Ordinary extraordinary

Over the past few weeks a new photographic challenge has emerged on Facebook: seven days of black and white photos of one's daily life, with no people or explanations. The results have been interesting, and striking. Drained of their bright colours and infused, instead, with the subtleties of myriad greys, the bleaching of ultra pale colours and the emboldening of dark ones, the subjects develop a new life, while the play of light and shadow acquires greater prominence. While some of the photos have been of vistas or buildings, others show ordinary, everyday things - a pile of books, some foliage, a bowl of fruit - rendered extraordinary by the medium of black and white, highlighting every otherwise overlooked detail, every difference in texture and every nuance of colour.

On day 4 I posted this image - a detail from a chair back - and received various comments and questions. Stripped of its burnished brown the wood no longer looked like wood; instead, the image appeared intriguing, mysterious even. One of my sisters, discovering what it was, commented that this showed there is beauty everywhere. And indeed there is: as another sister, with whom I lived several years ago would sometimes say, even in the midst of ugliness and pain - the loveliness is everywhere. 

And then, a few days ago, I came across this poem by Mark Nepo, in which the loveliness is indeed everywhere, and the ordinary is rendered extraordinary, not by black and white photos but by eyes and heart attuned to God's presence permeating the world. May we develop and deepen such eyes and hearts, especially in times and places where God's loveliness is harder to find and hold on to; and may we be willing to be where we are, finding both God, and joy, in the front row and the cheap seats alike...

The further I wake into this life,
the more I realise that God is everywhere
and the extraordinary is waiting quietly
beneath the skin of all that is ordinary.

Light is in both the broken bottle and the diamond,
and music is in both the flowing violin and
the water dripping from the drainage pipe.
Yes, God is under the porch
as well as on top of the mountain,
and joy is in both the front row and the bleachers,
if we are willing to be where we are.

And here's the original