The Darkroom

Remember the times of Kodak, before digital photos were stored in our devices? Photographs were captured on dark strips of ‘negatives’ and developed in a darkroom. I found some negatives in my daughter’s room last week and was reminded of the genius and science behind film photography.

Ever wondered why they were called ‘negatives’? The thing about negatives on film is that they eventually become ‘positives’. In fact, in the early days of photography, prints were often called ‘positives’! Cool, right? My daughter’s comments – “It took so long and was expensive to develop 12 pictures” – provided me a great teachable moment.

If you can’t recognise the faces in that old box of family photo negatives, don’t worry! You’re in a good place. Or, if you feel like you’re in that darkroom with a brooding faint red light, hang in there! The Master Photographer is developing the negatives into positives!

Night Vision
Lions have spectacular night vision. Their eyes have the ability to process light in the darkness of the night and reflect it in a manner similar to the night vision used by humans and the military. They can see in very dark and moonless nights as well when they hunt for survival.

We need to see life through the eyes of a lion. We don’t necessarily need more light; we just need to open our eyes and dilate our pupils to let more light into our soul, that we may see the light that’s already there. During those times in the darkroom, God develops our ability to find treasures in darkness – the good in hard times and the positives in the negatives. 

Here’s another fun fact about a lion’s vision. Did you know that cubs are born blind? They do not begin to open their eyes for the first 3 to 4 days after birth. Even after opening their eyes, they cannot see very well and need extra care from their mums.

Perhaps, that temporary blindness develops in us a permanent sense of dependency. Paul had that temporary blindness on the road to Damascus.

True Vision
Lately, I’ve been praying for a few friends who underwent eye surgery. I tried to relate to blindness by simply closing my eyes and walking around. Try it. The experience and thought of losing vision is scary and unimaginable.

One of my inspirations is Helen Keller, who said: “It’s a terrible thing to see and have no vision.” If anyone realised the importance of having a vision for life, it was she. Helen’s accomplishments included being the first deaf and blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. She did not see her limitations as an excuse to not pursue her dreams.

Helen did not let her literal lack of vision stop her from having big dreams. Where many people would’ve used Helen’s disabilities as a setback and focus solely on surviving, she was focused on thriving. It’s in those dark times and places where the eyes of our hearts are open to see what we couldn’t before: the unseen and living hope, the hope of our calling, the hope of glory – Jesus Christ.

Hope as a state of the soul keeps us strong and steady (Hebrews 6:11, 19) – especially during times of special need. Hope is a form of light. “Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.” Anne Lamott

The very notion of appreciating what you’re going through right now might seem absolutely incomprehensible, especially if you’re dealing with the end of a marriage, mourning the loss of a loved one, a career, or coming out of shock into the depths of sorrow upon sorrow.

I believe the day will come when you’ll see that God always grants incredible power to those facing impossible pain and perplexity. When those negatives are fully-developed in the darkroom, you’ll marvel at the beautiful positives in the light. Remember the old Kodak jingle, ‘The Times of Your Life’ sung by Paul Anka – David wrote and sang this psalm in his darkroom:

But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD;
I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in Your hand;
Psalm 31:14-15


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