Dust in the Wind

Tremendous wind howling up from the Arkansas River Valley last night. Big Dog was startled out of a sound sleep at 5:00 a.m., leaping to his feet and letting out a massive woof that woke up the entire town I think. I looked around with the flashlight and didn’t see anything so I was going to just go back to sleep, but instead got to thinking I would like to see the sunrise over the Sangre de Cristo. Sunrise would not be until 6:30 though, so there was time for one of my favorite activities… morning coffee 🙂

Sangre de Cristo Sunrise

The wind overnight had created a dust bowl out of the valley making the mountains barely visible, but it was still an inspiring sight when the alpenglow band settled down over the peaks. The effect was only good for a few minutes and we were headed back home for some more coffee.

The old 1970’s song by Kansas, “Dust in the Wind” was going through my mind as the wind whipped the dirt up into a veritable cloud around us. Got me to thinking about the truth of the song, “Everything is dust in the wind”. Everything in this life is truly temporary, jobs, houses, relationships… I was thinking back on my computer career realizing that all the software I had been paid to write is now gone, along with the very computers that it was meant to operate. Even the company I worked for is gone, like it was never there. The job seemed so important at the time, deadlines, overtime, status meetings to explain how it was all going to get done on time, weekends misspent at the office, and now that it is all gone it seems so silly to have been so stressed out, so stupid to have spent so much time away from family, to have lost so much sleep.

Even life itself is temporary. For some people, life is long and fulfilling. For others like my wife, life itself can be unexpectedly swept away far too soon. We never know when we are going to be struck down by illness, accidents or natural disaster. Cancer took my wife along with all the things she dreamed of, collected and worked so hard for. Everything we had together is now like the song, just dust in the wind. Her life itself is a faded memory in the minds of few, the fruit she and I measured our lives with now remembered by no one.

In the end it all comes down to the words spoken at the final judgement, “Well done good and faithful servant.” If we have lived our lives in friendship with Him we will never have to hear the bitter words, “Depart from Me, I do not know you.”, our legacy will live on in the afterlife and all we have done in this life will not be blown away forever, like dust in the wind.

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A Culture of Cruelty

That a young man would carry a rifle into a school and gun down his classmates should come as no surprise to anyone living in this century. We live in a culture that celebrates disrespect, violence and cruelty. Unfortunately we are once again witness to the end result of this culture of cruelty with yet another school shooting.

One of the common threads in the many modern trails of death is an early start in a life of violence with cruelty to animals. We read that Nikolas Cruz entertained himself by shooting squirrels with BB guns, and trying to kill or maim rabbits by ramming a stick down holes where he knew rabbits were nesting. Unfortunately there are few protections for wildlife. If his early fascination with animal cruelty had involved cats or dogs, perhaps he might have been flagged sooner as a mentally deranged individual in need of counseling or incarceration.

Which of course begs the question… what makes people who have fun hurting wildlife better than people who enjoy hurting cats and dogs? Wildlife feel pain and are intelligent sentient beings just as domestic animals are, yet there are entire industries developed around the maiming and killing of wild animals. Every day I see pictures of some fool proudly grinning for the camera while some poor creature has spent hours, maybe even days, pacing around a blood soaked perimeter in terror because it is legal to set snares for predators. Why should we believe the person who does this is any more sane than the one who sets kittens on fire for the fun of it? Both are enjoying the suffering of a helpless animal, yet one is locked up for animal cruelty while the other is celebrated and may even get his own cable TV show one day. We are pretty sure the crimes of the one are going to escalate into worse acts of violence, yet how are we so sure that the one who tortures wildlife won’t graduate into worse violence?

It all boils down to one thing, there are too many in our time who do not understand the difference between right and wrong. And the problem is not limited to the minuscule numbers who commit the school murders, evil is pervasive in all segments of society from children in schools to the highest echelons in our government. Those in charge pass and defend laws that make it legal for hunters to send hounds in to tear coyotes to pieces and be torn to pieces by wolves while at the same time banning dog fighting. And they even have the gall to force the taxpayers to cover the financial losses if the so called hunter’s dogs are killed. We have leaders of entire popular movements jumping up and down and screaming about gun control while at the same time advocating for the right to stab a baby in the head on his or her way out of the birth canal, hypocrites.

