Some days when it’s partly cloudy, the light patterns on the leaves and grasses are particularly noticeable. When the blades of grass and tree leaves are new, their natural luminescence reflects the light more clearly. This makes their surface appear like satin.
I was musing about this during a morning walk, remembering my visit to the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts. The museum sits on the rolling hills overlooking the town. It contains some of the finest paintings I’ve ever seen. Two pieces caught my eye because of the play of light on the women’s dresses. One peach satin gown glowed with the light. Another had satin ribbons threading throughout the material. I was fascinated by the light hitting the satin wherever the material rolled like the hills around me. Getting closer to the painting, I examined the ribbons to see how the artist had created this technique. If you just saw the closeup of the ribbon, you would see alternating patches of light and dark in a staccato design along the fabric. But once you stood back, the ribbons shimmered with light.
My family has several portraits of my great-great-grandparents, Moses Strong and Caroline Green. One painting shows Caroline in a green satin gown. Up close, you see alternating light and dark patches. But from a distance, the satin glows. In the 1800s, women’s gowns were woven of long filaments of silk. Perhaps the silk caries the same luminescent quality I see in spider webs?
Today as I looked at the grasses in the morning light, I noticed they exhibited some of the same patterns of light and dark. The new leaves on a branch overhanging my path looked as if they were woven of green satin. In the last few weeks, I’ve tried to photograph the reflective glow of yellow on the petals of the buttercups. My camera lens tends to turn the highlight white instead of merely sparkling yellow. Changing light is a challenge to me, but not to God.
This play of light and dark made me ponder God’s gift of sunlight. While we often take it for granted, you will soon become an observer of the patterns the light reveals. Early morning tends to be the best for photography as bright sunshine dulls the colors. But every landscape offers patterns. Sometimes my eye is drawn to a particular area the sun has highlighted. Arriving a few minutes later, I would have missed what the Lord wanted to show me.
As humans, we build our lives around the daylight. Perhaps this is why God created light as His first act of creation. He spoke light into being. But I think there is more to it than just sunlight. He is light. The light of Holy Spirit comes to live inside of us when we give our life to Jesus. That light will never go out, even when we die. Here on earth, living things have a luminescence when they are alive. Your skin sparkles in the sunlight, water reflects rainbows, spider webs glisten. Living things lose that when they die. But humans filled with Holy Spirit carry His light into eternity. We are told that there will be no need for the sun in the new Jerusalem because God Himself will be our light. How wonderful!
So every time you see sunlight highlighting the Creator’s world, thank Him and then ask Him to increase the light you shine on the earth.
“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.”
1 John 1:5 NIV