Living in Layers

I have walked through many lives,
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abides, from which I struggle
not to stray.
When I look behind,
as I am compelled to look
before I can gather strength
to proceed on my journey,
I see the milestones dwindling
toward the horizon


Yet I turn, I turn,
exulting somewhat,
with my will intact to go
wherever I need to go,
and every stone on the road
precious to me.


“Live in the layers,
not on the litter.”


I am not done with my changes.
~Stanley Kunitz from “The Layers”

photo by Joel DeWaard

…we become whole by having the courage to revisit and embrace all the layers of our lives, denying none of them, so that we’re finally able to say, “Yes, all of this is me, and all of this has helped make me who I am.”

When we get to that point, amazingly, we can look at all the layers together and see the beauty of the whole.
~Parker Palmer from “Embracing All the Layers of Your Life” in On Being

My favorite scenes to photograph are ones where there are several “layers” to study, whether it is a still life of petals or a deep landscape with a foreground, middle and backdrop, preferably with a misty fog. The challenge is to decide where to look first, what to draw into sharp focus, or whether to absorb it all as a whole. In fact, if I only see one aspect, I miss the entire point of the composition. It is wonderfully multi-faceted and multi-layered because that is how life is – complex with subtle nuance and shadings.

If I try to suppress some foggy or shadowy part of my own life I wish to forget and blur out, I ignore the beauty of the contrast with the light that illuminates the rest.

The layers reflect who I was created to be as an image-bearer – complex, nuanced, illuminated in the presence of dark.

Beautifully composed.

Text by Saint Ambrose (340-397)
Splendor paternae gloriae,
de luce lucem proferens,
lux lucis et fons luminis,
diem dies illuminans.

Splendor of God’s glory,
brings forth light from light,
light of light,
light’s living spring,
Day, all days illuminates.

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