What We Have Looked Upon and Touched with Our Hands

We are bombarded daily by so many images it’s easy to miss the diamond flashing in the rough. But this one stopped me. I invite you for a few moments to let it stop you, wherever you are in the midst of your busy morning, your hectic day, your quiet evening. To look upon and perhaps even to pray with it.


Much like an icon “written” through contemplative eyes, a photograph “taken” with deep sensitivity for its subject can serve not only as a window, allowing us to gaze “into” a moment in the life of the subjects in the image. It may also serve as a kind of mirror, causing the light that radiates from within the image to flash back and ignite something in us, the viewer, as we contemplate the image. Light speaks to light, dancing and playing and flaming into Life when it beholds the object of its own deepest desire.

It has been a long time since a photograph has affected me in the way that this one does. What I “see” is what I imagine Love looks like when it becomes fully human in the flesh of the community. Notice the intensity of the faces, the reach of the hands, the commingling of bodies, at once strangers and intimate friends alike. What I feel is the tenderness of light speaking to light stirring in me, the desire to touch and be touched, to hold and be held, that radiates from within the photograph.

When words fail me, I reach for the imagery and poetics of my Catholic faith. Of the mystery of Incarnation, my faith makes the extraordinary claim that Christ “became human in order that we may become divine.” Never again, our faith proclaims, can we think poorly of the human person and the divine potential for Love seeded within the human community. In this photograph I behold a glimpse into that mystery becoming flesh.

Here is the pearl of great price: for all our brokenness and self-centered habits and behaviors, we are really capable of becoming Love.

What was from the beginning, what we have heard, 

      we have seen with our eyes,

     what we have looked upon and touched with our hands.

     concerns the Word of life–for the life was made visible;

We have seen it and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life

      that was with the Father and was made visible to us—

      what we have seen and heard we proclaim now to you,

      so that you too may have fellowship with us;

      for our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.

We are writing this so that our joy may be complete.

                                                              ~1 John 1:1-3

We become what we gaze upon, what we linger with, and what we touch with our hands. Let us choose Love, for Love has already chosen us.

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