Astrophotography is unforgiving. This may seem to be an odd statement if one of the goals of this post is to share of my love of astrophotography with you. Yes, I could simply focus upon the graces of this past week of having two, beautifully clear nights to gaze upon God’s night sky. I could only share my experience from last night (this morning) as I sat on my lawn chair, felt the cool summer breeze, and watched fireballs and planes dance in the night sky as my camera clicked away 120 times to help create the above image. All of these statements are true. All of these statements reflect a part of my life this past week. However, they don’t tell the full story of this past week.
Another approach I could take would be to focus upon the struggle of this week. I could focus on how I forgot to check the file format on my camera this past Friday, leading to an hour’s worth of useless images. I could focus on how I achieved almost perfect alinement with Polaris, yielding pin sharp five minute test exposures only to accidentally kick my tripod before beginning the “real” sequence. All of these statements are true. All of these statements reflect a part of my life this past week. However, they don’t tell the full story of this past week.
I love astrophotography. I love how it challenges and humbles me. The satisfaction I receive when achieving an image like the one above brings great joy. And the imperfections I see lead me to want to improve my craft so I can better present to you an icon of God’s creation.
This has been a year of growth for me not only as an astrophotographer, but as a person. It would be easy for me to simply share the failures or graces and play the spiritual polemicist. Yet, the full story needs both failures and grace to accurately show how God has challenged me to grow.
God is demanding, reaping what God doesn’t sow. God pierces my heart when I stray from divine love. Yes, these are all true statements of God. However, God is also loving and forgiving. God welcomes me home every time I stray from authentic love. God affirms and nurtures me through prayer and the grace of the Sacraments. Both dimensions of God are true. Which dimension do you focus upon?
Next week I’ll explain what you see in the image above. For this week, I simple ask you to take this question to prayer: How are we to embrace both failure and grace? It’s easy to embrace one or the other. It can be life changing to embrace both.