Photo Challenge: The Rows of Creation
A bonus post: my entry for Travel with Intent’s One Word Sunday photo challenge. This week’s theme word: row.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Creation lately, and it seems that everything I read is speaking of it to me, even this particular challenge. On this Feast Day when God’s Word became Flesh (March 25, the Annunciation), I came across a photo challenge for the word “row” and the picture that I’m sharing came immediately to my mind, one that my father took several years ago in our local Catholic Church. (You can find me in my wheelchair in the front row, sticking out a little into the aisle.) You may think that it has little to do with Creation, but thoughts of Creation streamed in when I began to think of how I would title the posting of this photo.
I say that thoughts of Creation “streamed in” to my mind, but it’s more like Creation is the night sky filled with stars and all of the other things that I think about during the day are just clouds coming and going. Faith feels like that too. I don’t think about God all day, my love for God or God’s love for me, but His infinite and eternal presence is always here, and so is my love, even if I’m not always directly conscious of it. All loving relationships are like that for humans. Even the most devout contemplative nuns have to sleep. When there is real love, however, all of the things that we think about or do are thought about and done for the beloved, because of the beloved — like selling computer equipment to keep a roof over your children’s heads or going to school to honor your parents or getting enough rest so that you can keep up with your active loved ones. Things will happen during the day that will remind us of our great love, and we are renewed.
What does this have to do with the picture I’m posting? Well, I was kind of rambling, so let me think… oh yes, Creation. We human beings tend to create in rows: plantings in a garden, pillars for a roof, words on a page, paintings on a gallery wall, seats for a shared event, etc.. In the photo, we can see two rows of pillars, which not only hold up the roof, but also open up the space for worship. We see rows of man-made lights that are outshone by the rows of windows that allow God’s sunlight to pour in and upon the people. Rows of people kneel together in humble awe before the altar of God, which is elevated with a row of steps leading up to the sanctuary. (Can you see more rows?)
God’s Creation is generous profusion, wild and exuberant, and this is the love that we receive from Him, the love that we give and share through our souls. We are human, however, earthly creatures, not only of spirit, but of matter and physical form, and we can’t always live in wild profusion of divine ecstasy. (Not yet. The photo shown, however, is of Easter celebration, which points us toward eternal ecstasy in the New Heaven and New Earth.) Right now, we live here, within God’s structure of the universe, which, though exuberant, is orderly. And we live within the structures that we also create, as images of God. We build and write and plant in rows, not because we want to supersede the Creator and not because we want to force others into unnatural controls. A garden row allows easier cultivation and healthier growth, God knows. A row of columns allows larger spaces to gather and more light to enter. Words written in orderly manner, in rows, allow for better communication and understanding. When all of the things that we do and think about in a day can be thus ordered and lightened, then we have better opportunity for silence and stillness in which to remember the love that brings us here.
The Divine love that is always here, revealed between the rows.
© 2019 Christina Chase
Christina Chase View All
Although crippled by disease, I'm fully alive in love. I write about the terrible beauty and sacred wonder of life, while living with physical disability and severe dependency. A revert to the Catholic faith through atheism, I'm not afraid to ask life's big questions. I explore what it means to be fully human through my weekly blog and have written a book: It's Good to Be Here, published by Sophia Institute Press.
which I have never thought about before.
Or even read about using this image,
come to think of it.
And the last two sentences of your reflection,
Just right: prose first– rational,
Followed by a succinct, metrical, poetic ending line
That pins the thought in the mind
And the heart. Nice work,
Clever photograph too. I haven’t seen church from that angle since I was in the choir at Holy Redeemer grade school. Ah, memories. Why did I have to change? Why did the church change without my being aware of it, I complain– whining just like some of my 9th grade students would do not so long ago when I told them that that they had to sit in rows– not on the floor, not in random disorderly clumps, not even in little discussion circles. They wanted “wild profusion.” If you had written this then, I might have quoted you in class, saying something like “Not yet.”
(Sorry to change the tone. Old guys meander sometimes.)
As always, Albert, I greatly value your insights and encouragement — thank you, thank you! Yes, my father is a choir boy as well as a photographer. 🙂 (He only became part of the choir when he was a grown man, however, a husband and father, and not even yet Catholic.) I love images of the Mass from this angle!
Was it Flannery O’Connor who said that she writes to discover what she knows? I find that’s true. I open myself up to writing and the Spirit shows me things I hadn’t thought about before. Sometimes rambling is good!
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