September 11th 2001: Through My Lens

On that morning of September 11th, I was getting ready for my second day at Magnum Photos as an intern. That all changed at 8:46 am when the North Tower was struck.  The next 121 minutes unfolded in surreal pace. We were under attack.  By who?  It was shocking and confusing, scary and so surreal. After the towers came down and the other 2 flights had crashed in DC & PA.. I emerged from my apartment building.  I walked down 7th avenue towards lower Manhattan. Not even 24 hours prior I had made this same walk except the skyline looked much different. As I approached downtown,  there was security but much was left open due to so much confusion. Towards the remains of the WTC.


 my first time walking onto the Brooklyn Bridge looking back at Manhattan.  This image is burned into my mind's eye.  Every time I'm on the Brooklyn Bridge to this day..  I remember this sight.  The clear blue sky pierced by thick black smoke covering the sun.  People crossing the bridge to Brooklyn as the only means of transportation was by foot. It looked like Doomsday.

This was but a few blocks from the WTC. As I approached, the air grew dense with ash and smoke. This was not happening.  The people who emerged from the heavy cloud .. the look on their faces was dazed.. shock.. confusion. Many missing shoes. Dressed in work clothes.  Holding a briefcase. 

After walking back from the Brooklyn Bridge, just outside of City Hall, anyone who could help- we began building stretchers.  As fast as they could cut the wood, we were assembling the stretchers. A mere 24 hours prior I had been sorting through images of WWII.  This image made me stop. French fisherman on Omaha Beach following the D Day Landings looking down at stretchers of dead bodies.  Little did I know what I would witness and take part in the next day. I only shot a few photos here as I realized I wanted more to help than to take photos. That was a defining moment for me to realize the kind of a photographer I wanted to be. 

Once we finished building stretchers, we loaded them into these dump trucks.  They needed volunteers to join in to unload all that we'd build. We then climbed into the back and drove into the area what would become known as Ground Zero. If you look closely in this image, a man is giving the peace sign.  I don't think I was prepared for what I would see next. We were in the next truck to enter.. 

... after this I have several rolls of film yet developed.  The landscape was scarred with bare remains of two massive buildings. Enough office space for all of Atlanta .. gone.  The air grew thick.  Cars were on fire.  Police, firefighters, EMTs, rescue workers.. organized chaos. There was this calmness in all of it.  It was the shock.  Moving fast, we unloaded the stretchers. Eager and willing to help.  Just direct me.  Abruptly we were stopped.  We weren't needed.  We had to leave. Immediately.  We couldn't be there. But what about all the people who needed help.  Then I began to really look around.  The ambulances all had stretchers out ready to help.  And yes there were those who were being assisted but shouldn't there be more? Then..  the reality began to sink in.  There were no bodies.  Those buildings became a massive inferno- people were incinerated. The air I was breathing. ..  the people.  Get me out of there.  I needed out.  That walk back to my apartment in Midtown was the longest walk on my life.  No one knew what was going to happen.  Should you sleep that night?  The city was on lock down. Where there to be more attacks? 

On that day, I had only been in New York City for 48 hours.  On that day I became a New Yorker for those few months. I don't know the city before 9/11.  But it became a part of me.

The days following, the city was wallpapered with faces of those missing.  Street corners, outside hospitals, bus stops and inside subways stations, even mailboxes would be covered with faces. People still clinging to the hope that their missing one would be found..  

I didn't know anyone that day.  But after seeing these faces all over the city...  they became known to me. I started to learn their names and seeking out faces that became familiar.  Personal photos from birthdays, christmas, family gatherings, wedding photos.  Such personal photos.  Lives gone. 

September 14th was declared the National Day of Mourning.   It was also my 22nd birthday.  I spent the day photographing memorials around the city.  These were taken in Union Square.

Christmas 2001.  Time Square.  

The Empire State Building closed it's observatory deck following 9/11.  They re-opened late October. This photo was taken on Oct. 24th 2001. They were practically giving away tickets.  No one was going up.  There were maybe a dozen of us up there.  I stayed until after sunset. This would be the new skyline of the city for the next ten years with it's...

