During a phone conversation with my soon-to-be photographer who is doing my professional headshots for my upcoming new blog, I found myself trying to explain my vision and my style since we had never met in person. “Nature is very important to me”, I find myself saying, as I stress the significance of the location of our headshots. I drop words like “free, joyful, authentic, and fully alive” for the feeling I want relayed in the photos. A lavender field in full bloom was decided upon as the optimal location for the shoot, and finding a gray flowy dress to twirl in that lavender field is my next task.
I turned the conversation to asking her if she perhaps had any photos that she would be willing to sell me to use as the header for my new blog, ideally of mountains. Photography is my oldest passion, specifically black and white photos where I can be in charge of the process from start to finish: taking the photos, loading the film in the developing tank in the sealed black bag to block all light, trying desperately to hold the film by the edges so as not to smudge your best photo with your thumb print, pouring in the developing chemicals, hanging the film to dry, making the contact sheets and having those hidden treasures finally revealed, exposing the image in the red glow of the darkroom amidst the pungent smell of developer chemicals, dodging and burning and getting the exposure just right, slipping the blank page into the developing chemicals and gently agitating the tray and watching the image slowly appear before your eyes, and finally, after all the chemical baths are through, having what you envisioned all along staring back at you in black and white, frozen forever. Not having had access to a darkroom for years I hung up my darkroom days for digital photography years ago (but never got as much joy from the craft). My digital SLR camera saw fit to break a few weeks before my around the world trip. Therefore, many of my favorite photos have been taken with the camera that was available to me at the time-my iPhone. The quality of print that I would need for my website needed to be much higher, thus the inquisition if she could help me with high quality photos of mountains (which never fail to make my soul sing).
Just returning from Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park I do have high quality photos of those mountains, I explained to my photographer, but those red rocks fail to make my soul come alive the way lush green mountains do. It’s a funny thing, what your soul loves. Some people adore desert and their soul feels free amidst the red dust and turquoise sky. My soul has always felt most alive in lush green mountains with waterfalls, moody fog, moss, and damp earth. Until I explained this to her in a conversation where I was forced to express what my vision was and why I never realized the reason behind my soul gravitating towards the landscapes of the Pacific North West or the Blue Ridge Mountains instead of the red rocks of Arizona or Utah. I had always thought it was as simple as “I prefer this landscape to this one”, but it was much deeper than that. Your soul knows what it loves, and it has deep reasons for it-deeper than even your conscious mind may know at times. During that conversation the deeper purpose revealed itself to me much like the latent images of my photography: green, lush mountains with damp earth screams of abundant life. The fog, the mist, the waterfalls, the green moss and leaves and creepy crawly things in the soil are bursting with earth’s fullness. “Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” John 7:38. The red rocks are dry dust, bones that are no longer amongst the living, but the dead. From ashes we came and to ashes we will return. It speaks barrenness to my soul, a chewing on sand, mouth dry and unsatisfied in a weary waste land. “You will crawl on your belly and eat dust all the days of your life” Genesis 3:14 was the curse God gave the serpent.
There are deeper reasons for the things our soul loves than we may be consciously aware of. My soul has been drawn to abundant life, to living fully alive as long as I can remember. It’s only fitting that the header to my blog will be the lush green mountains of Oregon, that glorious state that makes my soul burst wide open with the possibilities of it all.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10