Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Staying In The Day

One glance at the sunrise sent me back into the house for my camera. Light came through trees over the summit of Christian Hill. Its rays lit the morning mist. You’re not supposed to shoot into direct sunlight with a digital SLR, but the scene moved me and I did so anyway. Then I recalled psychiatrist M. Scott Peck recounting a conversation with a friend who told him: “Perhaps it’s because I’m an artist, but lately I’ve begun to think that God is light.” Peck answered in a manner he later realized was somewhat pompous. “Light has always been one of the synonyms for God…” he said. But she interrupted him. “No. I’m not sure you understand. I think that perhaps God really is light.”

I’m not an artist, but I’ve been taking pictures for more than forty years and I’ve come to appreciate the way painters perceive and depict light. No one can take pictures without it but I avoid using artificial flash. I much prefer natural light and my camera is with me wherever I go. If it’s not hanging over my shoulder, it’s in my vehicle nearby because I always expect to see something beautiful. If I don’t, I’ve come to understand that it’s because I’m not in a good state of mind. If several days should go by without taking any pictures, I realize I’m in a funk and I need to snap out of it.
Sunrise over Christian Hill

That morning I was in a hurry and I didn’t have time to download the images from the camera onto my computer. I seldom use the camera’s LCD panel because I’d rather see them on a larger screen. I was already showered, shaved, dressed, and ready for whatever the day would bring, and that beautiful sunrise seemed an auspicious beginning. I tried hard to keep the God-and-Light connection in my consciousness as I went about my activities.
Grandson Alex Checks out Fort Preble

My obligations entailed going here and there to pick up tools and supplies, checking up on projects, and finally meeting with someone in the early evening. All done and driving homeward at dusk, I watched the sun as a glowing ball lowering itself slowly through a red/orange haze. Rather than pull over and photograph it, I drove on in hopes that it would still be above the horizon when I got back home. It was, hovering just above Mount Washington as I pulled into my driveway. I parked and aimed my camera at the sunset while standing about twenty yards from where I stood fourteen hours earlier to photograph the sunrise.
Roseann on rocks in Cape Elizabeth, Maine

Then I felt rushed to prepare dinner and didn’t download the images. More days passed during which I felt moved to photograph other beautiful images in my path. I visited my grandchildren in nearby Sweden, Maine. Another day I took them for a boat ride on Kezar Lake. When we brought them home our twin, 16-month-old grandsons were exploring their yard in only their sneakers. Our daughter, Annie, said it was a good way to toilet-train them while the weather was good. Her girls were housebroken early, but I doubted the boys would be. We males are somewhat behind the female of the species that early in life, but we catch up and pass them by after forty sometime.
Grandson Luke

iPhoto, my computer program, organizes my images by “events” - periods of 24 hours duration. By scanning the mouse over each day, images pop up sequentially. Taking as many pictures as I do, I see again facsimiles of what I encounter day-to-day and I feel fortunate. That’s because I am, and it’s not all my own doing. The Creator of all has a hand in that during every part of every day. We’re all better off when we “stay in the day,” so to speak. It does us little good to regret the past or worry about the future, though I often relapse into such a mode.
Luke and Henry at the beach

This time of year is easiest to maintain what is for me a healthy rhythm. There are about sixteen hours between sunrise and sunset, and eight hours of darkness in which to sleep. I like to get up before the sun comes up and in bed again shortly after it goes down.
Sunset over Mount Washington from the back yard

And, it’s easiest to recognize God at dawn and dusk when his light pours over the eastern horizon and colors the western sky. Maybe the saints can maintain awareness of the divine all day, but in spite of my best efforts I often get too busy and forget who is lighting our way in between.


Alex said...

Great pictures, Mr. McLaughlin. Makes me miss home. Though the smog-induced L.A. sunsets are also quite beautiful, they're no match for the mountains and forests of Maine.

Greg Benton said...

Simply outstanding Tom. In every respect.

Unknown said...

"And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh,morning, at the brown brink eastward springs. . ." G.M. Hopkins

A very thoughtful reflection indeed. I am particularly moved by the Mt. Washington photo because I had the experience of God's grandeur following the Ammonoosuc Ravine trail to the blustery summit.

Anonymous said...

WOW! The sad part is that newspaper prints of photos simply can not do justice. Oh well.

Anonymous said...

You are very near heaven, Tom. God bless you and yours, Barb Miller