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My Photographic Journey To Pursue My Own American Dream

My name is Jakub Polomski and I am a professional Polish photographer specializing in landscape and travel photography. Here’s my story and I hope it inspires you.

2005 was a difficult year for me. I graduated from school and I didn’t have any idea what to do in my life. I saw some pictures on National Geographic magazine that inspired me to get involved into photography. I borrowed a camera from a friend and began photographing landscapes around my hometown Cieszyn. I was reading about photography and learning everything by myself. As a beginner, I believed 80% of my photos were good, so I decided to publish them on the Internet. Although they were not good and I got a lot of negative comments, the critique I received gave me loads of motivation. I wanted to prove myself and others that I could do better.

My day job was a graphic designer and during my free time I practiced photography. In 2007, I applied my images for a photo contest and I won the 3rd prize. Since then I’ve been awarded with many prizes and commendations in national and international photography contests. The most valuable prize for me was National Geographic Poland first place award in ‘Polish Landscape’ in 2010. The award was a 7-days journey to Patagonia (Argentina). It was the first time I had a chance to appear in such an exotic location. When I came back from Argentina I started building my portfolio. I became popular on Behance. This is how I’m reaching for my own American Dream.

More info: jakubpolomski.com

2007 Poland

2007 Slovakia

2008 Slovakia

2008 Switzerland

2008 Austria

2008 Switzerland

2008 Switzerland

2009 Austria

2009 Austria

2009 Austria

2011 Italy

2011 Austria

2011 Italy

2011 Argentina

2011 Argentina

2011 Argentina

2012 Slovakia

2012 France

2012 France

2012 France

2012 Switzerland

2012 Switzerland

2013 Norway

2013 Norway

2013 Norway

2013 Slovakia

2013 Czech Republic

2014 Argentina

2014 Argentina

2014 Chile

2014 Chile

2014 Chile

2014 France

28 Magical Paths Begging To Be Walked

Roads and paths pervade our literature, poetry, artwork, linguistic expressions and music. Even photographers can’t keep their eyes (and lenses) off of a beautiful road or path, which is why we collected this list of 28 amazing photos of paths.

Paths like these have a powerful grip on the human imagination – they can bring adventure, promise and change or solitude, peace and calm. There’s nothing like a walk down a beautiful path to clear your head – or to fill it with ideas!

I’ll leave you with an excellent quote from J. R. R. Tolkien’s works while you enjoy these images; “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.

Spring In Hallerbos Forest, Belgium

Image credits: Kilian Schönberger

Rhododendron Tunnel in Reenagross Park, Kenmare Ireland

Image credits: Robert Ziegenfuss

Autumn In The White Carpathians

Image credits: Janek Sedlar

Rhododendron Laden Path, Mount Rogers, Virginia, USA

Image credits: David Mosner

Winter Forest Path, Czech Republic

Image credits: Jan Machata

Padley Gorge, Peak District, UK

Image credits: James Mills

Spring In Spencer Smith Park, Burlington, Ontario, Canada

Image credits: Shawn Marshall

Spring In Dog Mountain, Washington, USA

Image credits: Danielle Hughson

Jacaranda Tree Alley

Image credits: George Veltchev

Cotton Tree Alley In Taiwan

Image credits: Sue Hsu

Mount Rainier, Washington, USA

Image credits: Danielle Hughson

Spring In Woodburn, Oregon, USA

Image credits: Danielle Hughson

Dark Hedges In Ireland

Image credits: Stephen Emerson

Taiping Mountain Path in Taiwan

Image credits: Justin Jones

Hitachi Seaside Park Path In Japan

Image credits: nipomen2

Forest Trail In Bavaria, Germany

Image credits: Kilian Schönberger

Russian Forest Path

Image credits: Elena Shumilova

Winter Sunrise On Path In Campigna National Park , Italy

Image credits: Roberto Meloti

Migliarino San Rossore Park Path In Pisa, Italy

Image credits: Andrea Iorio

Bamboo Path In Kyoto, Japan

Image credits: Yuya Horikawa

Autumn Path

Image credits: Lars Van Der Goor

Path Up To The Halnaker Windmill in Sussex, UK

Image credits: Sam Moore

Autumn Path In Kyoto, Japan

Image credits: Takahiro Bessho

Tunnel Of Love, Ukraine

Image credits: Oleg Gordienko

Wisteria Flower Tunnel Path in Japan

Image credits: mindphoto.blog.fc2.com

 Springtime Path In Holland

Image credits: Lars Van De Goor

Path Under Blooming Trees In Spring

Image credits: Emanuel Costinas

Forest Path In Autumn

Image credits: Lars Van De Goor

The Deep, Difficult And Joyous Spiritual Journey Of Sister Joan

Sister Joan Chittister has spent her life speaking up for women in the church.

<span class='image-component__caption' itemprop=COURTESY OF BENEDICTINE SISTERS OF ERIE, PENNSYLVANIASister Joan Chittister, center, with Native women in Chiapas, Mexico, in 1998.

(RNS)

Veteran Catholic writer Tom Roberts thought he knew Sister Joan Chittister – the maverick Benedictine nun who dares speak her mind to her church.

He didn’t.

When Roberts, editor at large for the National Catholic Reporter went to interview her three years ago in Erie, Pa., at the community where she entered religious life at age 16, a secret she’s held for a lifetime came to light.

In the peculiar journalism tradition of preparing obituaries of prominent people while they’re still alive, Roberts was there to update an obituary on Sister Joan.

As they sat to talk, she leaned forward, blue eyes downcast, voice slow, and poured out a story she had never told anyone before about her early life as a terrified child of an abused woman, trapped by her husband, her church and her society.

