Seekers of Light


Photographers and their ways of seeing have profoundly changed the way I walk through the world. Just yesterday I was silently thanking my artist-photographer friends for opening up new ways of seeing, simply by doing what it is they they do best.

As the sun warmed the street in front of my mailbox there were stripes of brilliant green emerging from cracks in the asphalt. Each was a perfectly formed wisp of color, with arching leaves and pulsing veins. Some had tall thread-like extensions that ended in rounded seed-like shapes reaching high into the air above the matting of leaves below. Together they paraded a vibrancy of life, drinking in the sun for nourishment as we might enjoy a glass of orange juice with our morning toast. The not-so-ordinary in this for me was getting down on my knees so that I could notice each wisp was no larger than the head of a pin.

In that instant, I received a blessing in the form of a pause amid my daily work for a brief yet sustaining glimpse at the wonder of God’s creation. I found myself less connected with the events of my day and more reflective on the gifts of God. The sense of renewal that I experienced pointed toward a kind of personal photosynthesis, akin to the plant kingdom’s gift of taking sunlight and water and converting it into the stuff of life.

“An encounter with the beautiful lifts our eyes beyond the commonplace and gives us a reason for going on, for ranging beyond the mundane, for endeavoring ourselves always to become more than we are.” – Joan Chittister, OSB, ‘Monastic Wisdom for Seekers of Light’, Religious Life Review, vol. 40, May/June, 2001; as quoted in Theological Aesthetics, A Reader, Gesa Elsbeth Thiessen, ed., Wm. B. Erdmans, 2004.

On View: Church Office, Thanksgiving. Photograph by the Rev. Scott Fisher, Fairbanks, Alaska. With thanks to Ann Fontaine for the hat tip.

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