Thursday, June 4, 2009

Through a glass, dimly

In February of 2006 my younger daughter was still determined to go to college on the West Coast, preferably with her best friend from camp (who lived in California). So we flew in to Oakland and spent several days driving through California visiting colleges with Emily and her mom.

Though we have family in LA, I've not spent a lot of time in California, and I found the drive down 101 from Santa Cruz to Santa Barbara spectacularly beautiful, despite the fact that it was pouring rain the whole way. Emily's mom, who was happy to drive, had brought along a CD of Vusi Mahlasela, whom she'd heard at a recent concert, and so we barreled through the countryside, listening to his African rhythms with me shooting pictures through the side windows and the rain.

Despite -- or perhaps because of -- all the mitigating factors, I loved the resulting photos: switched from color to black and white they became incredibly moody, and the rolling hillsides, barely discernible in the mist, had a deliciously sensuous quality. So when I got word that the Center for Fine Art Photography was holding a contest for black and white images, I decided to submit this as one of my entries.

When I completed that submission this morning I thought I'd share the image -- and Vusi Mahlasela -- with you. Because it's possible you haven't seen this side of California, and it's possible you haven't heard Vusi Mahlasela either. One of the joys of living in the blog community is sharing our experiences with each other, opening the world to one another. As I write that, I realize I am thinking of recent discussions with two friends: one who claims he learns nothing from experience, and another who appears to be distancing herself from me -- I suspect because my liberal version of Christianity is just too far out of her comfort zone.

I love them both, both of these friends, and try to walk lightly with them both, to convey, somehow, that whatever words they utter or decisions they make don't affect my affection for them. But it feels sometimes like I'm looking at them -- or perhaps they're looking at me -- through a rainstorm and the window of a speeding car. Things are a bit unfocused, and the difference in life velocity -- whichever of us is moving -- inevitably means a difference in perspective. Or is it that the different perspectives contribute to a different life velocity?

I'm not sure which it is, only that sometimes I feel I'm standing in a lonely field and waving as they go by. We each, after all, have our own lives to live, our own challenges to face, our own paths to walk. Perhaps this is as clear as it ever gets to ANY of the lives we touch, even with our own loved ones. What we see as we pass by is but a gray still photo of the rich and colorful life that they actually live. And I can't help but think that when we finally understand how connected we really are, and that the divine encompasses us both, that will change, that we will finally begin to comprehend the richness of each other's lives and experiences. As it says in Corinthians:

“For now we see through a glass, dimly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” – 1 Corinthians 13:12

I'll be pleased when that day comes. And until then, I'll continue to enjoy what glimpses I catch of the beauty that is you, that is me, that is everyone and everywhere. Because it's breathtaking.

6 comments:

karengberger said...

This photograph is spectacular: haunting, beautiful & intruguing. I love it.

drw@bainbridge.net said...

Thanks! How are you doing in this heat? (Loving it, I bet!)

SUNRISE SISTER said...

The black and white photo is mesmerizing and your words about viewing others' lives and wondering perhaps if they are or are not viewing back is a familiar thought for me. It's easy to distance from friends when their actions or words become so foreign to my own - but the word friend still lingers in my mind's portfolio remembrance of them. thanks for the sharing - I agree that blog sharing is special - often opens thoughts and images that perhaps even our closest friends might never open to us.....

karengberger said...

Yes, I love the sun, but now there's quite a squall brewing in the Pass...are you getting it, too?

drw@bainbridge.net said...

Yup, the wind is DEFINITELY picking up; we're battening down the hatches here... sounds like it'll be a big one.

PS to Sunrise -- What took you to St Andrews House? I've spent a LOT of time there over the years, leading and attending retreats...

xplorer said...

i extremely love this picture,good work