In the basement of the home I grew up in, my dad built a darkroom. That term may not mean anything to people now – in this age of digital cameras, a darkroom is completely unnecessary. But back then, to have photographs, the film from the camera had to be developed – and that had to happen in a place where there was no light.
I was not invited into that room until I was old enough that my father could trust me not to touch anything I was instructed not to – and to stay where I was told to stay. There were trays of chemicals that could burn the skin, and bottles of expensive solutions that would have dropped and broken if bumped carelessly.
So it was with great excitement that I entered that room for the first time, and when the door closed, I felt just a moment of apprehension while I waited for my eyes to adjust to the dim yellow light in the corner.
Then the magic started. I watched as my father took the long strips of film and put them into a machine that somehow transferred the image invisibly onto a sheet of photo paper. I couldn’t see that anything had happened – the paper seemed blank to me – but then my father laid that paper into the waiting tray of solution.
I watched with anticipation as he swirled the paper around with long plastic tongs. It seemed to take a very long time before slowly, almost imperceptibly, an image would begin to appear.
Then the paper was moved to the next tray, and the image became clearer and clearer, the contrasts became more pronounced, until finally I could see exactly who it was in the picture. At last the photo would be moved to the final rinsing tray, and then the finished product would be clipped to a wire strung across the room where the photos would hang until dry.
I was enthralled to watch the process happen, over and over, and it never lost its sense of wonder for me.
I am beginning to see that our lives may be a little like that piece of photo paper that seems completely blank at first. We do not know what our life is going to end up looking like, and at times it seems like it takes a very long time before even the faintest image of what we are to be starts to appear.
We may be in the dark – even literally – especially during times of grief and deep disappointment. We may doubt that anything good could come of our lives.
But I believe there is a divine plan for each of us. And I am at a point where I am seeing hints of the future that is possible for me. If I were a piece of that photo paper, I feel as if I am being moved to the second tray where clarity begins to come, and I hear whispers beckoning me to reach higher, to think more deeply, to love more wholeheartedly. I thrill to think that I could be more than I am, and do more than I have done in the past.
What will my final image be?
I cannot say. But if, when I am brought out of the darkroom into the light of day, that image has the imprint of Divinity on it, I will be happy.
To our continued process of developing,