Black and White

Every time we greet the morning dawn at the sunrise Easter service or at the traditional ‘Salubong‘, I like to think that darkness and death were not only overcame, but redeemed with us into the arms of God: the beauty of darkness is deepened by the Light of Christ and death is now only part of our physical journey home. God has become all in all.

I learned this from looking at and studying Ansel Adams. In his black and white photographs, Adams portrayed the whole range of tones from deepest black to pure white. Black and white are not oppositions as much as ends of a continuous range of light. His development technique overcame the limitations of the photographic paper to reproduce more closely the ratio of the human eye: we see much more than what a camera could reproduce. In his Yosemite Special Edition photographs of Yosemite snow and granite and the moon and domes at the park, Adams revealed to us what we physically see. Our minds and eyes are no longer disconnected. In Adams’ photographs we see light spread throughout the zones of black and into white again.

... at Padre Pio Shrine, Libis, Quezon City

The resurrection story of Jesus connects our eyes and hearts to our minds, as Gethsemane becomes Eden. We have spent a week soaked in pain, separation, betrayal and fatal suffering. What our hearts sought, our eyes did not find in the awful torture and death of Christ. None of this was what should have happened to a good man in Jerusalem. The male disciples flee and the women disciples stay, but all see nothing but the relentless victory of death.

Now in the early morning, the women encounter grief and joy as the darkness of the tomb gives way to light as dazzling as snow and lightning. The places that we knew were empty of hope are filled with divine presence, and the world as a whole has been remade new. We go to the garden looking only to be near our lost beloved, and find ourselves embraced by Love itself.

I like to think of creation and resurrection as this immense energy that moves and illuminates our ordinary life rather than verbal propositions to be affirmed or denied. Doctrines do not satisfy us; life in God does. Walt Whitman could have written this poem about seeing and believing on Easter morning:

Of the terrible doubt of appearances,
Of the uncertainty after all, that we may be deluded,
That may-be reliance and hope are but speculations after all,
That may-be identity beyond the grave is a beautiful fable only,
May-be the things I perceive, the animals, plants, men, hills,
shining and flowing waters,
The skies of day and night, colors, densities, forms, may-be
these are (as doubtless they are) only apparitions and
the real something has yet to be known,
To me these and the like of these are curiously answer’d by
my lovers, my dear friends
When he whom I love travels with me or sits a long while
holding me by the hand,
When the subtle air, the impalpable, the sense that words
and reason hold not, surround and pervade us,
Then I am charged with untold and untellable wisdom, I am
silent, I require nothing further.
I cannot answer the question of appearances or that of
identity beyond the grave.
But I walk or sit indifferent, I am satisfied.
He ahold of my hand has completely satisfied me.

Mary Magdalene went to the garden seeking her teacher, and found not a new revelation, but the One she loves. The stories of the resurrection appearances are not philosophical arguments, but rather affirmations of unbroken relationships within divine reality. Only something so ordinary as the sight and sound of your lost friend could be this holy. We have come looking for nothing else. Love in its incredible tenacity and mysterious appearances walks with us in our grief and skepticism. Only in its light from birth to death do we begin to understand the ranges of existence seen and unseen.

To celebrate Easter is to know that the cross can be the tree of life and utter despair can yield to joy. This is the deep renewal that we receive from each other and from our world each day. We are free to live, free to act in ways that bring God’s justice and forgiveness to all those caught in suffering and despair. Through Jesus the darkness is now full of grace and failing mortals are loved into eternity. In seeing our death, we see now life everlasting, in darkness we see the presence of light, in our bloody and blessed world we see everywhere the face of our Beloved:

“Made like him, like him we rise/Ours the cross, the grave, the skies.” — Charles Wesley, Christ the Lord is Risen Today

Happy Easter, every one!

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About Seeing with Brahmin eyes
My sense of humor can be keen, sarcastic, silly or corny -- sometimes all at once. I enjoy meeting new people with no preconceived ideas about what or what is not possible. You get much more out of life by being open minded and willing. I'm an easy going, good-natured person who loves life and loves people. I'm both optimistic and realistic and pretty objective when it comes to assessing situations, events, etc. In general I am a very positive person and you'll usually find we with a smile on my face.

5 Responses to Black and White

  1. sjanima says:

    a very thorough reflection and you seems to be a devout Catholic by what you’ve written. Very inspiring!

  2. Excellent post. I learn something new on various blogs everyday. It is always stimulating to see content from different writers and learn a little something from them. Id like to use some of this content on my own blog if you dont mind. Natually Ill provide a link back to your site. Thank you for sharing.

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