Light and life

Light and life

And to think, all this beauty is because we lean.

Technically, that’s incorrect, since it’s hard for a round object like a planet to lean.  I should use tilt.  Because earth tilts, we have seasons.  And this burst of color around me comes from just being a smidgen (on a galactic scale) closer to the sun’s light and warmth.

This garden is an oasis of color.  It is in the most unlikely of places – on the edge of a small, local city, squeezed between the river and a supermarket-chain warehouse.  Up until today, I hadn’t known this tiny park existed, despite being about twenty minutes from my house.

But my timing is perfect.  This is the prime week for the azaleas this little park celebrates.  And their floral costar, the rhododendrons, are also edging into the spotlight.

It’s late morning, right after heavy rain.  The clouds have dispersed, but the raindrops remain – tiny jewels highlighted by the welcome sun.

The verse that I’ve been walking with lately, comes to mind:

In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  (John 1:4)

Technically, that also is incorrect, since it’s not the verse in my head.  My faulty memory inverted the order: that light was the life of men.  Here I am considering how light produces life, when the verse is actually saying the opposite.  Jesus’ life brings light to a whole world of dark souls.  All light flowed out of him.  He spoke it into existence.

C.S. Lewis famously said, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” So it is with Jesus.  His life shines light on, and makes sense of, all things.

But I’m not wrong.  The inversion is also true: his light brings life.  Just a little later in the chapter, John tells us that those who receive the light coming into the world (Jesus) are “born of God.”  (vs. 13) Light comes into the world not simply to illuminate.  It regenerates.

So, I walk the twisting path in this garden, marveling at this rebirth of vibrant color.  I feel it is my duty (as your photographer) to simplify and highlight the beauty, as if choosing a frame to showcase an exquisite painting.

By the entrance, a caretaker speaks to me.  With a nearby mower drowning her out, all I catch are the phrases, “Make sure you… ahead… look up!”  I nod and thank her, moving in the direction she indicated.

Looking up, I’m puzzled.  The trees overhead are unremarkable.  How could they possibly compete with the glory underneath them?  I don’t know what she wanted me to notice.

But I see this: the sun, dancing through the budding branches, filtering through the translucent blossoms -- the literal star of the show.

Life depends on his light.  And vice versa.

Jesus, we need your presence.  Open our eyes to the interplay of your life and light that by them we might be changed.

Reader: Have you noticed some remarkable evidence of new life around you?  Feel like sharing a story or photo?

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Bruce Van Patter

As a freelance illustrator, graphic recorder, and author, Bruce is on a lifelong journey to delight in the handiwork of the Creator. And he’s always ready for fellow travelers.