by lefever on April 4, 2011
[a recap from the consecrated journal blog]
I documented it anyway.
It was later in the evening after editing the shot and after going to bed that I awoke from a shallow sleep, haunted. This image was on my mind and under my skin. The agony depicted in this shot didn’t take immediately but became more as it simmered sub consciously.
But not just the image of the dead Christ laying in His mother’s lap, His lifeless arm curled up over his heart, their faces separated by opposite direction and a dark cross looks as a shadow of death – not just that – but what was just out of the frame to the left.
Sitting forward on a bench, her back to me, with her head in her hands leaning toward the front of the church, was a girl who appeared troubled. She had come here obviously seeking solace from some hardship. The church was closed except for entry to the very back, the main of the church was behind a locked cast iron gate. And it was cold in there. For me the light was soft and I moved to the other side of the back to peer through the gate for something of interest.
Then I heard a wail from the girl, her agony was vocal.
Now it is the middle of the night in my hotel on my hard bed, and I am awake because of this image and that memory, and my lack of compassion at the time for that girl. And I think of the compassion of Christ even in death. And I think of Mary’s anguish for her son. And I think maybe I will remember this next time and not hesitate to being of help, if even to say a prayer for someone in pain when I encounter them. Even as I write this I am convicted. And I think of the dead Christ in Mary’s lap.
That statue, at the time, did not move me. But art can do this – it can resonate within us for consideration even becoming indelible.”
That was in Prague.
Now I am thinking of how often I experience the Jonah Moment: that moment when I am tired and do not want to continue in my call. That moment when I am not into it and wanting to walk away. That moment when I have concluded there is nothing for me here, yet for that voice that says to “keep on it”, to “BE there”, to just “look around the next corner”, though I am ready to leave.
Like the St. Giles Pieta in Prague, my initial judgment in Memphis was that there would be no good churches to shoot. I was wrong. And my work has expanded to new awareness. Same in the Church of the Ascension – I was sure I was done before the photo “Ed” was found. In fact, that was a classic situation of trying to leave but something was pulling me to that shot – several times I put my camera down only to pick it up again for “just one more.”
This Jonah Moment is a big part of my life – like a reluctant prophet, I resist the work, sometimes (many times). But then there is that moment beyond the perseverance, beyond the judgment to avoid the task or minimize the effort; there is a still calm direction, a voice so to speak, capturing me forward to just one more moment, one more look – this is what I am trained to listen for despite my natural instinct to run and call it a day.
How often I shoot photos of things only to see later in post-production elements in the shot I was not aware of at the time I took the photograph.
I wonder if Jonah was ever amazed?