Not a Miracle, but an Accidental Beauty

Not a Miracle, but an Accidental Beauty October 10, 2020

If you take enough pictures, sometimes one will turn out well. When you had to “get the camera” and use costly film to take a picture, bad picture takers (such as I am!) rarely got good pictures. We posed, we tried, we even read articles (in magazines printed on paper) about how to take better pictures. Sadly for our my now adult children, none of this information helped me so they are in scads of bad pictures where the couch is more prominent than their heads or they all have eyes that glow red like little devils. The arrival of the camera-phone, one that helped take pictures, and let you take scads all at once changed everything. Now I could take a gajillion pictures and search for the one that worked.

This helped. I now take quite a few good pictures, but I have not improved as a photographer at all. These pictures are lovely through no virtue within me save dogged diligence in holding down a virtual button.

This lifetime of relative failure has made me respect the artistry and skill of my photographer friends. I have also noticed that beauty is everywhere. Often I go to take a picture, because I wish to preserve something historical to our family, but capture some accidental beauty.  The photo allows me to look and see something I missed in real time. The picture was of “this,” but dear God look at “that.” Beauty jumps out and “that” seizes my imagination.

In the days of film, light leaking into the camera could (I am told) cause all kinds of ghosting and odd visual effects. I have such a picture, given to me, that is beautiful as an icon of a deep truth. The holy man says the ancient words and a “flaw” in the camera creates a different image than any of us could see. This is no miracle, in the sense of a thing we cannot explain, but it is lovely. The person taking the shot, perhaps with no skill, using a camera that was broken, showed us beauty. One need not invoke divinity to explain what we see, but one must invoke divinity to explain why we see what we see.

The accidental image has meaning to us, because long before the picture was taken we had already seen this truth. The Holy Spirit hovers over us in a holy place. We are, in divine services, in a mystic place. This picture is no miracle, except in the sense that we are awash in accidental beauty. The High King of Heaven made a cosmos so good and beautiful that we cannot stop finding accidental beauties. Our minds are created to see patterns, truths, so this accidental snap based on broken equipment, was a trigger to my mind. I reflected on the True Light available to us in the mysteries of the Bread and Wine.

God is here.

Nobody is confused about the picture. There is no lie, no trickery. This is no picture of the Holy Spirit as any spirit that can be photographed is not a spirit. Instead, this image is a miracle of our consciousness, the irreducible us, that finds meaning all around. This ability, this glory, this human thing is joyful. This photographer was not so good, the camera was junk, but the image is transformed by the beautiful mind into an accidental beauty.

Just now, look out a window, see a tree, or a brick on a neighboring building. Look. Capture what can be captured. See the shadows, the light. Find the beauty. That we see such things is an accident in the logical sense of the term. That beauty is all around, even in brokenness, is no accident, but a necessity given the Good God.


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