Behind the Photos in the September/October 2014 issue

by Beth Richardson on September 9, 2014 · 0 comments

Order a copy of the September/October 2014 issue, “Blessing,” by calling 1.800.972.0433. Download the digital edition.

Ireland cemetery

“Paul and I visited Ireland in the autumn of 2006 and spent two weeks touring the scenic west coast of the country. This photo comes from a cemetery on the grounds of Ballintubber Abbey in County Galway. Ballintubber Abbey is still in use as a church today, almost 800 years after it was founded in the 13th century. ”

Ann Schatzkin, about her photo on the cover. Ann is a native of Minnesota and Texas, now living near Nashville with her husband, Paul, a dachshund-yorkie hybrid (aka, a “dorkie”), and three cats. In her day job, she is a registered nurse at the Vanderbilt Dialysis Clinic. She and Paul have made several trips to Britain and Ireland to absorb the local culture and photograph the ruins. Paul is also a contributing photographer in this issue.


Celtic cross

“This is a photo of St. Martin’s Cross, which has been standing on the Isle of Iona (Scotland) for over 1000 years.

My trip to the island was somewhat of a pilgrimage. The island was settled by Saint Columba in the 6th century. He came from Ireland as a missionary to the Picts. I wanted to go to Iona to see what kind of place it was, maybe get some idea of what it was like to be a missionary in such a desolate (and then dangerous) place. The wind was howling and it was cold when I visited in the summertime. Living there in the winter must have been brutal. But I think those kinds of conditions—cold, isolated, dangerous—can draw us closer to God. Iona is a special place.”

Kevin Main, about his photo on the Contents page. Kevin is a landscape photographer whose photos have appeared in a variety of places, from scientific journals to religious publications to art fairs. His love of God’s creation is also beautifully expressed in his children’s book, I See You There: My Father’s Love. View more of Kevin’s work at


stained glass Celtic cross

“On the beautiful shady grounds of a church near me is a labyrinth with a stained glass Celtic cross in the middle. One afternoon the sun was low in the sky and lighting up the cross with a glow. It was a moment to stop and feel God’s presence and be thankful for God’s blessings!

Grace-Calvary Episcopal Church was established in 1838 as Grace Protestant Episcopal Church. It was the sixth Episcopal parish established in Georgia. The church building, virtually unchanged today, is the second oldest Episcopal church building in Georgia and is believed to be the oldest church building of any denomination still in use in north Georgia.”

Marie Nease, about her photo on p. 3. Marie is a six-time award-winning member of the Roswell Photographic Society. Her expertise in photography is mixed with a passion that can’t be tamed. The love of photography spans multiple generations in Marie’s family. Marie has published articles and short stories and enjoys expressing herself through creative writing and poetry. Marie is a mother of four wonderful young men and grandmother to six. She lives near the mountains in Cornelia, Georgia. Visit her website,


rock arrangement

“I found this arrangement of rocks near a campsite and shot it in afternoon light.”

Jackson DeParis, about his photo on p. 3. Jackson was initially trained in scientific photography, but commercial advertising and editorial photography soon became his true calling. Dividing time between San Francisco and Nashville, Jackson is a consummate photographer, shooting everything from high-tech labs, CEOs, and artists to a wide range of editorial and product work. Equally at ease in the studio or on location, he brings to each assignment a unique vision and fresh enthusiasm, using all appropriate tools and techniques.



“I was attracted to the varied and contrasting textures in this scene.”

Jackson DeParis, about his photo on p. 10.



“This image of a sweet older couple walking their dog was taken in Disley, Cheshire (England). The warm and comforting autumnal light shone down, granting a soft atmosphere to the entire image.”

Eleanor Leonne Bennett, about her photo on p. 11. Eleanor is a sixteen-year-old, internationally award-winning photographer and artist who has won first places with National Geographic, The World Photography Organisation, Nature’s Best Photography, Papworth Trust, Mencap, The Woodland Trust, and Postal Heritage. Her photography has been published in The Telegraph, The Guardian, BBC News website, and on the cover of books and magazines in the United states and Canada.

Her art is globally exhibited, Bennett having shown work in London, Paris, Indonesia, Los Angeles, Florida, Washington, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Canada, Spain, Germany, Japan, Australia, and The Environmental Photographer of the Year Exhibition (2011), among many other locations. She was also the only person from the UK to have her work displayed in the National Geographic and Airbus-run, “See the Bigger Picture” global exhibition tour with the United Nations International Year of Biodiversity, 2010. Be sure to check out her portfolio,


Whitby Abbey

“The town of Whitby, in what is now Yorkshire on the northeast coast of England, figures prominently in the annals of British Christianity. Two forms of Christianity prevailed in Britain in the first half of the first millennium AD. The Celtic Christians blended the stories of the New Testament with the pagan traditions of a life lived in nature and off the land. But by the seventh century, the centralized church of Rome sought to establish its dominion over all of Christendom.

In 664 AD, the Abbess Hilda of Hartlepool—later St. Hilda—assembled a gathering of the two competing churches near a monastic community on a cliff overlooking the North Sea in the Kingdom of Northumberland. At this historic Synod of Whitby, King Oswy, when informed that only St. Peter held the keys to salvation, decreed that his realm would henceforth adhere to the tenets of the Vatican.

In the centuries that followed the Synod, the monastery at Whitby flourished. By the 13th century the earliest wooden structures were replaced by a great stone cathedral.

