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The arc of hope was our Creator's greatest 'obie'


By Alison Cameron

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Sandy Sutherland
Sandy Sutherland

Like most pastimes my own interest in wild bird photography has many challenges, not least bad weather to say nothing about the midges!

Even on a good day clouds passing in front of the sun can produce disappointing photographic results. The bird’s eye, especially when a dark eye is surrounded by dark plumage, can’t always be readily discerned if there is no reflection of the sun in the bird’s eye. This reflection is known as a catchlight.

The catchlight can be manufactured by employing a flashgun or introduced later using computer software. But flashlight is often ineffective due to inoperable distances.

Nevertheless photography and cinematography benefit from modern technology, some of which isn’t so modern.

A small lamp dubbed an “obie” (after Academy Award nominee Merle Oberon, who starred in classic films such as Wuthering Heights) was first mounted on the side of a camera on the set of the film The Lodger in 1944. Oberon’s husband to be, Lucien Ballard, a cinematographer, designed this light to alleviate, with the help of make-up, Oberon’s facial scars following a car accident in 1937.

Dull light, bad weather and the seasons in all their moods have, nevertheless, added much to the enhancement of many a photograph or movie (not least the bad weather symbolism in Bronte’s Wuthering Heights).

But what about those completely grey days when there isn’t even the possibility of a rainbow of hope?

I was made to think on this when I flew from Inverness to Stornoway on a completely grey February day. Everything at the Dalcross level was dull and lacklustre but once the pilot had taken us through the cloud canopy we could hardly look out of the aircraft without being blinded by the brilliance of the light.

The rainbow symbol of hope, viewed in many windows during our pandemic lockdown, is the reflection, refraction and dispersion of light in water droplets resulting in the multicoloured arc of hope from the Creator of our galaxy’s greatest obie – the sun, always there whether we can see it or not.

If only we can, by the faith that gives confidence in what we hope for and the assurance about what we do not see, get above the blanket cloud of our “grey-days” or legitimate questioning on such matters as universal suffering and see things from above the canopy, ie from a heavenly or eternal perspective: not simply to see that every cloud can have a silver lining but, even on the darkest of days to see clouds as temporary, passing; even, in God’s providence, bringing showers of blessing.

This is not to blame God for showers of sorrow but rather many people, even some who were atheistic or agnostic in outlook, have become believers because of some adversity in their lives and now, with the catchlight of the Sun of Righteousness in their lives they are readily discerned, non-manufactured, living ambassadors who help others to rise above their grey canopy and, as the apostle put it: “to sit in heavenly places with Christ Jesus”. Scars not covered over but healed by the Son who is always there promising never to leave or forsake His people.


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