The digital world of photography has created a space for every photograph to have its own name. This overwhelms me at times, like when I’m uploading a batch of fall photos to flickr as there isn’t always an apt name for each one. Sometimes the image captures all you were trying to say. So, often, I leave the names blank rather than diminishing them with “img2204″ or “red tree 11.” But sometimes, there is a title, a name, a written story that comes to claim the image and make of it something deeper, hint at something even subtler, point at its quiddity.
The photograph above was claimed by TS Eliot’s line in Choruses From the Rock:
Let me show you the work of the humble. Listen.”
Even two years later, I still feel that pause of heart when I see this photo and its title.
When I stumbled on this flower, I was hiking with my brother Ben in Colorado. Amid the dim-chaos of trying to convince my Kansas lungs they were not going to die, and my height-fearing mind that I was not going to plummet to destruction at any given moment, plus my love of trees that kept my eyes looking up at squiggly trunks and sunlight striking bark, somehow I saw this one tiny flower (look at the blades of grass nearby — it’s tiny). And when I did, I listened. Perhaps my inadequacies — having to look down to ensure my footing, pausing to catch my breath — even helped me to see it, to not miss the other fragile being in these mountainy woods.
Yesterday, my friend Isaac preached about the importance of wonder and how often as we ‘grow up,’ we lose this ability. As I sat listening, I began to feel like a little kid who happily hears herself being described — That’s me! That’s me! I do that! I more often recognise my lack or failing, but this time I was able to see how that wonder and awareness inhabits me and lives unshackled even at thirty-two. Thinking through my photography exhibits — along the way, in the midst, it all depends – each of these is about seeing things that could be overlooked, could be thought mundane, and yet by capturing them and framing them, sharing their beauty and pointing to wonder. Much of my poetry similarly focuses on small moments and details whose significance lies in being noticed.
A few years ago, I bought this website for my photography. I actually don’t remember how I came up with the name, but again, everyday poetry speaks to the wonder of the mundane, and to the way I see the world.
I often struggle with the questions of: Does this even matter? What’s the point of writing more words or taking pictures of autumn again this year? But if something is good, why not appreciate it again and again and again? Every year, God brings the seasons back again. Every day, the sun rises and sets. Every time I breathe out, God supplies air for me to breathe in, yet again. So, why not take pictures again this year? Why not try to figure out just what words could describe that tree against that sky? Why not see if that picture has a title waiting to claim it?
This stopped me in my tracks.
Like a song for my eyes.