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Icewoods

while driving through indiana on the day after christmas, i was really taken by the striking image of the ice-covered trees glistening in the morning sun against the blue sky.


Racing the Reaper

on friday, i was driving on I-70 through illinois on my way to my college's homecoming and i dozed off behind the wheel. the car veered onto the median, which woke me up and i jerked the wheel much too hard back toward the highway, rocketing the vehicle across both lanes and off the other side at 70 miles an hour. the car sped down a minor slope and then up another slope toward some trees. i must have reacted to the trees by jerking the wheel, because the car did a 180 degree spin on the damp grass, dukes of hazzard style, and finally came to rest right in the middle of three trees (one on each side and one in the back, as if framing a parking spot for me). when it was all said and done, the car was about 60 or 70 feet off the highway, at the top of slope, sticking out of some trees facing the wrong direction.

if i had gone all the way off into the median i almost definitely would have died. if there had been a car in the other lane i probably would have killed them and myself. if it had happened almost anywhere else on that stretch of I-70 i wouldn't have survived. if anything in the whole sequence had happened a fraction of a second later or earlier than it did, i most likely would have been killed. the fact that i'm not dead is fairly amazing. the fact that i don't have so much as a scratch, a bruise, or even a hint of whiplash...that i stepped out of the car in exactly the same physical state as when i stepped into it...is quite literally a miracle.

God's sovereignty is a pretty complex thing that's difficult to wrap your mind around. all i know for sure is that, in ways i can't completely understand, He is behind all things. i believe nothing is insignificant and most things are much more significant than we usually bother to acknowledge. so, i can't help but wonder why friday, at 4:50 p.m., i was so dramatically not killed.

Nightwoods (part 2)

more surreal woodland imagery...




Dark/Light

i am utterly mesmerized by this confusing, conflicted mess of darkness and light. it has me in the way that only truth ever can.

The Fire of God

last night the sky was filled with some of the most spectacular natural imagery my eyes have seen in a long time. i had cooped myself up in the house all day to get a bunch of unpacking done. at about dusk, i was in the basement going through boxes and i started hearing a fairly constant, low rumbling of thunder outside. badly in need of a break, i decided to head out for some storm-watching. the sky overhead was one massive cloud of apocalyptic darkness that stretched endlessly to the east. every few seconds, hazy patches of skittish light would flash from obscured bolts, momentarily interrupting the darkness like camera flashes at a concert when the band starts to play. and at least every minute or so, a bold streak of lightning would cut through the darkness in a violent crack of white light. i had left the house at the right time, because to the west, there was just enough room between the edge of the darkness and the horizon to reveal a bit of pale blue sky, highlighted by burning edges of sunset orange. that peaceful sunset slowly being swallowed up by the storm was such a rare and fascinating juxtaposition.

after driving around for awhile, i parked out near the airport runways where i knew there would be nothing but open sky for me to take it all in. i must have stayed there in my car for nearly an hour just watching the lightning. i had trouble figuring out which direction i should set my gaze, as the "fire of God" was coming down all around the horizon and i didn't want to miss any of the magnificence. there were towering bolts that seemd to come down from the very center of the sky all the way to the horizon line. a couple of times, i witnessed a bolt of lightning begin to race straight across the sky and then splinter off into multiple jagged streaks that looked as if the atmosphere was being torn open above me. sometimes, a single bolt of lightning would almost strobe, flashing in rapid succession and then fading after what seemed like a longer final flash. a few of the especially spectacular bolts literally made me exclaim in awe and i think my jaw remained dropped until i pulled back into the garage. i don't know if God was trying to upstage all of the fireworks from the weekend or what, but if he was, then he definitely succeeded.

Carry That Weight

sometimes i observe a certain beauty in life that weighs heavily on my heart. it isn't a weight that is burdensome or oppressive though. instead, it is the kind of weight that makes you conscious of your own strength as you carry it. and that realization of strength becomes just as overwhelming as the weight itself, knowing that all of it is an incredible and undeserved gift.

Lumens (part 3)

this is just one photo to add to the Lumens series, taken a few days after the previous set. it's not my favorite of the series, but worthy of being part of it, anyway.

Avalon Blues

my love for film comes out even in my photography. i have a fascination with movie theaters and abandoned buildings, so discovering the vacant Avalon Cinema gave me the best of both worlds.


Lumens (part 2)

this is the second set of photos inspired by the idea of light in spite of darkness. i like these a bit more, as they strike me as more dynamic than those in part 1.



