Rose Chapel

At four o’clock on a rainy afternoon, the interior of the Rose Chapel was nearly dark. A few candles, and of course the sanctuary lamp, burned though and gave me all the light I needed to know that I was home. The moment was epiphanic, and I was filled with memory and love and confidence in a Ground of Being.

The emotion and spirit of the moment caused me to raise my camera with some hope that I might bring a few images away with me. That would have been enough. To look at an image and remember the moment. But now I find that the image holds more than the memory of a moment.

It’s been two years since that trip to Rose Chapel. But in the way I choose one paint over another, one medium or tool over others, I chose this photograph tonight. With it, I chose another. Nothing complicated. Rather mundane really, the photograph of a rose; thus ensuing a fairly elementary play on words—Rose Chapel/rugosa rose.

As a photographer and as an artist, I worked with these two images to bring one more into life. Color and line and form were my guides—most visible guides. I had no theological agenda. Determined by some amount of time "looking," it was finished.

Then, I listened. I listened to the conversation between the work of my hands and the work of my heart. There I found a theological pause. A moment, when I saw my fragile understanding of the Ground of Being grow not because of searching, but because of working.

Working in the ordinary way of art.

As seen above: words and image by C. Robin Janning


I have been haunted for a week by what the Hindu would call a "Darsana" which, loosely translated, means "visions of the divine". This First Sunday in Lent, as we sang Forty Days and Forty Nights, I was again reminded of this incredible sight when we got to the verse which contains the words "Victor in the wilderness, grant we may not faint or fall."

So what was this vision of the divine? I wish I could show you; I wish I had been prepared to take the photo, one of those once in a lifetime photos.

I am one of those lucky souls who get to travel the beautiful back roads and highways of Alabama as I go about my job. In addition to providing me with much savored time alone, this beautiful state provides a virtual feast of God's creation. As I drove the other week, I glanced over to the side of the road where, on an old oak , sat the largest Red-tailed Hawk I have ever seen. It had to have been at least three feet tall. I understand that they can reach 26 inches, but this one seemed much taller. I see hawks all the time; they are not strangers to the side roads, where they sit and watch for prey along the roadside. What was so stunning about this hawk was that I did not see it as a predator, watching for prey; I only saw the majesty of this incredible creature. He or she, I know not which, sat so still, not flinching, as cars and trucks whipped by at breakneck speeds, totally at peace where it was at that moment in time. The large tallons wrapped around the branch of the old oak, wings tucked securely back against its body, silently observing all who passed by. My initial thought was what a day to forget your camera - you will never have that opportunity again. As my day passed and I thought about the hawk, it occurred to me that the hawk reminded me of God, silently observing as we pass through this life. Watching, waiting, to see if we notice him. With more time to reflect on this experience, I have concluded that perhaps I should not view this as the photo that got away. Perhaps it was to be forever etched in my mind's eye as a constant reminder to always be aware of the visions of the divine, least we miss the Victor in the wilderness.

by Dawn Glascock ©2008