I created and framed this first image for the San Francisco Night Ministry Board to consider using as thank you gifts for five honorees — long time supportive organizations. The Night Ministry provides crisis intervention, counseling and referral services every night of the year, from 10 PM to 4 AM.
My image includes 25 “starring” street lights on each side of San Francisco’s Pier Seven. (That’s an approximate number – so don’t count). The lights represent the 50 years of Night Ministry in San Francisco. The lamp on the right in the foreground is just coming on, so it is not “starring” yet – it represents moving into the next year and the next 50 years of night ministry. (The stars are caused by the choice of a very small aperture opening – f/22.)
The well-lit path of the pier leads to and from the city, shrouded in fog, yet visible in the night air. The many people of the city that have been touched and healed, held and helped, by the Night Ministry (its ministers, volunteers, crisis line voices and multiple supporters) — have experienced through them the light shining in the darkness.
There are actually people walking in the above picture, but the camera shutter is open so long you cannot see them since they walked right out of the picture. Likewise many of those assisted by night ministry may go nameless or even vanish in the night. But they are ever present among us and because of the SF Night Ministry they are better off and ever beautiful!
The New Testament and Psalms – An Inclusive Version, Oxford University Press, translates John 1:5 with these words: “The light shines in the deepest night, and the night did not overcome it.” Unfortunately most translations still use the word “darkness” and continue to perpetuate the equation of darkness to evil and light to the good.
Over the years, via photography and thea-ology I have come to appreciate the relationship, importance and holiness of both the darkness and the light. They are partners in metaphor and reality. They are dependent and interconnected. Many dark/black images such as the ancient mother are grounded in the earth and cosmic powers which create and compassionately embrace life from the womb to the tomb.
The San Francisco Night Ministry’s 50th Anniversary Commemoration Service of Thanksgiving is on Sunday, November 16, 3:00 p.m., at Grace Cathedral (1100 California St. at Taylor). Anne Lamott will be the guest speaker, and there is a reception following the service.
The Night Ministry, like street lamps, lighthouse beacons and candles, is burning brightly in the deepest night. Blessed be the light and blessed be the darkness.