“I just really admire the way you live week to week.” This came to me from a similar spirit during a recent conversation inquiring about the next thing in my life now that my film project has passed. In the days leading up to the end, this was a topic of unrest. Before I had even seen the one through to the finish, my thoughts had already naturally tended to what would I be waking up to the morning after the film screened. As it were, one of my biggest freelance jobs of the year fell over the next four days so it wasn’t till nearly a week after it was all said and done that I really had that morning where I woke up to… well, whatever I wanted. And thanks to the financial padding of that job, not only had the forecasted aimlessness been bypassed but I got to wake up to something other than the looming dollar signs that tend to hang out over my head. Living week to week is only admirable if you can manage to conquer the uninvited tendency to anxiety that comes with it. I win some and I lose plenty. In any case, it left me free to really look ahead without having to try to see around the responsibilities of life that obstruct my view of the purpose of life.
This is one of the rare moments when you truly find the world at your fingertips, now what to do with it?
The Elusiveness of the Holy Spirit
I was called to take photographs of the thousands of butterflies that inhabit campus. Not a terrible way to make your days wages. I set out with uncertainty as it’s not something I claim to excel in, nature photography. Going into the task I knew that it wasn’t as simple of a matter as seeing the butterflies and taking photographs of them. The client wasn’t interested in photographs of butterflies but rather the influx of them on the campus. Beyond having no way of controlling them, it’s a matter of happening upon one in just the right timing to capture not just the thing itself, a hard enough task, but then capturing it’s interaction with it’s contrasting and unexpected surrounding. It’s not just nature photography but photography of the interaction between man and nature. Even knowing that it would require much more luck than it did skill (if you believe in luck) the elusiveness of such a thing was reinforced as I set out. Immediately after I had stepped onto the lawn I saw my first opportunity. Thousands of butterflies backdropped by the iconic Administration Building, the perfect juxtaposition. I swooped down, honing in on one butterfly directly on the lawn in front of the steps. With the right amount of depth of field this could be promising. As I did, hundreds of butterflies lifted off of the lawn around me, butterflies I hadn’t even seen there. With each step butterflies dismounted from every direction from places that looked, from a distance, to be uninhabited. Standing in the middle of the lawn I was surrounded by a literal thousand butterflies yet capturing the experience was near impossible. From a wide angle, the individuals were diminished into small, unimpressive dots but they moved too quickly to bring the focus in on one, like phantoms even though their presence is obvious and unmistakable. That’s when I began to think about the elusiveness of these butterflies as a visual of the Holy Spirit’s elusiveness to man. There I am amidst something captivating, that literally surrounds me on all sides, something innumerable and unmistakable yet even in the midst of it- it escapes me. It’s there to have and it’s all around me yet it’s my incapacities that keep me from it. It’s walking through trees and seeing only trees with their leaves when, if we only knew to look, we would see thousands of winged creatures that have no intention to disguise themselves as leaves, yet they’re disguised. They’re present, but they’re disguised. We take a step in their direction and they take flight and we’ve unintentionally found them and recognize what we once missed, and we’re in awe. We’ve suddenly seen this amazing thing because we came upon it and because of it making itself known, when it was there for us to see all along. We can see the ones in the air and we know they’re there but with each step hundreds more are revealed to us, we just have to know to look for them. Because one butterfly is beautiful but thousands of butterflies is powerful.
This is how I treat the Holy Spirit. It is all around us, yet it eludes us. Even with great presence we go near it with no recollection of it but it’s not because it’s hidden from us but because we lack the recognition of it. We lack eyes to see. We stare directly at branches of butterflies and we see leaves because we’re not looking for Monarchs. We stare directly at countless miracles and we see chance. We give credit to the things that we do see, to the butterflies in the air, but we fail to credit the constant presence because we aren’t trained in the art of looking for it and so we walk along right past thousands of pairs of orange and gold wings and miss their powerful presence.