“If your eye is generous, your whole being is full of light!” Jesus
This little stretch of snowfence protects a corner in an access road for a group houses on our local beach, where the wind across the marsh might drift the snow across the road. As you can tell from its condition, it has stood there at least since I moved here over 20 years ago, and I can’t honestly remember it looking any better then. This is after about a foot, maybe 8 inches right along the coast, within the sound of the surf, of fresh blowing snow. We expect another 12-24 inches in next 24 hours, a real nor-easter. The snowfence does its job, more or less. There is, every nor-easter, a sizable drift in front of it. Because, of course, that is the way it works. It is not so much a snowfence as wind fence. By slowing the passing wind, it causes the snow to drop out on the downwind side. In this next storm I expect the snow will backfill to cover all but the tips of the slats. It does not prevent drifts so much as to encourage them to form somewhere short of the road.
I like the line and curve of it against the snow, and what the wind does with the surface of the drift…the carving, the light and shadow, and in this shot, the brooding bank of cloud and the touch of blue sky above.
As I started to post this image for yesterday’s Pic for Today, just because I like the beauty of it, the whole concept of erecting a snow fence to fence out the snow…or a wind fence to tame the wind…stuck me as having a spiritual dimension, and I decided to save it for the Generous Eye today.
Now that I reflect on it a bit more, I not sure what to do with it. The wind, in the new testament, is, very often, the spirit. They are the same word in the language Jesus most likely spoke, and, if I remember right, in Hebrew as well. Jesus, speaking to an honest and devout Jew come to inquire of him, said “No one can see the Kingdom of God who is not born again.” When the questioner questioned the possibility of anyone being born twice, Jesus went to to say, “Turely I tell you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God unless he is born of the wind (spirit). You must be born of water and the wind. Flesh is born of flesh, but wind is born of wind.” (Or flesh is born of flesh, but the spirit is born of spirit.) “Don’t be surprised that I said you must be born again. The wind blow
s where it will. You hear the sound of its passing, but you do not know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with anyone born of the wind…born of the spirit.” That, of course, only confused the questioner more. And that, of course, was Jesus’s point. He was saying that something has to happen to you, before you can see God’s Kingdom…before you can see God at work in the world and in eternity. Something has to change in you. I am pretty sure he was also paying the questioner, who had already admitted that he saw God and God’s presence in the things Jesus was doing and saying, a compliment. He was telling this honest, devout Jew, that if he saw God in what Jesus was going, he was already born again…born of the wind, born of the spirit…whether he knew it or not. But that is straying pretty far from snowfences. Or is it?
My first thought was about the futility of trying to fence out the snow, or the wind. At the very most, all we do is slow the wind and reposition the snow. It is equally impossible of course to fence out, or to fence in, the spirit. It is an odd thought, but building a church, or establishing a doctrine (building a fence) might slow the spirit enough so you get a drift on the down wind side, a congregation or a denomination, but it does not stop the spirit from blowing where it will. And I am not at all sure I want to be part of the drift. If I am going to be snow in this metaphor, I want to be the snow still blowing in the wind…I want to part of the movement, the force, the power and unknowable purpose of the spirit. And maybe Jesus was telling his devout Jew that too…not to settle in the drift, behind the snowfence, but to get up into the wind again and get moving. The Kingdom of God is not a place, it is a movement like the wind…a way of being suspended…lifted out of yourself and part of the great wind that is God acting in love in the world. You have to be born of the wind, born on the wind (I don’t know if Jesus had that pun to play with in his language, but we do in ours 🙂 Our mother’s carried us in a womb of flesh…the spirit carries us on the wind of loving creation. Born of and in the flesh and born of and on the spirit.
So yes, when I look at this snowfence I see beauty, but I am also amused. A snowfence? As though anyone could fence in the snow. A wind fence, as though anyone could fence in the wind. And who are you in this metaphor? I know who I want to be. I want to be God’s creative love in action. I want to be a particle of snow, a paricle of water, a particle of flesh, born on the mighty breath of God in this world and eternity. Happy Sunday!
Heavy, wet, clingy snow through the day and night on Wednesday piled up on branches and the back deck feeding station to provide some unique photo-ops. The Downy Woodpecker was not much inconvenienced since it spends much of its time feeding on the bottom side of branches anyway. 🙂
Sony Rx10iii at 600mm equivalent field of view. 1/400th @ ISO 100 @ f4. Processed and cropped for scale in Polarr on my iPad Pro.
There are few places stranger than
the pine plantation at Alwive Pond.
The trees all of a kind and all of an
age…my age…or a few years younger,
planted in the early 50s to fill in
for the fires of 47. And today, in
a January thaw, the trees stand stark
in the filtered light, unnaturally even,
holding high a fragile roof against
the winter sky. The hush is so profound
it is a presence, behind you, a cowled
multitude, breathing reverence in
perfect rhythm to your breath.
Sony Rx10iii in-camera HDR. 24mm equivalent field of view. Processed in Polarr on my iPad Pro for a somewhat high-key effect to bring out the geometry.
