Sunday, June 1, 2014

Let There Be Light!

Meet the Liedtkes!  Our colleagues during Incarnate, they became new friends from Portland Oregon, and now, Bobbio Pellice!  And little LuLu has the worn-out knees in ALL her pants to prove it!   Despite Shannon's attempts to patch them...

I first met Fritz and Shannon during our Artslink outreach in Spain, in 2008.  They contacted us from England, where they were serving at Manna House, an OM-affiliated hospitality house.  Could they could "drop in" on their way home to the States, to see how we did things?  I was happy to agree to receive a professional photographer, and share the vision.

Fritz the photographer knew his call; Shannon was exploring the idea of getting a nursing degree and is now a registered nurse.  I was struck by the way they seamlessly integrated into the high speed train that was our Spain outreach, and felt like I had known them for a long time.  The kindred spirits thing. 

When the time came to discuss staffing for Incarnate, and it became clear the Carsons would not be able to join us, I recommended Fritz as the visual arts mentor, and explored with Shannon a role she might take.  I was happy to learn they accepted, with Shannon taking a role on the spiritual formation team.  Lulu decided to come along too, and keep us all humble and laughing.  

In those roles, they shined.  Frtiz did a masterful job of guiding the visual artists through final projects, mentoring them and coaching, with the regular disappearance into the wilds of Bobbio for some photography of his own.  He also juggled teaching, graphic design and curating our final art exhibit, and as far as I could see, wasn't even taking vitamin pills to do all this!  (It has since been confirmed that he was, until he ran out.)  

I was personally delighted that Fritz mentored me as well, as I fumbled with a new camera, and a few ideas...I am now almost as smart as my camera!  He expected me to participate in the final exhibit, which was the impetus I needed to wrangle a project out of our manic schedule.  As his website says, "...Fritz brings focus, energy and humor into the room."  I produced my five pieces, took my place among the other visual artists, and sold 3 of them (with a request for a reprint on one that had sold). 

If you go here, you can see Fritz's inventive work in and around Bobbio, and read more on the Waldensian Valley.    

Shannon was our little joy shot each day, with a smile you could see coming a mile away, a laugh that could be heard up and down the valley, and relentless good spirits, even with eyes glazed over.  Her nursing skills were invaluable, her gifts of listening, discerning and speaking encouragement life-giving.  Because of Shannon's mothering duties, which included daily walks into town with her little charmer Lulu, she had a unique opportunity to connect with so many locals. 

Shannon is also a textile artist, or fabric artist or...well, I'm not sure how to categorize Shannon, but let's just say amazing things were happening with knitting needles, sewing needles and clothes during our time.  Shannon also had an uncanny affinity and ability with plants; I was surprised how often she would bend and pluck something, sniff, rub or taste it, name it, and say what it was good for--either medicinally or in cooking. 

And Lulu...Lucia, whose name means "Light"--what a light she was!  We believe her first word was "Ciao!" which she used liberally to all, usually accompanied by a cock-eyed wave.  Lulu learned soccer skills too--with a mean right side kick as she crawled whenever the ball came near her.  Although we tried to get Lulu to walk while she was with us, she preferred to climb, crawl, eat rocks and speak in tongues.  

Can you tell I'm a fan? 

Do check Fritz's work out on these sites:
Personal Work:
Professional Work:

"Skeleton in the Closet" is a book Fritz compiled of compelling stories and photos on eating disorders.  Read the stories, and look into the eyes of these souls, and try to walk away untouched:

You can order Skeleton in the Closet here

"Creating compelling images of people that are...a little bit different..."

Thanks to the Liedtkes for being who you all are, and for being that with us!


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