July 17, 2019 by Jesse Lebus
To the members of St. Luke’s, friends and family:
As a college student, interested in photojournalism, I wanted my camera to take me places. I wanted to go to far away lands, discover fascinating people and events, and - through text and images - bring others along with me.
A lot of journalists get their initial inspiration in this way, maybe it’s sparked by flipping through the pages of National Geographic as kids. Maybe it’s kindled by the notion that what surrounds us, what’s familiar, seems mundane or ordinary.
Then I got the chance to meet Sam Abell, a fellow Kentuckian and renowned photojournalist most known for his portrait of a girl from Afghanistan with piercing green eyes. It was featured on the cover of National Geographic. Sam had come to share some pictures with my class and tell the stories behind them. There was one image, a black and white photo of young man standing next to a small pile of snow, that has been in my minds eye ever since.
This week Sam wrote me to explain the photograph:
“The picture is of my friend Jim Burns. He’s standing in his backyard on Della Drive in Lexington. The year is 1967 or ‘68.
I’m about to drive him to a US Army induction center. He was a med school student at UK but couldn’t stand the draft hanging over his head. So he enlisted. No one could believe it!
Anyway, he and I created that massive, now melting, mountain of snow because we wanted to have the ‘last snow in Lexington’ (We were restless and easily bored boys).
On the day of his induction I made the photo to commemorate the moment, and our friendship. The ‘snow mountain’ was a spirited symbol of that friendship. Truthfully, I wondered if I’d ever see him again (I did).”
It’s a simple, moving story; a vignette from a poignant moment in American history and a poignant moment between friends. Sam told the class, what previously might have been disheartening, that the best stories were often found right in our own backyards. He taught us that with awareness and patience we could discover, within the ordinary, things extraordinary.
In our church calendar, the weeks that follow Pentecost are often referred to as Ordinary Time. It’s called “ordinary” because these weeks are not directly associated with specific seasons, like Lent or Easter and their respective themes of reconciliation and waiting. That doesn’t mean, however, that this long stretch of Sundays (which covers the entire summer in the Northern hemisphere and is therefore associated with the color green) is not verdant with the extraordinary.
Our churches have the tendency to “take the summer off” but I want to encourage all of you to come and rediscover what is extraordinary about our faith; rooted in the belief that we are united in Christ and called to support and serve one another and our neighbors in love. While this season may not be associated with particular theme, each week (from the Gospel of Luke) we encounter readings that shed light on what it means to be in relationship with Christ and one another: lessons in love, neighborliness and this Sunday: hospitality.
Something extraordinary is happening right outside your back door, in this small village parish that I am falling in love with... St. Luke's! Come and see!
Your Brother in Christ,