Chasing the Light

by in Through the Lens

“Stop!” I scream. “Back up! No, further! The light!”

“Hurry up! It’s fading. Now! It’s going to be gone in 5 seconds!”

These are the sorts of things my husband endures. We’re often in the car when I start twitching and leaning forward and begging the light to slow, to steady, to stay.

I love to chase the light.


Camera in hand, I hone my eyes to one thing and one thing only – the light. Nothing else matters, really. Perfect foliage on a dull day isn’t a glorious photo. It’s an image, but it’s not art. But an ordinary day in the living room becomes an extraordinary moment when light breathes in and dances with the speckled dust.

It’s the light that makes a photograph. It’s the light that makes life.

On the rare occasion I leave the house with just me and my Canon, I’m only looking for light. I’m looking up, around, watching the clouds to see if they’ll separate, watching the sun to see its movement. I watch the ways the trees respond, the way they drape the light on their sides. I watch the way clouds go from monochromatic to neon in a minute’s time. I watch the way water responds, absorbing the beauty of light and adding its own texture. I watch the way light changes everything, affects everything. Light makes contrast, makes movement, makes melody, makes beauty, makes art.

Light moves quickly and subtly. This is a great mystery.

Too often I settle for dull, flat light or high-noon demanding sun. I grow weary of the work of chasing light, of the getting up early, staying up late, showing up to the same spot over and over. Over and over. Watching the way the light is moving, changing, remaking the scene.

It’s a patient art, this chasing the light.

Maybe it’s the drudgery of ordinary, the bogged down in the daily. Maybe it’s the glow of spiritual highs, the bright bliss. Often I settle. I stay put in what is less.

I don’t want the hard work, the patient art, of seeking the Light. I slapstick a verse, thinking I know what to do. I’ll fix this. I’ll be the bright Sun.

I’m harsh like flash.

To watch the Light is a patient art; it’s a still faith, a willingness to wait. I get up early, stay up late, show up over and over. Over and over. Trying to see the way the Light is moving, changing, remaking, reconciling. I want to join the Light, not be the Light.

Artificial light is never the same. It’s not as bright, not as white, not as clean, not as warm. It might temporarily do the trick, but it’s harsh. Oh so harsh.

The Light moves quickly and subtly. We must watch. Daily. Hourly. Moment-by-moment. Praying without ceasing. Tuning to the Spirit, having eyes to see, ears to hear, hearts to understand.

Where will the Light go next? Where is the Light already?

We must go out to see it.

The most extraordinary Light may be in places we never considered. We were too busy chasing the perfect scene. We forgot it’s all about the Light. The Light makes all things beautiful. The Light restores all things, reveals all things.

When I wonder why I do what I do, wonder if there’s more than this, I look for the Light. He’s here -in the scenes of my life, in my marriage, in my children, in my home, my town, a field down the street, an alleyway, our country, the world at large. He’s shows up. All the time.

There is always Light somewhere. We just have to chase it.

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