Friday Five: Light

Julie over at RevGals asks for this Friday Five, we fill the Web with light, in photographs, poetry, scripture, or whatever else brings light to a troubled world.

Ever a shutterbug, I’ve recently taken up actually learning photography, which is all about light: the interplay of light and shadow; compensating for the lack of it; mitigating too much of it; chasing the best, most beautiful light of early morning or late afternoon. With a camera, I’m learning to bend light to my will, present in a permanent record something I saw or felt, and if I fail I can always Photoshop it until it does. It’s a point of pride to resist the temptation of ‘shopping much.

Light is a tricky thing. Not for nothin’ do we have songs and poems that talk of being blinded by the light. Plato’s Cave is the example we use to explain how some knowledge must be attained portion by portion, because the totality would be too much all at once. We say that information or explanations for things “dawn” upon us, the knowledge comes once illuminated, often when we choose to see it. I guess that’s Free Will at work as our own internal light switch.

Here is a photograph taken just after sunrise, when colors are true and pure, and the light reminds me of when we first fall in love with someone, how the object of our affection is perfect and beautiful and without flaw. Maybe this was the light on that first day, when God sat back and looked at His creation and it was Good. The world was new and all things were possible. This is our faith when it’s newly discovered.

gazebo, bench, ampitheater 3
Just after sunrise, Irmo Park, Irmo, SC

Growing up in Southern California, I always thought of the mid-afternoon light as hot, hard, and flat. In photographic terms it is. It washes out colors, casts harsh shadows, and makes humans squint. This is the light of the workaday life, when work and kids and mortgages makes one squint with worry and toss and turn through sleepless nights, and where the shadows seem, as Melisandre would say, “dark and full of Terrors”. Which isn’t to say there isn’t beauty to be found, though it is incumbent upon one to seek out the shaded areas of an active prayer life, people in whom one can seek restoration and succor. This is our faith when we realize it takes work on our part to live it.

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Mid-day at the Farmer’s Market on Lady Street, Columbia, SC

Sunset light is lavishly beautiful, rich and full, reminding me of adults in later life – I guess this is why it is sometimes said old folks are in the “sunset years”, being full of Life, Experience, and Knowledge. It reminds me of when that new, fresh falling-in-love feeling deepens into a mature love, the kind when you wake up next to your beloved snoring soundly next to you, and you thank God for your good fortune and say a grateful prayer. This is our faith when it is mature, when we have acquired the good habits and done the work, and the places where God carried us through are now bathed in light and easily seen.

Sunset 51116
Sunset over Lake Murray

We say some people light up a room or have mega-watt smiles, and Jesus was the Light of the World (which we lost no time in extinguishing, at least the earthly light). We might be blinded by the light, but though it has always struck me as a song about troubled love, I find myself thinking of U2’s Ultraviolet – there are things in the light we can’t see, and we need someone to light our path. Or maybe… hard as it might be, maybe we are supposed to be the light, and it is up to us to light the path forward. This is how we live the faith and make sense of a dark world.


Ultraviolet by U2 (From Achtung, Baby)

Sometimes I feel like I don’t know
Sometimes I feel like checkin’ out
I want to get it wrong
Can’t always be strong
And love it won’t be long

Oh sugar, don’t you cry
Oh child, wipe the tears from your eyes
You know I need you to be strong
And the day is as dark as the night is long
Feel like trash, you make me feel clean
I’m in the black, can’t see or be seen

Baby, baby, baby, light my way
Alright now
Baby, baby, baby, light my way

You bury your treasure
Where it can’t be found
But your love is like a secret
That’s been passed around
There is a silence that comes to a house
Where no one can sleep
I guess it’s the price of love
I know it’s not cheap

Oh, come on
Baby, baby, baby, light my way
Oh, come on!
Baby, baby, baby, light my way

Oh, ultraviolet (ooh)
Ultraviolet (ooh)
Ultraviolet (ooh)

Baby, baby, baby, light my way

I remember
When we could sleep on stones
Now we lie together
In whispers and moans
When I was all messed up
And I had opera in my head
Your love was a light bulb
Hanging over my bed

Baby, baby, baby, light my way
Oh, come on,
Baby, baby, baby, light my way

Oh, ultraviolet

Baby, baby, baby
Baby, baby, baby
Baby, baby, baby, light my way

Baby, baby, baby
Baby, baby, baby
Baby, baby, baby, light my way

Baby, baby, baby
Baby, baby, baby, light my way

Baby, baby, baby, light my way


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