Scar in the Sky

N E V E R    F O R G E T  //  SEPTEMBER  11TH  2001

{all images taken by Kyle Anderson. May not be used without permission}


Why It Matters

“.. Long lay the world in sin and error pining Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth. A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices for yonder breaks, a new and glorious morn. Fall on your knees, oh hear the angel voices. O night divine. O night when Christ was born. O night. O holy night. O night divine” – O Holy Night

For so many years have I heard this statement echoed… ‘we all much think about what this time of year means..’. If I’m honest, I never really understood what I was suppose to feel in thinking about Christmas.. or really.. grasping what Christmas was suppose to mean for me AND the world..?

Here I sit in a coffee shop writing this entry and next to me sit two people expressing what Christmas all is about. “I hate shopping. I hate malls. I know the objective is shopping for your loved one but so many people get caught up in it, making you angry and other people get angry while shopping. This year I am going to do online shopping. And what I’m going to do for my friends I really want to show them I care about them: go online the day after Christmas to buy a gift of something they really want at like 50% off”. The girl next to this guy nods her head in agreement that this is a good idea. As the conversation digresses, he admits that the idea of buying stuff as to show people how much their worth seems wrong. And the girl nods her head in agreement.

I think a lot of people are confused about what Christmas about..

I can’t say that I *understand* anything new.. rather my heart has been radically transformed by God’s grace and mercy over my life.. Christmas is not longer a *meaning* rather a marker.. and I am not no longer a state of confusion as to the meaning of why this time is celebrated.

Where did this turn from being a search for meaning as to what Christmas is and why we celebrate this time? I can't say there was a moment of enlightenment rather years of God moving mountains in my heart ... that I finally *get it*. The impact came..

Allow me to share..

Earlier this week, The Art House Dallas hosted an intimate evening of music performed by Sara Groves and her band. She is a favorite of mine and I was excited to see her perform live. A several dozen people came together in a cozy space at Munger Place Church; the atmosphere created felt as if we were gathered in someone’s living room. There we sat listening as Sara shared her music and her heart.. the stories behind her songs and how she's wrestled through asking God, after a trip to Rwanda, how someone such as herself - a songwriter and musician - can contribute anything to the cause of Justice and have any impact.

It was then that Sara shared the story of the Cellist of Sarajevo, Vedran Smailovic. During the war in Bosnia.. Vedran Smailovic was a cellist living in Sarajevo in the early 1990's. The people lived in constant fear for their lives as civilians were very much targeted during the fighting. One day, Vedran happened to look out his window to witness a bomb exploding on a church where people had been waiting in line for food. On that day, 22 people were killed. Enraged and upset.. he wanted to do something but wasn't sure what. He thought of this all night. And on the dawn of the following morning he decided what he must do: he would play his music for each person who died that day rather than hide in fear of another attack. Everyday for 22 days beginning at 4pm (which is when the explosion happened) he would walk outside dressed formally and played music for one person a day who had died. All around him bullets flew by him and mortar shells were being dropped. One article states: For 22 days, one each for the people killed, Smailovic played in the same spot. He played to ruined homes, smoldering fires, scared people hiding in basements. He played for human dignity that is the first casualty in war. Ultimately, he played for life, for peace, and for the hope that exists even in the darkest hour. It was this story that inspired Sara to write the song Why It Matters.

Why It Matters.. Sara Groves

Hope in the darkest hour..

As Sara sang, I felt so much move through me. It has been an intense past few weeks. Two weeks ago I found myself with a few other women in the parking lot of an abortion clinic intervening and fighting for life not from a place of condemnation, judgment or hatred rather out of love, hope and faith as we’d all once stood in this girls same shoes having already made a decision. There stood a young frightened upset girl.. trembling.. sobbing.. thinking this was her only option. And standing off to the side was a downcast shame-filled fearful silent young man.. the boyfriend. Though that day felt like a small victory as she did not walk into that clinic.. dozen of other girls and women were lined outside the door making that choice thinking there was no other way or rather, this way was the best option.

Sadly several days later, this young girl feeling completely hopeless and abandoned by the boyfriend after he made it clear that he didn't want to keep the child; along with her parents pressuring her to abort the baby... she walked into that clinic and ended the life of her baby.

And so this past Saturday, I sat with this young girl as she cried in anguish of the choice she had made.. asking why.. feeling so deceived.. wishing she could turn back the clock.. recounting the searing physical pain of her body unnaturally aborting her baby.. the feelings of being left alone on the floor of her bathroom.

