Wednesday, March 04, 2009

About Face

I'm just back from a fantastically inspiring and thought-provoking evening with the YMCAs from the region in company with Malcolm Duncan of Church and Community (formerly of Faithworks). there are many wise things buzzing around my head including the contrast between Empire building and kingdom building, a new ten commandments for the YMCA, clarity at the centre so that edges can be fuzzy and so much more.

This however is what stood out most. It was an image and a story so there's no surprise that it was the most powerful and memorable bit of the evening.
This picture, entitled Bear glare was taken by Sergey Gorshkov and won the Shell Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2007 prize for the category of animal portrait.

Now it is a very striking image. that alone has a great impact. However the story of how the picture was taken is even more powerful. I'm told that Sergey went out with his young son to get some picture of salmon jumping up the river and was standing in the water waiting with his son stood behind him. He's concentrating REALLY hard on getting this image of the salmon (you can imagine him really wanting to capture that triumph of will over adversity that is embodied in the leaping of salmon upstream towards their spawning sites in that moment of sheer faith that launches a fish out of water). Sergey hears a splash behind him and thinks his son is messing around. this is confirmed by the son tugging at his waders, "Dad... dad", "Not now, I'm trying to get a picture of the salmon" "dad, you really need to turn round" "I'm busy", "Dad you REALLY HAVE TO TURN ROUND NOW!" He turns round and is faced with this sight which he manages to capture on film (and live to tell the tale).

This story says... sometimes we can be so focussed on the task we think is very important that we miss a great opportunity. If we're lucky there might be a young prophetic voice near us who tells us we need to make a radical turn around and face in the opposite direction. What we see when we make that dramatic change might fill us with fear but will in the end lead to what we need/want to achieve.

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