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She felt God 'smiled' upon her college photo entry

How Jesus Speaks to Us Terry started with photos of "Cross in the Woods" at Indian River, Michigan http://static.panoramio.com/photos/large/53007326.jpg
Terry started with photos of "Cross in the Woods" at Indian River, Michigan

"God did that. He took my insecurity and amateur efforts and blossomed them into a powerful message..."


Several years ago my mother won a Minolta camera at a convention and gave it to me as a gift. I didn't know a thing about how it worked, so I decided to start at the beginning with a basic black and white photography class at Oakland Community College.

As the semester progressed, the weekly commitment of time in class and in lab as well as away from my daughter became a burden and I wondered if the whole thing was worth it.

Our final project was to shoot, develop and mat a series of four photos related by style, content or other means. I chose the theme, "Where does the cross appear in our daily lives", avoiding obvious places like church. My four pictures would move from crosses that were highly visible to those that were easily missed. Would my classmates reject the spiritual subject matter displayed in a secular setting? Would the pictures turn out?

With time at a premium, I raced up north to photograph the largest outdoor cross in the nation at Indian River, Michigan. Puffy clouds cooperated to provide the perfect textured background. Next I took several shots of my mother's hands, workers' hands, lovingly cradling the rosary. I enlisted my brother's help, photographing the tattoo on his ankle of a cross within a heart, his own creation. The final photo was my brother's profile, long hair braided and a thin leather thong around his forehead. His head was bent down, his expression soft and serious. A thin, tiny gold cross earring hung from his pierced ear.

After surviving some technical mishaps (I ruined one roll in the darkroom) and moving beyond discouragement and insecurity, I turned in four matted photos to be displayed in the class. After browsing past my photos, the instructor asked the class what they thought the theme was. One student said "The Cross" and most concurred. Another said the "The Crucifixion" because of the Indian River photo of the crucified Jesus.

Then one woman spoke up. "At first I thought it was the crucifixion. Then I thought it was the cross. But it IS the crucifixion, isn't it, because the people in the pictures all represent the wounds of Christ: you shot the hands, the feet and the crown of thorns, all pulled together by the photo of Jesus on the cross. Did you try to do that?"

Smiling, I shook my head. "No."

God did that. He took my insecurity and amateur efforts and blossomed them into a powerful message of salvation, changing the static theme of the cross into the dynamic message of Jesus' crucifixion lived out today in the Body of Christ.

Terry Murray
St. Columban Catholic Church
Birmingham, Michigan

(Saint Columban Church closed in 2013)

Editor's commentary: Terry took a social risk in choosing a theme that was meaningful to her, but which might have not been well received by her colleagues in a secular setting. That risk seemed to have been rewarded by her feeling that God 'approved'. She attributes the unexpected deeper theme to have come from Him.  She felt as if God used this event as a way of 'speaking to her'; telling her that he was involved.

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Last modified on May 10, 2014

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