Praise God this isn’t how the story ends for this young girl.

In that dark moment.. she was not alone. God was with her.

Tears streamed down my face as Sara lifted her voice in song. In that moment, my heart was overwhelmed by the massive and mighty implications of Immanuel.. God With Us.. The Incarnate God.. and how His deep love for us is more than we can comprehend. God sent His only son.. who would die a brutal death.. a man who knew no sin became sin for us so that we who are dead in our transgressions and the ONLY thing we deserve is the wrath of God.. that we would become the righteousness of God.. that we may have life.. and have life abundantly for His glory for all eternity. So that in the moment this young girl found herself in tears of anguish.. that in her darkest hour... she has hope. God is making all things new... there will be made beauty from all this brokenness. This is only the beginning for this young woman. I know this as it's been my own story all these years.

All week I’ve thought about this darkness and what Christmas means. Into this darkness, into a world of orphans and refugees, of God-belittling rebellious people, cancer and illness, of pain that is unimaginable, into injustices and poverty- into this world Jesus Christ came. The light of the world flooded the darkness and changed it forever. The prophet Isaiah says, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined. . .For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” The light came into the darkness.

What is this *darkness* as it seems so vague and non descriptive.

Look around. We all know that something horribly wrong has taken place and is taking place in our world.. we know it on a personal level and we know it on a global level as we watch the news from the containment of our living rooms.. hoping that will never be us. We all desire to experience the *good things* in life... we want and fight for a right and a freedom to pursue *happiness*; if we know such exists.. there too exists things that are dark, evil- genocide, poverty, AIDS, slavery.. it goes on an on. Unfortunately we can not escape suffering, pain and anguish. If there is anything my pastor has shown me as he's endured and persevered through terminal cancer is that we would suffer well.. and cling to a hope that is greater than anything this world can give us.

Rob Bell expresses this in his book Drops Like Stars, “I keep discovering that it’s in the blemish that the Spirit enters. The cross, it turns out, is about the mysterious work of God in which begins not with big plans and carefully laid out timetables.

But in pain and anguish and death.

It’s there, in the agony of those moments, that we get the first glimpses of just what it looks like for God to take all of our trauma and hurt and disappointment, all those fragments lying there on the ground, and turn them into something else, something new, something we never would have been able to create on our own. It’s in that place that we’re reminded that true life comes when we’re willing to admit that we’ve reached the end of ourselves, we’ve given up, we’ve let go, we’re willing to die to all of our desires to figure it out and be in control. We lose our life, only to find it.”

So that not if we sin {chose our way and not His way.. making something other than God ultimate} .. rather when we sin... He receives us as we turn from our way and allow our spirit to say yes to Him. We have an eternal hope.. we cling to His promises.. that there is redemption and He will restore the long devastated ruins that are our hearts.

The evidence of His graces and mercies are all around us.. rather it’s not a question of where is God.. it’s one of how harden and numb our hearts have become to being compelled by the love of Christ that we would be His movement.. as we are His workmanship created to do good works created to do in advance that we would walk in them {Ephesians 2}.

Shane Claiborne wrote in a letter to non-believers: “the entire story of Jesus is about a God who did not just want to stay "out there" but who moves into the neighborhood, a neighborhood where folks said, "Nothing good could come." It is this Jesus who was accused of being a glutton and drunkard and rabble-rouser for hanging out with all of society's rejects, and who died on the imperial cross of Rome reserved for bandits and failed messiahs. This is why the triumph over the cross was a triumph over everything ugly we do to ourselves and to others. It is the final promise that love wins.

It is this Jesus who was born in a stank manger in the middle of a genocide. That is the God that we are just as likely to find in the streets as in the sanctuary, who can redeem revolutionaries and tax collectors, the oppressed and the oppressors... a God who is saving some of us from the ghettos of poverty, and some of us from the ghettos of wealth.”

In his book Knowing God, JI Packer states this: ““The really staggering Christian claim is that Jesus of Nazareth was God made man — that the second person of the Godhead became the ’second man,’ determining human destiny, the second representative head of the race, and that He took humanity without loss of deity, so that Jesus of Nazareth was as truly and fully divine as He was human. . .It is here, in the thing that happened at the first Christmas, that the profoundest and most unfathomable depths of the Christian revelation lie. ‘The Word was made flesh;’ God became man; the divine Son became a Jew; the Almighty appeared on earth as a helpless human baby. . .The more you think about it, the more staggering it gets. Nothing in fiction is so fantastic as is this truth of the incarnation.”

