Thursday, December 1, 2022

Low-Key Advent

"Shine On Us" Song lyrics by Phillips, Craig and Dean

Advent--the season leading up to Christmas--is the darkest time of the year. Low key photography is a technique that emphasizes shadow, so that only a small portion of the image is illuminated. The two make an interesting pair.  This year, I decided to do something about it.

I've always loved the practice of honoring the season of waiting before the celebration of Jesus's coming on Christmas.  It's a season of hope.  The Bible is filled from beginning to end with references to light and darkness, in a way that points forward to Jesus in the Old Testament, and affirms him as the Light of the World in the New Testament. From the perspective of my faith in Jesus, I always want to come to him by setting down my agenda, and looking for him to show me his.  My guiding photography question has always been, "What does the light want to show me?" If you've known me for long, you know there's a parallel to a spiritual question that I'm always asking, "What does the Light--Jesus--want to show me?"

I took the risk of inviting people to join a photography project with me for Advent--to look for light in the darkness.  It's a step of faith, because I have to trust that there's going to be some light.  I have to believe that those who open themselves to looking will find it.  And as I look around my home (where I spend the most time in the winter), I have to admit that I'm prone to thinking the lights are pretty predictable, that I'm not likely to discover anything new.  I'll have to let it come to me.  But I've been doing this long enough that I've found it will.

Faith is like that.  Jesus taught us to pray, "Give us this day our daily bread."  Hope isn't bringing our agenda to him and asking him to give us what we want (and believing he will/should if we say it right, do it right, get it right).  Hope is believing that somehow, today, he will show up and be with us, and that it will make a difference.

A couple of comments I've gotten from participants in the first two days:

"This was not the picture I intended.  I turned off the lights and planned to take one of my tree, but this is the pattern my tree makes on my ceiling and I was just mesmerized by it."

(In response to my comment about his very cool abstract photo) "I'm just looking for the light. It's been hard to find lately, metaphorically."

Amen.  Come Lord Jesus.  Show us what you're up to in the world.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

A Case of Stolen Identity?

Yesterday a few dear people alerted me that they'd received messages on Instagram and Facebook from an account with someone pretending to be me.  It's a story that has probably happened to most of us on social media by now.

Whoever made that account did not steal my identity.  There will only ever be one me in the world.  I am fully intact.

The copycat didn't figure out my password or compromise my account--they just took a screenshot of my profile picture, started a new account with my name, and started messaging random friends/followers of mine, potentially with the use of a bot, I suppose. Anyone who knows me most likely ignored the messages, because IG and Facebook told them it was someone who wasn't their friend--and also because the messages, though friendly, weren't really characteristic of me. When people do this, it's a nuisance, but it doesn't have to be a threat. We can recognize it for what it is, report or delete, and carry on.

For me the fake accounts are a relatively benign pitfall of social media, compared to the promotion of fear, division, blame and hatred that have actually taken something precious from us--by making us forget that there is an abundance of beauty and hope in the world, so much that we can learn from each other and appreciate about each other, and that differences don't have to make enemies. 

I wholeheartedly applaud the people who have gotten fed up and left social media. But here I still am, for better or worse, hoping to help myself and others remember all the gifts we have. In our own little corners of the world, we can spread hope and gratitude.  We can live in our true, God-given identity.

As my husband would say, "Don't let them steal your joy."