In these modern progressive times, those who are qualified to teach right from wrong are mocked and shouted down, kicked out of office or sued for their faith which is ridiculed on popular television shows by the revered talking heads who are devoid of any wisdom or understanding. God, right and wrong, the Ten Commandments and prayer are banned from the schools while our children are taught to decide for themselves the difference between right and wrong. Why should we be surprised when children choose evil over good when evil is celebrated over good in the media or the video games that they are glued to every day of their lives? It’s time for us to get a grip on the evil that is overcoming this nation. It’s time to start rooting out evil where ever it can be found, no matter how high the perch from which it is preached. In order to do so however, we cannot forget the Source of the Good and also the source of the evil.

Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

On Comebacks

Big step today in my return to civilized life… It wasn’t easy up in this little mountain town but I finally found an internet provider that could hook me up with 10mbps. This is a huge step in restoring my ability to conduct my photography and writing enterprises! I still remember sitting in my camper after the wife had passed from cancer, life completely decimated… no home, no family, no job, no savings left, camera broken and laptop on it’s last leg. Wondering, how does one come back from this?

Steve & Dad Leadville (wordpress)Today I received and notice in the email that it is once again time to register for the Leadville 100 “Race Across the Sky” and I am reminded of my most memorable comeback, my first Leadville 100 finish. I was relatively inexperienced at running that distance and by the time I had reached the Halfmoon aid station on the return trip about 70 miles into the race, I was physically and mentally trashed. If you want to drop out, you can ask  the aid  station and they will remove your medical stats wrist band, effectively eliminating you from the race. I was the first person I had encountered who looked so bad that the aid station people were asking me for my medical band. But for some reason I said no and managed to down some food and eventually stumble out of the aid station and continue the race.

I was moving so slowly though that race personnel were continuing to drive by and ask me for my medical band. But I continued to put one foot in front of the other while my mind argued with my body… With more than a marathon in distance to go there is no earthly reason to believe that it is possible to finish. In preparation for a marathon distance run most people get some extra rest, do some carbo loading and take steps to prepare their minds and body for such a distance. No one starts a marathon completely exhausted, sleep deprived and sick from not being able to eat a proper meal, cold and wet and in the dark of night in the mountains with an 11,200 foot pass to climb.

But even then, in complete denial of reality, I continued to put one foot in front of the other… why? Because I could. Because it is what I expected of myself, because it is what my crew who had worked so hard all summer with me expected of me. Because you can’t just drop out for being tired and sick, because you knew when you signed up for such insanity that you were going to be cold and tired and sick for over 24 hours. Cold and tired and sick is not a valid excuse for giving up, it is part of the race. Such as it is in real life, even in your darkest hour you continue on because that is what everyone does, because that is what is expected of you by your friends and family and people who are counting on you, because giving up is unthinkable.

Well as it turns out by the time I arrived at the Fish Hatchery aid station I was feeling a bit better and was able to down some more food. By the time I got to Hagerman Pass the food was kicking in and I could smell the finish line. There was still nearly 20 miles to go but some strength had returned and my body had warmed somewhat. I knew I was pushing the limit on cutoff times and I dug deep and hit the afterburner. Later my pacer told me if I had gone any faster over the pass he would not have been able to keep up with me. By the time I had gotten around Turquoise Lake I had made up considerable time against the cutoff limits and a finish was guaranteed if I could just continue to put one foot in front of the other.  I could no longer hold down any food or ERG but I just kept walking up the long four mile hill to the finish line. Finally, after 29 hours the old west mining town of Leadville was once again in sight. And at 29:15 my feet crossed the finish line and I received the coveted hug and finisher’s medallion from Merilee.

I have been involved with sports my entire life and am definitely a fan of great comebacks. I believe that sports can train people for success in life and this experience was no different. I was able to draw on the hardship and perseverance involved in finishing a 100 mile race in the mountains against impossible odds to carry on with life even after the terrible circumstances surrounding such a devastating illness and death in the family. I know others are at this time facing their darkest hour and I hope these words can in some small way encourage them to make their comeback in life.

