“The view overlooking the “Alt Stadt” was truly amazing to behold”

Passing through the domed gate of the castle wall, I walked around the magnificent ramparts that rose high above the city perched on an exceedingly steep cliff. The walk up the steep cliff face had been long and arduous, however the reward was absolutely breathtaking to experience. The view overlooking the “Alt Stadt” was truly amazing to behold. The resplendent green domes of the city’s many magnificent churches, blended beautifully with the brilliant Baroque and Classical designed buildings painted in a myriad of earthy colours. The soft light of the late afternoon, diffused by the clouds manifested a dreamy atmosphere. I could also make out the river that wound its way through the city, marking its downward journey from the distant mountains, far away in the horizon. I paused for a long time admiring this Panoramic view that cast me back centuries as the cool wind played about my face, oblivious to the occasional footsteps of tourists.

Austria, Landscape Photography

“A journey of Faith, Hope and Love”

There are many challenges and tribulations that we face in our lifetime. Often they are difficult to bear and truly test us in ways unforeseen. I firmly believe that the way in which we endure such burdens, especially within the “valley of our struggles” reflects our heart and what we actually believe. There are many times that I am carefree and laugh with the innocence of a child. Nevertheless, my personality is also contemplative and deeply reflective. I’m forever pondering on the tribulations that I have endured and still endure, and of my life’s purpose, to express the gifts that God has blessed me with to manifest the fruits of the Holy Spirit within my life: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, in order to bless those around me. My heart’s desire is to show compassion towards my fellow neighbour. Bearing my own and fellow neighbours’ suffering with a sense of dignity, reflecting peace and inner joy while manifesting a heart of mercy, that is, a spirit of unconditional love and forgiveness is the one truth that resonates deep within my mind, heart and soul, on my journey in life, a journey of faith and love in Christ.

Faith, Hope,Love

1 Corinthians 13:13 (NKJV)

13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

“For I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in;”

When I was studying at University, my friend Thomas who was agnostic and I were travelling one evening in the hospital lift, within the students’ residence. We were coming back from University after a long day and were both tired, longing for the comfort of our bed. Thomas looked at me and spoke suddenly after a long silence. “Do you know what I hate about Christians?” I looked at him calmly, quite surprised at the nature of the topic. “No Thomas please tell me, what is it that you hate about Christians?”. He seemed quite taken back by this response and said, “Well it’s the way they live, they just don’t seem to have any fun; it’s such a boring way to live. Who would ever want to live that way; it seems like such a huge waste. And what’s even worse is that they would like other people to think and live like themselves. “I paused, reflecting on his comments as he seemed quite sincere and I genuinely liked Thomas; he was interesting, gentle and mature, someone whom I respected as an individual.

I looked him in the eyes. “May I ask you something Thomas?” I asked gently. “Sure” he replied immediately. “If I fed you when you were hungry, offered you something to drink when you were thirsty, clothed you when you were naked, visited you when you were sick, offered you a bed when you were homeless, do you think that these would reflect beautiful acts of compassion crowned in love?” Thomas looked at me perplexed “Why of course” he replied. I then let these words sink in before replying “What if even within my mind, heart and soul I would express a spirit of forgiveness, mercy and love towards you, never wish you any harm, covet your partner or possessions yet yearned for that which is best for you even laying down my life for you, that you may live. Would you agree that these thoughts and actions are noble, pure and beautiful indeed, especially when done out of self-sacrifice, without any expectation of reward out of love for you, the recipient?” Thomas looked at me bewildered. “Why of course that’s a great way to live”. I paused for long moments, looked down at the floor smiling sadly before raising my head and then looked my dear friend in the eyes. But that is the way of life in Christ, the way that Christians endeavour to live by as reflected in Jesus’s teachings. That is which I aspire to be, despite all my failures and imperfections. How is it possible that you enjoy the fruits of Christianity yet hate its source in Christ?”

Thomas’s face changed somewhat and looked quite troubled unsure about something turning over in his mind. “I …I don’t know” he replied hesitantly. I looked at him lovingly and spoke from the heart. “I can only tell you of what my mind, heart and soul has experienced. Most people partake of the fruits of Christianity but don’t like to acknowledge the source. Why, because they are afraid to change their way of life, not wanting to give up something that is self-serving, temporarily satisfying their pride and passions. They imagine that Christianity will shackle them with responsibilities and burdens that would suffocate them. On the contrary, my experience is that when one sincerely believes and yearns to live in Christ so that the love of Christ transforms the vacant throne within ones mind, heart and soul, then, and only then is one truly free from the superficial existence and materialism that has been shackling them all their life. I spoke at length with the innocence of a child tempered with the love for one’s friend. It has been many long years since our conversation and at times I find myself wondering what ever happened to my dear friend.

