A Photography Moment

Last year the instructors of the spiritual direction program I was involved in gave us an assignment:  create an art project that illustrated the growth we’d experienced over the course of the program. Walnut Woods is the place I often go to experience the richness of solitude, so my goal was to try to capture an image of myself in the heart of the woods, with the beautiful trail and scenery as the background. I wanted to capture the beauty of the day, the beauty of this place I go to refresh my heart and soul.

So, I set out into the cold Iowa day with my camera and a mirror, and hiked to one of my favorite spots. I set up the mirror to reflect and image of me taking the picture, and started snapping away.


The photography experience was going well, I was enjoying the beauty of the day and had quite a giggle when two park rangers mistook me in my warm leopard coat for some exotic animal.


I began examining the shots I’d taken and realized I hadn’t been able to capture the beauty of the river, so I adjusted the mirror to a position that could embrace the desired image. As I backed up to just the right spot on the gorgeous and very still day, a huge gust of wind came from out of nowhere and knocked the mirror down into the snow. As I saw the mirror fall, I wondered how would I pick up all of the shattered glass out of the snow.

My day of photography with the mirror was over- I wouldn’t be able to get the shot I’d envisioned. However, as I picked up the mirror- shattered, but still in one piece- the realization came to me of the beauty in brokenness. In that moment, the images in the mirror looked very distorted but the beauty of the woods was still present, reflected in each individual shard of glass.


Isn’t that the way it is, though, in times of brokenness? We can often only see the pain, the hurt, the shattered dreams. But if we’re able to look at the situation from a different angle, and remain open to beauty in a different form than we expected, we can find the beauty that lies hidden beneath.

I invite you to take a moment today to reflect on the power of how beauty and brokenness can exist hand in hand. May your heart be encouraged as you look deep to search for beauty amidst the hurt and pain of brokenness.

Our life is full of brokenness - broken relationships, broken promises, broken expectations. How can we live with that brokenness without becoming bitter and resentful except by returning again and again to God’s faithful presence in our lives.” -Henri Nouwen