I love to photograph things reflected in water. Reflections can be pure mirror images, abstracts created by gentle breezes on the surface of the water, and, sometimes, beautiful designs caused by jumping fish or wiggly Snowy Egret legs stirring up the bottom of a pond.
These reflections remind me of the constant discussions of the meaning of “the image of God/dess.” What does it mean for us to reflect that divine persona or to be created in her image? Reflections in water reveal a lot about the possibilities of being or living into the image of the sacred.
There are times when it seems we are exact replicas of that which we believe to be the divine mystery. There are other times when compassionate human actions seem to be ripples emanating from the divine presence. At other times we want the spirit/wind to blow in a variety of directions creating something that is totally new and represents our own being with just little hints of that one whose image we reflect.
In her introduction to “Rejoice, Beloved Woman! The Psalms Revisioned,” Barbara J. Monda states my belief: “In a perfect world God/dess is genderless, and all persons, regardless of sexual category, can relate to language used to inspire the soul to morally virtuous expression. We do not, however, live in this world yet, and I believe that before we can realize this ideal we must acknowledge that there is gender imbalance present in society, and in scripture as well, that empowers men at the expense of women. In Rejoice, Beloved Woman!” the author says, the revisioning of the psalms “offers to women the experience of having, among many other things, God in her own image and words that portray a female way of being that embodies strength and nurturing.” p. 9
It is also a little presumptuous, to say the least, that only we humans reflect the image of the divine presence. The creatures and the cosmic elements are also jewels revealing the beauty of the eternal mother, the queen of heaven and lady of love! The egret for me is one of those lovely reflections of her presence.
Among the most elegant of the herons, the diminutive Snowy Egret sets off immaculate white plumage with black legs and neon-like yellow feet. The Snowy Egret eats mostly aquatic animals, including minnows, frogs, worms, crustaceans, and insects. It uses its bright yellow feet to paddle in the water and probe in the mud, rounding up prey before striking with its bill.
In calm glassy waters this shaking of the feet causes the water to slowly circle the bird and ripple outward reshaping the reflection like a fine cut-paper design. The pictured egret was wading at the water’s edge in early morning light at the Larkspur Marsh Bird Refuge.
Breeding Snowy Egrets plumage once fetched astronomical prices in the high-end hat fashion industry, endangering the species. Early conservationists rallied to protect egrets in the early twentieth century, and this species is once again a common sight in our shallow coastal wetlands.
We have much to see and be in reflections mirroring back and recreating the image they hold.