Sunday, 2 August 2009

Beyond immediate pretense...

"The hunger, and the longing, everyone of us knows inside,
Could be the bridge between us".
Amy Grant - Turn this world around.

As a photographer, the tools of my trade are often those elements which might be deemed 'beautiful' - light and shade, texture and tone, form and posture, but just having certain elements around you does not equate to actually making a good image - they certainly help, but you have to break some eggs to make a good omelet!

I recall listening to the photographer Jock Sturges recently, and how he was commissioned to work with a very famous model on a fashion shoot, which he dutifully covered, but there was no 'connection' between himself and the person in the images, and because of that, he would never use the work himself and viewed the event as meaningless.

We often work at a pretty superficial level in secular society. The goal much of the time is to fulfill immediate wants and needs without delving deeper into why or what such attitudes (living for now) really say about us - what are we actually running away from, and why this addiction to the immediate instead of deeper pursuits?

There is clearly a difference in our relationship to others and to life in general when we  do not only interact with them in a merely transitory fashion, but begin to appreciate, to value them, for who or what they really are - that the beauty of a personality, of the world around us, is an astonishing, intricate and complex reality, that can consume our own selves in the wonder of a more richer and satisfying contemplation, making us truly wealthier people.

The art of photography has really brought home to me the fact that the person before me is not just an object - a 'body' to photograph and then ignore. The joy of this craft is to discover the treasure of the person which embodies the physical 'frame', and to seek to bring out the far weightier beauty of who they are in what is captured in the images.
It is what is within that animates and 'clothes' the outward grace of our bodies, and if there is no one at home, then you will only capture dull photos, no matter how long you photo shop them!

In the early chapters of Genesis, there is a clear illustration of the difference between the genuinely enriching and the grotesquely, inherently contrived.

When Adam looks upon Eve for the first time, he comprehends a person who is totally unique and yet entirely compatible with his own existence. The response is one of immediate worship, for he recognizes the profound richness and significance of this woman, and the desire within him is to truly know her, in a profoundly deep and rich fashion.
Contrast this to the image not much further along, where these two same people are seeking to run from such a reality, to hide and cover themselves from each other, to act in an entirely pretentious and superficial fashion in response to the nature of their crime - the demeaning of all which God had so graciously given them.

We do a great violence to ourselves, to our existence, when we exist at the level of the trite and the supposedly irrelevant. It stains our broken souls with a stupor to dull our deeper needs - a malady that will drown a much deeper need if unchecked.

There have been countless times in the last few years when I have seen people sit in front of a camera and gain a fresh awareness or confidence regarding some aspect of themselves.
Sadly, there have also been occasions when the person has been 'dead' - they have no desire, no hunger to do anything beyond what is immediate.

Jesus Christ holds a similar mirror before us. He wants us to see the pain of our crippled lives, to really understand our condition, but to also see the wonder of our lives when they are set free by God's care, mercy and grace, to escape the superficial and really to become human.

The 'joy ride' of the noisy rush to ignore our reality can only last so long.
Like the best image, it will fade into dust,
but life can be about a richness, a reality, that will last forever.

Earnestly desire, says Jesus, those things,
and life will certainly take on a value beyond the immediate.


Steve said...

A a beautifully written reminder of the wonderful life that God has given us and of His desire that we take this gift and use it for the good and joy for which it was intended.

Yes, we are dulled by sin to a degree which mars the finish of life itself. But if we will open our eyes and take hold of this precious gift and view it in the light of God's eternal and gracious being, we might realize a much more fullfilling life and help others towards a new life, as well.

Spot on, Howard! Thank you!

Brigitte said...

Sometimes I clean people's teeth. Sometimes I don't want to launch into another session on why and how to floss, etc. But it's my work.

Sometimes, I have boys in the chair, who are wards of the state. They come from a local boy's ranch. Then I take it as a mission. If I can care enough to make a connection maybe they will care enough to engage in some self-care, which may help them in a variety of ways.

I find when I pray for my patients, I can get a gleam in my eye and a softness in my tone that can draw a response. They will look at me and tell me something and maybe they know that I care about them; it's not just the brushing and flossing routine.