We are in need of a Savior... and He came for us. The Word became Flesh.

The author of Hebrews is saying, “Remember Jesus Christ lest you grow weary or fainthearted.” As all of us continue to move into the unknown that is before us where we don’t know what’s going to happen in our own circumstances and situations, we need to marvel at Jesus Christ and remember who He is, what He’s done so we don’t grow weary, that we don’t shrink back in our faith and so we don’t walk as people with no hope.

It’s not just that He came.. it’s why He came. Beau Hughes, one of the campus pastors at my church expressed this regarding the ‘why’ question:

And He came also to point us to a future hope. Because His coming points us to the end of the story. The advent reminds us that Jesus came to save us from our sins, but also there is coming a day that Jesus has promised that He will come again and make all things new. As He saved us from our sins, Jesus has promised that He will come and save us and the world from its groaning (see Romans 8). As one pastor said this week in his prayers and thoughts toward our church family and our pastor, the first advent of Jesus brought relief from our sins and the second advent will bring relief from our sufferings. One day there won’t be any more pain. In Revelation, John wrote it this way, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." And he who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new.". . .They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.” The advent of Jesus Christ sets our minds toward the end of the story. And as believers in Jesus Christ, we know the story, and that should affect the way we live in the story today. When darkness comes to our church family, when darkness comes to your life, we don’t walk as people without hope. We have hope because we know the end of the story, and it changes the way we fight the darkness.

And as Christians, that’s the faith we walk in. Jesus Christ’s coming floods us with hope and arms us with faith to such a degree that now we don’t only have to deal with the darkness, but the darkness has to deal with us. We can assault the darkness with faith. We can assault the problem with orphans with mercy. We can assault cancer with prayer. And even when it seemingly ends as bad as it could possibly end the apostle Paul said, “Because of the resurrection, because I know the end of the story, death doesn’t have any sting anymore. I’m not afraid of death. It doesn’t have any sting. I know how it ends.” And that’s how we’re to live. There is coming a day where it’s going to end this way, and because we know that, we live this way now. And we live in this tension and this time that the theologians call “between the already and the not yet.” Jesus Christ has already come and inaugurated His kingdom but He has not yet made all things new. And this is where we live. We live in this tension where it seems darkness still is all around even though the victory has been won.

And so as we live in this time, what do we do? We run the race with endurance, looking to Jesus Christ, considering Him the Author and Perfecter of our faith, who Himself, for the joy set before Him, endured the cross. We are to be and live like that. And Jesus is not just our example in that, although He is that to the infinite degree. But He’s also the One who empowers us to be like Him. He arms us with that faith. So as we stare darkness down, just like these men and women in Scripture have, might I exhort you with the writer of Hebrews to not shrink back in your faith. I’m not saying you act like Superman, I’m not saying you act like nothing is wrong and I’m not saying you don’t act like things are painful. But don’t shrink back in your faith. And lest we grow weary or fainthearted, we look to Jesus, we consider Him, we marvel at Him, especially during this advent season. A great light has stepped into this world and He has changed everything forever and ever for those of us who believe.

I’m grateful that the day of Christmas isn’t about commercialism or a hallmark holiday. I’m grateful that the best gift I have received wasn't bought 50% off online the day after Christmas. God’s gift to me was freely given- but it cost of Him.. Jesus Christ paid a price the sacrifice once and for all. He’s atonement for my sins and yours.. So that I may have life.. that I would have hope in the darkness.

Christmas: Christ is born... God with us. On that morning.. the world has been given hope in the darkness. This is Good News of great joy.. for all people. Wherever you are... may your heart absorb the impact of His deep love for you.. and that we need to remind each other as Sara Groves did the other night.. of the Beauty (the Gospel) .. and why it matters..

Merry Christmas and Much Love



Northern Wales

The River Liffey. Dublin

Conwy. Wales

As the sun rose over the Liffey River, it bathed the city of Dublin in a brilliant clarity that awakens your soul and whispers softly of the kind of day it would be. Yet it was only for us to taste and stir our desire to savor such a day. A feast lay before us as we crossed the Irish Sea from Dublin to Holyhead, Wales. It was a perfect day for sailing the open seas.

