Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Morning Thanks--Yesterday's Sabbath

In all fairness, my father didn't understand--and for the most part, neither did I. 

When I told him, years ago, that I wanted to be a photographer, the news made little sense to him because he didn't--let's just see he couldn't--see the profession outside of his own experience. A photographer to him was someone who took pictures of school kids. Dad was a conventional Calvinist; taking school pics wasn't really what he judged a "Kingdom calling," upper-case K. It didn't really count for the Lord, like, well, the ministry, or missions, or standing up in front of a room and teaching those kids, not just snapping their pics. 

But he was no Nazi. He wouldn't have said I couldn't be a photographer. He was a wise and gentle man, and I knew well enough what he thought when his eyes didn't brighten. 

But I was no wise man either. I didn't understand. Photography held a kind of magic for me. To catch a moment in time was to stop the world, to give some act, some face, some landscape a store of foreverness. Photography, like nothing else I knew or felt at the time, stopped time and made it eternal. 

It doesn't. In what closet or hard drive might we find your favorite pictures? Nothing gold can stay. Nothing black-and-white either. Or sepia-toned.

Or silver for that matter. 

All the elements were right yesterday, a perfect Sabbath morning. New heavy snow like no first snow I remembered ivoried absolutely everything. When the storm left, the cold sneaked in from the northwest and swept over the river, over water unseasonably warm, sending up steam that settled in and over a wonderland.

On Saturday, I'd gone out with my camera for a couple hours and came back home totally skunked. It was beautiful out--gorgeous fields of fresh snow. But I just couldn't see. On Sunday, glory walked up into our backyard. I took a car up the road, but if we wouldn't have gone to church I could have walked to this gallery.

I don't regret a lifetime of teaching, don't hold a grudge against my father's furrowed brow when I told him I thought I wanted to be a photographer. My dad didn't understand.

But then, neither did I. A whole lifetime later I've come to realize, joyfully, that photography, for me at least, isn't about earning a living. It's all about vision, it's really about learning to see. That's the blessing. Sometimes even barbed wire can seem elect.

Sometimes there's glimpses of the new heavens and new earth. You just have to look.

For yesterday's Sabbath in our backyard, I offer morning thanks.


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