Thursday, May 29, 2008

Sunshine of Your Love

When I was arranging our flight to Taiwan, to visit our daughter over Christmas break last year, the flight that worked the best for us left from the Vancouver BC airport. So on Christmas morning we loaded up the car and drove north through intermittent snow, allowing plenty of time in case the weather got worse.

We had, as a result, plenty of time to wander the Vancouver Airport, which is definitely the most beautiful airport I've ever visited. The image you see here is actually an enormous work made of glass (or possibly plexiglas) strips that hang down from the ceiling at the head of a small stream that runs through part of the airport, and though I've never been that much of a fan of native art I was fascinated by it.

This morning I was reintroduced to Gerard Manley Hopkins, a poet I last encountered in college as an English major some 38 years ago, and my response to his rich lyricism today was very like my response to this multi-story glass sculpture. I realize now that I must have loved Hopkins' poetry as an undergraduate because the lines, read again after all these years, take me back to that time in my life with the same immediacy of music from that era, though I'm not sure it's any compliment to Hopkins to be declared to be in a class with Cream, The Temptations, and The Band!

But I read "The world is charged with the grandeur of God" and I could feel my heart begin to sing along, my soul to tap its fingers. By the time I got to the line "there lives the dearest freshness deep down things" I could feel my whole spirit resonating like a tuning fork.

So I came to my computer to seek an image that would convey that deep down freshness, and realized that this particular line of poetry perfectly describes what it is I seem to photograph most, and what it is that feeds me about photography. There were literally hundreds of images depicting "the freshness deep down" that I could have placed at the top of this page, each of them alluring in its own way.

But I chose this one, because, while so many of my photographs hint at that which lies beneath, to me this image NAMES that deep down freshness that lies at the heart of things. To me this incredible work of art speaks definitively of God, source of that richness that wells up from within. It is as if you took the sun and placed it at the root of all being, so that its light and energy radiate up and out through everything.

I'm not sure what Hopkins meant by the word charged: at the time he was writing electricity had not yet been invented. But to me, now, thinking of that pure fresh energy that flows through us when we tap into the Source, it seems that the world is indeed "charged with the grandeur of God."

Could it be that same grandeur fueled Cream's greatest hit from that era? It was called, after all, "The Sunshine of Your Love."

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