A few months ago Amanda wrote a post in her blog that included a photo of a candle with a swirl of smoke. It caught my attention, and I knew I would have to try getting similar shots once I got my new studio set up. Well, the time finally came. For the last week or so I’ve been playing in my studio with candles, matches, and smoke. Lots of smoke. So much smoke that I quickly found out that such a photo shoot must have time limits on it. Unless of course you like feeling woozy and sick. I don’t like either of those things, by the way! One of my favorite smoking candle photos can be seen by clicking here. (Following this link will take you to my photography blog, “Captured by Light“.) During all the hours spent thus far playing, er, I mean working, with smoking candles I have learned a lot about this seemingly small subject.
I learned that if you want a good amount of smoke from a candle wick, you have to let it sit a minute or two lit before blowing it out. Any sooner, and you’ll get just a tiny puff of smoke that vanishes almost instantly. I also learned that to get nice swirls of smoke you want to leave the wick a little longer than you normally would. Of course, that can be overdone, leaving you with a cloud of smoke that looks quite uninteresting. I’ve learned other things, too, like the fact that even brand new, seemingly plain candles have a “good side” and a “bad side”. None of this is exactly life-changing (which could be said of all the little tidbits I’ve picked up), but it’s interesting, none the less.
All of this made me think (believe it or not!) of Psalms 34:8: “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” I know that seems like a huge leap, but hear me out.
One way to approach being a Christian is to go to church on Sunday, and then go about your business. If you do this, you’ll learn a little about God. That’s good. It’s better than nothing. Another approach is to go to church twice on Sunday, and maybe on Wednesday. Better. Add to that daily Bible reading, and you’re a remarkable Christian in modern day America. But at the end of all this, do you really know God?
I propose that the answer is “no”. OK, so you know about Him. Depending on the church you go to, you may know quite a bit, or just a little. But, knowing about God is not the same as knowing Him. To get to know someone, to really understand them, you have to spend time just hanging out with them: like I’ve been doing with the smoky candles. I have a greater understanding of smoking candles than I used to because I’ve spent hours, well, being with them. I think this is one way to “do” Psalms 34:8.
As I spend time with God, just hanging out, talking to Him, waiting to hear from Him, feeling His presence, I begin to not just know what He is like based on someone else’s experience, but I get to actually know Him. I have my own experience to draw on, so my understanding of Him grows. That’s “tasting”: getting in there and seeing what God is like for myself. I feel blessed that as I messed around with candles, God was there with me. I got to see His creative hand in the swirls of smoke, and to feel His pleasure in my child-like exploration. That’s not the kind of thing I can get from a sermon or even from reading the Bible in the normal “look at me doing my daily Bible-chore” way. It takes time, and experience. In fact, I think I hear a Voice calling me back to the studio. I think Someone is waiting there for me, ready to let me encounter Him again. I wonder what we’re going to do together today?