The context here was a tumultuous holiday family gathering, but there was a moment of calm in the dining room while the (many) kids were elsewhere. I guess this picture feels like the kind of thing we imagine when setting up house: ornaments and wood grain and light–most of all light. With just the streaks in the condensation as reminders of our lively company.

I had pondered that year how I briefly found myself practicing family law, an area I consciously meant to avoid–a “vortex of human misery,” as an experienced lawyer friend put it, and he was right. If you haven’t been there, it’s hard to imagine the depth of pain that would bring you to court with your  family. If you’ve been there–well, you know. Better than the lawyers.

But I was wrong–am wrong–to shy away from tough practice; that’s the kind of area where good lawyers are needed most–and not just for their technical knowledge. There’s a needed role as confidant, friend, guide, check, support. A call to prayer (not just in words).

Paul Inwood did beautiful work in setting the hymn text for Pope Francis’s year of mercy. Track it down if you haven’t heard it:

Misericordes sicut Pater.

Be merciful as the Father is merciful.

For a church chorister, it’s easy to get sick of singing any one setting again and again, to treat its chord progressions and rhythmic devices with growing indifference, to, as the weeks progress, sound the words without really thinking about them. Hard to hear things fresh. Still, for each performance there’s somebody listening who depends on that message–the text and the music, every word, every note–to carry them through their next day.

Be merciful, as the Father is merciful. Human spirits tend otherwise, and, in moments rich or poor, value the reminder.

Technical Info

PENTAX K-5, 50 mm PENTAX M lens
1/1250 sec, might have been f/1.8, ISO 400
Processed in Lightroom