The Perfect Moment

2007 February 28

sosarem-moments.jpg
‘Moments’ by Sosarem

Coffee Table Book Notebook Elisabeth

24 February – The pastoral text of Fr Reuter is this: When a medical student opens his book every night and studies, he is serving God, preparing himself to take care of God’s children. (I’m actually writing this today, 28 February – I have been busy lately, editing a book. You might say: ‘A book, a book, The Kingdom for a book!’ and you may not be so wrong.)

Today, I have been inspired. This image by Sosarem (Elisabeth Charmley) is a charm, and a very, very special one. I can’t wait to tell you about it.

When I first saw it, by way of comment, I wrote this on her Flickr page:

I like the composition: the left hand leads to the book & notebook to the right hand to the coffee to the notebook and to the face that leads me (back) to the important point: The subject is studying.

Now, as I look at the photograph again, I realize that my comment is entirely inadequate, in fact I missed the point entirely.

Let me explain. Underneath the image, Elisabeth had written:

Moments like this? No! Moments about a point, on an axis or at any point you choose. Those types of moments!

Now I realize it: The subject is not studying – the subject is the photograph itself!

It’s the composition – it’s perfect. Elisabeth Charmly, you are charmed: You have captured The Perfect Moment!

In moments like this, I exult. Every Flickr fan should too.

This is a still photograph that has many movements. Easily, I can see 4; and we can follow them using 4 virtual visual portals:

(1st eye movement)
Lamp -> Coffee Mug -> Laptop -> Calendar -> Elisabeth -> Book/Notebook -> Table -> Lamp

The lamp brings the eye to the coffee mug which brings the eye to the laptop which brings the eye to the calendar which brings the eye to Elisabeth – and to what the girl is doing: studying. And back to the lamp.

(2nd eye movement)
Table -> Lamp -> Coffee Mug -> Laptop -> Calendar -> Elisabeth -> Book/Notebook -> Table

If you like, you begin with the table and ignore the lamp, being attracted to the open book which points to the coffee mug which points to the laptop which points to the calendar which points to Elisabeth which points to what she’s doing – you get the point.

(3rd eye movement)
Elisabeth -> Book/Notebook -> Lamp -> Coffee Mug -> Laptop -> Calendar-> Elisabeth

You have eyes on the girl. Very well. The tilt of her head tells you she’s concentrating not on who may be looking but at what she’s doing, which is studying. The right hand leads you to the ballpen which leads you to the open book which leads you to the lamp which leads you to the calendar which leads you to the laptop which leads you to the coffee mug which leads you back to the hand that writes, and having writ, moves on. Whose hand is it? The girl.

(4th eye movement)
Calendar -> Laptop -> Coffee Mug -> Book/Notebook -> Elisabeth -> Book/Notebook -> Table -> Lamp -> Calendar

With this 4th movement, you should realize by now that whenever your eye reaches Elisabeth’s head, she always brings you back to what moves her: to study.

Now, you may ask: Which of those 4 movements is best? My answer is: All of them. You can see The Perfect Movement in each of them. In fact you may be able to discover a few more. Here’s my paraphrase of Elisabeth to guide you in your visual exploration of photographic beauty approaching the sensual:

Movements like this? No! Movements about a point, on an axis or at any point you choose. Those types of movements!

It’s the composition, ‘the arrangement of artistic parts so as to make a unified whole’ (American Heritage Dictionary). Even the calendar is into the composition, not to mention the white wall and the soft lighting. It looks like a calendar; I assume it’s a calendar. Does it tell you the day? No. Why not? Because it doesn’t matter, that’s why! It’s only the moment that matters, dullhead. The Perfect Moment.


Mother & Child

2007 February 28

marjanhols-mother-and-baby.jpg
‘Mother And Baby’ by Marjanhols

Mother And God

23 February – This is the pastoral text of Fr Reuter: When a mother nurses her baby at her breast, in that baby she is loving and serving God, giving herself to God. I never looked at it that way. I always looked at my wife nursing the baby as giving herself to the baby, our baby, but not more than that. Marjanhols’ image is a powerful expression of a very graphic event: a baby slowly sucking milk from the mother’s milk while they are both looking at each other, the mother with love, the child with wonder, I imagine.

Where does God enter the picture? My answer is this: Before, During and After. Whatever the before, whatever the during, whatever the after. We are all God’s creations, including the ‘self-made’ humans. In whatever way you serve a creature, that is exactly the way you serve the creator. When you dishonor the creature. you dishonor the creator. It cannot but be that way. You cannot take the creator away from the creature. When you dishonor a child, you dishonor the mother, not to mention the father, not to mention the whole family, not to mention God.


Father & Daughter

2007 February 26

foreversouls-1st-day-of-school.jpg
‘1st Day Of School’ by ForeverSouls

Father & Child

22 February – This is the pastoral text of Fr Reuter: When a father works to send his children through school, his work is consecrated to God. God is of course far from the mind of the father whose daughter is having problems going to school the first time, or the next time.

The image captures a scene that is common to parents with school-able children. The scene is common, the shot is not. I like the focus on the face of the daughter and the holding of hands between father and child. It inspires me and I hereby christen this photograph Father & Child.

We have countless Mother & Child photos but this is the first Father & Child image for me. My congratulations to the husband & wife team of ForeverSouls (Tree & J Hensdill), in love with photography (one), cameras (four), in love with their children (four), in love with each other (fore!).


With All Your Heart

2007 February 21

 

agnieszka-mind.jpg
‘Mind’ by Agnieszka

With All Your Mind

20 February – The pastoral text of Fr Reuter is this: The first commandment is ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, with all your strength.’ How do you do that? By loving people!

