Joy in Anticipation

Light Anticipation

The other day I read that “joy” and “trust” are inseparable. I don’t know if I could wholeheartedly endorse that notion. It seems possible to me to experience joy in a moment, but I might be persuaded that “lasting joy” and “trust” are indeed inseparable. We’re not always basking in the warm light, and if joy is to be more than here one minute and gone the next, a certain level of trust must be involved.

Honestly, I was considering something along those lines when I made this photograph a few weeks ago. I say “honestly” because if you knew the rarity with which I think and photograph at the same time, you would have a hard time believing I was engaged in such a deep reflection. Usually I’m very wholly engaged in “seeing” while I make images, seeing and translating what I see into a photograph. On this particular morning, though, I was waiting. The composition had already been determined through a compromise between the not entirely predictable lake ice and myself, and I was waiting for the light…to not quite come. That is, I wanted to record the very last moments before direct light hit my subject, showing the peak of reflected light.

Reflected light is a favorite of photographers, but that is most often because of the potential for light to pick up color from (really lose some wavelengths of light to) the object off of which it is reflecting. For this scene, the landscape all around me and the hill behind me were covered in snow. The slight warmth in the image is owing to the fact that some light from the blue end of the spectrum had been filtered out by the atmosphere. In the end, I felt like there was just enough warmth to get a nice separation from the dark blues in the deep cracks of the glacial ice.

While I was waiting, I was thinking about waiting, and I was savoring the building light. I was recognizing the fact that never once has the Earth failed to spin me out of the night and back toward the sun. There are things that can be counted on even when you can’t see them through the clouds. There is a spiritual side to that as well. Remember that I brought up a “lasting joy”, but how about a joy that is continuous and boundless. That kind of joy requires trust that is only warranted by God. In Philippians 4:4 (NLT), Paul writes, “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again – rejoice!” How often and for how long is this joy supposed to take place in our lives? Always. I don’t know about you, but I don’t find myself living with that kind of joy. The reason is not that God has ever been anything less that perfectly trustworthy and abundantly satisfying. Instead, I tend to place my trust elsewhere, primarily in my own ability.

How do we know that the kind of joy Paul was talking about is real? He demonstrated its existence in his life on numerous occasions. In one of my favorite stories of Paul’s life, we find him in prison, in the inner cell, with his feet fastened in stocks…and he and Silas are singing in the middle of the night! I don’t imagine Paul loved pain and discomfort any more than the rest of us, except that I do think he cherished the resulting opportunities for finding joy in anticipation. From where I’m sitting, every day brings opportunities for find joy in the light and joy in anticipation. All I need is to have my trust held firmly by the right Light Source.