The Power of Rhythm

i was down at the u-city loop yesterday evening doing one of my favorite things: hanging out alone, but out among crowds of people. the most intense solitude can often be found when you're surrounded by strangers. sometimes i really love that though, because i get to just be a detached, reflective observer. anyway, there was a drum circle going in the square right by racanelli's pizza. i decided to just sit and absorb the crowd while i let the rhythm pour into my ears. over the course of about an hour i saw quite a smattering of people comprising various shapes, sizes, ages, ethnicities, social statuses, and fashion sensibilities. there were some who were clearly planted there for the entire evening and others who just hung around a few minutes, but they all stopped to check out the drum circle at least for a time. there was no pretense, no segregation, and no order at all really...just a bunch of people loosely, but genuinely sharing this experience. it struck me as kind of a dynamic collage...a random, constantly changing collection of individuals set to the driving, often chaotic drum beats. and it was one of the most beautiful things i've observed in a long time.

Overdub

conversations are so much better in my head, because i can rewind and edit them as much as i want. i play them back again and again until the tape gets worn out and i've ruined something that never even existed in the first place.

Nightwoods (part 1)

these were taken in the same session as the first Lumens photos, deep into a night of insomnia. for me, they suggest imagery from a dream that takes place in the woods.




Lumens (part 1)

these are the first in what i hope is a continuing series of photos with the theme of light in spite of darkness.



Remember?

remember when you were a little kid and you found pleasure in the simplest things and you were allowed to use your imagination and to be afraid and to freely express disappointment and pain and there were no complicated details to keep track of and you only had two responsibilities (eat your vegetables and make your bed) and romantic relationships consisted solely of handwritten notes passed during class with stolen smiles and all your best friends lived down the street and something as arbitrary as a pile of leaves would entertain you for hours and there were only three possible grades on your report card (E for Excellent, S for Satisfactory, and U for Unsatisfactory) and money management meant not losing your lunch money and things like affection and faith came so easy and crying was just as accepted as laughing and you had way more questions than answers and you were so full of potential and it just didn't matter how many "ands" you used because you didn't even know what a run-on sentence was? i remember that.

the funny thing about being a grown up is that i can't really pinpoint the time when i became one. oh sure, there have been discernable turning points, like graduations and relocations and career beginnings but there was never really an instant when i consciously acknowledged my grown-up-itude. i guess i've drifted to the deep end of the pool without even realizing it. apparently i've been perfectly fine here in the deep end for awhile and i know i still will be. but sometimes i just want to put the floaties on and be a shallow-ender again, if only to make sure i don't forget how simple the truth can be.

Sorrow & Love

it is a monday of mixed emotions. is there such a thing as melancholic joy? i think there must be. i feel it strongest when i'm dwelling on the cross. yesterday, during communion, i couldn't keep from shedding tears. although tears are an extreme rarity for me, this isn't the first time they've come when observing communion. they're never tears of sadness or personal anguish. instead, they are tears of overwhelming humility. they are tears of a thankfulness that seems inadequate. they are tears that beg for God to break me. they are tears salted with unending hope and consuming joy. they are the natural outpouring of being so wholly fulfilled in spite of a spirit that deserves nothing more than the emptiness it often chases.

Awkward and Glorious Movement

most of the time, i'm afraid that i take just about everything truly good for granted. but occasionally the weight of God's blessings in my life comes crashing down on me like a tidal wave that pours into my heart and washes away whatever unfounded joylessness was clinging to the ventricle walls. i spent part of last weekend in ohio and was reminded of just how absurdly awesome my family is. within the next couple of weeks i'll get to be with old friends who are some of the best people ever and lately i've been enjoying the development of new friendships as well. and still all of that is merely a byproduct of the blessing of Grace and the relationship that matters most...the one that feeds and inspires all of the others. it's times like this that i'm ashamed of my sometimes extreme cynicism and lack of patience.

Meaning Overheard

"ah memories..........yeah, memories..."

what a sad ending to a conversation which began with his description of the previous night's encounter with a woman. the recounting was coated in uncomfortable metaphors and awkwardly lascivious euphemisms. eventually, the conversation drifted to other women from his past.