The eagerness of the kids grew as Wales came into view. After a gorgeous week in Ireland, we were off for a new adventure in Wales. Thus far we’d gathered wonderful memories from our coach driver teaching us to sing Irish Folk songs to our trip around the Ring of Kerry.. and not to mention the nights of listening to locals play a mix of traditional and modern tunes.

Driving along the coast, the landscape was dotted with sheep among a lush rugged terrain. The hills were green and the sky met the sea with seven shades of blue to which you couldn’t distinguish where one began and the other ended. Rounding the northern coast of Wales, Conwy lay before as a gift waiting to be opened.

Snowdonia. Wales

Conwy Castle is one of many castles built by Edward I in the 13th century. This castle functioned as to protect from the Celtics who’d ruled and reigned the land for over 700 years. Though the castle itself is only somewhat in-tack, the real impression is in how you approach the castle than when you enter it’s cavernous innards which leaves much to be desired.

Four years have passed since I had first explored this coastal beauty. That day had been grey and cold. We hadn’t left the castle grounds hence it left me with no impression other than I was ok if I never returned.

How glad I gave this town a second chance to explore this gorgeous part of Wales. After we savored a wonderful time in Conwy; the students having thoroughly enjoyed walking along the beach; along the castle walls and munching on fresh fish n' chips.. we were on our way.

Coast gave-way to the mountains of Snowdonia and dense forest and gushing rivers. The students delighted in this little hamlet inn with it’s hiking trails and clear clean river. It was nice to be able to let them go and just be kids.. climbing rocks and exploring the trails. By the end of the afternoon, most everyone was in the river swimming and laughing. That night we took over the local pub to watch the US-England football match. This was a site for the locals to encounter our students so absorbed by the outcome of the game. At the end of this wonderful day, I sat watching from my little hotel room bats dart across the sky, listening to the gentle rushing of the river and the sweet scent of the chimney smoke mingling with rich earth. My soul has feasted well that night. I will go to sleep to the sound of the river and the cool air wrapped in blankets…


Something on the road... cut me to the soul..

Greece is neither Eastern, Western nor Balkan. It is a point where East and West meet in a unique way, a small spot on the map that has left an indelible mark on almost the entire world. Yet it has been argued that if Greece defined itself more clearly, it could play the role as a regional superpower rather than the poor kid on the block that it has very much continued to play in Europe especially these past few months.


In my small corner of the world, the day is bright and sunny. The birds singing a merry song, people are in their gardens planting and there is a coming and going in preparation for summer. The day is casual and unextraordinary… with the exception of the latest Apple toy being released in which people wait in lines coast to coast for their latest status upgrade. In another corner of the world, men as dark as night sit in the noonday sun exposed. They come from various countries yet here they’re all considered ‘the black man’. Most of these men come from Senegal. I had not understood why so men young men were leaving their country until I read this heart-breaking report of their reality. The European nations sail into African waters, overfishing and leaving farmers with only an empty sea. Many fishermen have sold their boat to people smugglers who use them to take migrants to Europe. Senegal being one of the poorest countries in Africa. There they stand.. or sit.. or lean.. somewhat casually and somewhat alert.. they are selling black market goods of fake Gucci pursues, Rayband and Armani sunglasses, watches and wallets.. all sold to Westerners at a special price- sucker. There are others from the Far East and Asia selling toys and lighters or squatting on the ground aimlessly throwing gel-like balls of which I never see being bought. My reality is comfortable and safe.. contained and predicable.. leisure and expected. Their reality is uncertain.. deprived. . hopeless. . unpredictable. Each morning, outside the Petrou Ralli Station, there is a line forming but not for the latest electronic gadget. Thousands wait in line as it’s the only place in the entire country they may do so with the small exception of the airport and supposedly at various border points. These men gather to wait in line to apply for an interview of which, if approved this will allow them a ‘pink card’ acknowledging them as refugees with legal rights to live/work in Greece. Amnesty International reports the percentages of those actually given asylum:

In 2007 20,684 asylum applicants 8 were granted asylum 0.04%
In 2008 29, 573 asylum applicants 14 were granted asylum 0.05%
In 2009 (first 7 months) 20,000 asylum applicants 12 were granted asylum

