My good friend, Erica, is a great writer. She is also a fabulous photographer. A woman of many talents, you could say. She is the incredible mother of 5 and a wonderful wife to her husband. I actually “met” Erica through her writing. We had many mutual friends and I read a few of her posts on Instagram and got brave enough to leave a comment one time. I introduced myself and told her how much I loved her writing. We now live 5 minutes away from each other, our kids go to school together and we adore their sweet family. They are the definition of adventurous and I love learning from them.
Erica has always had a knack for photography and I often ask her questions about how to use my “nice camera” all the time. Her number one tip and piece of advice for me has always been, “Use light.” The following words are hers, and I know you will come to love her as much as I do.
“As a photographer, I am a follower of light. More than the camera, the lens, the location, or even the subject, light is what defines a photograph. Beautiful light is worthy of photographing on its own. It highlights emotion, it adds depth and dimension, it is the one thing that can take a photograph from unremarkable to moving. And a good photographer – the kind I aspire to be – can make use of available light to create something worthwhile in almost any kind of situation. It’s all about seeing the light, and letting it guide your photograph.
I’ve thought a lot about that. Jesus Christ referred to himself as the light of the world. He has said “I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.” (John 12:46) I’ve spent numerous Sunday School lessons discussing it and I’m sure you have thought about it too. But it wasn’t until I immersed myself in observing and following the physical light in my life as a photographer that I began to feel more deeply the ways that the Light of Christ is ever impacting my life as well. As an exercise for a photography class we were asked to spend a week taking photographs of the light – no human subjects allowed – just observe the way the light moves through our home and our lives during the day and photograph any of those times we found beautiful or moving. And so I did – and I began to see the way the light lit up the dust flecks floating in the air as it came through the window. And I noticed that the light reflecting off my mirror highlighted the tiny little smudgy fingerprints all over it; and it made me smile. And the light coming through the blinds in my bedroom created a pattern on my wall over my basket of unfolded laundry.
Observing the light didn’t change anything about my life, really. The dishes were still in the sink, I was still just as tired when my alarm went off in the morning, I still have to clean up too many messes and change too many diapers. But seeing the beauty of it made it all less overwhelming and waking up to the sun coming through the window in the morning felt like more of a gift, no matter how tired I was. And that’s what the light of Christ does in our life. Christ rarely changes our circumstances dramatically. We are meant to experience challenges. But when we allow ourselves to observe the light in our lives, we will find that Christ is ever present. He is there, highlighting the beauty that is often lost amid the mundane. He is the light that makes everything worthy of notice and of love – including ourselves. President Dieter Uchtdorf taught “There may be some among you who feel darkness encroaching upon you. You may feel burdened by worry, fear, or doubt. To you and to all of us, I repeat a wonderful and certain truth: God’s light is real. It is available to all! It gives life to all things. It has the power to soften the sting of the deepest wound. It can be a healing balm for the loneliness and sickness of our souls. In the furrows of despair, it can plant the seeds of a brighter hope. It can enlighten the deepest valleys of sorrow. It can illuminate the path before us and lead us through the darkest night into the promise of a new dawn.” But it takes faith and effort to notice it, to be still as we watch that light move across our lives. So take some time this week to observe the light in your life – notice the way it comes through your windows, the way it creates patterns on the ground as it is filtered through the trees, the way it looks cool in morning as it reflects on the dew and warm in the evening as it bursts through the trees. Then observe the way Christ is lighting up your life – the time that you were able to find joy in your kids’ giggles instead of annoyance at their messes, the time that you felt a quiet answer to your prayer, the kind words from a friend that made a hard day better.
We celebrate Christmas in conjunction with the winter solstice – the darkest days of the year. And that has always been a beautiful symbol for me – the light that comes in the darkest of times. In the summer we take light for granted – it floods our homes and our lives with its warmth. We start to hide from it in the shade and in our air conditioned homes. But in the winter light is soft and warm. It filters through the trees and through our windows – casting long shadows across the ground. Light is always most beautiful in its intersection with shadows. And we appreciate the Light of Christ most often when it illuminates our lives in our times of darkness. As we recognize the joy that Christ’s light brings to us, let us be the ones who take that light to those in the shadows, who reach out with the kind of unapologetic love that He shows us as he brightens our dark corners. Let us recognize that the light of Christ makes everyone and everything worthy of notice and love – and we can be the ones that bring that light. Let us be the instruments that both recognize and share the light of Christ with the world. Then the prophecy of Isaiah will be fulfilled when he said “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.” (Isaiah 9:2)”
Thank you, Erica, for sharing your light!
May we all take time this week to see and fully recognize the light in our lives. As we do this, especially at the beginning of this new year, I know the promise above will unfold for each of us- that Christ will “illuminate the path before us and lead us through the darkest night into the promise of a new dawn.”
What are you hoping to “see” this year as you look for and notice the light?