I have a problem with that. What does it mean, ‘with all your mind?’ The image by Agnieszka is titled simply ‘Mind,’ and I note that the image is simply black & white, and I see a cup labeled ‘Mind’ and a stare into nothingness. Is the cup empty? Is the mind blank? Is the nothingness nothingness? In other words, what is mind? Is mind an emptiness?

You shall love the Lord your God with all your mind. How do I do that? First, I shall liken the mind to the blank stare – it is empty and yet it is not. I know, because that’s how I think. I cannot think otherwise – when I look blankly into space, that is the only time I can think; that is the only time I can experience my mind.

Inspired by Agnieszka, I will now liken the mind to an empty cup that is not really empty. And that is the beauty of the mind – what you can see in the empty cup, what you can see in the empty stare is richness if you are able to think creatively. Man’s mind was designed by God to think creatively, as God’s mind is.

And therefore, to love God with all you mind is to think of God as something and nothing, and to give both the benefit of the doubt. And therefore, to love people is to see their emptiness and their fullness. That I believe is how to be able to love people with all your mind. And before you can see other people’s emptiness and fullness? First you have to be able to see yours.


Faith Is Not Enough!

2007 February 19

jude-daisy-a-day.jpg

‘Daisy A Day’ by Jude

The Greatest Love Of All

15 February – This is the pastoral text of Fr Reuter:

There are in the end three things that last: faith, hope, and love; and the greatest of these is love. This line is from the New Testament; it is beautiful, uplifting, sublime.

As I read this, I realize I have never really understood what this means: ‘… and the greatest of these is love.’ Why is not faith the greatest? That would be faith in God, the almighty, a force greater than all men’s minds can fathom. Which reminds me of the Protestant dogma: Sola fide, or faith alone. Faith alone will save your soul, not good works. Faith works; works do not work for your salvation from damnation. This verse from the Bible is saying, no, faith is not enough.

I ask now: If not faith, why is not hope the greatest? It is said that all the poor have is hope, with or without faith. Remember, there are millions of poor; they must be right in putting their faith in hope, not in faith itself. But no, according to that Biblical verse.

Ah, love! Love is the greatest because if you have love, you automatically have faith and hope. What I mean by love is that which defies everything: Love your enemy. Do good to those who do bad to you. The ultimate love. Make love, not war. What is love if it is not the ultimate? If your love is not like that, it cannot be divine.

Biology aside and analogy beside, to me, Jude’s flower power of a photo captures what I think is the greatest love of all: The greatest love emanates from a center and radiates outward in all directions, touching all, touching everyone. It is not superficial; it is no simply linear: it has depth, width, breadth.

The greatest love shows itself to the sinners and the saints. Its rays fall on the good and the bad; it doesn’t offer itself more on one and less on the other – it offers as much. The greatest love exults on itself, exults on the loved one, the loved ones. The greatest love is as warm as the morning sun, as vibrant as the light at night. You know it’s alive.


Within Reach

2007 February 19

eden-photography-gotcha.jpg

‘Gotcha!’ by Eden Photography

Out Of Reach

14 February – The pastoral text of Fr Reuter is this: Love does not rejoice in what is wrong, but rejoices with the truth. There is no limit to love’s forbearance, to its trust, its hope, its power to endure.

Love will not do what it knows is wrong; love will do what it knows is right. For instance, it will restrain itself in doing what may be wrong. It will always trust the other. It will always have high hopes. Love will remain whatever happens.

Again, the lines are from St Paul’s letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 13), the Love Letter of all Times. Like love, it will endure. Love like St Paul describes it is something to be desired, to be aspired for, to be coveted. While we may not achieve such an ideal love, I believe that it is in the trying that we will be richly rewarded. In other words, in every little triumph that we make towards the ideal love, that itself is a rich reward.

When I look at EP’s image, I think, ‘I got it!’ I also think, ‘I didn’t get it!’ Sometimes you do, sometimes you don’t. Love is not as simple as reaching for apples. The apples may be for somebody else after all. She may be the apple of your eye, but she may also be the apple of somebody’s eye.

In fact, love is more than just your apples or my apples. Love is also innocence, the absence of malice, the hopeful gaze, the waiting tongue. Love is the child, the parents, the family, the neighbors. Love is as small as you think it is; it is also as big as you think it is, even bigger.


The Night Is Yours

2007 February 19

sutanto-vancouver-at-night.jpg

‘Vancouver At Night’ by Sutanto

To Take Or Not To Take

13 February – The pastoral text of Fr Reuter is this: Love is never rude. It is not self-seeking. It is not prone to anger. Neither does it brood over injuries. This is real love, ideal love. As human beings, can we have real love, can we achieve ideal love? I believe we could. Because it was to the Corinthians, human beings, whom St Paul was writing those words.

There are 4 sides of love there that St Paul enumerates. Love is never bad-mannered; it is always polite. Love is never selfish; it always thinks of the other. Love is never given to anger; it avoids getting mad at little things. Love never reminisces and remembers hurts; it forgives and forgets.

St Paul describes a love that is extremely difficult to have, to possess, to reach. Yet, we all need an ideal as a measure of what we have gone so far, or so near. Ideals are guiding stars that will not lead us astray even in dark and lonely nights. For we will surely have dark and lonely nights, even lonely days. If we have such love, it will sustain us.

I love this image by Sutanto because it is really a double image, with one image clear and the other image unclear. No matter that I am thousands of miles away from Vancouver. That is how life is, how love is. Is life clear? Is life unclear? It is both. You have to have faith. You take both sides. Take it, not leave it. Soak in the colors of life.