So where does this leave the 70,000 + asylum seekers who have not been granted approval? Backlog- Exactly. They are left to themselves. They have no place to go, no place to live, no way to get work and therefore how are they able to feed themselves? They are aware of the cost of staying in Greece is not one of a good and prosperous life. There they make attempts to continue on into EU: Italy, France, UK, Germany, Sweden, etc. The problem with their crossing into new countries is that they have not made the way legally. If they’re not given asylum and having no way to make money, the only way for them to continue on is any way they can. If they make it to another EU country can they not apply for asylum once they arrive? Sometimes. But this is up to that country if they want to accept them or not. According to the Dublin Regulations II they can send them back to the first EU country they entered which for a massive majority, this is Greece. This process is called refoulement.

What exactly is the Dublin Regulations II?

The Dublin Regulation is a EU law for determining which Member State (the countries who are members of the European Union) is responsible for deciding an asylum application lodged within the EU and usually requires that asylum-seekers be returned to the first country they entered upon arriving in the EU.

When asylum seekers are sent back to Greece, once again they face the hopelessness that is the poorly managed system. What the Greeks tend to do is place them in detention centers and more recently, begin deporting them back to Turkey. And the Greeks do this illegally! Once these (mostly) men are sent back to Turkey, the Turks in turn will send them back to Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Syria where they were fleeing from in the first place. These men beg to not be sent back because they know what will more than likely become their fate. Read this report of an Afghan teenager's journey to England and what will be for him.

{photo by oli scarff}
This image was taken on a day when French police tore down the 'home' called The Jungle of hundreds of refugees.. without a solution.. further displacing them.

I’ve recently begun a book in which it speaks of movements across frontiers.. it is states that this is no longer about the pursuit of the right to life rather what has become the denial which has given rise to some of the worst and most vicious abuses of human rights.

This reality has a face and name, has been persecuted and whose life is in grave danger. Their flight isn’t a means only so that they may have better lives, their flight is to save their lives. There is a flip side of course. I’ve been in countless conversations with Europeans who express their frustration at the desires of these migrants/ refugees to have access to a better life within these countries yet do not adhere to local laws as the is conflict in their personal beliefs as it stand regarding Islam. This is topic for another time. My desire is here is to first address.. and make aware the crisis that is all too silent- the denial to have access to life. Amnesty International, UNHCR, Human Rights Watch and others are exposing and voicing what has been overlooked and displaced for too long. The complexities that surround the ‘next steps’ in how you begin to receive, integrate, enable, provide, assimilate these individuals is dense. Ask I continue to ask questions.. they leave me with answers and more questions. Locally I've discovered many organizations to get plugged in with that serve the resettled refugees within my own community of Dallas.. yet I know that there is a reason I continue to be pulled back to Europe. Until more is revealed to me, I continue to pursue a deeper understand and picture of what is going on and how I can walk in obedience to what I've been made aware.

Below are many forms of resources for you to discover more.


Watch: No Refugee: Migrants in Greece by Human Rights Watch

Photo Slide Show by Moises Saman

Doctors without BordersVulnerable People at Europe's Door
NHC: Out the Back Door
European Council: Access to Justice for Migrants and Asylum Seekers
Refugee and Migrant Justice: Children on the Front Line
Human Rights Watch: Pushed Back, Pushed Around Italy-Libya
Human Rights Watch: Stuck in a Revolving Door between Greece and Turkey
Human Rights Watch: No Refuge
Human Rights Watch: Left to Survive

Get Involved Locally:
World Relief
Doctors without Borders
International Rescue Committee
Free City International Dallas

Ministries in Europe: serving asylum seekers/refugees/migrants
London: Anchor Project; Notre Dame Refugee Centre
Rome: International Teams
Athens: Helping Hands


Greece through photographs

Flying over Greece about to land in Athens

Monastiriki Square in the heart of Athens- notice the Acropolis in the background.

Metro stop: Acropoli

Local Athens Market.. they sell anything and everything in this place..

local men sit around everywhere drinking coffee, eating, smoking, playing games, talking.. you see them seating together all over the place. This is on one of the main streets, Athinas.

again in the local market.. i love the Orthodox priest caught me photographing him.

this man was so interesting to me.. he was sitting in the most random place reading..?

