but this is the one we love. Not only are we treated to magnificent sunrises, there is a homey feel to the place. Come morning, I pop out of bed and wander around outside, still in my pajamas, to take countless photos while chanting to myself, “This is so beautiful, thank You, thank You, God!” Photos complete, soul soaring, I am serene joy.

May we seize every opportunity to lose our little selves and embody peace.

FLOAT

T. Mabry Carlton Jr. Reserve, Venice, Florida

Spring is fire season in Florida and this one yielded many delights.  Ernie and I headed to an area where there had been a prescribed burn two-weeks before; the exact timing for the terrestrial orchid, Many-flowered grass pink (Calapogon multiflorus) to bloom. Specks of pink and purple were sprinkled around the field, mingling with a variety of grasses and flowers.  It was pure photographic heaven!

However, once the clouds caught my eye, I left Ernie to the orchids and began a silent communication with this majestic form in the sky.  By the time I finished taking photos, the cloud and I were floating as one.

Look up, serene wonders await you…

Respond All

Anchorage, Alaska

Our small band of travelers explored a sampling of Alaska during our 11-day stay. This was our departure day. We were back in the city, missing the wilderness, and planning a return, especially to Denali National Park and Preserve, a 6-million-acre natural paradise.

Determined to mail postcard cards to my grandchildren while still in Alaska, I went in search of stamps and a post box.  Unlike the wilds, Anchorage has no vast, uninhabited vistas to relish; however, I soon discovered stunning, floral treasures slipped in here and there beside buildings; reminders that beauty is everywhere we allow our hearts to lead.  This sweet, white beauty captivated me with its bold clarity and aura of loving kindness.

May we seek and find compassion for all.