There’s something about a reflection that always seems to capture the eye. Look at the picture above. Can you see how still the water is and how well it’s reflecting the frescoes and garden? You may not have been able to tell the difference between the subject and the reflection if I would have taken this photo differently, as a perfect reflection requires that there is nothing causing distortion.

Tree branches reflected in a pool of muddy water, Houston, TX

What about this picture? Do you see the leaves, limbs and branches of a tree? What about the hint of clouds and a blue sky? There’s something else in the picture that doesn’t seem quite right, though. Do you see fallen leaves and something strange in the bottom of the photo? It’s grass beneath the pool of water. If you couldn’t see the grass and fallen leaves, and I flipped the photo, you’d see a very good reflection of the tree and clouds. You may not even be able to tell that this is a reflection but, since you can see those things, the image is distorted. I guess you could say it’s a poor reflection of the tree and sky.

A reflection is simply redirected light, and our ability to see is due to reflections of light, but the quality of the light reflected affects the way we see. If anything causes variations in the light reflected then what we see will be drastically altered. As a matter of fact, the way we see colors is simply due to the wavelengths of light that are reflected by objects while all others are absorbed. This means nothing really has an inherent color but whatever variations in the makeup of those objects affect how we perceive them. Why am I on the subject of light so much? Well, light is especially important in photography since the word literally means a drawing of light (phōtos: light | graphé: drawing). So, if everything we see with our eyes is due to light and how it is reflected, and light is so vital to photography, could it be that everything we “see” with our minds and emotions are due to “light” as well?

How often do we say that we “see” what others are saying and feeling and want to be “seen” by others around us? It’s not coincidence that we use those terms as it relates to our thoughts and feelings so it shouldn’t be hard to equate the reflection of light to how we view ourselves and others, along with how distortions of that light affect how we “see.” If we are reflecting the light shined on us perfectly then what we see will be a very clear image of the source of that light but it won’t be if the source or we are distorted in some way. Put another way, a perfect mirror can never reflect a beautiful image of a bad subject nor can a distorted mirror reflect a perfect image of a beautiful subject.

For much of my life, I reflected a very bad image due to poor light being shined upon me (influences) as well as the distortions I had within myself (fears, hurts, bad thinking, etc). Even when that bad lighting was replaced by good, I still reflected a very poor image because the distortions within me were still very present. It wasn’t until I chose to surround myself with good light and did the work to have those distortions in my life minimized that I was able to reflect something pleasing to the eye. Even more, it really wasn’t until I recognized that, like the sun, there was really only one truly beautiful Light worth reflecting that my light could possibly be called “beautiful.”

Yes, I know there are man-made sources of light available, and that we don’t solely depend on the sun for light, but isn’t it interesting that humanity would disappear without it? We not only depend on its light for so many things but we also depend on its warmth and gravitational pull to survive. All manner of life depends on the sun so, for me, when I thought about that I realized that I too depend on the Light of the Son to survive. Sure, I could try to reflect the best light that I may find but that does nothing to remove the inherent distortions within the source of that light nor does it remove the possibility of shadow that hides areas of that source that are not very pleasing or safe. For me, I want to reflect a Light that is both pure and warm — with no shadow or distortion — so that what I reflect will be as close to that as possible while any distortion can easily be attributed to me.

The great thing about life is that I get to choose. Unlike anything else, I can choose the light that I reflect and decide to allow that Light to shine more brightly than any others that may shine upon me. I can choose to allow that Light to shine in such a way that it works to lessen the distortions that are still within me and, perhaps, remove them altogether. It’s up to me because, like the sun, that Light will shine brightly, radiantly, and beautifully in spite of me. I can only hope that anyone upon whom my light falls will see the Source much more than they see me because He’s too magnificent to miss.