In Memory of a Camera

This column also ran on UPI’s Religion and Spirituality Forum

In a slightly different form, this piece also ran on KQED FM’s Perspectivesseries on October 3, 2008

I’m not sure I’d want to turn back the clock on technology, but on a recent trip to the park with my three-year-old son I was moved with nostalgia when I saw an older gentleman taking photographs with an old-fashioned single-lens-reflex camera.

Jealous of his film, the photographer took his time, gazing through the viewfinder, adjusting his tripod and fussing with dials. This is something I remember well. It wasn’t that long ago that I took pride in my ability to shoot decent photos with a Pentax as old as I am—a camera that once traveled the world with me, bumping my hip as I walked along the Sea of Galilee, and braving the weather on Scotland’s Western Isles, where the rain was so severe that my boots were wet for a month, but my camera dried out just fine. My SLR came with me to Switzerland and Italy, and twice to China where it recorded the adoptions of my two daughters.

But parenthood requires many snapshots, and I have replaced my Pentax with a digital Panasonic with a Leica lens and lots of memory. Continue reading

Guadalupe in the Winter Hood

This column ran on UPI’s Religion and Spirituality Forum on December 10, 2007.

In the late-afternoon sun, it’s just warm enough to enjoy a cup of tea on the back patio of my condominium in East San Jose. There are egrets fishing in the urban creek that runs behind my home. One last tomato is trying to turn red in what remains of my garden. The air is clear. The Christmas lights have been hung, and the tree will go up tonight. There is a quiet lull and this is a winter wonderland of sorts. Here there are no sleigh bells ringing—the nearest snow is hundreds of miles away on the Sierra Nevada—but the beauty of winter has many faces and this is one of them.

In a few days’ time this quiet will be replaced by the joyful noise of pilgrims from all over Northern California, who will celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe at the Roman Catholic church across the street; the church is named in honor of Mexico’s patron saint Continue reading