Leonardo Da Vinci - Last Supper

Matthew 25:33-36 (NKJV)

33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

“The Christian attempts to become by grace what Christ is in essence, Love”

Christians around the world celebrated Holy Week, marking the end of the Lenten Easter period with solemn, beautiful and profound services commemorating the Passion and Resurrection of Christ. The sacramental and ascetic spiritual life incorporating fasting, prayer, scriptural reading, almsgiving, confession, communion and inner reflection manifesting a spirit of repentance, forgiveness and mercy during this period represents a celebration of ones love for Christ. Thus, these are undertaken with a spirit of humility and love, as one reflects on the life and teachings of Christ, leading to inner transformation of the mind, heart and soul or “Sanctification”. The Christian attempts to become by grace what Christ is in essence, “Love” and manifest the fruits of The Holy Spirit in their life: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Such inner transformation represents an outpouring of love and yearning for the mind, heart and soul to be transformed by the love of Christ through the grace of The Holy Spirit.

One truly experiences a myriad of emotions from joyful anticipation to sadness, tears and finally triumphant joy as one participates in Christ’s Passion from Palm Sunday marking the entrance of Christ into Jerusalem, betrayal by Judas, Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ. The liturgical celebration filled with a multitude of scriptural passages from the Old and New Testament, intermingled with the sweet scent of frankincense, warm glow of candle light and beautiful chanting of hymns, especially the “Lamentations” moves ones heart and soul transporting one back centuries to early Christendom.

I found myself contemplating the words uttered by Prince Vladimir of Kiev’s envoys, after they had visited Constantinople, capital of the Roman Empire in 988 AD and experienced the Divine Liturgy, celebrated from the time of the Apostles…

“We knew not whether we were in heaven or on earth, for surely there is no such splendour or beauty anywhere upon earth. We cannot describe it to you, only this we know, that God dwells there among humans, and that their service surpasses the worship of all other places. For we cannot forget that beauty”.

Finally, in triumphant joy the congregation sing an ancient hymn heralding Christ’s Resurrection and proclaim “Christ Has Risen, Truly He Has Risen” while exchanging the kiss of peace. Afterwards, everyone gathers together to break the fast and participate in a feast of joyous celebration marking the Resurrection of Christ. I was tired and exhausted yet full of joy at experiencing Easter, an event most dear to my heart and soul with my fellow brethren from around the world united by in our love for Christ Jesus.

Resurrection of Jesus Christ

John 3:16 (KJV)

16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 4:13-14 (KJV)

13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: 14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

John 11:25-26 (KJV)

25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

“I was awestruck by the archaic and sophisticated charm of the city…”

Walking down a charming shopping lane, located within the “Old Town” Altstadt, I was awestruck by the archaic and sophisticated charm of the city manifested in the classical high, narrow Germanic style houses tightly nestled together. Picturesque shops with their wonderful facades, intricate wrought iron guild signs, and romantic passageways and courtyards, connected the buildings and numerous beautiful squares characteristic of this amazing city. Getreidegasse is the place where the renown Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Salzburg’s famous classical composer was born and where he lived till the age of 17. Walking down this charming street one can not but experience the most exhilarating feeling of being transported back centuries to an era of flair, sophistication and culture of the highest degree that Europe had to offer during the Medieval and Renaissance eras.

austria-salzburg-landscape-photography3

 

“The facades of the buildings were so archaic, unique and unlike anything that I had experienced”

I walked slowly through an old narrow laneway in the “Old Town” Altstadt. The facades of the buildings were so archaic, unique and unlike anything that I had experienced. I seemed to be moving in slow motion, oblivious to the occasional sound of locals going about their daily business.The street was almost hidden, barely noticeable and connected the arcades to the Old Marketplace, apparently renown for its goldsmiths that once used to peddle their antique craft in the many shops that line this roadway. Beautifully designed and coloured medieval and baroque facades, adorned with religious ornaments and decorations, complemented with intricately designed cast iron signs of artisans selling their wares are found everywhere. Furthermore, bouquets of neatly arranged flowers line the elegant buildings in this romantic picturesque thoroughfare, manifesting an atmosphere that is both archaic and romantic. Austria, Salzburg, Landscape Photography

“It was one of those rare and beautiful moments forever imprinted within my heart…”

I paused on the bridge oblivious to the sound of traffic and looked out yonder towards the Old Town ”Altstadt”, nestled by the banks of the serene river. Having finished exploring the picturesque lane ways and brilliant Baroque facades of buildings dating back to the Medieval and Renaissance periods, I paused for long moments surveying the amazing scene that unfolded before me. The elegance and sophistication of the city were still forcefully imprinting itself within my mind as I gazed out spellbound across the river. A radiant sunny day cast forth its rays, illuminating an amazing mosaic of clouds that decorated Heaven itself. Below, archaic beautifully coloured Baroque buildings , vibrant church domes and spires were beautifully complemented against the rolling hills, richly coloured trees and blue sky with its brilliant clouds. It was one of those rare and beautiful moments forever imprinted within my heart, manifesting the beauty of Creation with the brilliance of European culture.

Austria, Salzburg, Landscape Photography