Weekend Photo Challenge: Illumination (of Richmond & my Soul)


This week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge theme is “Illumination“. One of the biggest benefits of this weekly photo challenge is the chance to go through some of my old pictures and bring to mind favorite memories from the past.

The picture above was taken in 2006 in Richmond, Virginia while I was in college. It was after one of my favorite Richmond traditions: the Grand Illumination.

Throughout the winter holidays, the skyscrapers in Richmond are all lined with lights, lighting up the skyline in a way that it is not during the rest of the year. These lights are turned on all at once at something called the Grand Illumination, which takes place in early December. Not only are the skyscraper lights turned on, but the annual Christmas display at the Omni Hotel is turned on also. This display has lit-up mechanical reindeer, a giant Christmas tree, and the bell tower plays Christmas music on the hour.

After watching the Grand Illumination lighting from the bridge to Belle Isle, one of my favorite spots in all of Richmond (see picture below), we drove through the streets to see everything up close. The picture above was taken around the Omni Hotel as we passed their display.

But that’s not all this made me think of…

We are (appropriately) currently in the Church Season of Epiphany (here’s the mixtape), in which there is a lot of imagery of “illumination” and being made aware of God’s presence in the midst of the darkness of our lives and hearts.

I was thinking about what was going on in my life when these pictures were taken, and remembered that I was mere weeks away from the greatest season of “illumination” my life has ever seen.

You see, at this time, my heart was grasping and addicted to the greatest idol it had ever known. (Yes, it was a person–is it usually is.) At the time these pictures were taken, I was really naïve to all that was going on inside of me, but weeks after these pictures were taken, my heart would harden itself into a year and a half of absolute blindness to its own motives, movements, and emotions, all leading to a complete deconstruction of how I related to God and others after a painful and gracious season of “epiphany”. And no, I’m not being unnecessarily over-dramatic. It was pretty crazy.

Likewise, the abstract nature of this picture speaks to these tensions and paradoxes. The lights illuminate and also conceal, they are beautiful yet unknown. The lights gracing both the building and the trees show the interaction of humanity’s nature and nurture of the world both within them and without. There’s movement and speed, and yet it’s frozen in time memoriam–it’s fleeting, yet remembered. Oh, if I only knew what was to come.

And so, here’s to illuminations of every kind, both urban and soul.


See my past Weekly Photo Challenges here.


This is WordPress’ little plug for the Weekly Photo Challenges:

Whether you’re a beginner or a professional, you’re invited to get involved in our Weekly Photo Challenge to help you meet your blogging goals and give you another way to take part in Post a Day / Post a Week. Everyone is welcome to participate, even if your blog isn’t about photography.

Here’s how it works:

1. Each week, we’ll provide a theme for creative inspiration. You take photographs based on your interpretation of the theme, and post them on your blog (a new post!) anytime before the following Friday when the next photo theme will be announced.

2. To make it easy for others to check out your photos, title your blog post “Weekly Photo Challenge: (theme of the week)” and be sure to use the “postaday″ tag.

3. Subscribe to The Daily Post so that you don’t miss out on weekly challenge announcements. Sign up via the email subscription link in the sidebar or RSS.


One thought on “Weekend Photo Challenge: Illumination (of Richmond & my Soul)

  1. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Illumination | GuenBt.

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