The Greeks don't seem to concerned over manicured storefronts.

The view from Aeropagus (Mar's Hill) looking up at the Acropolis

Active Compassion

Otis, Keaton, Flou and Collin in Athens. Otis and Flou are from Nigeria. They moved to Greece legally ten years ago but have not been able to make a 'better' life for themselves. They want to return home but because they can only make so much money as street musicians, they do not know how long it will take them to save enough money for plane tickets.


Returning from Greece this past month, I’ve not been able to shake what I saw and experienced. My heart has been wrecked by the bigger picture - the reality that is for so many people. From the Greeks themselves who are in fear with the current economic crisis and feeling hopeless; to Roma (gypsies) children as young as 4 wandering the streets alone working to make money; to the migrants/asylum seekers alike who regardless of their circumstances and what is legal/illegal- desire not just a better life; are escaping persecution and fearing for their lives- their reality is bleak. I have had a harder time wandering through all that I took in and what it looks like to move beyond my world of comfort.

Highlighted to me this past Easter has been that of the compassion and mercy over our lives. How do I process through the names and faces.. the stories of those who have not. As I’m reminded of the grace and mercy lavished upon my life, I’m grateful that Jesus looked upon us and had compassion and He responds to the cries of our hearts. This seemed to be the vibrant theme throughout these past weeks in Greece. The names and stories of those who lives left an impact on my heart as well as the group. On the last night of our time together, I asked the group what left the biggest impact and why. Not one of them said a place or location. Each of them shared of what God had been revealing to them in regards to having compassion; His love for us and what it looks like to love others not conditionally rather because the love of Christ compels; the stories and encounters with other people and though languages could have made for difficulties, love transcended. How deeply encouraged I was to see how God had been working .. moving and opening their hearts. To watch these students not only take in what they were experiencing, but to respond and to embrace those they encountered. My prayer for them as they returned home is that God would continue to nurture their hearts what was planted in those 11 days together, continuing to revealing Himself to them.


Savannah puts on her best dress

As I drove down Oglethorpe Street a joy rose in me. I was back in the deep South. Live oak trees draped in spanish moss; the azaleas are in full bloom; victorian homes leaning on one another as old friends well acquainted with each other; sunlight dappled squares; carriage horses and SCAD students on bikes compete for the right away.. Of these things I miss. Arriving in Savannah on a Friday morning, I could hardly wait to submerge myself back into a culture that had become a warm blanket to my soul during my college years.

Savannah is on the way to nowhere yet when you arrive you wondered how you even came to be in such a beautiful city. A city which was saved during Sherman's march to the sea, destroying everything on his way to Charleston. The city was spared and presented as a gift to President Lincoln at Christmas- along with cotton and guns. Though it is a city that may have been saved by the wrath of an army- it has suffered much over the centuries. From many area fires; hurricanes and tropical storms; racism and what could of been it's fate- to be left to itself; cast away and forgotten. It's savior and much credit is given to the rise of a certain 'book' as referred to by locals and what has become the country's leading art college {Savannah College of Art and Design}- this city of steeples now thrives and is very much alive. Yet this city lives as water and oil separate yet together. There are many cultures here which live among the other. To the innocent eye, you'd think this charming southern town was just that. Charming. It was once said of Savannah "a beautiful woman with a dirty face". And though it is charming, it has a darker reality- one that is rooted in the supernatural and the reality that is racism. Is this not where the American southern gothic movement is stepped in? Tennessee Williams described as ' .. an underlying dreadfulness in modern experience". Not to detract from it's beauty as it is captivating and unique, alluring. It stirs and inspires the imagination. Yet I can't deny that I was exposed to a harsh reality that had yet to expose itself to me: racism. Rather for now, I'm not here to express my experience of this in Savannah. I've since seen an uglier picture of this far beyond this little city off a forgotten highway.

While living in Savannah, never did I grow tired or accustom to the beauty that always left me admiring and in awe. Having never owned a car throughout my college years, I'd bike around the squares admiring the various details on my way to class and back. There was always a new room; a new corner; a new garden; a new home; new design to discover. Your senses are overwhelmed. Being an artist, this city inspires and moves you in your attempt to capture and convey beauty. Oh how I felt my soul swollen in a way that I was ready to feast on this once again. Texas.. you've yet to stir this within me.