 

Steve Krull is a prolific sports and nature photographer selling prints and stock images online as S.W. Krull Imaging at various sites and agencies. Click this link to view all the products and services offered by Steve Krull and S. W. Krull Imaging. Additional services include, wedding photography, portraiture and model portfolios, and event photography. Additional products include fine art stock imagery, prints and gift items

Thanksgiving 2017

Thanksgiving, ​This day in November of the year 1621, when the newly arrived Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians gathered at Plymouth to give thanks to the Almighty for their survival and a bountiful harvest.

This Thanksgiving I too give thanks for my survival, the culmination of a decade of hardship, loss, sickness and death. I Watched Planes, Trains and Automobiles for the first time in years, a long tradition abandoned after Tricia’s passing. To be honest I wasn’t sure I would ever want to celebrate the holiday again and I am stunned at the developments of this year. 

The year began with an injury severe enough to prevent me from my usual duties unloading trucks at Walmart, another winter of wretched survival and the terrible isolation of life in a 1971 camper trailer.

This Thanksgiving finds me in a new home in a new town with a new career, surrounded by friends and family and a turkey baking in the oven. I know none of this would be possible without a miracle crafted in Heaven by the Almighty Himself and there are no words to describe how grateful I am.

I am well aware however, that there are many still living in quiet desperation who will not be celebrating in comfort this year and it is my fervent prayer that the Lord will sustain them through the hard times as he did me.

 “I will give you beauty for ashes and turn your morning into dancing.”

Darkness Cannot Drive Out Darkness

This title and powerful truth of course, a quote from the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. One of our most sacred rights in this country is our right to free speech, followed by freedom of assembly and freedom of association. These are called “unalienable rights”, rights so important that the government is forever banned by the constitution from taking them away. We in this country have the right to choose great beliefs or repugnant beliefs and we have the right to speak our minds about them and to try to convince others to believe the same. It is what makes our country great, it is what sets this nation apart from all others before it.

However we are also a nation of laws. Speaking our minds in public of course must be done within the limits of the law. Anyone has the right to apply for a permit and have a parade or a rally, whether it be for Columbus Day, Veteran’s Day, or Christmas or anything else. What we do not have is the right to not be offended. There is no constitutional right in this country to live life unoffended and being offended doesn’t give anyone the right to physically attack the offender. If someone holds beliefs that are repugnant to us, we do not have the right to beat their beliefs out of them, evil cannot drive out evil. That of course does not apply to our right to physical self defense… naturally if someone is attacking us with a knife or club we have the right to respond violently. It is also not freedom of speech to incite to riot or conspire to commit violent crimes.

We do however have the right to speak our mind, to try to persuade others to believe our way. Hopefully, if our beliefs are superior others will also believe and follow and by spreading our light we will be successful in driving out evil and those with inferior ideas will naturally become marginalized and rendered irrelevant. If we choose to take the other road by allowing one group of people to eliminate another’s right to say things that offend us, it will soon be followed by seeking out those who believe things that offend us in order to correct their beliefs. A huge and powerful segment of our population including the judicial branch of our government, the media and the Hollywood elite have already taken this country well down that path and if that course is not soon reversed it will be soon be followed by calls to physically eliminate people who believe things we find offensive. This has always been the progression in the evil empires, Rome, the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany and now with ISIS in the Middle East where “infidels” are beheaded.

Think it can’t happen in our time? One only needs to look to the Communist and Islamic countries. People of “incorrect” religious persuasion in those places meet in the darkness of night in private places in fear for their lives. They aren’t hurting anyone or even speaking of their beliefs in public. But never the less, if they are found out they are sent off to prison where they are tortured and often killed. Those who live in darkness  cannot stand even a pinprick of light.

A place where the state is allowed to determine who’s rights and speech are correct and allowed is a dictatorship. Is that what we want for our country? Do we really want an Orwellian “Ministry of Truth” enforcing the beliefs of the state, or do we want to continue the unprecedented high road this country has taken by allowing people the freedom to exchange ideas in a peaceful manner. Granted it hasn’t always worked out that way, the expression of new ideas has often been met with anger and violence but in the end the right to speak those ideas remained and evil has not prevailed. Darkness is not power, it is the lack of power and it cannot withstand light.