When Henry VIII broke with the Catholic church in the 16th century—effectively reversing the decision made by his predecessor after some 900 years—he ordered that the great monasteries such as Whitby be dissolved, and within another century the abbey lay in ruins, its stone finding other purposes throughout the countryside.

Even in ruin, Whitby Abbey remains one of the great attractions on the Northumbrian coast and signs of life and renewal cling to her remains.”

Paul Schatzkin, about his photo on p. 14-15. Paul is an author, entrepreneur, and photographer based in Nashville, Tennessee. For more about his work, go to



“I took this photo in Vernazza, Italy, when I was visiting a couple of years ago. The village had a number of cats who seemed to have divided up the village into territories. This cat was taking a nap in a lovely doorway.”

Beth Richardson, about her photo on p. 16. Beth got her first camera when she was in fifth grade. She follows in the footsteps of her dad, a United Methodist pastor and avid photographer who set up a dark room in the guest bathroom of the parsonage. One summer when she home from college, her dad took her to the camera store to get her first SLR—a Pentax ME—which she still owns. She loves to pray with a camera in her hand—whether it’s her Nikon D90 or her iPhone. “Praying with a camera in hand helps me see things in a different way than I do when I’m just walking down the street. It makes my seeing full of holy moments. Taking pictures is about my favorite activity.”

The Old Inn

“Ann and I toured Scotland for two weeks in the fall of 2012. From Edinburgh we headed north into the Highlands, spending three nights in a castle hotel outside of Inverness, not far from the shores of Loch Ness.

On our second day, we ventured deep into the more remote regions of the Highlands to the north and west of Inverness, into the mountains and lochs of the area called Wester Ross (no, not Westeros, though that is surely where George R. R. Martin got the name of the kingdom where “Game of Thrones” unfolds).

Amid some of the most dramatic scenery we have ever beheld, we stopped in the village of Gairloch for lunch at a delightful tavern called, appropriately enough, “The Old Inn.”

Paul Schatzkin, about his photo on pp. 18-19.


stone cross

“As much as the cross has come to symbolize Christianity, the Celtic cross has become a symbol of faith in much of Ireland and Scotland. It is often said that St. Patrick himself combined the symbol of the crucifixion and resurrection with the pagan symbology of the sun to more readily covert his flock to the new religion.

Celtic Crosses can be seen throughout the British Isles. Ann and I found these monuments marking the final resting place of some long forgotten souls in County Clare, Ireland, on a visit there in the fall of 2006.”

Paul Schatzkin, about his photo on pp. 24-25.



“Sometimes I reverently wander through old cemeteries with my camera in hand. I took this photo of the angel statue one afternoon because she looked like she was crying. That spoke to me deeply. I was going through a difficult challenge at the time. At that moment, a simple, yet profound thought reached me in my suffering: God and his angels truly are affected by what we go through here on earth. I won’t forget this truth. This image of the angel reminds me of this regularly.”

Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation? -Hebrews 1:14, NIV

For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. -Psalm 91:11, NIV

Marie Nease, about her photo on p. 39.


misty morning

“This photo depicts an early morning in West Virginia.”

Marilyn Nolt, about her photo on p. 40. Marilyn is is a photographer living in Pennsylvania. Her website is She explains, “When my son was a baby, I started seriously working in photography and then marketing my photographs. It all started with a stock photo business of black and white images from a basement darkroom and has transitioned into the digital imagery of today. Most of my current images start with my iPhone. You may see my iPhone images on Instagram @mnolt.”


prickly pear cactus

“I moved into a new house in Nashville last autumn. At the time, the leaves were changing and the maple trees on my property were exploding with gorgeous color. When spring came I was treated to a bounty of amazing floral delights, including these beautiful roses. What a nice surprise!

Nancy Terzian, about her photo on p. 47. Nancy is Alive Now’s art director and graphic designer. She has designed several book covers and interiors for Upper Room Books as well as other clients via her Nashville-based design studio, Buckinghorse Design. Before starting her own business 10 years ago, Nancy was the art director and designer for several magazines in the San Francisco Bay area including Yoga JournalElectronic Musician, and Frisko. She is a singer/songwriter, nature-lover, runner and yoga enthusiast. To see some of Nancy’s other design work, visit

Books Featured in the September/October 2014 Issue

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Here are some of the authors and books featured in the pages of “Blessing” (Alive Now, September/October 2014). To get a copy of this issue or to order a subscription, call 1.800.972.0433 or order online.   John O’Donohue To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings Mary C. Earle and Sylvia Maddox Holy Companions: Spiritual […]

September 9, 2014 0 comments CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE →

From the Editor: Blessings

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When I began to shape this issue on “Blessings: The Gift of Celtic Spirituality,” I started writing blessings. Often they came to me early in the morning as I walked the dog. Images or words would come to me and weave their way into prayers. I shared these blessings on my blog and began to […]

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Behind the Photos in the July/August 2014 Issue

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August 20, 2014 0 comments CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE →

Remembering John S. Mogabgab

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With profound sadness The Upper Room announces the death of John S. Mogabgab after a brief illness. John Mogabgab was instrumental in shaping the ministry of The Upper Room over the past three decades. He founded the publication Weavings: A Journal of the Christian Spiritual Life in 1986. It quickly became a channel for the […]

August 15, 2014 1 comment CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE →