I like this photograph.
It is different from most of my other Monhegan photos — no stunning cliffs rising from the sea, no waves exploding on the rocks guarding the shoreline, no colorful lilies or picturesque lighthouses or interesting people — just this view through the trees.
Is it a photograph of the sea or is the sea just the background? Is our attention drawn by the dead tree in the foreground or do we see past the tree? Is it the dark lines of the dead tree or the bold greens of the living trees or orange of the lichen-covered rocks, the expansive sea in the distance or the intimate path in the near corner, that makes this photograph beautiful?
It is all these things. It is the way all the pieces of the photograph “fit” together and don’t fit together. It is the juxtaposition of life and death, of soft and hard, of light and dark, of sharp and smooth, of intimacy and immensity, that makes this photograph engaging … and beautiful. It is beautiful because it shows something real, this particular piece of earth as it is, as it has become, not something put together or composed by the artist, but something already there. Here is the artistry … of God: death and life, immediacy and transcendence, something that exists wholly oblivious to and careless of me, and yet of which, when I am present and when I pay attention, I am a part.
This is what we are like, too — products of God’s artistry, a strange juxtaposition of the heavenly and the mundane, full of contradictions, but beautiful as we are, beautiful because we are, beautiful because we are from God.