Pinpricks of light, tiny ones.
Just last week the idea came- why not use part of the back of our basement to construct a black and white darkroom? I mentioned it to Terry and Amber, and all of us were excited, hopeful, we could one day have fun watching images come to life on blank paper. Black and white images, yes, with lots of grey variations in between.
I thought back to my days in the darkroom, how upon entering, until my eyes adjusted, it appeared pitch black. But as my pupils dilated I could make make out parts of the darkroom, see the light, small amounts of it, entering underneath the door. What initially appeared completely dark was not.
During my time at photo school in Pensacola, Florida in 1979 I heard that one of the instructors was also teaching a scuba diving class at a local shop. My love of water and watching Jaques Cousteau shows on TV inspired me to sign up.
Like most scuba classes it started by learning to use the equipment in a pool. Safe enough. There was a trip to the local beach where we waded off shore to use our tanks and regulators. Easy and enjoyable. I saw some small sand sharks. Totally loved being able to stay underwater, observing, without needing to come up for air.
I was hooked- or so I thought. Maybe Jaques and I would meet someday, underwater.
Our first real dive took place in the ocean, an hour boat ride from shore, on a grey day with choppy water. Once the boat was anchored we suited up. Now I began to feel afraid as the instructor explained we would follow the anchor line down to the ocean bottom to do our dive. The anchor line was yellow- I've never forgotten that. All around that line was dark and grey and scary. I held onto it as I followed the air bubbles of the person descending beneath me, trying to be brave as I continued down into the depths.
The water was murky, thick, dark- becoming murkier, thicker, darker the lower I went. I was doing a great job of clearing my ears as the pressure built up by pinching my nose and blowing. However I forgot about clearing my mask along the way by simply blowing air out through my nose into it to equalize the pressure.
At the bottom, 125 feet down (a very deep dive for first timers- my instructor, I learned from here on out was a bit psycho) the mask was so tight against my face I began to panic, pointing at it.(This condition is appropriately called "mask squeeze") My instructor tried to to tell me with hand movements to clear it.
Clear it I did. Though not the right way, exactly. Instead of simply blowing air out my nose I chose to rip the entire mask off my face (extremely painful), put it back on, and then clear it by blowing the water out.
Have I ever chosen the simple way to do things?
The next morning I was greeted with a lovely sight in the mirror. Most of the blood vessels in my eyes were broken. I looked like a cross between the bride of Frankenstein and the bride of Dracula.
Oh the comments I received at Photo School the following week!
Our last and final dive before being officially certified was at a lake with underground caves. I was nervous when I noticed signs with this warning:
"Danger! 25 divers have lost their lives in these caves. Dive at your own risk!"
What were we, novice divers, doing at such a place? I did mention our instructor was psycho, right?
Down we went in pairs. Only one partner carried the light, and I was not that person, unfortunately. It was a shallow dive until we began to go down through narrow passageways, tunnels, leading into the belly of a large cave, sixty feet deep. We sat in a circle in that cave, and I thought, okay, I can handle this. One big point in my favor- I had remembered to clear my mask this time!
Then...... the lights went out! The sound of my regulator, my breathing, accelerated as I felt extreme fear rising. I looked desperately around hoping to see something, the tiniest spot of light to guide me out. But this..... this was total black darkness, one like I had never experienced before or since. I considered I might have to feel my way out if necessary, and if it came to that would my air supply hold out.......or would I become diver number 26 on that sign?
Suddenly the lights came back on. We made our way safely out of the cave. I was relieved and thankful to see light, spending the rest of the day diving in the well-lit shallows of the lake.
I learned later that the people holding the lights were instructed to turn them off simultaneously at the instructor's signal once we were seated in the cave. I was angry that those people agreed to follow his instructions, placing us all in a potentially dangerous predicament.
I haven't been scuba diving since, though I snorkeled while stationed in Puerto Rico constantly. There, with a simple twenty foot dive down, I could see all sorts of colorful fish, coral, and other sea creatures. I loved it. And after my previous diving experiences, it was a whole lot safer.
I recently read a beautiful story I would highly recommend. "The Art of Hearing Heartbeats" is a poetically told love story involving a boy who is blind and a girl who is disabled. The author, Jan- Philip Sendker, does a brilliant job of conveying the nature of love and its power to bring light into human darkness. When Tin Win, the physically blind boy speaks with his mentor and friend- a monk named U May about fear- U May replies "There is only one force more powerful than fear."
Tin Win determines to find it. Not by looking, but by believing and waiting. And it finds him through a lovely young woman named Mimi.
"Perfect love casts out (banishes) fear."
The Message version of 1 John 4:18 enlightens further:
God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we're free of worry on Judgement Day- our standing in the world is identical with Christ's. There is no room in love for fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life- fear of death, fear of judgement- is not one yet fully formed in love.
Pinpricks of light, becoming larger, illuminating the darkness.
The photos above and directly below were taken at The Carmelite Monastery, Upper Saucon, PA.
Special thanks to my assistant and much needed technical advisor during that shoot, my husband, Terry!
My son Dale was a proctor (counselor) last week for the Royal School of Church Music's yearly choir camp held at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Wilkes-Barre, PA. The amazing music prepared during an arduous practice schedule of six hours a day for the week by the choir was angelic. The church itself was a stunning location to take some photos emphasizing light, God's light, which I happily share with you below.
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