I’m indebted for the name of this blog to Alan Bruce Zee, a west-coast photographer whose 1995 photo print “Waiting for the Believers” hangs in our home [note: you can order prints of the photo at the above link].

This is what Alan writes about his photo:

This 13th century fortified Augustinian church was situated in a tiny village in the Dordogne region of southern France. As we approached the church, we noticed that a field was being burned outside the gates. When we entered, the early afternoon light was pouring in, illuminating the particulate matter in the air. The combination of the beam of light, the height and warmth of the stone walls, the worn, “soft” look of the stone floors and hundreds of old chairs set up in a totally empty church in a village of not more than 100 people, made for a setting ripe with a sense of spirit.

The “Waiting for the Believers” title came to me before I even started to photograph. It was as if the chairs were showing their patience. At one time, this was a burgeoning town and the site of an abbey, so the chairs were certainly filled. Humankind and individuals alike go through cycles of belief and non-belief, but the structure is always there, waiting patiently for the “believers” and “belief” to return. I knew this was a place and an image to which I felt a strong connection and wanted to make a solid attempt at trying to convey that feeling photographically. This was the first of several different images I took in the church and the one that says it best for me. It is a very difficult image to print, requiring 7 different exposures to selectively bring out different areas of the image and to keep the eye moving through the photograph.

This piece is truly about “light” and “the light” in its broadest and deepest sense.

I too resonate with what Alan is trying to get at around the importance of space and place, the cycles of belief and unbelief (personally and collectively) and with the general feeling of his amazing photograph of both beauty and loss.  It reminds me of pilgrimages I’ve made to West Africa, Ireland, Scotland, and even the crumbling farmhouses in my home of Southern Ontario.

There’s something beautiful about waiting. [ Of course being sent out and taking action is also important!  How am I called to live that cycle of action and contemplation rooted in the Triune God? ]…

Perhaps I can be like one of those chairs showing patience.  Maybe I’m the observer catching a ray of the sun.  Maybe I’m a cold pilgrim longing to feel the warmth of one of those ancient stones.   As a writer, I hope I might be all of these, as we all try and understand what it means to wait and to be sent – to ultimately ‘re-member’ what has been lost and gained.

– Rob

Advertisements