It got up to 47 degrees yesterday, on January 11th, after night of rain. The combination had every creek in flood, ponds melting, and the tide, already a King tide, running abnormally high. They were practicing hockey here on the little pond by Rt 9 in Kennebunk only the day before. You can see the mounds of snow that marked the edge of the shoveled area in two different storms. I like the light and shadows here, and the reflections.
Sony Rx10iii in-camera HDR. Processed in Polarr on my iPad Pro. My own shadow removed from right center at the bottom with TouchRetouch.
We had a good snowfall overnight…4-6 inces in our yard…more inland (up to 18 inches they were saying). I had an appointment for a health screening (provided by my insurance carrier free of charge, so why not) early so I was out before daylight snow-blowing the drive. The appointment was at a mobile van in the parking lot of the local library, which is right next door to one of the oldest churches in Kennebunk. After my appointment, as I was getting into the car, I looked out across the grave yard next door, and across the street to another of the old churches, and had to get back out with my camera.
Sony RX10iii in-camera HDR. 1/1000th @ f5 @ ISO 100. A distracting branch removed in Touchretouch and then processed in Polarr on my iPad Pro 12.9.
We had another of those snowed all day and then turned to rain days in Southern Maine yesterday, but for a while there we had a nice white frosting over everything. This is just a Blue Spruce in the yard of a house down the street. I like the delicacy of the blue/green against the white, and the contrast in texture between the needles and the snow.
Sony RX10iii at 600mm equivalent field of view. Program mode. 1/250th @ ISO 250 @ f4. Processed in Polarr on my Android Tablet.
“If your eye is generous, your whole being is full of light!” Jesus
It snowed all day yesterday. After clearing the drive (lunch and a rest) I decided to brave the snow covered roads at least as far as Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge headquarters where I was pretty sure I could get in to park and walk in the snowy woods. I was all suited up for the adventure…longjons base layer to high snow boots and a fleece lined parka. I took my umbrella as I hoped to take some pictures and I wanted to keep the camera relatively dry.
The woods were quiet. I was the only one foolish enough to brave the roads and the unplowed Rachel Carson driveway. The light was subdued. Snow fell steadily, in big flakes, to continue to fill the wood. Every tree and bush carried its burden of white. It was…I am tempted to say “magical”, but I don’t, on principle believe in magic.
We hear a lot about “magical thinking” today. Many people seem to believe that results can be achieved without effort if you just know the right thing to say. And many more seem willing to believe that our leaders will be able to achieve what they want, and have promised, just by saying it so and waving a hand (or wand as the case may be). And apparently there are those who want to be deceived by slight of hand, for the entertainments’ sake. They find it amusing, and admire the skill of the trickster. If you stop to think about it, magical thinking explains a lot about what has happened recently in American politics.
So “magical” is out as a way of describing the silent woods with the snow falling. Even this slightly other-worldly “under the snowy pines” scene. We need another word for what the generous eye sees. It has to catch the sense of awe…wonder…the sense that we are experiencing something out of the ordinary, beyond ordinary…the sense we are glimpsing the work of forces and intelligence larger than we are. It has to imply that we are touching the divine. And yet none of the words suggested: awesome, wonderful, extraordinary, supernatural, divine…at least in common usage, quite catch my meaning either. Maybe all of them together, but no one alone. If I were writing this in German I could just string them all together into one long unpronounceable word…or in English I could hyphenate them, or use the modern “/” (as in awesome/wonderful/extraordinary…which basically says I don’t know which word to use.) Though it still is not quite right, as it depends on this contrast with “magical” for part of the meaning, “blessed” or “full of blessing” comes close. The silent snowy woods with the snow still falling in big flakes was full of blessing.”
But then, everything we see is if we look with the generous eye. Happy Sunday!
This little oak tree, along the edge of Day Brook Pond on the Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Management Area in West Kennebunk Maine is one of my favorite local trees. I took the opportunity, as someone had been ahead of me from the road to the parking area in the new snow and made a way for the car, to walk into the pond to see it in the snow. We had rain for the last few hours after the snow fell, so the snow on the branches of the tree is pretty much frozen in place. This was early morning, and I assume that after two days of sun now, the branches will be bare again, but catching it at the right moment made for an interesting contrast with the Grey bark of the tree.
Sony RX10iii at 30mm equivalent field of view. 1/1000th @ f4.5 @ ISO 100. Program Mode. Processed in Polarr on my Android tablet.
After a wet snow, ending in fairly heavy rain, I did not expect the snow to last into yesterday, but I woke to temperatures in the teens and bright sun on a snow covered landscape. Photoprowl! It was up in the mid 20s by the time I got out, but the sun was still shinning and the snow, with a hard crust from the rain, glistened everywhere. I knew the rain had washed all the snow away on the coast, so I headed inland just on the chance that someone with a heavier 4 wheel drive vehicle had been into the pull-offs on the Kennebunk Plains. And someone had indeed driven into the Day Brook Pond parking all the way, and left such a good trail that I felt safe trusting the Ford hybrid to it. It might be my last chance to walk into Day Brook this winter, if we get much more snow.
This little pine is on the edge of the pond. I looked up as I passed it, and could not resist the sun coming through on the burdened branches.
Sony RX10iii at 62mm equivalent field of view. In-camera HDR. Processed in Polarr on my Android tablet.