Suddenly, instead of an updated obituary, Roberts was hearing a new story — the forces that shaped one of U.S. Catholicism’s most influential voices. That conversation begins the biography by Roberts published this month, Joan Chittister: Her Journey from Certainty to Faith.

She told Roberts “it’s time” she opened the hidden door to her early life because both her valiant, devoutly Catholic mother and her abusive, alcoholic stepfather had died. She was free to speak of a childhood of poverty, insecurity and “ceaseless fear.”

<span class='image-component__caption' itemprop=COURTESY OF ORBIS BOOKSJoan Chittister: Her Journey from Certainty to Faith book cover.

But Chittister — now 79 and very much alive, thank you — has another reason why the time has come.

“All my professional life, I have spoken my heart out for the role of women all over the world. It’s a theological thing, a deeply moral thing, the determining issue for the integrity of the church and the advancement of any state,” she told Religion News Service in an interview about the book.

“It’s time to acknowledge that this material is not just theological and rhetorical. It’s real. I’m not just talking from compassion, from a world I don’t know anything about. I’m talking about myself — and all social classes, all kinds of people,”

“I saw it as maybe my last major presentation on behalf of women who are trapped by circumstances of religion, law, custom and culture,” said Chittister.

In the book and in interviews, she tells of joining the Erie Benedictine community “not as a refuge or escape from life, but for the kind of life I thought was possible — a Christian community as a model of peace.”

Little did she — or her sisters — know.

It started simply. Within months of moving from the upheaval of her parents’ home to the Benedictine community house, Chittister was struck with polio. The same relentless determination and fierce focus that helped her survive her family, strengthened her through years of therapy until she could walk again.

She took her veiled final vows and became a teacher while studying for her undergraduate and graduate university degrees on nights and weekends.

Roberts described those years as a time when Catholics were certain their church had all the answers — until many, like Chittister, discovered it did not. That’s why the book is subtitled “Her Journey from Certainty to Faith.”

Then came the ’60s and the Second Vatican Council reforms that gave a fresh charge to women religious (as nuns and sisters are known) to find new ways to live out their calling. Chittister moved into two decades of leadership roles within her community, her order, and the Leadership Council of Women Religious, the group that represents about 80 percent of U.S. Catholic sisters. During a decade of upheaval, she traveled the nation giving talks with titles such as “Self-understanding through change.”

And change they did. The Erie Benedictine community transformed from a teaching order to a social justice force with education, workforce training and child development programs in the poorest corners of Erie. Her explanation of how this happened was deceptively simple: “I didn’t start anything. I allowed our sisters to start what needs to be done.”

Through every step, Chittister told Roberts, the Rule of St. Benedict guided her. It begins with a command to “listen” — to each other and to those they served.

“Listen” is the crux of the book, the crux of her life in a church that, she says, still refuses to listen to women.

“I came to feminism through faith,” Chittister told Roberts. And herein likes the central conflict of Chittister life in a church controlled by men who think they alone can define Jesus and God’s plan.

Roberts’ book walks readers through contemporary Catholic conversations on women’s ordination. The neat summary of the Vatican view is “No.” Not only “no” but, as pope after pope has said, the subject is closed.

In 2001, the Vatican forbade her to speak on discipleship at a women’s ordination conference in Ireland. Chittister spoke anyway.

“You cannot order Catholics not to think,” she said in an interview recalling that confrontation with church authority. “I remember thinking then, ‘You can’t scare me. You have no idea where I’ve been.’”

For Chittister, the role of women raises “theological, scientific, sociological and human questions that you cannot stop thinking about. You have to open the door to the conversation in the name of the integrity of your theology.”

But even these conversations yielded yet another surprise for Roberts — “how much of a traditionalist she is.

“Because she has the label of dissenter and maverick, you think she would be wildly innovative and experimental, but what I found out is that she is so respectful of tradition that she approaches change slowly, and with enormous intellect,” he said.

Today, said Roberts, Pope Francis has been calling for a deeper theology of women, and women such as Chittister are saying, back to him, “It’s done already! Stop telling us who we should be. Let us tell YOU who we are!”

Women’s ordination has never been her focus, Roberts writes and Chittister confirms. Other issues take precedence for her: education; economic opportunity; health care; civil rights and the right to self-determination. For the past 20 years she’s been writing, speaking and traveling to places of conflict with the Global Peace Initiative of Women, including days in Iran during the nuclear pact negotiations.

Even that is not enough, to her mind.

There are more books. Published in October: “In God’s Holy Light: Wisdom from the Desert Monastics” and “Two Dogs and a Parrot: What Our Animal Friends Can Teach Us About Life.”

She’s recently launched a new website, Monasteries of the Heart.org, to offer Benedictine spirituality and online community to people who may never reach a church.

And Chittister, once a lonely only child in an isolated family, has one more ministry. She writes thousands and thousands of letters, answering the people who write to her.

“I see my sisters do the most beautiful things every day of their lives. I never hear them complain,” said Chittister. “I said to myself, ‘What do I do?’ And this is what I can do.”

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Joan of Arc

I know this now. Every man gives his life for what he believes. Every woman gives her life for what she believes. Sometimes people believe in little or nothing yet they give their lives to that little or nothing. One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it. And then it is gone. But to sacrifice what you are and live without belief, that's more terrible than dying.--

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Beannacht

On the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance
to balance you.

And when your eyes
freeze behind
the grey window
and the ghost of loss
gets in to you,
may a flock of colours,
indigo, red, green,
and azure blue
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
in the currach of thought
and a stain of ocean
blackens beneath you,
may there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.

John O'Donohue, Echoes of Memory