Matthew 5:16 ”Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

Turning Point

One of those memories from one year ago popped onto my Facebook today, it was a great memory of a great day, breakfast with my beloved cousin whom I hadn’t seen for too many years to even count. However the good part of that day was overshadowed by the memory of the rest of the day after I received a call from a friend who told me, “Steve, all hell has broken loose here.”, a terrible day in which several lives were irreparably altered, and not for the better. It was also the day that resulted in me having the two dogs that I wasn’t planning on or prepared for by any stretch of the imagination. However as you can imagine, these two beautiful doggies have worked their way into my heart and now they go with me everywhere. One riding shotgun in the passenger seat of my truck and the other standing on the console in the middle making sure there is nothing unusual lodged in my right ear or my mouth and nose 🙂

I had to take a part time job unloading trucks to make ends meet and it is a job that is physically difficult for people 40 years my younger. Unfortunately a few months ago I sustained a serious injury from which I have not been able to recover and is getting worse. Each day at work is a new lesson in pain and fatigue and I am sure I’m not going to be able to endure it much longer. And Son Boy is starting to look so sad when I have to work, like he knows. I hate leaving them behind, hate taking time away from writing and photography. And I have been praying “Please God, don’t make me go back there…”, pleading and begging the Almighty to have mercy on me and my little family of fur babies.

On the upside, the economy must be turning around, my stock photography sales have been picking up substantially. After years of terrible sales I have actually made more selling than I have working in the last few days… and I think that too is a sign that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Also I had a vivid dream the other night of a house in the country… one of those dreams that you just have a feeling is significant, a sign even perhaps. And after a long time of feeling repulsed by writing and out of inspiration for my photography, ideas are starting to come to me and the words are once again flowing onto the page… Every storm has to end and my storm that has washed away a home, a wife to cancer, a family, a career and all my savings and plans for retirement and almost everything but my faith, has lasted a decade.  It is a storm that I am hoping will soon be on the other side of the turning point.

“He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.” Psalm 107:29-30

Wings of Eagles

After the possibilities I discovered yesterday in my new trails paradise I was a bit more eager to get in the truck and get back up there today. I didn’t realize how hiking the same exact trail every day for eight years had become complete drudgery. I never even liked that part of the trail, the scrub oak growing everywhere is just plain ugly, especially in the winter when it is just a maze of sticks to ruin every picture that I take there.

Paradise Peak FXThe new trails are beautiful, they remind me of pictures I’ve seen of the rain forests of the Northwest. Beautiful pine trees standing over rocks and a beautiful forest floor of pine needles and naturally growing junipers. The steep trails on the south face of the Ute Pass Valley are heavily shaded and filled with the pungent smell of pine.

Today we climbed higher than yesterday… There are quite a few forest trails and deer trails going everywhere up there and I need to make sure I get used to them from both directions before going too far at one time. Not that it is really possible to get really lost there, but a wrong turn on the way down could cost a long hike through town back to the trailhead, something I’m sure neither me nor the doggies would appreciate. So today we actually made it to the end of the deer trail and onto some sort of main trail that looks like it could go for miles… I am eager to discover where it leads.

Near the top of our ascent today there was a clearing and a magnificent view of the morning sun cascading onto 14,115 foot Pikes Peak. As we stopped to take in the view from up there I was actually happy for a bit that my nemesis that has been harassing me on the old trail forced me to expand my horizons. As I mentioned earlier, I was sick of the old ugly trail to nowhere and the new one is a hikers paradise.

Which also brought to mind a story that I heard a long time ago… The story is about eagles, how when they are flying low they are often harassed by the small birds, blackbirds and crows and such. But the eagles with their great power and majesty do not bother with the lesser birds, they just soar ever higher until they arise to heights their pesky adversaries cannot attain. So it is in life, as I stood there high above the town and my nemesis looking at the lofty peak across the valley I realized that I had taken the right approach… stop bothering with my pesky adversaries and soar higher, so high that they cannot even find me, much less hang around and bother me.

 

Steve Krull is a prolific sports and nature photographer selling prints and stock images online as S.W. Krull Imaging at various sites and agencies. Click this link to view all the products and services offered by Steve Krull and S. W. Krull Imaging. Additional services include, wedding photography, portraiture and model portfolios, and event photography. Additional products include fine art stock imagery, prints and gift items