"i had a thing for cathy. not that that's saying anything really. but my first wife didn't like it too much."

i wasn't looking at him, but i could hear in his voice the suggestive half-grin that must have dominated his face. his counterpart in the conversation didn't say a whole lot, except to interject occasionally with a masculine giggle of encouragement. two men, at least twenty years removed from high school, whose conversation is echoing somewhere in a gym class locker room.

is this what life boils down to for people? reminiscing about trivialized experiences that managed to break up the unbearable lull of monotony, just waiting for the next distraction to come along so they can ignore its meaning too? what a depressing way to live.



thank God that everything is so meaningful.

War

sometimes my mind is my heart's worst enemy.

The Dance

tonight i had an experience that i have to write about. it was just a conversation but it was so much more than just a conversation. there was flirting and joking and that kind of spontaneous smiling that glows with sincerity and unmentionable meaning. we subconsciously challenged each other to the game of sustained eye contact. our eyes each held secrets that we longed to reveal, but instinctively felt the need to protect. so the game was played and our gaze was held until the moment just before the dam would have broken and our secrets would begin to flow. and this game was the background music for our dancing words. noun, verb, subject, and predicate swirling and twirling to the song of her eyes harmonizing with mine. and of course, there was the feeling. you know the feeling. they say it's in your stomach, but i get it most in the center of my chest. some call it butterflies, but butterflies start out as wormy larva and this is something much more pure. i just think of it as an internal romantic tickling, because being tickled is simultaneously agonizing and somehow utterly enjoyable. it signifies the development of something new; a genuine and rare connection that is just beginning. i wanted to sustain that feeling. i wanted the conversation to go on forever. i wanted the song to keep playing and our words to keep dancing. but all daydreams have to end sometime.

you may feel a little betrayed and disappointed that my experience tonight only existed in my head and i wouldn't blame you if you did. you might even be a little angry with me, but i promise that you hold me in less contempt than i'm holding myself right now. i've locked myself in this daydream theater for much too long. my eyes glaze over watching the two-dimensional images flicker on that big screen while i warm the cushioned seat. life constantly calls to me from outside the doors, but i can barely hear it over the melodramatic symphony that plays on the soundtrack. maybe it's fear that keeps me from venturing out of those doors, maybe it's laziness, or maybe it's just the comfort that comes with staying in one place for so long. most likely it's all three. i know that i can't just kick down the doors and sprint into reality. i have to crack them open and ease my way out slowly. my eyes need time to adjust to the glaring sunlight and my legs need to get loose after sitting for so long. if i'm going to survive the transition, this self-directed frustration must be replaced with patience and motivation that only God can give, because i surely haven't found them within myself.

Sportscenter

i can now cross "make a sportscenter highlight" off of my things-to-do-before-i-die checklist. last night at the blues/avalanche game, my friend and i were in the on-ice bird races during the second intermission and the race ended up being number ten (and number four!) on the sportscenter top ten. i was the parrot. i came in third after the flamingo fell on the second turn and tripped me up (on purpose! no hard feelings though. he figured he was down so he'd help his friend win). so i guess fifteen seconds of my fifteen minutes of fame have been fulfilled with me biting it on the ice in a parrot-riding costume on national television.

Grace Can Wait - Legislate!

i wonder how many resources Christian organizations devote to lobbying for abortion legislation. i wouldn't even be able to come up with a ball park figure, but i'm sure it's a pretty hefty amount. does God see that as good stewardship? don't get me wrong. i firmly believe abortion is immoral by God's standards, but is legislation really how God would have us handle this issue? does this approach change hearts in a positive way, or does it harden hearts even more toward abortion and Christianity in general?

imagine using all of those resources to create programs for counseling, encouragement, and complete support of women with unwanted or unexpected pregnancies. and i'm not talking about some weekly session in which the woman is guilted into not having an abortion. what i'm talking about is comprehensive support that eliminates most of the reasons these women feel they can't keep their baby. of course, something like this would require significant commitment and sacrifice from a lot of people. it's relatively easy to stand on a picket line outside an abortion clinic or write a check supporting the campaign of a pro-life candidate, but where is the Christ-like love in that? i wonder how many Christians, when really put to such a sacrificial task, would show their feelings on abortion to be as strong as they've made them seem. i wonder how many pew-warmers, who base their political votes almost exclusively on this issue, would even serve a couple of hours per week in such a program.

maybe it's just my anti-political bent, but i get pretty baffled with the emphasis many Christians place on legislating Christian morality in general. we're not in theocratic ancient Israel. federal laws do not soften hearts. so much of that political energy could be better spent perpetuating God's grace, which is the ultimate changer of hearts.