This past weekend's return to the South was a result of being asked to participate in SCAD's Student Acceptance Day. Students who'd been accepted but had to make a concert decision on a college pouring in from all over the country (and the world) to check out the school in more detail. SCAD flew 4 of us alumni in to share about our experiences at the university and how we are currently using our degree in our field. SCAD knows how to put on an event! I enjoyed meeting with parents and students; encouraging them and sharing my experiences along with what sets this school apart. It was an honor to be a part of this day and be around so many excited students!

After the SCAD event had come to an end, I jumped in the car and drove out hwy 80 towards Tybee Island. Windows down, crossing over the various bridges that take you to Tybee.. the salty sea air begins to stir memories that have gathered dust for too long. There is a reason so many writers choose the Low Country as their subject.. it is intoxicating. Satisfied once I had sunk my toes into the warm Georgia sand; I return to Savannah. The remaining day was left to my pleasure. Now that the dormant memories had been dusted off, I felt it was time to wander down the streets I'd spent living on for so many years. As I approached my old home, I had the feeling someone would be on the front porch. Sure enough.. not one but three people sat gathered for an evening cocktail, music and musings. I approached with rising joy. As I walked up the steps and explained how this had been my home throughout college.. they exclaimed 'are you Kyle?'. Wow.. how did they know who I was? Amazingly enough, this was the family that had bought the house from my parents. They then asked if I would like to wander through the house. Could I really? I can't explain the emotions that were so deeply stirred as I crossed the threshold of that old house on 124 W Huntingdon Street. That house of which I'd grown to love and care for so deeply... it was like being reunited with a long lost friend after so many years. Wandering through the house, my heart was swollen remembering all that passed through.. all the memories.. the good.. the bad.. the beautiful.. the brokenness.. life! They say that college years are your best. Looking back at this time this past weekend, it very much will always remain a special season of my life.

The next morning I left for South Carolina where I went to visit my grandmother. Driving over the Savannah River, again I was struck with the beauty that surrounded me. How incredibly deprived of this I am here in Texas. Live oak trees and pine tree canopied the backroads that took me through the town of Bluffton. Here I stopped to visit a beautiful wooden church that sits on the bluffs on the May River. Taking my shoes off, the soft grass and sunny day beckoned me to enjoy. For some time I sat overlooking the river that would eventually take you to the ocean ..watching people on small motor boats and kayaks savor the day. Driving back through the little town, I stopped to wander through several of the art galleries. As small as this town is, they had more art galleries than I've seen in a long time. My favorite happened to be more of a work space- outdoor gallery of sorts. Exploring this little space was a delightful gift. It only added to the magic of the day.. all too soon it was time to leave and continue my drive to Hilton Head Island..

What I walked away with from this weekend was the realization of how dormant my creative side has been these years since graduating. Within my job, I'm able to use my education, experiences and knowledge acquired while in school. Yet creating work that extends beyond my job has been asleep for too long. For the first time in awhile, I felt inspired, rejuvenated, encouraged and challenged to look at how I can begin to integrate my abilities, experiences, opportunities, awareness and network into something that extends beyond me creating art for the sake of art.

Connected to this kindled realization was the need for deep community here in Dallas. I have made great friends but lack a community. This was very apparent as I walked around Savannah this weekend seeing everyone out and about and recognizing the isolation that has become my life outside of my tours. I have made a good life for myself here but what does it mean if it's only you experiencing it? Yet rather than feeling discouraged, I returned to Dallas with a renewed hope in what God is doing within my life. He is stirring something big time and this weekend revealed to me that He is knows my heart. To trust Him and continuing to walk in obedience out of my affection for Him.

Now to start sketching out ideas... it always starts with an idea..

"The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing." - Albert Einstein

"You can't do anything about the length of your life, but you can do something about its width and depth." - Shira Tehran

“All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.” - T.E. Lawrence

Places to check out in Savannah
Cha Bella Farm to Table restaurant
Harris Baking Company - amazing bakery
Bohemain Hote - they have a great rooftop bar that overlooks the Savannah River.
The Paris Market and Brocante this place was gorgeous..! and they had a little espresso bar. They the blueberry, espresso and cream drink.. divine!
shopSCAD - all items created by SCAD students
Working Class Studio