“The Little Things”
Photography teaches me
to see the little things,
not the wide river—
too much—much too much—
but the tiny ripples
flowing round the twig.
I learn to love Her
through Her tiny things.
On the day the diagnosis was made, when my father knew he would die, he taught me what his older brother had passed on to him when he too confronted his mortality. I realize now, he said, that what matters in life is the little things. The little things—like a blade of grass.
For years I took innumerable photographs of the little things. And my favorite is of just the tip of a single blade of grass.
I sometimes spent hours in a stream capturing the flow of tiny eddies around the smallest pebbles. Never the whole stream, never a large rock. Too much. Just the tiny little movements, the little plays of life.
Trying with every exposure to understand my father’s teaching. I came to learn that he was right—God is most manifest in the little things.
I try to pass on his wisdom, as it had been passed on to him, to my students. Encouraging them to look through their viewfinders, the images magnified, to find that special Numinous wonder, that particular Epiphany, that comes from beholding the All in the minute: Heaven in a grain of sand.
I learned to train my photographer’s eye on the little things around me. Like now—the infinite plays of gold point and black shadow on white, as this nib dances across the page.
Especially I encourage you to look at the little things that make up the totality of your loved ones: the very corner of her mouth, the little striations on her lip, each eyelash.
Infinite tiny blessings. Every thing about her face is infinite—infinitely Beautiful, infinitely Beloving.
And then bring all these infinites together, amalgamate each intimation of her Self into the totality that is Her, revealed before you in all Her radiant glory.
I can always tell an artist or a photographer by the way their eyes move—constantly alighting on a new visual delight, inwardly recording it, then darting on to the next—like a ceaseless bee. Their minds filled with thousands upon thousands of little plays of forms, of shapes, and of colors. Each one unique and evanescent.
We all can be True Artists: every moment of our lives another glimpse of tiny boundless Delights. Getting to know so well the little things, we come to accept the Unknowable.