3.03.2006

the wind

I brought my digital camera along with me on my retreat, and yesterday I tried to take a picture of the wind.

At first, I tried to capture the wind shifting the branches of the tall evergreen trees on the monastery grounds. The trouble being that from the picture, you wouldn’t know that the branches had changed position at all. You’d need a moving picture or a series of stills.

Next I tried to take a picture of a leaf travelling through the air by the force of the wind. But I wasn’t quick enough.
Then it hit me … how to take a picture of the wind. I walked into town and took a photo of the flags flying above City Hall. Aha! I captured the wind on film, or at least digital medium. But did I?

flag

I then walked down the street and saw a ribbon tied to a fence, blowing in the wind. I took its picture … and for good measure I captured its shadow as well. Which is when it hit me …


wind3 wind2


I didn’t take a picture of the wind at all. At best, I managed to capture a visual image of what happens in our material world as a result of the wind. The wind blows, and the flag and ribbon flutter and fly, as do their shadows. We cannot see the wind, we can only see its effects and its shadow. Sometimes. Other times we merely hear its whistle. Or feel its soft gentle breeze on our cheeks. Kind of like God, only unlike the wind, God is always there. We just aren’t always cognizant or appreciative of that fact.

2 comments:

Steph said...

On my application to the monastery, one of the questions was "What is your image of God" ... I just enclosed one of my photos with a similar kind of explanation.

Great minds think alike, eh?

Lorem ipsum said...

In the Art Institute of Chicago is a painting by Magritte of a pipe. The caption: Ceci n'est pas une pipe, or This is not a pipe. Which kind of captures your point - it's not a physical pipe, but a representation of one. We do not see the wind (even if it's polluted), but its effects. Nor color, but absence of wavelengths.

I like the idea of not seeing God but God's manifestation.